If you missed it, here's a link back to Part 1.
This time we'll hear from Tsuu's perspective, and get introduced to Red Riding Hood and the Dawn Liberation Front.
Thinking calmly about it, Tsuu realized that she didn't quite know.
Marriage is to become a wife. Marriage is to do your best for the person you love. Marriage is to vow to always stay by their side -- Tsuu understood that image, without knowing how she even came to know that, but felt like she was missing something more important.
But, even so --
"Princess, give me your hand. Please watch your step."
A girl about her same age pulled back on that reached out hand.
"Thanks, my prince."
"It's nothing - if I can be of use to my princess, that makes me happy by itself."
Tsuu was so happy to be married to and treated like a prince by this girl, by Mermaid.
Of course, she was surprised when Mermaid told her to become a prince instead of a wife. Tsuu is a girl, after all, becoming a prince seemed a bit odd, she thought for a moment. But she quickly threw away any doubt.
If Mermaid wished it, Tsuu would become her prince. She had firmly made up her mind on that.
She didn't know why. Mermaid was someone she had only just met. In the first place, Tsuu didn't even know where this place was or why she was here. Even so, from the very beginning Tsuu felt like she would do anything for Mermaid's sake.
"Hey, Otsuu-chan. Can we sleep together again today?"
"Eh...a, alright. Geez, you're so spoiled, aren't you?"
Tsuu had a hard time getting close to Mermaid when she had to take the lead. It was embarrassing to her. So she was happy when Mermaid would say things like that to her instead. Even though they had just met, she was filled with a mysterious feeling like she had wanted to be with Mermaid for a long time before this.
It was then that a strange commotion could be heard in the distance.
"Hey Otsuu-chan, do you hear something?"
"Yeah...princess, stay here. I'll go take a look."
"I'll go too."
"It's alright. It might be dangerous, so..."
"I'm going. Couples are always together, you know?"
Tsuu was weak to that sort of line. With a wry smile she held Mermaid's hand and, protecting their backs, slowly made their way toward the sound. As they got closer, the small sound gradually became louder and louder. And mixed in with the sound, a voice.
"Eight...Nine...Ten! Ahaha, wow!"
A human's voice.
This was the first time Tsuu and Mermaid had heard another human's voice in this place.
Following the trail, they poked their heads out of the shadows and took a peek.
They saw a girl in a red hood happily swinging a huge pair of scissors around to drive away the strange monsters.
Tsuu wasn't as happy as she should have been about meeting another human besides Mermaid for the first time. While that girl sure wasn't friendly with those monsters, there was no saying she was their ally either. Who knows, maybe after defeating those creatures, next she'd turn those scissors on them?
"Hey Otsuu-chan, it's a human."
"Princess, shh. Let's move away from here quietly before we're found."
Tsuu pulled The Little Mermaid's hand and tried to lead them away, but --
The red hooded girl's loud exclamation froze Tsuu and Mermaid's legs in place.
"Humans! Haru, there are humans here!"
"Hm? ...Whoa, seriously - humans."
They got spotted. And it seems there wasn't just one person. Called by the red hooded girl's voice was a group of adults. Among them was a man with an eyepatch, all coming this way.
Tsuu moved Mermaid behind her back and stood guard in front of her. She'd protect the princess even if it meant using her body as a shield, and her poise showed that determination.
"You two, have you been here this whole time? It's okay now! Come with us!"
The girl in the red hood's face spread into a warm smile as she held a hand out to Tsuu and Mermaid.
"We're with an organization called 'Dawn'. We've got a buncha humans outside of here living together. There're a lotta kids there like you, too."
The man in the eyepatch continued his explanation. His manner of speaking was a bit coarse, but his gaze was soft and kind. It seems these people weren't their enemies, after all.
"The two of you survived this long here by yourselves? Must've been hard."
"But, it's dangerous here. You don't know when more Marchen will attack. Adults will protect you in Dawn so you can rest easy, how about you come with us?"
In response to the invitation from the girl and the man with the eyepatch, Tsuu and Mermaid turned to look at each other.
"What should we do, Otsuu-chan?"
"...Let's not. These people might be lying to us."
"But...if it's really dangerous to keep living here, wouldn't it be better if we went with them?"
"When it gets dangerous, I'll protect you."
"Yeah...but I don't want you to be in danger either. Besides, it looks like there are a lot of other people there, I want to meet them."
Tsuu fell silent without being able to think of a proper response.
Suddenly, a small monster ambushed from behind, jumping at them to attack.
The red hooded girl called out to them and drew her scissors, but she couldn't make it in time. The monster sunk its claws into the Little Mermaid and cut into her slightly.
"Nn! Get away from her!!"
The indignant Tsuu blasted away that monster with her fist. It seems it had already taken some damage from the red hooded girl earlier, so Tsuu's attack finished it off.
The red hooded girl and man with the eyepatch gasped.
"Yeah...surprising. Looks like we're gonna need to take them with us whether they wanna go or not."
Tsuu's pink-stained eyes looked in confusion at the two of them talking.
Tsuu and Mermaid had received some explanation about what was going on, having returned with the girl in the red hood - Red Riding Hood, back to the base of this 'Dawn' organization.
"Yeah. That's what we call girls like Red Riding Hood whose eyes glow pink and combat abilities heighten when splashed in the blood of Marchen."
After receiving an exam from a glasses-wearing, white clothed woman named Miko, Tsuu and Mermaid were confirmed to be 'Blood Maidens'.
"When you come into contact with Marchen blood, your eyes turn pink, right? That's the proof."
"This is all too sudden..."
"I'm sure it is. It's understandable to be confused at first. So, will you live with us here for a while? You can learn a little bit at a time that way - about us, and about yourselves."
As Miko said that, she patted Tsuu and Mermaid on their heads gently. It wasn't a bad feeling.
"Princess...what should we do?"
"I think we should stay. Everyone's nice, and you won't have to be in danger if we're here either."
"...I guess so. Your safety is also my first priority."
Looking at each other, the two of them were lost in their own world. Finally, a dry voice could be heard.
"Well then, can I ask you two some questions?"
An old man with white hair slowly spoke to them. The man that Miko called 'Professor' and Red Riding Hood called 'Dad'.
"Once more, may I ask what your names are?"
That smiling expression gave Tsuu a feeling of safety, and she answered without making a fuss.
"I see, Tsuu and Mermaid, is it.... Tsuu...hm...."
The professor tilted his neck a bit as he processed Tsuu's name.
"Tsuu, do you recall why you have that name?"
"Eh...I'm not sure what to say..."
Now that she was asked, she realized she didn't know. When Mermaid had asked her what her name was earlier, she simply responded "Tsuu" as if it was something she'd always known. But she couldn't figure out why she knew.
"...No, don't worry about it. It's fine if you don't know. It's okay, all the Blood Maidens are like that with their names."
"That's right. I didn't know why my name was Red Riding Hood either!"
Red Riding Hood said that in a way to reassure Tsuu that it wasn't anything to be worried about with a bright smile.
"Hey, dad, is your talk over?"
"Hm? Ah, that's right. That's enough for today, I think."
"Yay! Ok then Tsuu, Mermaid, come with me! I'll show you around Dawn!"
Red Riding Hood grabbed their hands tightly - still confused and flustered, Tsuu and Mermaid went along with her.
That was the day that the two of them became members of Dawn.