After that, they went around window shopping and resting here and there, enjoying themselves so much that the time just flew by. The thing with holidays is that the time always seemed to move faster than usual.

Before they knew it, the sun had already begun to set, and lanterns were starting to be lit all around town.

“My lady, we should head back soon.”

Addie was still carrying the box -most of which was still quite empty- as he asked. Mary returned with a ‘Yes,’ but then turned her gaze in a different direction and grinned with a mischievous expression on her face.

Apparently, she did not want to go home yet. Detecting this, Addie followed Mary’s gaze.

There was something causing her to not want to leave yet. Mary’s joyous expression suggested that she had ‘found’ what that was.

And as Addie’s gaze followed Mary’s line of sight, he released a small ‘Is that…’ in surprise.

What they saw were none other than Alicia and Patrick.

Also, the members of the Student Council and Staff Advisor. …In other words, all the potential love interests in ‘Dora-gaku’ were there.

They were all surrounding Alicia and Patrick and seemed to be talking about something.

Unfortunately, they were too far to be heard, but seeing that Alicia seemed to be slowly drawing away from them, it probably had to do with the Student Council or something similar.

Alicia was just a student, a student with common origins. Sometimes it felt like the men here were from another world, and she could not follow their conversation… Or so she once said.

Even with that figured out, it was still a mystery as to why they were all gathered together here in the town.

Not only that, but a crowd of young women had appeared out of nowhere and were gathering around. The sun was setting in the city, and yet there was an unusual, lively atmosphere now.

Of course, it was quite predictable this would happen in any location that Patrick and the other members of the Student Council appeared at. Either they had just happened to be nearby or had heard rumors, but the newly arrived and well-dressed young women were now calling out to the men.

“…My lady, what is happening?”

“It’s just what it looks like. I would call it a lofty sort of bird-watching.”

Mary chuckled to herself and sat down on a bench.

Addie cocked his head to the side with a confused expression, but Mary said, ‘Why don’t you sit down too?’ and so he did as she suggested.

The gathering in front of them was as lively as ever. The beautiful members of Karelia Academy’s Student Council and the young women that surrounded them. The boldest of the girls would approach them and talk, while the timider would stand back and watch.

And then there was a girl who stood several feet away from the crowd… It was Alicia.

Addie began to stand up once he had realized this, but just then, Mary stopped him with a ‘Don’t you dare try anything.’

Mary was visibly enjoying herself. Her expression seemed to ask that no one ruin this entertainment for her.

“…Please answer me. What does all of this mean?”

“What? It’s exactly as you can see in front of you. Patrick is as popular as ever.”

Addie sighed as Mary began to chuckle some more.

Apparently, Mary was much more interested in enjoying the scene before her, than explaining it. But even then, Addie couldn’t just say ‘I see,’ and watch the scene with her. He once again turned to Mary in order to draw an answer from her.

“Is this that turning point for the different endings that you were talking about?”

“Yes. This is also something that occurs during the dating event.”

“So, it’s part of the final event to get surrounded… by the Student Council and other students?

You mean that the ending will be decided just because you were surrounded?”

“Well, more like by what happens after this. It depends on what she does after seeing Patrick surrounded like this.”

Mary said all of this as if it was the most entertaining thing. Addie looked unsure, “Do you mean Alicia?” he asked.

He had assumed that this would be wholly dependant on ‘affinity levels’ again. If that were the case, the events would unfold based on her actions, but there would be nothing that she could do at this point.

But now, the protagonist’s actions would be important.

Addie looked back and forth between Mary and the scene in front of them as if he still did not understand. Mary finally shrugged her shoulders with a little ‘Oh, fine then.’

The important thing that would affect the turning point of the scene with Mary was the ‘affinity level.’ If you did not get to a certain level in time for this event, then you would be headed for the bad ending. A typical condition in romance games.

However, in this event, it was Alicia herself and not the potential love interests that were important. In this scene, she will be given two choices on how to act. Her decision will determine which ending she gets. But it was not as if the multiple choices would appear before you either. Here, Alicia would move independently of the player.

“Well, all that really means is that the decision is made depending on her status up until that point.”

“Status?”

“Yes. How much she has grown.”

“Dora-gaku is a romance game at heart, but there was one mechanic in the game that revolved around Alicia’s everyday life, where she could raise her own status.

Aside from her daily studies, she could raise her knowledge by taking extra classes or going to the library. Sometimes she may buy diet or fashion magazines to raise her appearance status. There were also statuses involving exercise etc., and it was up to the player to decide which statuses they wanted to raise. And those numbers would come to affect the romantic events.

An easy way to put it is… You can get a brilliant student or teacher if you do well on tests, raise your exercise status and do well during the athletic festival and you will get the sporty character, if you raise your sense of beauty then you may get the narcissist. As Patrick is the most difficult of all, there is a necessity to raise all of your statuses with just the right balance.

In other words, you could not just focus on the romance because it’s a romantic game. You had to take care of yourself or it will negatively impact the romance, eventually, anyway… Maintaining this balance was one of the interesting aspects of this game.

That status would affect the outcome of this event.

“If the player only cares about the romance and ignores their status, this will reflect in Alicia’s actions.”

“Actions…”

“She will think that she is unworthy to keep Patrick all to herself… And then she will say,”

“Why don’t we all go and have dinner together?”

It was a typical kind of good girl line. Caring in a way befitting of a heroine that is loved by all.

Patrick will hear these words and agree. All of the Student Council will agree to this ‘fun dinner with everyone’ and the date will end. Of course, there will be a romantic scene of them going home together. He will offer her sweet words, but that will still be the end of the scene.

What will follow is the ‘good end.’ Your feelings reach each other and are rewarded. But you must sacrifice something in exchange. It was an interesting ending that couldn’t really be considered happy.

It was also known as the ‘Merry Bad Ending.’

For instance, Alicia would become queen but elope with Patrick who has lost his rank, there were even endings where Alicia lost her position as queen.

In Patrick’s case, upon realizing that they both had feelings for each other, he could consider their social standing and influence. Patrick would choose to be the heir to the Dice family and Alicia would support her country as queen. They would live, not as a couple but as partners who would stay single for the rest of their lives… This might be considered good, but it left an unpleasant feeling in your heart.

This ending which was not tragic, yet not truly happy either, was lauded by some players as being especially brilliant. It was said that it had more depth than that other ending, which was just all too convenient.

“But…that means that the two of them…and they both loved each other…”

“It’s because they both loved each other. It was the happier end for them, instead of having Patrick abandon the Dice family and Alicia the crown.”

“Even if they both love each other…their rank will still get in the way…?”

“Yes. That is the theme of the game. They had thought that they could overcome the barrier of rank, only to have it reverse on them, blocking once again. It is quite ironic.”

There was something a little careless about the way Mary said those words.

Which was not too surprising. Yes, there were some in her past life who had thought that this was the best ending, but for those actually involved, the ending had a terrible aftertaste. ‘Is this a joke?’ they wanted to say. It didn’t matter how convenient it was, you could call it a rosy, flower garden of an ending if you wanted, but it was clear that the ‘True Ending,’ where everything worked out, and everyone was happy, was the best ending.

—Well, the villainous daughter, Mary would still be sent to the northern lands regardless of what route you took—

As she said this, Addie suddenly stood up with much force, as if he had just remembered something.

“And, how does one get to the turning point of that ending? What must you do to reach that, whatever it is you called it ending?”

“Wha- what’s this all of a sudden…? Whatever…do you mean the True Ending?”

“Yes!”

Mary’s eyes widened at Addie who had stood up so suddenly.

Still, his eyes were dead serious as he stared at her with an expression that would not allow her to lie. Mary felt a little shaken but coughed into her hand to hide it.

She didn’t quite know the reason, but it seemed that Addie really wanted this True Ending. Well then, she would explain it to him…

“The turning point for the ending is right now. It depends on what Alicia does in the place she is standing. I told you before, if she starts to say, ‘Let’s all go for dinner…’ then she will be headed for the Good Ending.”

“So, if Alicia does something different than that…!”

“Yes. If she has raised her status enough to feel confident in herself, she will try to keep Patrick to herself.”

Well, what would happen now? Mary thought as she moved her gaze away from Addie and back towards Alicia…

“Lady Mary! I’m here all alone, please give me some attention, lady Mary!”

Alicia said as she came running towards them, she was practically crying.

“…Well, Alicia has started to come over here. What does that mean?”

“…That’s what I would like to know.”

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