Die Walküre

Thrúd: I think you have to go with “Want to come back to my place?”

Hildr: Oh yeah, that's totally the right move!

Ortlinde: True, we could talk a lot if they were willing to come back to my place. But, I don't know if I'm comfortable with proposing that myself...

Thrúd: Why not? They say love is war, and in war, whoever makes the first move has a clearer path to victory.

Hildr: Yup! You can't have a victory without a battle first!

Ortlinde: True... B-but then again, this isn't actually a war. This is a video game meant to simulate dating.

Ortlinde: So I'm not sure the usual rules of warfare are necessarily the way to go in this case...

Thrúd: ... ...

Thrúd: ...Wh-what do you think, Tomoe Gozen?

Tomoe Gozen: Ahh, this tea is so good. Hm? Did you say something?

Tomoe Gozen: Ahh, I see. Branching dialogue. Personally, I believe choosing whichever option sounds best to you is the way to go...

Tomoe Gozen: ...but I have also heard from Lord Zhuge Liang that characters in games like these do tend to have distinct preferences.

El-Melloi II: Well, if it's a Japanese game we're talking about, they tend to cover all the bases pretty well. What's that? A dating sim?

El-Melloi II: Those aren't the kinds of games I usually play, but if you want my advice, I'd say make sure to get a bead on your target character's likes and dislikes.

El-Melloi II: Honestly, it really isn't much different from gauging a battle. If the enemy has a certain inclination, all you have to do is focus on it and plan accordingly.

El-Melloi II: As Sun Tzu once said:

El-Melloi II: “If you know your enemy and know yourself, you will never be defeated in a hundred battles.”

Tomoe Gozen: Does that help?

Thrúd: “Know your enemy...”

Hildr: “Know yourself...”

Ortlinde: “And you will never be defeated in a hundred battles.” No wonder he was such a revered tactician.

Hildr: He might not quite be the kind of brave warrior we're always keeping an eye out for, but he sure was a smart guy.

Thrúd: Know your enemy and know yourself... Hmm...

Tomoe Gozen: Hehe. All that aside, I never expected to have an opportunity to play with you all in the recreation room in such a manner.

Tomoe Gozen: This is wonderful! There are a number of four-player games I have been wanting to try that would be perfect to share with my three new gamer friends!

Thrúd: ...Gamer friends?

Tomoe Gozen: Oh, did I misunderstand?

Hildr: Nah, I think you can call us your gamer friends no problem. I mean, we do hang out here all the time these days.

Ortlinde: And you've been a huge help to us ever since we were summoned. Oh, please help yourself to the snacks we brought.

Tomoe Gozen: Thank you. They look delicious. Oh, where are my manners? I haven't even made you tea.

Ortlinde: Oh, no, you don't have to go to any trouble for us.

Tomoe Gozen: Not at all. It's the least I can do. Wait right here; I'll be back in no time.

Thrúd: Gamer friends, huh...?

Thrúd: I hadn't realized it before, but I suppose that is what we are now, isn't it?

Hildr: Well hey, considering how much we come here nowadays, it was bound to happen.

Thrúd: I suppose you're right.

Ortlinde: Of course she is, Thrúd.

Thrúd: You know, I hadn't given it much thought until now...

Thrúd: ...but we really have become accustomed to all three of us materializing at once, haven't we?

Hildr: ... ...

Ortlinde: I know we do our best to keep [♂ his /♀️ her} magical energy consumption to a minimum...but there's no way we could all actually fight together like this, is there?

Ortlinde: We used to take turns being summoned, but at the moment, Thrúd is the only one of us materialized in an official capacity.

Ortlinde: And even though we always reintegrate into one Heroic Spirit whenever we're fighting for Chaldea on Master's behalf...

Ortlinde: ...having all three of us materialized the rest of the time has got to be...well...

Hildr: ...Yeah. It definitely takes a toll on Master.

Thrúd: I've already talked to the technical advisor about this, but...

Hildr: I remember. She said our simultaneous materialization wasn't having any noticeable effect on Master's vitals...

Hildr: ...and that this sort of thing isn't all that unusual at Chaldea, so it wasn't a big deal.

Ortlinde: True.

Thrúd: Really, when you get right down to it...we still don't even know why we all want to be materialized simultaneously.

Thrúd: Strategically speaking, we know it's a waste of resources, and yet...

Hildr: For some reason...

Ortlinde: We all just naturally end up materializing together.

Thrúd: I also tried talking to our sister in the hope that she could help us get to the bottom of this mystery, as she knows even more about being a Valkyrie than we do. But...

Brynhild: Utilitarianism may have its uses, but it is far from all there is to life. That is just as true for Heroic and Divine Spirits as it is for humans.

Brynhild: Even if our transient bodies are merely made of ether instead of flesh and bone...

Brynhild: ...we still have things that make our fleeting existence worthwhile.

Brynhild: Pride. Honor. Fate. Love. We may not always know where they are, and we may sometimes stumble on the way to finding them, but they still give our lives meaning all the same.

Brynhild: And since that is surely the same for all of you as it is for anyone else, I don't think there's anything mysterious about your situation at all.

Thrúd: Love!

Thrúd: L-l-l-love...

Hildr: O-o-oh gosh, oh gosh. Y-y-you think we're in love? You think we can love?

Hildr: D-d-d-don't be ridiculous, Sister! Y-you know as well as we do that we're just automated machines the Allfather made.

Hildr: Right!?

Ortlinde: ......

Ortlinde: .........Pshhht.

Hildr: Aah! Ortlinde is overheating!

Thrúd: Oh gosh, oh gosh, oh gosh.

Hildr: Thrúd!

Brynhild: Hehehe.

Brynhild: Ahh, this takes me back. You three remind me of myself when I was younger.

Hildr: Sisteeer!

Thrúd: After that, we tried talking to all sorts of other Servants in an effort to learn just what love truly is...

Hildr: ...but none of their answers really clicked for us.

Hildr: And that brings us to now.

Ortlinde: Dating involves romance, so if these games simulate it, I think we should be able to use them to learn about love.

Hildr: I think so too. Man, humans come up with the most interesting ideas sometimes, don't they?

Hildr: Don't you agree, Thrúd?

Thrúd: ...I see no need for me to give voice to my opinion, seeing as we synchronize our thought patterns at regular intervals.

Hildr: I know, but still... Hmm.

Thrúd: At this point, we should forgo sleep in order to play this game as much as possible. Er, not that we need to sleep in the first place, of course.

Hildr: Well, in for a penny, in for a pound. We might all be thinking along the same lines, but three heads are still better than one!

Ortlinde: That's exactly what a famous Eastern proverb says. And it's right. With all our wisdom pooled together, there is no conundrum we can't overcome.

Valkyries: Yeah!

Tomoe Gozen: (Nnn... It seems I was right to wait before offering them tea.)

Tomoe Gozen: (Hmm, I see. So that is why they are here...)

Tomoe Gozen: ...So that is the story.

Tomoe Gozen: I am happy to have new gamer friends no matter what their reasons may be, of course...

Tomoe Gozen: ...but the way they are spending almost every moment of every day staring at a screen, well...

Tomoe Gozen: I could not help but worry about them...

Tomoe Gozen: It was very difficult for me to come to you about this, Master, but I am afraid I did not know what else to do.

Fujimaru 1: Thanks for telling me, Tomoe.

Fujimaru 2: I'm glad you told me about this.

Tomoe Gozen: Of course...

F:Voice: Beautiful. I see the spark of true friendship in your concern for your peers.

Sigurd: For after all, what is friendship without regard for our fellow person's well-being?

Tomoe Gozen: I know you!

Sigurd: Forgive the intrusion, Tomoe Gozen and Master, but I couldn't help but overhear your discussion.

Sigurd: Allow me to handle this. For you see...

Sigurd: I have an excellent idea!

Thrúd: Are you all right, Master?

Thrúd: I can handle a trek across a snowy mountain like this just fine since I am able to fly, but it must be much more difficult for you.

Fujimaru 1: Don't worry, I'm fine.

Fujimaru 2: It's okay. I'm used to walking.

Thrúd: This is quite a lot of snow, even by my standards.

Thrúd: This is supposed to be a recreation of the Scandinavian Lostbelt, correct?

Thrúd: While all these mountains and trees made up of ice and snow are certainly beautiful to look at, I can't help but find them a jarring sight.

Thrúd: That aside...

Thrúd: Why did we come to the Scandinavian Lostbelt?

Thrúd: If you only wished to have us simulate combat for training purposes, we Valkyries could do so just as easily in our own mind space.

Thrúd: Of course, if you wish to have us practice coordinating with you, then I can see the value in training like this...

Thrúd: ...but it still seems wasteful to use your precious magical energy resources on a, um, o-one-on-one session...

Thrúd: I-I, um... I'm sorry, Master.

Thrúd: Considering how my sisters and I are forcing you to let us all materialize simultaneously, even if only during downtime, I have no right to say that...

Fujimaru 1: It's fine. I knew the Valkyries were a package deal going in.

Fujimaru 2: Don't worry about it. The magical energy it takes tokeep you all around is barely a blip on the radar.

Thrúd: ... ...

Thrúd: ...Thank you, Master.

Thrúd: !

Thrúd: The wind just picked up...

F:Voice: Hehe.

F:Voice: Since when do you care about the well-being of a measly human? Now you're just embarrassing yourself, puppet.

Red-Eyed Swordsman: That aside, you sure do talk a lot for a damn doll, don't you?

Red-Eyed Swordsman: Tell me, Valkyrie, just how far are you and your sisters going to fall over a damn human?

Thrúd: !

Thrúd: It can't be... Surtr!?

Thrúd: N-no... You aren't the Fiery King of Giants...

Thrúd: You are Sigurd, the man Sister Brynhild loved! But... Aah!

Thrúd: I know I have no records of this Lostbelt, yet every circuit in my body is telling me that when his eyes glow red, Sigurd is a threat to the very planet itself!

Thrúd: Your eternally burning hellfire would consume all of reality if left unchecked! Why are you here of all places!?

Red-Eyed Swordsman: Heh. You ask me why, puppet?

Red-Eyed Swordsman: Why? Why, you say!? Hehehehe. That is exactly the question I have for you, Valkyrie!

Red-Eyed Swordsman: Why do you mimic your predecessor and degrade yourself by serving a human? What could you have possibly gained by doing so!?

Thrúd: !?

Red-Eyed Swordsman: Exactly. The answer is “nothing.”

Red-Eyed Swordsman: The only thing you obsolete automata are good for is deceiving brave warriors who died nobly in battle and taking their souls with you to Valhalla.

Red-Eyed Swordsman: No more. I will destroy you and stop you from embarrassing yourselves any longer.

Thrúd: ...!

Thrúd: Master, I don't know when or how, but we've been surrounded by giants!

Thrúd: It is still unclear who this man is or what he wants, but it does seem clear that peaceful negotiation is no longer an option!

Fujimaru 1: Then we'll just have to stay calm and take them on.

Fujimaru 2: It's okay. We can handle them as long as we keep our cool.

Thrúd: ...Understood.

Thrúd: Initiating combat routines. Preparing to eliminate all enemy targets.

Thrúd: O Great Allfather, lend me your strength!


Thrúd: Yaaah!

Red-Eyed Swordsman: Well, well!

Red-Eyed Swordsman: Not bad spearmanship for a Valkyrie who's lost her way!

Thrúd: Yes, that's right! I...we, are lost!

Thrúd: ... ...

Thrúd: ...Before, we would have just diagnosed ourselves as broken, and asked the Allfather for repairs.

Thrúd: But now, I–we, know Sister Brynhild.

Thrúd: Both the Allfather and Sister herself said that she was broken...

Thrúd: But we hesitate to agree...

Red-Eyed Swordsman: Oh?

Thrúd: After all...

Thrúd: After all, Sister Brynhild is so beautiful when she smiles like that.

Thrúd: We just cannot believe that she only does so because she's broken. No...we don't want to believe it!

Thrúd: That is why we remain lost! That is why we refuse to reject our own half-broken selves!

Thrúd: Even if, by remaining broken, we irrevocably set ourselves on a path towards oblivion...

Thrúd: Even if learning about love brings us nothing but a tragic, fiery death, we will still–

Brynhild: That's enough!

Red-Eyed Swordsman: ...

Thrúd: Sister...

Thrúd: Huh? Sister...Brynhild?

Brynhild: Yes. It's me.

Thrúd: ...?

Red-Eyed Swordsman: And me.

Sigurd: My dear sister-in-law, Thrúd. No...

Sigurd: My dear sisters, Thrúd, Hildr, and Ortlinde. I am overjoyed to see your resolve for myself.

Thrúd: ...Sigurd?

Thrúd: (Gasp)

Thrúd: M-M-Master! Is this about what I think it's about!?

Fujimaru 1: Sure is!

Thrúd: Oh gosh, oh gosh...

Fujimaru 2: Yup! I'm impressed how quickly you figured it out.

Thrúd: ...!

Thrúd: Th-then...

Thrúd: You, Sigurd, and Sister were so concerned about me–er, us...

Thrúd: ...spending so much of our time on d-d-dating sims...

Thrúd: ...that you decided to trick us like this?

Brynhild: I'm sorry, Thrúd. I knew such a deception would be profoundly shocking for you.

Brynhild: But you three have been so obsessed lately that I figured, if you didn't get it out of your system like this...

Brynhild:'d never be able to take a step back and see the larger picture.

Sigurd: As usual, Brynhild is being too modest. All she did was nod in mild agreement. The responsibility for this deception lies entirely with me.

Sigurd: Sisters, I apologize for what I said to you behind my mask. Even if the goal in doing so was ultimately to help you, I cannot deny that they were still terrible things to say.

Sigurd: I won't ask for your forgiveness. I will only ask that you direct all of your ire towards me.

Brynhild: Beloved...

Thrúd: ... ...

Thrúd: Th-then, this must mean...

Thrúd: We were acting in such a dreadful manner that we caused our dear sister to worry about us...

Sigurd: Sister. Sisters. I trust the other two of you can hear me through Thrúd?

Sigurd: I want to tell you all something very important. Something your sister once told me.

Thrúd: ...?

Sigurd: Get lost!

Thrúd: Huh!?

Sigurd: By which I mean, if there is some piece of knowledge that remains beyond your grasp, or you are unable to find what it is you seek...

Sigurd: ...then go ahead and stray away from the path you know to look for it. Go ahead and get lost in the proverbial woods.

Sigurd: You need not worry that you will lose your way forever, for Brynhild and I will always be there to stop you from going down the wrong path.

Sigurd: So let yourselves be lost. Let yourselves agonize and search for solutions as much as you need. In doing so, you will all learn and grow.

Thrúd: Grow...

Thrúd: Don't be ridiculous, Sigurd. How could we ever grow when we are nothing more than transient ether?

Sigurd: That is where you are mistaken, Sister.

Sigurd: As long as we exist in this world, regardless of what form that existence may take, we are still resolutely ourselves.

Sigurd: At least, that is how I see it.

Brynhild: Me too.

Fujimaru 1: Same here.

Fujimaru 2: I think that's a fine way to look at it.

Brynhild: Thank you, Fujimaru. I'm so glad my sisters have you for their Master.

Sigurd: As am I, beloved.

Brynhild: Indeed.

Thrúd: Master... Sister...

Sigurd: Brynhild?

Brynhild: Beloved, I don't think I'll be able to hold my spear back much longer...

Sigurd: I see. Then I'd better wrap this up quick.

Sigurd: Thrúd! Hildr! Ortlinde! I have an order for you on Master's behalf!

Thrúd: Y-yes!? What is it!?

Sigurd: No more than one hour of gaming per day!

Narration: ...Begin Ortlinde's personal memory log.

Narration: As for what happened next...

Narration: Thanks in part to Tomoe Gozen's impassioned argument that one hour per day was too short...

Narration: ...we were permitted to play video games for up to two hours per day. And today...

Tomoe Gozen: Dating simulations are all well and good! However!

Tomoe Gozen: As Heroic Spirits, we must not neglect our feelings towards the battlefield either.

Tomoe Gozen: Which is why today...

Tomoe Gozen: ...I've brought a different game for us to play!

Tomoe Gozen: This is a true masterpiece! Even Lord Tajima has given it high praise, saying it was, “Not bad.” And since it has all manner of challenge modes built-in, I think it will be right up your alleys!

Thrúd: What is this?

Hildr: It looks very Eastern.

Ortlinde: Do we get to control this person with the katana?

Tomoe Gozen: In this game, you go around fighting enemies as either a samurai or a ninja. Oh, but you don't always have to fight them head-on. You may always utilize stealth kills.

Hildr: Samurai! Ninja!

Ortlinde: (Itching to get started)

Thrúd: I-I suppose that doesn't sound too bad. Eastern warriors can probably hold their own just fine against the Vikings.

Hildr: Come on, let's try it! I call first life!

Ortlinde: Then I'll go second.

Thrúd: Ah.

Thrúd: I-I mean, that's fine. I am the eldest, after all, so I have no problem taking my turn last.

Tomoe Gozen: Don't worry, it has a multiplayer mode as well! Hehe, come on, let's all play together!

Narration: ...We're still stumbling as we try to find our way, but at least we had another enjoyable day.

Narration: By the way, Master?

Narration: I have no intention of ever letting you see this, but I thought I would try addressing you while I write it anyway.

Narration: So,Master.

Narration: Why do you think we became so obsessed with dating sims in the first place?

Narration: Is it because we asked Sister Brynhild what love is? That is certainly the main reason.

Narration: But admittedly, it is not the only one. You see, we also...

Narration: ... ...

Narration: On second thought, never mind. Okay, see you later then.