Lakshmi Bai

The Queen's ○○○ Days

Lakshmi: ...(Sigh)...

Nemo: Hm? Isn't that...

Nemo: Hey there. How are you?

Lakshmi: Oh, Captain Nemo. It feels like I haven't seen you in forever.

Nemo: You think? ...You might be right.

Nemo: You and I are both a lot like tuna. We always have to keep moving.

Nemo: ...Anyway, you've been here for a while now. How are things? Everything going okay?

Lakshmi: .........Yes, fine. Everything's fine.

Nemo: ...Are you sure?

Lakshmi: O-of course. Really.

Nemo: (Then why was she sighing earlier? She just couldn't make this easy, could she?)

Lakshmi: I'm enjoying carrying out my missions here. You have nothing to worry about.

Lakshmi: What about you? You're the captain of the Border, right? That's a lot of responsibility.

Lakshmi: I'm sure you must be very busy, not to mention under a lot of pressure, but please try not to work too hard.

Lakshmi: Getting enough rest is essential if you're going to do your job well, after all. If there's anything I can help with, please don't hesitate to let me know.

Lakshmi: Well, you probably shouldn't entrust me with anything too mission-critical, just to minimize our risks...

Lakshmi: But if you have any simple tasks that won't mess everything up too badly if I fail, I can help with those.

Lakshmi: Especially if they're the kind of troublesome jobs you have to pawn off on someone else anyway.

Lakshmi: ...Well, I'll see you around, Captain Nemo. It was good talking with you.

Nemo: ...

Nemo: ...And then she just walked away.

Fujimaru 1: I see, I see...

Nemo: She can't fool me. She's hiding something.

Nemo: Which is why I called you, and everyone else, here in secret.

Fujimaru 2: Oh yeah, she's definitely hiding something.

Nemo: Right? That's why I called you, and everyone else, here in secret.

Nemo: All right... Let's get this meeting of the Nemos underway!



Nemo Marine: One of our few friends from our original time and place is struggling with something, right? Of course we've gotta help her!

Nemo Professor: Agreed. I've analyzed the shared data, and I'm ninety-nine-point-nine-nine-nine percent sure something is wrong.

Nemo Nurse: How awful. Well, whether her ailment is mental, physical, or both, we'll have to help her cure it.

Nemo Baker: Sooo, I guess we should start by splitting up and looking into her?

Fujimaru 1: (I can't remember the last time my room was this lively.)

Fujimaru 2: (I feel like I've died and gone to Nemo heaven...)

Nemo: True. Given the way she was acting, I can't imagine she's going to open up to us on her own.

Nemo: Unfortunately, I think we'll need to sneak around like a clown fish and gather hints as to what's going on with her.

Nemo: I wish we didn't have to do this, but I have no doubts that we can pull it off.

Nemo Marine: Totally! We got this! We're already anywhere and everywhere, after all!

Nemo Nurse: I'll use her regular physical as an excuse to see what I can find out.

Nemo Nurse: If I go see her with Asclepius, I'm sure she won't suspect a thing.

Nemo Baker: Maybe some yummy bread will help loosen her lips! I'm gonna bake up a batch and find out!

Nemo Engineer: I got my hands full with the engine room here, but I'll keep an eye on her if she happens to drop by!

Nemo Professor: Hehehe. Just look at how many of us there are.

Nemo Professor: Even if we each only find a small piece of the puzzle, I'm sure we'll be able to see what's going on once we put them all together.

Fujimaru 1: I'll keep a casual eye out for anything unusual, too.

Nemo: If you don't mind helping out, that would be great.

Nemo: Don't worry about trying to find out all her secrets like some sort of spy. A solid lead will be more than enough.

Nemo Professor: Indeed. Lakshmi Bai may be earnest and strong-willed, but she's nobody's fool.

Nemo Professor: If we can figure out the general idea of what's going on, and present her with enough incontrovertible evidence, I believe she'll give up on trying to keep it secret.

Nemo Marine: Yaaay! We've so got this!

Nemo: All right then, let's get Operation “Find Out What's Bothering Lakshmi” started! Anchors awaaay!



Narration: – Inside the Environmental Simulator –

Fujimaru 1: Hm? Isn't that...?

Nemo Professor: Oh, hello, Master. Perfect timing.

Nemo Professor: I can tell from the look on your face that you're wondering what's going on. Come hide over here and take a look.

Fujimaru 1: It's Lakshmi...

Nemo Professor: Yes, it is.

Nemo Professor: While you're at it, take a look at who's all the way over there, too.

Jeanne: ...Flower crowns?

Nursery Rhyme: Uh-huh. We tried to make some, but we just couldn't get them right...

Bunyan: So if you know how, we were hoping you could teach us.

Jeanne: Of course, I'd be glad to. Shall we make them together then?

Nursery & Bunyan: Yaaay!

Nursery Rhyme: Finished!

Bunyan: I did it!

Jeanne: You sure did. You both did a wonderful job.

Jeanne: Um, by the way...where are little Alter me and Jack?

Nursery Rhyme: They both had something else they needed to take care of.

Jeanne: I see.

Jeanne: Well, I hope you'll teach them how to make flower crowns too, when you get the chance.

Bunyan: You bet! Next time, we're all gonna make them together!

Lakshmi: Hmm...

Nemo Professor: Did you see that? Did you hear it?

Nemo Professor: That expression on her face... That “Hmm” that so clearly conveyed a wealth of complicated feelings...

Nemo Professor: There's got to be a hint in– Huh? Who's that approaching the target?

Gilles: Ahhh, Jeaaaaaanne! My beautiful saintly virgin!

Lakshmi: Bwa!?

Gilles: You can't put anything past me. I heard that languid, meaningful sigh clear as day.

Gilles: Oh yes, one of my special skills is determining exactly what you're thinking from even the smallest gesture.

Gilles: How else could I be there for you from morning till bedtime every day?

Gilles: One little cough, and I know to run to the nearest vending machine to purchase an ice-cold can of cola!

Gilles: One little stub of your toe, and I know to bring the pebble responsible in for “enhanced interrogation”! That is who I am! That is what I do!

Lakshmi: Um, I think you–

Gilles: Hohoho, don't be ridiculous. As I said, you can't put anything past me.

Gilles: That being said, as my eyes and ears are focused solely on your every move, I have no idea whatsoever what you were gazing at...

Gilles: But I can certainly tell the reason for your sigh.

Gilles: You were jealous, weren't you!?

Lakshmi: I-I, uh, don't know what you're talking about.

Lakshmi: Anyway, listen to me.

Lakshmi: I don't know how many times I've already told you this, though I suspect it's a lot...but you have the wrong–

Gilles: Oh yes, I'm well aware. Now that you mention it, you do look rather tomboyish today.

Gilles: Nothing wrong with that. I think it gives you a very healthy glow indeed.

Gilles: Ahh, even after all this time together, you still find new ways to be charming! Truly, my Jeanne, you are a wonder to behold!

Lakshmi: ...

Altria: Speaking as a hapless passerby, I encourage you not to pay this man any attention. His eyes are all but useless.

Altria: Irisviel showed me that you can get rid of him with this.

Lakshmi: (A peace sign?)

Altria: Good luck.

Gilles: Hmm? For a moment there, I thought I sensed the presence of a new Jeanne...

Gilles: Well, no matter. The fact that a concept as sublime as Jeanne can be found in such abundance here is one of the very best things about Chaldea.

Gilles: Now then!

Gilles: Jeanne, your laments are my laments. If there is something you cannot help but be envious of...

Gilles: ...then please, please, tell me what I can do! Whatever you desire, I will find it for you, even if it should be the blood of a virgin!

Lakshmi: Gah! Stop creeping in on meee!


Lakshmi: Oh! Now I get it. So this is what the peace sign is for!

Lakshmi: Hrah! (Double eye poke)

Gilles: Oho!? That's it! I'd recognize Jeanne's special eyeball-poking maneuver anywhere!

Gilles: I knew it! I knew you were the real Jeanne in a brand-new form! Ahh, it's been so long since a new you showed up!

Lakshmi: Ugh...

Nemo Professor: Aha. I think I'm starting to see what's going on here.

Nemo Professor: Since we're here and all, why don't we go talk to those children over there to confirm my hypothesis?

Nemo Professor: Ms. Jeanne might not be here anymore, but I'm fairly sure Lakshmi Bai was more focused on the children, anyway.

Fujimaru 1: Hey there!

Nursery Rhyme: Oh, hello, Master! Hello, Nemo with glasses! What brings you here today?

Bunyan: We're making flower crowns! Wanna join us?

Nemo Professor: I would love to, but I'll have to take a rain check.

Nemo Professor: Right now, I have a question I was hoping you could answer.

Nemo Professor: Have you two ever played with Ms. Lakshmi Bai?

Nursery Rhyme: You mean the lady from India? Umm...

Bunyan: Nuh-uh.

Nursery Rhyme: Part of it is that she's a little hard to approach, since she always seems kind of upset...

Nursery Rhyme: But of course, we've still invited her to play with us or join us for a tea party a number of times...

Nursery Rhyme: ...when she happened to be nearby while we were making plans.

Nursery Rhyme: But she always said she was busy or had something else she had to take care of and turned us down.

Nemo Professor: Hmm...

Nemo Professor: Yes, I see. Thank you. That's basically what I wanted to know.

Nursery Rhyme: Oh good. I'm glad we could help.

Nemo Professor: Okay, Master, let's go after her.

Nemo Professor: She won't be able to pretend nothing's wrong now that we've got this much information to confront her with.

Nemo Professor: But I think I'll call Captain in and have him handle this part, just to be sure. You need to be able to ramp up the pressure for these sorts of things, after all.


Lakshmi: Hmm...

Murasaki Shikibu: (She seems to be worried about something... Maybe I should go talk to her.)

Murasaki Shikibu: Hm?

Murasaki Shikibu: Oh my, if it isn't Master and Lord Nemo. Please, make yourselves at home.

Fujimaru 1: Hi, Ms. Librarian.

Fujimaru 2: We just wanted to talk to the lady with the perma-frown over there.

Nemo: Hey there, Lakshmi Bai. Whatcha reading?

Lakshmi: H-huh? This is...well... Here.

Fujimaru 1: “Communicating with Subordinates Like a Pro”...

Nemo: Did you choose this book, Ms. Librarian?

Murasaki Shikibu: Um, no, I didn't... Lady Lakshmi there chose it herself.

Nemo: I knew it. This confirms everything our investigation turned up.

Lakshmi: Wh-what are you talking about?

Nemo: Don't bother trying to hide it anymore. You're having trouble communicating with others, aren't you?

Lakshmi: !!!

Fujimaru 1: We've got plenty of evidence to make our case.

Fujimaru 2: I'd give in and cooperate if I were you.

Lakshmi: ...I see. So that's why you are here too, Master.

Lakshmi: In that case, I suppose I would only be embarrassing myself if I tried to deny it any longer.

Lakshmi: Yes, it's true. Lately, I've been struggling with how best to get along with the other Servants here.

Lakshmi: Not everyone, of course. There are some Servants I get along with just fine.

Lakshmi: But I still sense a bit of a wall between me and everyone else–especially the Servants who look like children.

Nemo: Why's that?

Lakshmi: That's just it. I can't figure out what the problem could be.

Lakshmi: I don't think I'm doing anything unusual, but my efforts to reach out never seem to go well.

Lakshmi: I am well aware that we are all teammates–newly formed comrades in arms who share a common goal.

Lakshmi: So I am worried that my inability to communicate with them could lead to a critical mistake on the battlefield.

Lakshmi: I have to do something about this before it is too late...

Murasaki Shikibu: ...Excuse me, but may I say something?

Murasaki Shikibu: I think I understand your concerns now, Lady Lakshmi.

Murasaki Shikibu: But is it possible that your fierce desire to do something about this problem...

Murasaki Shikibu: ...might be the very thing putting up this wall between you and the children?

Nemo: Of course, most of these Servants who look like children aren't actual children...

Nemo: ...but like fish who can blend into their surroundings, they still have the same sensitivities that real children do–sensitivities that can cause them to put up walls if they sense something amiss.

Nemo: In your case, it may be that your hard-ass disposition and tendency to get worked up are inadvertently creating a vicious cycle.

Lakshmi: D-do you think so?

Lakshmi: I really thought I was going around with a gentle, inviting expression... (Poke poke)

Fujimaru 1: (I think she's trying to check how rigid her facial muscles are.)

Fujimaru 2: (She's poking her cheeks to see how her facial muscles respond...)

Nemo: I think you're at least on the right track.

Nemo: But I also think the root of this might be something you're doing subconsciously, without realizing it.

Nemo: For example... Are you taking time for rest and relaxation?

Lakshmi: Rest and relaxation, huh?

Lakshmi: Well, I do indulge in the occasional tabletop strategy game with Lady Qin Liangyu.

Lakshmi: I also sometimes use the simulator to go on horse rides and practice my swordplay.

Lakshmi: .........So that's the problem. I'm relaxing TOO much, aren't I?

Fujimaru 1: Uh, no, pretty sure that's not it.

Murasaki Shikibu: If I may, you do seem like you're always, well, on edge, much like many of the other warriors.

Nemo: I agree. We can almost feel the tension, constant focus, and strong sense of responsibility radiating from you.

Nemo: I think the problem is, you've become so used to living like that that it's become second nature for you.

Nemo: You know how you can usually tell when someone's spent a lot of time on a battlefield just from the way they behave?

Nemo: I think that kind of intimidating aura you're always unconsciously projecting...

Nemo: ...might just be what's getting in the way of your attempts to communicate.

Lakshmi: I-I see. But, if it is...what do I do about it?

Fujimaru 1: You're just gonna have to let your hair down for real.

Fujimaru 2: You need to relax. Like, actually relax.

Nemo: Yeah. I think you need a breather, both in the figurative and literal sense.

Nemo: And I think that means we're going to have to–

C:Nemo Marine: Ooh, ooh! I think the best way for her to learn to relax is to learn from our example!

D:Nemo Marine: You have to have fun to get through long voyages, so we're all total relaxation pros!

E:Nemo Marine: I bet you'll be way more approachable once you have some real fun and learn to lighten up!

Lakshmi: Y-you think so? In that case, I would certainly be willing to give this a try...but I still have one concern.

Lakshmi: Just to make do know that I'm currently under the goddess of misfortune's, um, “protection,” right?

Nemo: Of course I do. Did you really think that would be a problem for us at this point?

Nemo: I saw what it's like plenty back in the Indian Lostbelt, so I already know what to expect.

Lakshmi: ...I see. Then I'm happy to learn whatever you're willing to teach me.

Lakshmi: In fact, I've made up my mind. To help myself become a truly excellent communicator...

Lakshmi: I'm going to relax, and have fun, as hard as I possibly can!

Murasaki Shikibu: (There! Right there! That kind of fierce determination is exactly what makes her so intimidating!)


Nemo: That being said, we aren't experts when it comes to having fun either, so I decided to call in a professional fun-haver just to cover all our bases.

Ushiwakamaru: Hahaha! If it's fun you're looking for, then you've come to the right (summer) Ushiwakamaru!

Ushiwakamaru: There's so many games we can play. Hide-and-seek, climbing trees, red light green light...

Ushiwakamaru: This is going to be great! I never thought all the playing (read: training) I did in the mountains would be so useful here, too!

Nemo Marines: Master Tengu! Master Tengu! (Already enjoying themselves)

Ushiwakamaru: Oh, uh, I'd actually rather you didn't say that. It reminds me of my mentor telling me:

Ushiwakamaru: “How dare you try those unrefined techniques on me!?” right before he'd knock me upside the head.

Lakshmi: Thank you for your tutelage, Lady Ushiwakamaru. This is all very new to me, but I'm going to do the best I can.

Ushiwakamaru: I'm glad to see you're taking your fun so seriously!

Ushiwakamaru: That being said...I think I see what Nemo meant when he told me you were too earnest for your own good.

Nemo: That's exactly why I called you in: to do something about that.

Nemo: You are an expert at having fun, right? I'm looking forward to seeing what you've got.

Fujimaru 1: By the way, are you sure it's okay for us to play here?

Fujimaru 2: I know the dock's a pretty big place,but is it really okay to use it as a playground?

Nemo: The simulator can only do so much when it comes to physically active play.

Nemo: Every sailor knows that when you're out at sea on a long, dull voyage, it's important to go out on the deck and get enough exercise to stay in shape.

Nemo: And here at Chaldea, we don't just have a ship with a deck. We also have the dock it's, uh, docked in.

Nemo: That said, I wouldn't recommend playing hide-and-seek in the ship's engine room. Not unless you want Nemo Engineer to throw a wrench at your head.

Nemo: I might be the ship's captain, but trust me, those things hurt a lot more than my fists.

Ushiwakamaru: Of course, every good game needs rules, so make sure you all follow them.

Ushiwakamaru: And with that, let's get these fun times started!

Ushiwakamaru: Now, what to play first... Hmm... We do have a good number of people here...

Ushiwakamaru: I know! Why don't we try that modern version of tag you once taught me, Master?

Ushiwakamaru: What did you say it was called again? Oh, right. Cops and robbers!

Fujimaru 1: Ah yes, tag and hide-and-seek, combined in one glorious game.

Fujimaru 2: Yup! Fun for the cops AND for the robbers.

Ushiwakamaru: Sounds to me like someone's pretty confident in [♂ his /♀️ her] chances. Now that's what I'm talking about!

Ushiwakamaru: Okay, Master, would you mind telling everyone the rules?

Nemo: I see. So it's a team battle.

Nemo Marine: Sounds like fun!

Nemo Professor: I'd only be a liability for whichever team I was on, so I'll be the referee.

Ushiwakamaru: Well, Lady Lakshmi? Are you prepared to have fun?

Lakshmi: Heh, not to worry. I understand exactly how this works.

Lakshmi: This symbolizes the endless struggle between the authorities and the lawless criminal element.

Lakshmi: The fact that the efforts made to apprehend these robbers can be all for naught if they are freed from prison due to a lacking security detail...

Lakshmi: ...makes this game the perfect way to learn about the difficulties of enacting laws with the practical realities of law enforcement!

All: (Looks like we've got our work cut out for us...)

Ushiwakamaru: A-anyway, what say we get started!? This fun isn't going to have itself, after all!

Ushiwakamaru: Ahahaha! Did you really think you could outrun a tengu!? I'm going to get yooou!

Tamamo Cat: Hold it! If there's a game going on today, this cat's gonna come out to play!

Tamamo Cat: Now that I've decided to join, this cat's gonna lead her team to victory with this ultimate technique! Get ready, 'cause here comes my Cat Clone!

Ushiwakamaru: What kind of trickery is this!? Then again, I guess I can do something similar myself...

Ushiwakamaru: At any rate, if that's how you want to play, I'll just round up the whole lot of you! Cover me, Lady Lakshmi!

Lakshmi: Understood. I'll circle around from the left!

Lakshmi: (That said...this is all far too chaotic. Much more so than any battlefield.)

Lakshmi: (I thought I was fairly experienced when it came to commanding a battle, but I'm at a loss as to what to do next...)

Tamamo Cat: (Trying to predict your opponent's next move? Poor thing. You've clearly never trained a cat before.)

Lakshmi: (What the...!?)

Tamamo Cat: (In play, whoever empties their mind is the winner.)

Tamamo Cat: (Understand that this is no mere game. This is a contest to see who can toss out the contents of their brain first...)

Tamamo Cat: (Cats are the truth of the universe, and truth will always be by humanity's side...or at least, for as long as you can still get your hands on cans of cat food...)

Lakshmi: (Empty... Empty... Emptiness is zero. Nothingness. The beginning of the entire universe...)

Lakshmi: (...For that matter, why was I hearing a cat's voice in my head?)

Lakshmi: Heh... Hehe... Hehehehe! I don't know what to make of any of this, but I think I'm starting to enjoy myself!

Fujimaru 1: (Did she just overthink things so much she ended up back at square one?)

Tamamo Cat: I get the feeling things didn't quite turn out how I expected, but hey, the important thing's that you're having fun, woof!

Ushiwakamaru: Exactly! Having fun is all that matters!

Ushiwakamaru: Go on, Lady Lakshmi, now's your chance! Let your instincts take the wheel!

Nemo: It looks like we might finally have to get serious about making our escape.

Nemo: Hmm. Should I make a run for it like a swordfish, or lay low like a flounder?

Gilles: Oh? Isn't that...?

Gilles: I see, I see. Yes, it's all perfectly clear.

Gilles: What a joy to see Jeanne getting in touch with her inner child.

Gilles: Well I, for one, am certainly not about to disturb her.

Gilles: far as I can tell, her side would seem to be significantly outnumbered.

Gilles: Well, we can't have that. Jeanne shines brightest in battle when she's up against a fearsome foe, after all.

Gilles: I'm sure she won't mind if her dear Daddy Longlegs helps her out just a little bit.

Gilles: Ahh, how wonderful it feels to do a good deed. Truly, no one understands Jeanne better than me!

Gilles: Now, let's go ahead and turn this page.

Lakshmi: Huh!?

Ushiwakamaru: Nicely done! You sliced through those starfish monsters that showed up out of nowhere like they were nothing!

Tamamo Cat: (Hang on... Where's that severed starfish arm gonna land? I'm getting a bad feeling about this, woof!)

Nemo: Gah! It hit the ceiling so hard it turned on the sprinklers!

Nemo: And now it's...!

D:Nemo Marine: Aaah, groooss! I like regular starfish, but those things are abominations!

E:Nemo Marine: Now they're sucking up all the water to increase their numbers!

Nemo Professor: Welp... This was quite the unfortunate turn of events.

Lakshmi: Dammit. I did it again...

Nemo: We know why this happened. It's got to be that Caster that looks like a pop-eyed goldfish. I swear...

Nemo Engineer: Hey! Keep it down out there, will ya!?

Nemo Engineer: Oh shit! The hell're those freaky things!? You lot better not let 'em into the engine room, you hear me!?

Nemo Engineer: M-make sure you take care of 'em all on the dock!

Nemo Professor: Another set of sprinklers just went off. And with all that water making their numbers increase even faster...

Nemo Professor: Yeah, I know. It's just like one of those monster movies they've got in the library.

Ushiwakamaru: Well hey, this kind of thing happens in Chaldea all the time!

Ushiwakamaru: Personally, I'm happy to start a new game (read: training session) where I'll get to practice my swordplay!

Nemo: Whatever else happens next, I think we need to take care of these things first.

Lakshmi: Yes, you're right. I'm so sorry things turned out this way!


Fujimaru 1: Lakshmi, he's over there!

Lakshmi: Got it! Then here comes the peace sign! Hrah!

Heroine XX: I got your call about the casting in progress! Is that the perp!?

Heroine XX: So, this is the villainous Caster who controls mysterious monsters from space, huh?

Heroine XX: I'll interrogate him back at the station. Thoroughly. Riiight after I've picked up two of the station cafeteria's famous eel rice bowls!

Heroine XX: Thanks for your help, citizens! Until next crime!

Gilles: (Oh? Do I sense Jeanne somewhere inside this silver armor? Ahh, my beautiful saintly maiden!)

Lakshmi: Phew... My apologies. I should have known it was only a matter of time until my bad luck–


Ahahaha! Please, you have nothing to apologize for! That was an excellent workout!


Never knowing what's going to happen next is all part of the fun. As long as we enjoy ourselves, that's what matters.


Ooh, there's still a few left. Hyah!

Tamamo Cat: What am I doing here, you ask? Trust me, you don't want to see what Ushi looks like grinning while covered from head to toe in blood, woof!

Tamamo Cat: So you'll just have to content yourselves with this adorable kitty cat instead! Meeoow!

Nemo: Well, I know it didn't go entirely as we planned, but what did you think of it?

Lakshmi: You know, I think I did remember what it was like to be a child again for the first time in a long time.

Lakshmi: It helped me remember that it can be fun to run around mindlessly. I think this was a productive use of time.

Lakshmi: ...That said...

Nemo Professor: Okay, stop right there. We have more activities on the agenda, so let's just put a pin in that thought for now.

Nemo Professor: Coming up next, we're all going to experience the wonderful world of indoor games. Hooraaay.


Lakshmi: (Fidgeting nonstop)

Ganesha: Oh? Don't tell me you're giving up when your training has only just begun?

Lakshmi: No! I'm not throwing in the towel yet, Divine Ganesha! I still have plenty of fight–er, sloth, left in me!

Ganesha: Yeah? Then kick back, relax your mind and your body, and try to keep up with my one-hundred percent maximum chill.

Ganesha: Next, try crawling inside this year-round kotatsu up to your shoulders, pick up a handful of dumplings, take aim, and... (Toss)(Gulp) (Toss) (Gulp) ...until they're all gone.

Fujimaru 1: Whoa... She's eating them lying down.

Lakshmi: Um, Ganesha? I don't mind being in the kotatsu, but there doesn't seem to be anything to do in here. You wouldn't happen to have, say, anything to read on hand, would you?

Ganesha: Oh sure. Help yourself to any manga or light novels that strike your fancy.

Ganesha: Hmm. Reading a book while snacking it up with healthy potato chips and cola, huh. Now that's what I call using your noodle!

Lakshmi: Um... On second thought, never mind.

Lakshmi: Raaah! Hang in there, Lakshmi Bai! You mustn't practice with your sword now, no matter how much you want to!

Lakshmi: You're here to learn indoor leisure, and the art of slacking! Now come on! Don't give in! Keep those arms steady!

Nemo: Hmm. I thought it might be worth trying a different way to relax, but I guess this one wasn't a good fit for her...

Lakshmi: (Huff... Huff...)

Lakshmi: Y-you're amazing, Divine Ganesha. I can't believe you endure this kind of harsh training every day!

Ganesha: I think you and I might be working with pretty different definitions of “harsh”...

Ganesha: Still, praise is praise! That's right, gods are great. Go on, worship at my feet!

Ganesha: Then again, speaking as your host, I guess I do have an obligation to keep my guests entertained.

Ganesha: How 'bout we play a video game next? That should be easy for you guys, right?

Fujimaru 1: Can we all play together?

Ganesha: Oh sure. It's an MMO, so the more the merrier.

Ganesha: Specifically, it's a brand-new co-op open world VR RPG.

Ganesha: Trust me, it's gonna blow your minds.

Nemo Professor: I can vouch for that.

Nemo Professor: Sion, Da Vinci, and I combined our latest technical experiments to develop it together.

Nemo Professor: It's still in open beta, so the materials and mechanics might be a little rough...

Nemo Professor: ...but I guarantee it's got the goods where it counts.

Ganesha: Not to toot my own horn, but since I'm basically, like, the greatest gamer ever...

Ganesha: ...they sent me a few devkits 'cause they wanted my help beta testing it.

Ganesha: So don't worry, there's plenty of hardware to go around. Now let's play!

Lakshmi: A video game, huh?

Lakshmi: I've tried them once or twice in the rec room, but I generally stick to analog.

Ganesha: Don't worry, the controls are super easy. All right, here are your headsets!

Nemo Professor: Since I helped make it, I'll stay here and monitor the game from the outside. Have fun.

Fujimaru 1: Okay, here goes!

Ganesha: There we go! All booted up.

Lakshmi: Oh, wow. This is surprisingly realistic. It feels just like being in the simulator.

Nemo: They must have used some technology from the simulator to make this.

Nemo: It would have been a big waste of time and resources to develop a VR game system entirely from scratch, after all.

Nemo: And since this is all still in the test phase, I'm sure they've been taking shortcuts where they can.

Nemo: ...Like, say, with that guy over there.

Weapons Shop Owner: Welcome! Remember, you've gotta equip a weapon for it to have any effect!

Fujimaru 1: E-Eric? Did you just talk like, well, a normal person?

Fujimaru 2: Uh-oh. Now what's your wife up to? (Look around anxiously)

Ganesha: That's just an NPC. It's using a Servant's appearance for its base model.

Ganesha: They asked a bunch of Servants for permission to 3D scan them to save time and resources with asset creation.

Ganesha: They're a little uncanny valley at first since it's just vanilla game AI under the hood, but once you get past that, it's pretty novel.

Ganesha: But yeah, you really do need to equip some gear before you take on your first quest.

Ganesha: Go ahead and get whatever weapon you like. First round's on me.

Weapons Shop Owner: Welcome! What'll it be?

Fujimaru 1: Let's see... How about that Bloody Axe?

Weapons Shop Owner: Excellent choice. That'll be three thousand QP. Wanna equip it now?

Narration: ...Fujimaru has been cursed!

Ganesha: I can't believe you went for the obviously cursed weapon right off the bat...

Ganesha: I didn't know you were so big on challenge runs.

Ganesha: Still, it does have an HP absorption effect to make up for the double damage you take...

Ganesha: if you play your figurative cards right, you might be able to make it work for you.

Fujimaru 2: I'll take that hot-pink Kama Bow.

Weapons Shop Owner: Excellent choice. That'll be four thousand QP. Wanna equip it now?

Narration: ...Fujimaru has been cursed!

Narration: Fujimaru is now extremely vulnerable to Love attacks!

Ganesha: No way. That was cursed?

Ganesha: That's a hell of a passive debuff, too. I can't believe they stocked something like that in the starter store.

Ganesha: W-well hey, we're only playing a quick game anyway, so it shouldn't be a problem, right?

Lakshmi: I'm not sure what I should do here...

Nemo: Maybe you could try a weapon you'd normally never use? Experimenting is part of what makes video games fun.

Nemo: I'm going to try out a short sword and shield set myself.

Lakshmi: That's a good point. In that case, I think I'll try this wand that lets you cast summoning magic.

Lakshmi: Hmm, that's pretty light. I'm not sure this is strong enough to break through an enemy's armor...

Ganesha: That's okay. Spellcasters don't usually have to worry about close-range combat, anyway.

Ganesha: All right, now we...Hm?

Osakabehime: Oh hey, you guys are here, too?

Osakabehime: Wow, you've got quite the party there. I'm surprised the Indian princess agreed to join you.

Osakabehime: I thought the only kind of games you were interested in were the war games you play with Liang.

Lakshmi: I thought I would try something new for a change.

Ganesha: Hey Hime. Didn't know you were logged in, too. No Tomoe today?

Osakabehime: Nope, just me.

Osakabehime: But never mind that now! I almost forgot!

Osakabehime: Look at that, Gacchan! There, around that forest in the corner of your map!

Ganesha: Whoa. This marker's for a super rare quest!

Osakabehime: I know! That's why I was in such a hurry! There's no way I can pass this up!

Osakabehime: In fact, if we all go together, the quest reward will be just as good...

Osakabehime: ...and more players'll make it easier to complete! What do you say!?

Ganesha: I'm in! All right guys, now that you all have some equipment, let's get this adventure started!

Osakabehime: Wooo! Just you wait, legendary drop! I'm coming for you!

Lakshmi: Hmm. You know, traveling for its own sake is kind of nice. No march, no escape, just roaming.

Ganesha: Oh? Does that mean you're having fun?

Lakshmi: I am.

Lakshmi: I used to be so preoccupied with allies, enemies, what I should do, what I shouldn't do, and what I had to do...

Lakshmi: ...that moving from place to place was always a tense and dangerous act that required constant vigilance.

Lakshmi: So I think this may be the first journey in my life...

Lakshmi: ...where I've been able to just take in the scenery and enjoy pleasant small talk with my companions.

Osakabehime: Don't forget teaming up to fight monsters.

Lakshmi: Hehe. True, it's also my first time waving a wand to summon...spirits? Indeed, this has all been an invaluable experience.

Nemo: In my case, Nemo may have traveled on land before, but I don't think Triton ever walked this far in his life.

Nemo: It's definitely novel, but I am starting to miss my ship a little.

Ganesha: Guess we'll just have to wait for an update where they add ocean and underwater stages.

Fujimaru 1: I don't think that's the issue...

Nemo: (Whispering) On a different note, I'm glad she seems to be genuinely enjoying this game.

Nemo: I just hope it's enough to help her learn how to relax on her own.

Fujimaru 1: Me too.

Fujimaru 2: Hopefully, the indoor play experts know what they're doing.

Nemo: Part of me worries they might be a little TOO expert... But for now, I'm happy they're here to guide her.

Osakabehime: Hey, I think we found it!

Ganesha: Lessee, quest info... “Rescue the kidnapped princess from the bandit!” Well, that's simple enough.

Ganesha: I bet we'll get a reward from a king when we're done. Well, shall we?

Lakshmi: Hmm. So we have a beautiful princess, and a villain threatening to use her for his own dastardly ends, huh. It's certainly clear who the victim and villain are here.

Lakshmi: Well, even if none of this is real, I cannot let this depravity stand. Have at you, scoundrel! My wand and I will make short work of you!

Fujimaru 1: (Looks like she's really taking to the whole spellcaster thing.)

Nemo: Huh...? Wait. Something's not right...

G:???: Heh heh heh. No one can hear you now, Princess.

H: ???: Eeeeeek! Stay away from me, you brute!

Lakshmi: Bwa?

Fujimaru 1: ...

Fujimaru 2: I think someone might've messed up the casting.

Ganesha: No, wait. I think they did this on purpose! Artists are all about subverting expectations!

Ganesha: Trust me, this wouldn't be the first quest I've done where you can just sense the devs toying with you!

Da Vinci: Got it in one.

Wicked Bandit: Well well, you're still real pretty even when you're bawlin' your eyes out, ain'tcha, Princess? But I wonder; how long'll you be able to keep up the prim and proper act?

Wicked Bandit: You do know what I'm about to do to ya, right?

Wicked Bandit: Or are you princesses so sheltered ya can't even imagine?

Beautiful Princess: Eeek! Stay away from me! I-I know what you're going to do. You're going to do something terrible, right!?

Beautiful Princess: The kind of terrible things Zeus or Poseidon would do!

Nemo: Uh... Just what does he–she?–think the Greek gods are?

Fujimaru 1: This is all so weird my head's starting to spin.

Lakshmi: A-agreed.

Lakshmi: Perhaps this is meant to teach us not to judge books by their covers.

Lakshmi: If so, I've never seen it taught so...viscerally before. Perhaps there really is something to these video games.

Osakabehime: You think? I'm not so sure they put that much thought into it...

Fujimaru 2: I gotta say, hearing Anastasia talk tough is kind of refreshing!

Osakabehime: Save the commentary for later! Though yeah, I admit, it's kind of hilarious!

Ganesha: Okay, this might not be quite what we were expecting, but it's still a quest, and we still know what we have to do!

Ganesha: We'll be fine as long as we take the adventurer approach to problem-solving. Maybe I'll even show off what I can really do while I'm at it. Come on!

Wicked Bandit: Wh-who the hell're you guys!? You knights here to save the princess!?

Wicked Bandit: Well I ain't givin' her up now without a fight! Get 'em!

Wicked Bandit: You'll pay for thiiis!

Ganesha: What a letdown. That barely even qualified as a battle.

Ganesha: Sorry, guys. Guess I'm just too OP for the starter zone.

Ganesha: Really, my only complaint about this game is that the enemies are too weak. I need a good challenge!

Lakshmi: Really?

Osakabehime: You can't set the game to Gacchan difficulty. I'm pretty hardcore, but manga's where my kokoro is.

Osakabehime: She, on the other hand, doesn't put a game down until she's completely obliterated it.

Ganesha: What can I say? I'm the champ of speedruns and time sinks.

Ganesha: Of course I'm gonna get massively OP the more time I put into a game.

Ganesha: My stats right now are all seriously godlike! There's not an enemy in this game that can touch me! Hahaha!

Ganesha: I can only hope they patch in a hard mode and some new monsters to go with it soon!

Nemo: Good grief. Nothing good can come of a god buying into your own hype.

Nemo: Just try to be careful and... Hm? Looks like there's still one enemy left.

Ganesha: Here, Lakshmi, why don't you finish 'em off?

Lakshmi: I don't usually care to hunt down lone stragglers, especially when there's nothing to gain from it, but if this one still means to attack us, I suppose I have no choice.

Lakshmi: All right, I'll call on my attack spirit again...

Lakshmi: Huh? What's going on?

Osakabehime: Is that a random rare elemental summon? I've never seen one in this game before...

Pārvatī: Fee, fi, fo, fum... Somebody here's been playing too many games...

Fujimaru 1: You summoned Par!

Fujimaru 2: Why does she sound like she just climbed down a beanstalk!?

Ganesha: Aah! Maman–I mean, Mother!? What are you doing here!?

Ganesha: O-oh, wait. Ahaha. What am I saying?

Ganesha: This is still just a game, so it's gotta just be one of the devs' sick idea of a joke. It couldn't be anything else.

Ganesha: I'm surprised she agreed to let them use her image... b-but it's still just an NPC who looks like her.

Ganesha: So there's nothing to be afraid of! Haha! Hey Mom, try this on for size! (Whap whap)

Fujimaru 1: (No way she'd ever think to try that IRL...)

Lakshmi: Wait! Something's not right with my wand... It's still not done casting!

Pārvatīs: Fee, fi, fo, fum...    Somebody here's...     been playing too many games...



Osakabehime: The hell!? They just keep coming!

Nemo Professor: Yes, hi there. I have an emergency admin report to make. Our code is bugging out, I repeat, bugging out.

Nemo Professor: Unimplemented NPC data is being automatically duplicated as combat-capable enemies.

Nemo Professor: As far as I can tell, somebody's divine aura created some kind of magecraft-based link between the game and simulator!

Nemo Professor: So the situation you're experiencing now is half game, half simulation.

Nemo Professor: It's possible that negative magecraft feedback your avatars experience may result in negative effects on your actual Spirit Origin.

Nemo Professor: Unfortunately, the forced logout command isn't working right now either. I'm working on fixing it, but it'll take some time.

Nemo Professor: You're just going to have to hang in there until I've dealt with it!

Lakshmi: ...I did it again, didn't I?

Nemo: ...

Ganesha: I know I said I wanted a good challenge, but I never asked for some kinda nightmare mode!


Ganesha: (Huff, huff, huff) I-I won! Oh man, that was the hardest won victory I've had in forever!

Ganesha: Also, am I imagining things, or were they all just going after me? I mean, I know I've been slacking off on my godly duties for a little–okay, a long while, but still!

Nemo Professor: There you go; mission complete. And I finished debugging the code, too.

Nemo Professor: What do you want to do now?

Lakshmi: ...I'm sorry, everyone, but I think we had better end the game here.

Ganesha: Yeah, good idea. I haven't worked up a cold sweat while playing a game in a long time.

Lakshmi: Again, I'm sorry...

Nemo: ...

Fujimaru 1: Lakshmi's really taking this hard...

Fujimaru 2: She's sprawled out facedown on a desk like a kid in detention...

Lakshmi: I should have known it was no use. No matter where I go, I can't escape my bad luck.

Lakshmi: I can't go around making trouble for everyone like this.

Lakshmi: They'll be better off if I just keep my distance unless absolutely necessary...

Nemo Marine: Waaah, I can't bear to see her like this. She looks so sad!

Nemo Baker: It's okay. At least now we know what the problem is.

Nemo Baker: And now that we do, the captain won't waste any time doing something about it♡

Nemo Professor: True. You've got to be pretty decisive to captain a ship.

Nemo: Can I talk to you for a moment, Lakshmi?

Lakshmi: No... Not right now. Maybe some other ti–

Nemo: This is about the problem you're dealing with.

Nemo: You're a commander, right? When there's a problem in your army, aren't you supposed to analyze it?

Lakshmi: Well yes, of course. But what problem of mine are you talking about?

Nemo: Well, to be blunt, the biggest problem...

Nemo: the fact that you're underestimating us.

Lakshmi: Huh? What do you mean?

Nemo: I'm glad you asked. Mentors, would you mind telling her what you thought of today's events?

Ushiwakamaru: Today's events? I thought they were a ton of fun!

Ushiwakamaru: I certainly didn't plan for our game to go the way it did, but that's exactly why it was so unforgettable!

Ganesha: I mean, I was taken aback at having to fight multiple Mamans–I mean, Mothers...

Ganesha: But as far as gaming experiences go, it was some of the most fun I've had in a while! I didn't see that twist coming, that's for sure!

Ganesha: I did, uh, definitely do some stuff I could never have gotten away with IRL though...

Ganesha: you could you maybe keep everything I said just between us? Kthxbye!

Fujimaru 1: While we're at it, I can tell you I had a lot of fun, too.

Lakshmi: !!!

Nemo: Now do you get it?

Nemo: That bad luck and misfortune you seem to think of like it's the end of the world just makes things more interesting for us.

Nemo: Let's see... Think about it like this.

Nemo: You think your bad luck means the best thing you can do is keep some distance from your friends here.

Nemo: But that doesn't mean you hate the goddess giving you that bad luck, or that you want to get rid of her.

Nemo: Would you agree with that?

Lakshmi: Yes, of course!

Lakshmi: ...I'm grateful to her. I couldn't be here now without her.

Lakshmi: It's thanks to her that I'm able to fight as a Servant.

Lakshmi: There's no point in wondering about how things could be different. I'm here now. That's what matters.

Nemo: Exactly. You accept your bad luck as an intrinsic part of who you are, right?

Nemo: Well, it's exactly the same for us. We accept it as a part of you, too.

Lakshmi: !!!

Nemo: And that brings us back to what I was saying before.

Nemo: So I'm hoping you can have faith in us, rather than underestimating us.

Nemo: Or are we so weak that you can't bring yourself to do that?

Lakshmi: I didn't mean–

Nemo: We all know this is who you are. It's okay to just be yourself.

Nemo: In fact, that's really all you have to do.

Lakshmi: Yes... I see. You may be right.

Lakshmi: Up till now, I've only seen my misfortune as a problem to be managed...

Lakshmi: Something to be kept carefully in check to ensure it doesn't hurt or make trouble for others.

Lakshmi: But maybe that's not right. Maybe there's more to it than that.

Lakshmi: Maybe it's one more thing keeping me connected to all of you and all of them...

Ganesha: Hey, I'm getting some profound words of wisdom from my inner Ganesha, who, need I remind you, hails from your homeland as well.

Ganesha: He says, “Bad luck and good fortune are two sides of the same coin.”

Nemo Professor: (And that's not even getting into the various interpretations that say Alakshmi and Lakshmi are different aspects of the same goddess.)

Lakshmi: ...I suppose you're right. Good fortune or bad, you still need to be alive to experience it.

Lakshmi: I certainly couldn't fret about my bad luck if I weren't here in the first place.

Lakshmi: In fact, thinking about it now...luck was never much a part of my short life, or of those around me.

Lakshmi: We simply didn't have time to think about whether our luck was good or bad while we were desperately fighting for our lives.

Fujimaru 1: But now, you do?

Lakshmi: Yes, I do. In fact, I think I've just realized something.

Lakshmi: My experiences with both good and bad luck now may themselves be something to be grateful for.

Lakshmi: I think I may have been so overly focused on achieving results that I simply failed to see that, even though it should have been obvious.

Ganesha: Hey, don't beat yourself up. I heard how you were especially unsure about how to get along with kids, and that's not the kind of skill you just pick up overnight.

Ganesha: Honestly, in my case, I'm not even sure if I have it at all.

Lakshmi: ...I once lost a child of my own. That loss was one of the things that drove me to rebel.

Lakshmi: Still, I did go on to adopt, and my relationship with my adopted child was fairly good...

Lakshmi: But I suppose that doesn't change the fact that we didn't get to spend much time together.

Lakshmi: So, thinking about it now...

Lakshmi: ...this was essentially my first time struggling to get along with children.

Lakshmi: Given how little experience I have with them, I guess it's only to be expected.

Nemo: You're trying to figure out how to relate to all sorts of people outside the battlefield now, including children, and you're doing so while dealing with not a few luck-related issues.

Nemo: You're doing things you never got the chance to do back when you were alive.

Nemo: So it's no wonder you're feeling lost. It's okay. There's no need to rush to find an answer.

Lakshmi: Hehe. I suppose I still have a ways to go even when it comes to understanding myself.

Lakshmi: I should never have been so presumptuous as to think I could fight as well as anyone else.

Lakshmi: Really, it should have been obvious what would happen if I rushed into battle without understanding my side's capabilities or disposition.

Murasaki Shikibu: Excuse me! May I say something?

Murasaki Shikibu: I got an idea while I was listening to your discussion, and I'd like to make a suggestion.

Fujimaru 1: What is it?

Murasaki Shikibu: Lady Lakshmi...have you ever considered keeping a diary?

Lakshmi: A diary? What's that?

Murasaki Shikibu: It's an empty book meant to let you write down all your inner thoughts and feelings.

Murasaki Shikibu: It's like keeping another version of yourself around that you can look at more objectively.

Murasaki Shikibu: They're great for helping you reflect on the events of your life, and can be a tool for understanding yourself better.

Murasaki Shikibu: And with that deeper understanding, it becomes easier to think about how you relate to the people around you.

Murasaki Shikibu: Your writings can be as short and simple as you like, too. Why not try it out and see how it feels?

Lakshmi: Hmm...

Ushiwakamaru: Lady Lakshmi's diary, huh!? That sounds like it would be lots of fun to read!

Ushiwakamaru: I can't wait to read all about the new and inventive games you come up with!

Ushiwakamaru: In the meantime, I also can't wait for our next game of Dock Monsters!

Lakshmi: Hold on. Are we supposed to let other people read our diaries, too?

Murasaki Shikibu: Th-that's, um, difficult to say.

Murasaki Shikibu: Speaking as someone who only recently found out her own diary has been read by a shockingly huge number of people...

Murasaki Shikibu: ...I'm not sure I'm in a position to offer an objective opinion about that...

Ganesha: Well, if you're gonna be writing stuff for other people to read anyway...

Ganesha: ...why not try that experimental social media platform Da Vinci and Sion made along with that VR game in their spare time?

Ganesha: I think they said they're calling it...Servantgram!

Fujimaru 1: Now they're doing social media, too!?

Lakshmi: This is the first I'm hearing of it as well. ...Well, they do say there is strength in consistency.

Lakshmi: Perhaps I will be able to keep writing if I know that other people are reading it.

Lakshmi: ...All right, I've made my decision. I'll try it!

Nemo: I think it's a good idea, too. I've long known how important ship logs are, after all.

Nemo: Rereading them can give you a different perspective or even lead to new discoveries, and there's a lot to learn from reading other ships' logs, too.

Lakshmi: Indeed. Captain Nemo, I know now that our initial goal of finding ways for me to relax so I could form better relationships with the other Servants here...

Lakshmi: something I'm not ready for just yet.

Lakshmi: First, I need to think about how I can better relate to others in a way that's more true to who I am.

Lakshmi: And, as you have faith in all of you.

Lakshmi: Thank you for helping me realize this. I really appreciate it.

Lakshmi: Worry not. I'll keep doing my best to get by, in my own way.

Lakshmi: ...That being said.

Lakshmi: I do think I now have a better idea of how to least a little.

Narration: And so, Lakshmi Bai began posting diary entries on Servantgram.

Narration: True to form, they were earnest, polite, and devoid of any excess dramatics–no nonsense, just the facts.

Narration: And yet, in spite of that–or perhaps because of it–her account became surprisingly popular...though her followers gave very different reasons as to why they enjoyed it.

Narration: One Servant said Lakshmi's posts always cheered her up. Another said they had a way of getting him to look on the bright side of things. Yet another said they were perfect for seeing which way fortunes were flowing, and for making magecraft-based astrological observations.

Narration: The following is an excerpt from one entry.

Narration: ○○○○○ber XX Today, I played with the children for a bit.

Nursery Rhyme: Teehee! What's going on? It's hilarious!

Jeanne Alter Santa Lily: Your bad luck does sound pretty tough, but I think it's a lot of fun!

Bunyan: Oh no! What're we gonna do!?

Jack: Do it again! Again!

Narration: My misfortune may still end up causing others trouble, but I've come to see that may not be so bad.

Narration: Of course, that only applies in cases where they find it funny. I certainly don't want to get accustomed to shrugging off the trouble I cause others.

Narration: Still...these children are Servants, too. I'm sure they must have experienced their own share of misfortune.

Narration: I think that must be why they're strong enough to laugh off the bad luck that comes my way.

Narration: ...I mustn't underestimate them. I need to interact with them and learn from them, just as they are.

Narration: Today, I managed to learn a lot. ...Today was a lucky day.

Narration: ○○○○○ber XY ...and so, today was a lucky day.

Narration: ○○○○○ber XZ in the end, today was a lucky day.

Narration: ○○○○○ber YY ...all in all, today was another lucky day.

Lakshmi: ...Oh, hello.

Narration: ○○○○○ber XZ Today, I ran into two of my most trusted comrades.

Narration: The ones who helped me realize something very important.

Narration: Once again...

Narration: was an incredibly lucky day.