Chapter 2: Springtime of Life
“Recently, there have been a lot of reports of suspicious people around. Be very careful on your way home, okay. Especially the girls! If you see any weird guys, scream out loud and push them away with all your might! You hear me?”
What is he saying? Singling out someone as suspicious and pushing them down all of a sudden is a crime in itself. At the words of Yasuoka, a Phys. Ed. and our form teacher, which we couldn’t tell whether he was serious or joking, my classmates began to snicker to themselves.
When the day-end homeroom session finally ended, I grabbed my bag and got up immediately. Right then, Takafumi called out to me.
“Hiro, let’s go home together.”
“You don’t have to go to club?”
“There’s a little something I need to settle at home today.”
We walked down the corridor together and opened our shoe cupboard as usual. When I did, a letter fell out. I curiously picked it up.
“Oh! Is it a love letter?”
Takafumi grinned at me but I shook my head.
“I don’t think so. Who even does something so old-fashioned nowadays?”
“Why don’t you just open it?”
Confident that wasn’t the case, I opened it in front of the clearly curious Takafumi. But what I found was a piece of paper with the following written in neat letters:
‘To Yuuki Hiroshi-kun,
You must be surprised by this sudden letter. But, when I see you running along the riverbank every morning, I just can’t seem to think of anything else apart from you…’
“It’s a love letter after all!”
Takafumi shouted, peering beside me into the letter. The surrounding students all looked towards us and I glared at him.
“Quiet! You fool!”
…But seriously, a love letter!? It’s the first time in my life I’ve ever received something like this!!
Heart pounding like crazy, I stared at the continuation of the letter as if I was gobbling it down.
‘Hiroshi-kun. I want to know more about you. And I want to get closer and closer to you. But my timid self cannot muster the courage to call out to you. So I thought of telling you my feelings first with a letter and so I wrote this. Just you holding this letter makes me overjoyed—that’s enough for me now. I look forward to writing to you once more.
“You did it, Hiro! This is truly a love letter filled with emotions!”
In fact, I was all smiles on the inside. Of course I was over the moon! I’m so glad I started jogging!
“Eida Sanako-chan? I wonder which class she’s from? A first-year? Or perhaps, someone from the upper grade…”
Takafumi placed his hand to his chin as he pondered out loud. There wasn’t anyone of that name in our class. I thought back to the people I pass by usually while jogging. However, there wasn’t anyone of particular note that stood out and I did not have any idea who it could be.
“Hmm, I see, So Hiro’s getting a girlfriend.”
“You’re being too hasty. I don’t even know what kind of girl she is.”
“But you’ll date her if she’s cute, won’t you?”
“Erm. Well, but I…”
Somehow, I thought of Reona-san. Watching me mince my words, Takafumi’s jaws dropped.
“Y-You don’t mean you already have one!?”
“She’s not my girlfriend but… she’s pursuing me with marriage in mind,”
“HUUUUUUUH!? What the hell! Since when were you in such high demand!!”
“Well, but I don’t suppose she’s serious.”
But, he seemed to have not heard me and was clearly sulking.
“Damn it, I’m so jealous. Maybe I should quit the club too.”
“That has nothing to do with it, you know.”
I said and laughed.
∗ ∗ ∗
When I reached home, I found Kaede in the kitchen pouring a glass of milk. She was still in her uniform so she must have returned only slightly earlier than me,
“Yeah, I’m home.”
She greeted me bluntly without even turning back to look. However, this was an overwhelming improvement compared to one month ago. Back then, it was unimaginable that she would even greet me. For some reason, it seemed that me picking back up jogging in an effort to clear Kiwame Quest has improved her mood somehow…
I went into the kitchen and also poured out a cup of milk. Watching me, Kaede asked in a slightly cranky tone.
“By the way, are you still playing that shitty game?”
“Yup, I’m still playing it.”
“H-Hmm. I see.”
It sounded like she wanted to ridicule me, but was taken aback when I replied back confidently straight away.
“Actually, it got pretty interesting. Ahaha, but you may be right, it may be past its prime though.”
“Well… if you’re having fun, then it’s not all that bad.”
I tried my luck to invite Kaede to play together.
“If you’d like, how about we play together, Kaeda? Kiwame Quest.”
“Huh!? I-I would absolutely, 100% hate that!!”
I watched with a bitter smile as Kaede left the kitchen hurriedly. Her response was just as I expected. Nevertheless, I was feeling lighthearted enough that seeing her response like this was heartwarming.
Hm? Now that I think about it, her reaction seemed to resemble a certain someone.
After a while, I realized it was just like Alicia and I laughed to myself again.
∗ ∗ ∗
When I returned to my room, I switched on my PC. Actually, I wanted to login to Kiwame Quest straight away, but because Reona-san wanted to play together, we set the meetup time to be at night. During this free time, I planned to make preparations and opened Kamui’s guide, the Auberdine Walkthrough.
The website displayed multiple main topics that were refreshed with new titles based on the route traveled by the player. It was kind of like a choose-your-own-path story game.
And since I inputed the ‘words of promise’ to progress, a new topic following that route appeared.
‘To the bastard who defeated him and left the town of Ted.’
I clicked on that title unhesitatingly.
‘Keh. You must surely be feeling big-headed now, cocky bastard! But don’t you forget! Pathetic you wouldn’t have made it so far if it wasn’t for my super helpful walkthrough! You lazy worm would’ve died in a ditch by now if you were alone!’
Yeah, yeah, I’ll admit that. I’m just a teensy bit grateful to you.
‘If a worm like you managed to defeat Tesla and leave Ted, then barring you making any sheer foolish decisions, even you should be able to reach Flora Castle without fail. So I’ll tell you now. Those who even read walkthrough guides are utter trash. They can’t even live their lives without copying others, much less hold a job leading other people in the future.’
What the heck did you even make this website for then in the first place…!
‘Those of you who read so far must be thinking, ‘Then what the hell did you make this guide for’. Can it, impertinent brat! Eat shit and die! Don’t you know! A walkthrough is only there for you when you’re really at your wit’s end! Dumbass!’
Ugh… I-I see.
‘I don’t care if you’re just looking for reference or for the trivia. But don’t you dare try to peek at the scenario ahead just to make your life easier! Dig that eye-shit out of the holes you call eyes and remember this. Those who read mystery novels from the back are deeper sinners than criminals. Bear that in mind, miscreant!’
I got called a sinner just for reading a game walkthrough. As usual, Kamui is the worst website creator ever, but there was a reason to his words. I was able to progress through Kiwame Quest as smoothly as I did only because of his wisdom. I hate to admit it, but I couldn’t possibly have reached this point by myself.
Incidentally, new topics became available below. They covered everything from regarding the orcs to about the next town. However, I purposely chose not to view them. Instead, I clicked at the link on the sidebar on the right titled ‘Trivia’. There was more written about the secret technique under the heading. I was reading more on that when…
My phone vibrated after a while. It must be a message from Reona-san. Is she ready to login already?
This is strange. Usually she’d just send a message…
However, she was calling me today.
“Good evening, Hiro-kun! So, how’s your side?”
“Yup, I’m ready to go.”
“Fufufu! You’re all pumped up!”
After saying so excitedly, she suddenly piped down.
“Thanks, Hiro-kun. I couldn’t have made it so far here without you. It’s all you, Hiro-kun.”
“Th-That’s not true!”
Hearing her far-from-usual subdued tone, I grew a bit panicked.
“Actually, back in the day when I was a player, there were already rumors about the secret technique. That perhaps an outburst of emotion might be able to affect the player’s skill.”
“I-Is that so? Then, several people must have been able to activate the secret technique as well?”
“No, as far as I know, Kamui was the only one who could use it. Of course, neither could I.”
“Eh…! How come?”
“It’s like those fighting games where you need to input several commands in succession to execute a special technique, but not everyone can pull it off even if they know the method. You need to have a natural sense for it.”
“But even if you can’t do it the first time, if you just keep trying…”
“Sheesh. Don’t make me spell myself more.”
When I heard the melancholy in her laugh, I thought ‘I screwed up’. This is the Reona-san who was so fixated about clearing Kiwame Quest. There’s no doubt she tried it over and over again herself. However… at the end of it… she still couldn’t activate it.
“I realized it. In the end, an ordinary player like myself can’t hope to beat such a hellishly difficult game. That’s why I spent such a long time looking for someone who can clear Kiwame Quest in my place. And now, finally…”
One beat later, she said to me seriously.
“I have found my destined one.”
“A-Ahahaha! Your destined one!? You’re poking fun at me again, aren’t you, Reona-san!”
“I’m completely serious about the marriage talk, okay!”
I have been made fun of by her countless number of times up till now. However, there was no falsehood in those words—at least, that’s what I felt.
“All right! That’s all I wanted to say! Let’s enjoy ourselves fully again today, Hiro-kun!”
She returned to her usual lively self and cut the line.
Reona-san is an adult woman who is beautiful and has a great figure, far beyond my league. Out of nowhere, I imagined the sight of Reona-san in a wedding dress, and my heart pounded crazily.
For a while, I just sat there in a daze, forgetting to even login.
“…Sorry for the wait!”
The moment I entered the world of Kiwame Quest, I found Mizarisa running towards us from under the shade of the trees. Alicia sighed with a fed up expression.
“You sure took your time. Are you ready now?”
“I’m all set for the time of the month!”
“Too much information!!”
Smiling wryly at the conversation between the two, I lifted up the bag containing the orc materials. My login point was the same as before, the mouth of the forest. Reona-san was here already and sat on my shoulder with a plop.
“Let’s make our way through without falling for traps this time, okay!”
She was practically right next to me in a virtually half-nude outfit. I wasn’t conscious of that usually, but thinking back to our phone call just now, my face began to flare up. N-Not good! I need to focus or I’ll fall into another of the orc’s traps again!
Setting aside my emotions, I led the way into the forest. I stared intently at my feet as I walked, occasionally seeing loops of vines tied to the tree branches. Like this, we made our way through the darkening forest.
Suddenly, I felt a tug at my side. I turned around to see Alicia grabbing the side of my shirt. Seeing Alicia’s bashful look, Mizarisa poked fun at her.
“Arara? What’s this? Why are you clinging on to Hirocchi like that? Are you scared?”
I thought she would retort back like usual, but instead, she looked up at me meekly.
“Hiro… You’ll protect me from the orcs, won’t you?”
At her behavior, Mizarisa was even more shocked than me.
“Whaaat? Since when did you turn into a damsel in distress?”
Then, Alicia turned towards her with a demonic scowl.
“Will you shut up…! I’ll carve you up…!”
Mizarisa retreated with a startle. After rebuffing her, Alicia turned back to me with an angelic smile completely opposite from the instant before. Reona-san jabbed my cheek with her elbow.
“Somehow or another, it seems like Alicia is fawning over you, Hiro-kun.”
Still holding onto my shirt, Alicia followed beside me closely. She is definitely cute! It almost makes me want to hug her!
However, such happy times never last. As we walked while on the lookout for traps, we came into an open clearing. The appearance of such a clearing in the middle of the forest was clearly artificial.
I got a bad premonition. And it immediately came true. In front of us came three orcs!
I hastily threw down the bag I was carrying and drew my magic sword Martin, preparing to intercept the incoming orcs. However…
“Hiro-kun! They’re coming from the right too!”
I turned my sight to where Reona-san directed. The orcs walking towards us numbered… four. Kuh, seven in total, huh!
“Hirocchi! Opposite you!”
Are you serious! From the left… another three! Oh, come on! That’s 10 of them overall!
“Hiro! Behind us too!”
I hesitantly turned around. Five orcs were approaching us with lazy steps.
“That’s far too many!!”
Before long, we were surrounded on all sides by orcs. There must be more following behind as I now see more than what I counted previously. It was a large group exceeding 20 of them,
—Curse this shitty game! It’s like they spare no efforts to try to slaughter the players!
“C-Considering everything so far, we’re seriously in a pinch this time…!”
Mizarisa stated in a slightly shivering voice.
Following the ‘get caught in traps the moment we enter the forest’ previously, now it’s ‘face an impossible number of orcs’. Any normal player would have probably lost hope at this point. Even so, I chuckled to myself inwardly.
—That’s just fine! Now this is the Kiwame Quest I know!
Still, I wouldn’t be able to last very long if they all come at me at once. I need to settle this in one move.
“Reona-san! Please help me observe the situation from above! And if you see an attack from beyond my sight, let me know right away, okay?”
“R-Roger that! But, is that enough?”
“Yes! I’m counting on you!”
I stooped over my body like I was at the start of a 100-meter race, then burst off at the three orcs in front of me. I crossed the distance of several meters like nothing and sweeped my magic sword sideways. It sliced through the neck of the foremost orc, and I swung it down the head of the one next to it before pulling it back and penetrating the throat of the last.
The thought that flashed through my mind while swinging my blade was the trivia written by Kamui in the Auberdine Walkthrough.
‘The key to activating the secret technique lies in having heightened emotions or a strong will to never give up, but I suppose you’d already know that if you made it so far. However, there’s actually several levels to the secret technique. Simply put, the intensity of your emotion corresponds to the power you gain. Anyway, the ultimate level isn’t something that can be taught, so I’ll just write down the basic principles. Listen carefully. Even if you try consciously, it’s pretty difficult to stir up intense emotions yourself. Some people just can’t do it even if you try teaching them using every method. Being able to use it as you please frankly requires some kind of sense for it. In other words, you need control over your emotions—to make it so even a monkey can understand, it’s something like being able to cry on command.’
The orcs were stunned watching three of their allies get killed in a flash. And I did not let that gap slip away. Following a clockwise direction, I aimed for the next group of orcs.
‘The easiest way to achieve it is from raging anger, but… you only reach the lowest rank amongst the levels of the secret technique. To reach the next level, you need to use your imagination. For example, what will happen if you don’t defeat the monsters in front of you? You will die, that is a given, but your allies will also be violated before they are killed. And they won’t come back again, ever. Take that image and light a fire in yourself.’
I cut in between the cowering Alicia and the orcs. Kamui is right, if I lose, everyone else will perish. Alicia will die again and Mizarisa will be killed. Then Reona-san would need to spend time again looking for another player.
Hot emotions welled up from the base of my stomach, further enhancing my speed. I cut through the necks of all the orcs around Alicia, separating their heads from their bodies.
“I-Incredible! You’re incredible, Hiro…!”
Alicia’s words of praise come at me from behind. Everything was going well. Except…
Spread around me was a scene of carnage. Puddles of blood pooled everywhere and the stench of entrails assaulted my nose. A wave of nausea hit me and I hurriedly raised my other hand not holding the sword to cover my mouth.
Uugh… Th-this is pathetic! But, I just can’t… Erk!
“Leave it to me, Hiro-kun!”
That was Reona-san. Before I even realized, all those mutilated bodies were covered in mosaic. It wasn’t just the bodies. To my side were mosaics, to my back were mosaics. Mosaics were everywhere.
“I’ve covered all the dead orcs and their body parts with a mosaic! Fight to your heart’s content!”
“Th-Thanks. B-But, I haven’t even slashed them yet and they’re already pixelated…!”
“It’s the same as with colds! Treat the symptoms before they appear! More importantly, focus! A large mosaic is coming at you from your right!”
There was indeed a large mosaic approaching from my right. I dodged the hazy strike released by the mosaic and returned a slice. A sound rang out when I hit it and the mosaic collapsed and stopped moving.
“Hiro-kun! Two mosaics on your left!”
“Another one imminent from the front!”
“Yet another two from the right… or is it three? It’s a bit hard to see with the mosaics overlapping…”
My patience finally gave out and I yelled aloud.
“I can’t even tell what the hell it is I’m fighting against anymore!! What kind of full dive RPG is there where you battle against mosaics!?”
“Want me to erase them? You’ll see the gore again though?”
“Ggh… K-Keep it this way, please…!”
I t’ll be fine if she just kept the mosaics to the gory bits, but I guess I’m being too choosy!
With my tension coming down from being enclosed by mosaics, I hyped myself up using my imagination just as Kamui said. That’s right, if I leave these mosaics alone, everyone will die from censorship pixels! Absolutely unforgivable, these damned pixels! WOOOAAH!
Before long, a mountain of mosaics… no, of orcs bodies was formed.
When I was done with most of them, I turned to my back. Alicia and Mizarisa were fighting a mosaic… no, an orc in tag team.
A strike from Mizarisa’s saw caused the orc to flinch. On the other hand, Alicia’s knife hits did not even cause the orc to falter. She was agile, but her weapon seemed to be a bad match for the orc’s thick armor-like muscle.
“Alicia! Swap with me!”
“O-Okay! Please do!”
I jumped into the midst of the skirmish and dug my magic sword deep into the orc’s skull. The blade slid right down to its groin, leaving two halves of mosaics on the ground. Th-That’s got to be absolutely disgusting, isn’t it? Looks like I might need to thank Reona-san for her ability after all!
I made to express my gratitude for her when Alicia suddenly jumped at me from behind in a hug.
“Hiro! Thank you! You were so cool!”
I scratched my head embarrassedly. Mizarisa looked at the two of us coldly.
“Hmph. You’re just not Hirocchi if you don’t wet yourself.”
“What’s your problem, you pervert! You’d better be thankful to Hiro!”
“Fine, fine, whatever. Let’s just get to collecting material.”
Mizarisa posed to swing down her saw, but Alicia only glanced at me and shook her head.
“Eh…? N-No way… I can’t do it…”
“Fufu. Alicia’s totally head over heels for you, Hiro-kun. I’m so jealous.”
Reona-san giggled happily, while Mizarisa heaved a deep sigh with a heavy shoulder.
“My my. Our monster girl has turned into a pure-hearted maiden. Why don’t you just come out and confess your feelings to Hirocchi?”
“Wh-Wh-What! I-I-I! W-We’re just childhood friends!”
Alicia suddenly let go of me, her face completely flushed.
Just when I thought she was so cute when she was flustered, Alicia began stabbing the pixelated orc parts with her knife over and over!
“Geez! There’s nothing between us, all right!”
No wait, that’s a scary way to hide your embarrassment!!
“Aren’t you glad, Hiro-kun. It’s becoming just like a normal RPG now.”
“Y-You call this normal…?”
Putting that aside, Mizarisa seemed to want to collect all these orc materials, but thinking about it, there’s no way we could possibly carry such a large amount.
“Forget it, Mizarisa. Just leave it behind. Any more and my shoulders would pop off.”
“Tch. You’re taking away all the fun.”
After filling up the bag to its limit, we left the clearing behind.
We plunged our way back into the luxuriant forest. After walking for a few minutes, we encountered yet another orc. There’s only one this time, it’ll be a piece of cake.
I drew my sword, but it only raised a pathetic grunt and ran away flusteredly.
“Huh? How come?”
“The weak instinctively fear the strong. That is also a rule of the real world!”
I see. In other words, the encounter rate for orcs has gone down.
“Let’s take this opportunity to make our way out of the forest before the sun completely sets!”
Visibility is going to be a problem at night. If so, there’ll be even less leeway with the orcs. As such, the three of us upped our pace.
∗ ∗ ∗
With the sun’s job done for the day, the curtain of night fell over us. We somehow managed to make it out of the forest before it got completely dark.
After continuing for a while through a prairie, stone walls came into sight which were lined with torches at regular intervals.
“Hiro-kun, we made it to the next town!”
Reona-san exclaimed excitedly.
A new town! We made it? Like, really?! Considering Kiwame Quest, I was thinking we’d face one or two more crises!
But now that I think about it, isn’t encountering that large group of orcs just now pretty much a super-difficult event which would normally result in an instant game over? It’s just that it was still no match for me with my mastery of the secret technique and my magic sword Martin! Fufufufufu… no, I mustn’t be arrogant! Reona-san will say that I’ve become cocky again!
Focusing on what’s ahead, I sprinted towards the stone wall. In the middle of the wall which seemed to extend infinitely to the sides was a tough-looking metal gate, guarded by several brawny guards in front of it.
“This town seems to be pretty heavily protected too…”
“This is only normal in a world where monsters exist. Without moats or bulwarks, monsters will immediately invade and raze the town. In fact, those games where anyone can waltz into a town or castle are the ones that are strange.”
Even so, when one encounters a new town in an RPG, they’d want to enter as soon as possible. Seeing us approach, the soldier on guard duty questioned us in a rough voice.
“This is the town of Mystin.”
Hmm, so this town is called Mystin! I wonder what kind of place it is!
But when I tried to walk past the gate, he cut in front of me.
“First off, write down your name. Then, where you came from and what’s your motive for entering the town.”
The guard handed the three of us fountain pens and straw papers.
For now, I filled out the details of the form. However, there were far more sections than I expected, like an exam answer sheet. They covered a wide range of information, from current address to even medical history. What the heck, this is so troublesome!
I grudgingly filled it up and returned it to the guard.
“Hmm. So you’re heading for Flora Castle and passing by Mystin for a temporary stay, is it?”
“Can we pass through now?”
“No can do. Show me your sword.”
“E-erm, no, I…”
Reddish-black miasma began emitting from my magic sword Martin. I had a feeling that things were going to turn messy if they saw it and clammed up. Irregardless of me, he stretched out his hand towards the scabbard by my side.
“Don’t touch that sword!”
Alicia ordered with a sharp glint and the guard’s hand came to a stop.
“That is a memento of my brother.”
The guards seemed to be overwhelmed by Alicia’s aura and gave way to us. Phew, I got through that somehow… Wait, have I ever told Alicia about my sword?
Seeing the puzzled look on my face, she seemed to have read my mind and smiled gently at me.
“I know even if you don’t say it. After all, I can hear brother’s voice coming from it.”
Sure enough, the siblings can get through to each other.
I was fine thanks to Alicia, but this time Mizarisa came to the attention of another guard.
“What is with your outfit? It’s too revealing.”
“This is the proper attire of an inquisitor.”
“Inquisitor? What kind of occupation is that?”
“I torture the bad guys and sever their limbs! It’s very fun!”
“Mm…! She is too dubious…!”
The guard recorded a note with a frown. What are you doing, Mizarisa! That’s being too honest! You’re just going to end up prolonging our questioning this way!
“And sheave that saw. We can’t have you walking around with that thing swinging everywhere.”
Mizarisa reluctantly kept her saw on her back with a look of displeasure. I asked the guards.
“Hey, we’re done here, right? Can we enter already?”
“Wait a second. What is inside that bag with a stench?”
“You guys defeated an orc? Don’t lie to us. It’s probably just some wild beast, right?”
“We’re not lying! It’s true!”
…In the end, we underwent a thorough questioning that took over 30 minutes since we reached the town. What is this, overseas customs!? My sense of adventure over the new town has died down pretty much!!
After this-and-that, we finally entered the gates. The long stone-paved road stretched all the way down with oil lamps by the side lighting up the path. Women in dresses could be seen strutting down the streets at night merrily. A carriage manned by a gentleman with a thick beard and silk hat rode past us.
The surrounding buildings seemed somewhat fancy. This town of Mystin gave an impression of a more modern town than Ted.
“Hiro-kun. It’s dark already, so I think we should look for an inn first?”
“Mm. Before that, I’d like to look for a weapon shop if possible.”
My interest for the town which got fizzled by the interrogation earlier was relightened upon seeing the scenery of the town.
“Fufu. You are such a boy.”
I won’t deny that. In any RPG I play, the very first thing I look out for in a new town is what kind of new weapon or equipment they sell in the shops.
“But I guess it’s important too. Obtaining the strongest equipment in the town before moving on is standard play in RPGs.”
“No questions about that!”
I nodded at Reona-san’s words. There are players who focus on clearing the game as fast as they can, but I’m more of the type who makes preparations fully before I move off from a town. This way, I won’t risk being defeated by new monsters so easily. This is all the more important here in Kiwame Quest, where I face the hellish penalty of having both my console and game get fried if I die. There is no harm in being more cautious than not.
We strolled around the town at night for some time. Eventually, we encountered a shop with a sign engraved with a pair of crossed swords.
∗ ∗ ∗
“Wow! They’ve got a wide array of weapons!”
I reflexively uttered the moment I entered the shop. I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of weapons stocked by the weapon shop here in Mystin. They had swords, axes, knives and even saws.
I get it! It was designed so that no matter who you pick as an ally in Ted, you would be able to upgrade their weapons here!
I came to that conclusion arbitrarily and began hunting for the goods. The rows of rugged and powerful weapons on display made my heart pound in excitement. However, when I saw the price tags below them, my heart sank.
High Quality Fruit Knife – 20,000G
Killer Saw – 50,000G
“Th-They cost a bomb…!”
I muttered in stupefaction. Mizarisa stared into my face.
“By the way, Hirocchi. How much do you have on hand?”
I dug around my pocket and fished out a single silver coin. In terms of the game currency, it was 10 Gald (10G).
“…You’re completely broke, I see.”
Mizarisa gazed at me with a look of pity.
“Look like we can’t afford it.”
Alicia muttered subduedly.
If I recall, back at the underground job agency, they said you could earn up to 20,000G if you worked for one month.
Alicia heaved a deep sigh before putting on an awkward smile.
“N-No worries, Hiro! I have these fruit knives already! They’re more than enough for me!”
Her kindness hurts more instead. Reona-san shrugged her shoulders exaggeratedly like a foreigner would.
“Even your party members are trying to save face for you. You’re such a good-for-nothing guy, Hiro-kun.”
I couldn’t argue back. In the first place, before thinking about upgrading our weapons, I should have found a way to fix Alicia’s clothes which were torn up by the orc. This shop also had armor on sale, but they cost an upwards of 50,000G, while clothes that’d fit Alicia or Mizarisa were at least 5000G. What is with the economy of this world, the inflation rate is crazy!
In any case, with only 10G, I couldn’t even afford the sleeve of a shirt. While I became depressed from the state of my finances, the well-built shop owner came over.
“What’s up, buddy! If you’re looking for a strong weapon, how about this?”
The owner grinned broadly, exposing his gold tooth, and pointed to the sword with a sparkling blade resting on a board farthest into the shop.
Holy Blade Athelion – 1,200,000G
“One two zero zero… O-One million and two hundred thousand!? I can’t even get the High Quality Fruit Knife and you expect me to buy this!?”
“Che, you’re just a pauper, huh.”
The owner snorted and his tone turned rude.
“It’s not like my prices are over the top, you know. This town is under the jurisdiction of the country of Choutalier which has high tax rates. In accordance with that, the prices of commodities need to go up as well.”
Words like taxes and prices should not be a part of the lexicon for a world of fantasy filled with hopes and dreams, or at least I was of that opinion. I gazed hard at the Holy Blade Athelion and complained to Reona-san.
“This kind of pricing shouldn’t be something you see in the second town, right?”
“Why not? You just need to work hard and save up.”
“From the measly 10G I have currently? An amount like 1,200,000G isn’t something at a level where I can just work hard and obtain normally!”
“Don’t you also see lots of things in real life which normal people can never afford. Something like a Ferrari is sold everywhere, but you don’t see the average joe riding them, do you? Even if they were thinking, ‘If only I could ride that, someday I will’, they reach the end of their lives without achieving that. It’s the same thing here.”
“So you’re saying even if I was thinking ‘I wish I could have the sword and swing it around one day’, I’m just to die one day without that happening!? A shitty game like that just sucks!!”
I yelled at Reona-san, then.
“Hiro. You’re fine even without that sword. After all, you have…”
Alicia spoke to me while looking at the sword at my hip with a soft smile.
“You have my brother with you.”
“Yeah, now that you mentioned it, that’s true.”
I had the magic sword Martin, which can shatter Tesla’s Gold Blade as well as being able to split an orc into half even with their high defense. Reona-san also looked fixedly at my sword and said.
“Normally in Kiwame Quest, your sword will only last a few slashes before the blade becomes dull, but yours seems to be an exception. Despite cutting up so many orcs, the sharpness of the blade doesn’t dull at all… It’s like a cheat item with infinite durability.”
I see! That’s right! It’s not like I have any need for that expensive weapon anyway! I’ve already obtained a sufficiently strong sword!
I drew my magic sword Martin from the scabbard and a smile formed on my face. Alicia also smiled tenderly as she said.
“Fufu. My brother also feels content.”
“You can tell?”
“Yup. Take good care of that sword, Hiro!”
“Yeah! You bet!”
My party consisted of Alicia and Mizarisa. However, there was actually one more member whom I cannot see but remains with me and that is Martin.
The two of us were overwhelmed with emotions, but the owner pinched his nose and glared at us.
“You guys stink! Get out of my shop if you’re not buying anything! Oh, you stink to high heavens! In more ways than one too!”
He swiped his hand at us, as if he was chasing away flies. Damn it! It pisses me off but he’s right in that we can’t buy anything…!
I was just turning back to step out of the shop when Mizarisa pointed to the stinky bag over my shoulder.
“Wait, you’re not gonna sell that stuff here?”
“Huh, isn’t this a weapon shop, do they buy that stuff here? Before that, these are just orc parts, it’s not like they’re going to be worth much…”
The owner must have heard our voices. His eyes suddenly turned wide with a sparkle in them.
“Did you say orc parts!? You guys defeated an orc!?”
“You’re pulling my leg, right? Gimme that.”
I passed the bag to him with light hopes. In a flash, the owner’s face flushed red as a tomato. A wide grin appeared on his face which exposed his gold tooth.
“You even have the valuable skin and bones!! These are undeniably orc parts! Please, let me take these off your hands!! How about three hundred thousand for everything?”
“Huh…? How much did you just say?”
“Please excuse my previous rude behavior! I had no idea you guys were adventurers capable of besting orcs!”
He took out a bag of gold and placed it on the table with an audible clink. I reached out my trembling hands at the astounding amount I have never seen before in my life.
Now I have 300,010G! With this, I can get this or that or anything! Price is not a concern any longer! What a miracle!
Reona-san crossed her arms in mid-air, a smug grin on her face for some reason.
“The common folks like to complain about the world, saying this or that are too expensive—but you know what, Hiro-kun! None of that matters to the rich and wealthy! That’s you, right now!”
What an unequal world we live in! But I see! Prices and what-nots don’t matter to the rich! That’s reality for you!
“All right! We’re going on a splurge! Alicia, pick your favorite clothes!”
“R-Really? Then, this cute, pink blouse… can I get this?”
“You can even pick better fruit knives if you want!”
“Thank you, Hiro!”
Seeing the smile like a blooming flower on her face made me happy too. I noticed Mizarisa at a corner staring at a saw.
“Want to get that too?”
There was a black coating around the edge, giving it a cool appearance.
“You mean it!? I’m so glad! If I may, I would be even happier if you can wet yourself right now for me as a present!”
“Why the hell do I have to wet myself even as a present? Who does that? That’s just weird.”
Either way, it seemed that Mizarisa was pleased as well. Yup. Watching the girls get excited also made me feel like I’m having fun.
“Hey, Hiro-kun, what about me? Buy me something too!”
Reona-san flew in front of me and pouted.
“That’s impossible. There’s nothing here small enough to fit you.”
“Boo! Then you better buy some clothes for me next time in real life!”
“Ahaha. But I’m broke in real life.”
Hm? If we’re going shopping for clothes in real life, does it count as a date…?
Suddenly, the thought of going out on the streets with an older woman crossed my imagination.
—Wow, I can’t believe it!! Everything is going far too smoothly!!
I feel like I have been rewarded several times the suffering I underwent in Ted. All my efforts were properly compensated for. Perhaps this is also something that actually happens in real life? When I thought that, my displeasure with Kiwame Quest seemed to melt away.
After completely uphauling Mizarisa and Alicia’s equipment, I bought a plate of golden armor for myself just like the one Tesla wore. Even after that, I still have more than 50,000G remaining.
As I stood in front of a full-length mirror, the pendant around my neck started to shine. I took it out to take a look.
[Cocky Rich Bastard: Nouveau Riche Upstart]
Now it’s just plain insulting me! Fine, bring it on! I’ll show you the meaning of cocky!
For the first time, I don’t feel that affected by the ridiculous title given to me by the game. I turned to the rest with a smile.
“I’m feeling famished, let’s go grab something to eat!”
We took a brief walk around the town of Mystin, then entered a street lined full of restaurants. I picked the most expensive-looking place and entered.
We were guided to a table covered with a pure white cloth and a waiter dressed in a tuxedo came over to take our orders.
“How much is the most expensive meal in this place?”
“Our full-course dinner for a one is 300G.”
“Only 300G? We’ll have that for everyone!”
Before long, exquisite dishes were brought before us which included a fragrant soup, fresh salad and meat-on-the-bone still piping hot. We immediately dug into it.
With her mouth full, Mizarisa spoke blissfully.
“Orcs for the win!”
“Fufu. If I’d known the orcs parts were so valuable, I would have brought along the whole lot of it.”
“No worries about that! We can just hunt them again!”
“Haha, you’re right about that!”
“Yup! Hiro is invincible after all!”
Alicia and Mizarisa heaped praises on me chummily. Reona-san too said happily as she took a large bite off the meat.
“Hiro-kun, you’re so bourgeois. But, you deserve it for all the hardship you went through so far. Go ahead and vent all your stress!”
The delicious cuisine made me smack my lips. After emptying my plate,
“Phew, that was satisfying!” I slumped down in my seat.
The bright full moon shone impressively from beyond the window. Having filled my stomach, a bout of lethargy washed over me as I stared at it lazily.
However, a bearded man appeared over the window suddenly, blocking the view of the beautiful moon!
While I remained stunned, the man opened the window from the other side and peered his upper body in.
“Wh-What a surprise! You, you’re a real player, aren’t you? I can’t be wrong! That’s a fairy you have with you, isn’t it!”
He had short hair and a full beard.
“Ya can call me Shougo! I’m a real player just like ya!”
The man prattled on happily in a high tone.
“It’s been a while since I’ve seen a fairy! That’s a retail store bonus, aint it?”
“Y-yea. Nice to meet you. My name is Reona, and this is Hiro-kun. I’m currently serving as his support.”
“So you’re Hiro-chan! Could you be a highschooler?”
“I knew it! You look so young! Fufu, makes me want to gobble you up!”
Huh!? What is wrong with this guy!! Is he actually a game character!!
“Wait a sec!”
Shougo-san pulled his body back from the window and disappeared. Almost immediately, the restaurant doors opened and he walked in. In any case, who would have thought there’d also be a character like Ginji-san in this town as well!
I thought, perhaps I could get some information out of this guy, but I suddenly noticed that Alicia had drawn out her newly bought high-quality fruit knives.
“This guy is suspicious. What to do, Hiro? …Kill him?”
“Wait wait wait! Why would you want to kill him straight off the bat!?”
I, as well as Shougo-san, were horrified.
“Eeek!! What is with this NPC!? She’s terrifying!!”
Alicia was glaring at Shougo-san as if she was looking at a monster. S-Somehow things are getting complicated!
I cleared my throat with a cough and turned to Alicia and Mizarisa with a serious expression.
“Sorry, do you two mind letting me talk to Shougo-san alone for a while?”
“Oh, sure thing! I was just thinking of taking a walk around the town to aid digestion!”
“Sorry about this. Let me know later if you spot anything interesting. We’ll meet up here again after 30 minutes.”
“Understood. Come on, you come with me too.”
Mizarisa took a hint and… or rather, she probably wanted to take a look around the town actually. Meanwhile, Alicia was being led along by her hand by Mizarisa but she kept turning back to glance at me. She must be really worried about me. It warmed my heart to see her behaving like she was really my childhood friend.
With only us players left at the table, Shougo-san started speaking.
“I can’t believe it! Who would have thought I’d find another real player here in Mystin!”
“Totally! I also would have never thought there’d be anyone else playing Kiwame Quest even now other than Ginji-san!”
Seeing the look of surprise on our faces, Shougo-san laughed jovially.
“Ufufu. Even during the golden age of Kiwame Quest, only a mere 0.04% of players managed to leave Ted town and made it here. I even consider this the greatest achievement of my life. That’s why I still log in here now despite this Full Dive RPG being pretty much dead.”
He took a good look at me from head to toe.
“You can dine at a high-end restaurant, and that expensive suit of armor—Hiro-chan, could you perchance use the secret technique?”
“Hm, yeah. A little.”
“That’s awesome! It’s completely impossible for me! I just don’t have the sense for it!”
“W-Well, you also made it here, didn’t you? That’s pretty amazing in itself too!”
“But Shougo-san. How did you make it here if you can’t use the secret technique?”
At Reona-san’s words, he let out a low suggestive laugh. I recalled what I read in the Auberdine Walkthrough and whispered to her.
“He must be a martial artist! If not, he couldn’t have overcome the goblin’s assault or make it through the forest of orcs!”
“I see. That might just be it.”
But if that was the case, a doubt then arose in my mind.
“Erm, Shougo-san. Why haven’t you moved on from this town?”
At my question, he had a fleeting profound look on his face as he stared at a corner of the table.
“Getting out of Ted and passing through the forest of orcs… by the time I somehow reached this place, something inside of me changed.”
For a while, we remained silent.
“…I understand that feeling.”
Reona-san murmured in agreement wistfully. Looking at their side profiles, I could guess at their thoughts.
—I came to realize the limits of my abilities… must be what they’re thinking.
He was probably trying to clear away the gloomy atmosphere when Shougo-san revealed a bright smile and said:
“It’s not all bad! I’ve come to appreciate life here! I think I’ve finally realized what my own play style is like in this town!”
There are all sorts of ways to enjoy playing a game. Aiming to clear the game is not the only objective. Some people like Ginji-san have fun by gambling, while others like to experience the story through the side quests too.
“Even so, Hiro-kun is aiming to clear the game, right!”
I nodded earnestly towards Reona-san. I don’t know if it was possible for me to clear this impossibly difficult Kiwame Quest. Nonetheless, I was able to activate the special technique someway or another. I thought it was my responsibility to aim to finish the game at least for all the players who tried their best but could not manage to use the technique.
—Indeed, just as Kamui once did.
“I see. It’s great to be young, I’m almost envious of you.”
Shougo-san looked at my face and smiled.
“Anyway, Hiro-chan. It’s getting late today already. You should look for an inn and rest. Also, even if you’re trying to clear the game, I highly recommend you stay in this town for a while and obtain stronger equipment before you move on.”
“Thank you for the advice!”
“I’m so glad to have met another player after some time too.”
I clasped my hand over Shougo-san’s for a handshake. It gave me a feeling as if I had received the baton from the previous generation.
Shougo-san got up from his seat. Then, just as he was about to leave, he dropped a bomb.
“See ya, I’m gonna head to the orc forest now.”
“Huh!! You mean, right now!?”
H-He’s telling me to rest in an inn while he heads to the orc forest!? And from our conversation, it sounded like he had no intention of clearing the game and yet!? What’s going on!?
Right at that moment. The doors to the restaurant flung open and a blond young man rushed in.
“Shougo! You were here!?”
Shougo-san smiled and pointed to the young man whose stature reminded me of Martin.
“This is Josef. He’s my childhood friend NPC.”
“So you made it out of Ted with your childhood friend, huh.”
He nodded at my words, then turned to Josef with a sharp gaze.
“Josef. We’re heading to the forest again tonight.”
Following which, Josef had a pained look on his face.
“Shougo… just stop…”
He seems to be rather worried for Shougo-san. Right, of course he would be. The forest at night is dangerous. Not to mention, he couldn’t use the secret technique either.
“Hey, Shougo-san. If you don’t mind, shall I accompany you?”
“No, it’s fine. We each have our own ‘play styles’, Hiro-chan.”
Then, he wiggled his hips.
“Ahn! What kind of vigorous play shall I go with today!”
Due to his strange movement, I could see the title pendant hanging from his neck. This was what’s written there.
[Orc Lover: Fanatic of Orcs]
While I stood there lost for words, Josef raised his voice desperately.
“Shougo! Who knows what will happen to you if you continue to play with the orcs!”
“Don’t worry. All you have to do is the same as always, just stand nearby as you watch the exciting play between me and the orc. Come, let’s go now!”
Leaving behind the flabbergasted me, Shougo-san grabbed his childhood friend and left the restaurant in a stoop.
I remained in a daze for a few minutes before I snapped at Reona-san.
“Please tell me that person is just going off to play the game, will you!? I think he had a different thing in mind when he said he’s going to ‘play’ though!?”
“Hiro-kun. Let us not comment about other people’s play style.”
I-I’m curious…! What is that person going to do with the orcs right now? N-No! I better stop this train of thoughts before I regret it!
After he left, some more time passed before Mizarisa and Alicia returned.
“What’s up, Hirocchi? Got any good information?”
“N-Nope, sorry. There was surprisingly nothing of merit gained. To tell you the truth, I feel like it would be even better if we hadn’t talked. …What about you?”
“We found the Adventurer’s Guild. You can accept monster extermination requests there, it seems.”
“No kidding! Good job finding that out, Mizarisa!”
But she only responded with a big yawn.
“I’m pooped from everything today.”
“Agreed. I’m feeling a bit sleepy.”
Alicia also rubbed her eyes. Reona-san whispered into my ear.
“Hiro-kun, you need to let the two of them rest.”
Right, night had completely fallen. I already logged out once in front of the orc forest, but to Alicia and Mizarisa, they had been adventuring the whole time since we left Ted.
“My bad, let’s look for an inn.”
I said apologetically and Alicia nodded with relief.
∗ ∗ ∗
I followed the two of them and we reached a large wooden building before long. A large sign with the word “INN” hung at the entrance. They probably found this place along with the Guild just now.
We entered and I arranged for rooms at the counter. A room each for everyone for a total of three rooms, but it was still cheaper than the high-class cuisine we had just now. It felt really good to not have to worry about expenses.
“Thank you for your patronage. Here are the keys for rooms 21, 22 and 23.”
I received the keys from the old lady NPC and passed them to Mizarisa and Alicia. I was about to follow them up the second floor when the receptionist called out.
“Wait up. You need to pay up front here.”
“Oops. I see.”
“Hirocchi, I’m going ahead. See you tomorrow morning.”
Alicia also waved her hand at me and went up. She must be pretty worn out too. Did I push them too hard? Next time, I’ll let them turn in early once night comes.
Reona-san was gone before I even realized. I finished settling the bill by myself and headed for my room.
I walked down all the way till the end of the corridor of the second floor and opened the door with the same number as that of the key. Since electricity didn’t exist here, it was pretty dark inside. After closing the door, I relied on the moonlight by the window and made my way in by feel. A lamp-like object came into view vaguely.
With unaccustomed hands, I somehow managed to light the lamp. And when I did—I found a girl’s face right beside me.
I screamed with all my lungs at the heart-stopping shock! She reflexively covered her ears with her hands.
“Jeez! There’s no need to be so surprised, is there!”
“You surprised me, really!! Why are you in my room!?”
“I wanted to talk to you before I went to sleep! That’s all!”
I-Is that really all? I had a faint suspicion about whether or not some kind of scary event might just occur. However, Alicia’s expression was gentle. The two of us sat down on the bed next to each other. Lit by the delicate glow of the lamp, Alicia stared at me bashfully.
“Say, Hiro. You mentioned this, didn’t you. That you are the Hero who is going to save the world.”
At the start of Kiwame Quest, all players received a vision from the goddess telling them they were the Hero. However, according to Ginji-san, that was merely a delusion all player characters experienced in-story.
“Ah… that was more like a dream or something…”
“No, Hiro. You exposed Tesla’s schemes and freed the town of Ted. Also, you subjugated the orcs. Lately, I had begun to think that Hiro, perhaps, you are indeed the Hero…”
Something warm covered my hand. It was Alicia’s hand which she overlapped over mine.
“When I look at you, my heart pounds non-stop.”
She entwined her fingers around mine! Then, she leant her body forwards towards me such that we could feel each other’s breath!
“I want us to be more than childhood friends…”
“M-More than childhood friends!?”
Her face, no, her lips approached mine! Th-This angle!! At this rate, it will reach my lips, not my cheek!!
However, right before our lips became one…
“Heey~. Where’re you, Alicia. Let’s have a pillow fight before we go to bed.”
Mizarisa’s voice came from beyond the door, and Alicia clicked her tongue.
“That idiot Mizarisa! Didn’t she say she was sleepy! And what pillow fight? Is she still a child!”
Her forehead creased hard with wrinkles as she cursed in a rough voice, before her expression softened in a complete reversal as she faced me.
“W-Well, sweet dreams, Hiro!”
“Y-Yeah. You too.”
Then, she gave me a light peck on the cheek before leaving the room as if it was the most natural thing to do.
I sat there frozen for a bit, and eventually rolled back and forth over the bed.
“Khhh! She’s so cute!”
Seeing as nobody was around, I hugged the blanket and unconsciously let out the words in my mind. However, from under the blanket suddenly appeared a fairy grinning from ear to ear!
“Jeez, Hiro-kun. Getting so excited all by yourself. It was so embarrassing I can’t even bear to watch.”
“You were inside the bed all along!? Wait, what the hell are you doing inside someone else’s bed!!”
“I saw Alicia entering your room just now and thought I might see something interesting. Sure enough, I was thoroughly entertained!”
When I thought about everything being seen, from the kiss with Alicia and me rolling on the bed in ecstasy, I felt so embarrassed I wanted to die. No, in the first place, how the heck did two other people even enter my room before I even did!
“You should have known better, Hiro-kun. You’re still underage, you know.”
“I-I know that! It’s not like I was hoping for anyth-…”
“Well, but it seemed like Alicia already gave the go-ahead sign though.”
“Sign? E-Erm, for what?”
“Of course, to go to bed with you.”
My face was aflame. A-Alicia actually thought of me that much…?
“Wait, wait up!! Is there even such a function… erm… you know… can that be done in-game!?”
“Didn’t I tell you Kiwame Quest is ZZ-rated? If you wish, you can even make a child.”
S-Seriously!? Man, Kiwame Quest rocks…!! That’s an adult full dive RPG for you…!!
“Anyway, Hiro-kun. I’m glad that you’re having fun, but how about calling it a day for now and saving the game?”
“N-No, let’s keep going. We haven’t progressed that much since we logged in…”
“What’s this! Could it be that you are getting into the mood? Hiro-kun, you’re such a hormonal teenager! Disgusting!”
“It’s not like that! I just want to play more of Kiwame Quest! Hey… did I also just catch you mixing in a ‘disgusting’ as well? Well?”
“Either way, I’m more than happy to see you being so excited about Kiwame Quest!”
The fairy flew across my pouting face and whispered into my ear.
“I’m completely fine with you getting close to Alicia, Hiro-kun. But don’t forget, the you in real life belongs to me alone, okay!”
Following that, she gave me a kiss on the other cheek than the one Alicia took. She flashed a mischievous smile along with a sidelong glance at the bewildered me before diving into the sheets.
“S-Seriously! You always treat me like a kid!”
I said, but secretly I was in high-spirits and lied down on the bed a bit away from her.
∗ ∗ ∗
I woke up when the sun rays hit my eyelid. In actuality, only a few minutes had passed. But in this ultra-realistic world of Kiwame Quest, the feeling of having rested for five, six hours and the lethargy of waking up were also replicated faithfully.
“Good morning, Hiro-kun.”
Reona-san also looked sleepy still as she rubbed her eyes. The fog of sleep still hadn’t left, but I forcefully shook my head. The guild house that Mizarisa discovered. Today was the day we were going to visit it.
I headed down the stairs towards the lobby and found Alicia and Mizarisa already there with their belongings. Alicia hustled towards me and greeted me energetically with a “Good morning!”
“All right, let’s head for the guild. Lead the way please, Mizarisa.”
“Aye-aye! We’ll look for monsters stronger than orcs so that you’ll wet yourself!”
“Haah. No I won’t. No matter what monster I face, I’ll defeat them.”
When I retorted confidently, she pursed her lips discontentedly.
The Adventurer’s Guild “The Hawk Pavilion of Mystin” was a gigantic bar with an atrium. But, unlike normal pubs, the saloon was filled not with townsfolk, but hardy-looking men and women cladded in armor. Something like a bulletin board was placed near the long counter where tons of straw papers were attached to it with pins.
“Isn’t that where they put up the quest applications?”
Quest! A basic of any RPGs!
Reona-san’s words made my heart soar and I raced towards the board. Despite there being many NPCs making idle chat in the saloon, no one could be seen in front of the board. In the early days of Kiwame Quest, this must be where all the players gathered around and bustled. Nah… there weren’t that many people who made it here back then too, huh.
I took a look around the posters attached to the boards.
[Exterminate Orcs by the Riverside]
[Subjugate the Orc Herd]
[Application for the Orc Forest Subjugation]
“Why the heck is there nothing but orcs only!?”
I yelled out in surprise. Mizarisa and Alicia were also looking through the quest leaflets, but nothing seemed amiss to them and they just conversed as per usual.
“Hm-Hmm. There’s various requests available.”
“Hiro, which one are you looking at?”
“Hold on a minute!! Don’t you think it’s weird!? These requests are all related to orcs only!!”
Reona-san said to me who was bewildered.
“The town of Mystin is often plagued by orcs, seeing as the forest of orcs is right nearby.”
This was so different from what I thought that I was utterly disappointed. There were only goblins at Ted, and now only orcs at Mystin. Isn’t there far too little variety of monsters!? Did the developers of Kiwame Quest just slack off when it came to creating monsters!?
“Hiro-kun. You can earn money by defeating orcs. The more you defeat, the richer you can get.”
“I get that, but…”
I know money is important, but I don’t feel very driven. To be honest, the orcs are no threat to me if I use the secret technique. Just yesterday, I cut down twenty of them all by myself. At this point, I’m already sick of them.
“…I want to challenge myself with something stronger.”
In my frustration, those words leaked out from my mouth unconsciously. In an instant, the hubbub in the guild house came to a stop.
Right then, all of the NPC adventurers directed their gazes at me.
“Hey, did you hear that cocky bastard?”
“Hihihi! He’s completely out of his mind!”
“No doubt. What a snob.”
Looks like they have all unanimously declared me to be a cocky bastard! What kind of game exists where even all the NPCs disparage you!? God damn it!!
A female warrior with well-defined abs walked over with an intrepid smile holding a piece of straw paper.
“Hey you, how about this then?”
She then slammed it onto the bulletin board. On it was written this:
[Demon Subjugation at the Crossroads]
When I saw the new quest, my heart raced. I exclaimed to Reona-san who was seated on my shoulder.
“Demon!! There’s no mistaking it, right!!”
“I-I’ve never heard of them! But, it sounds like a pretty formidable enemy to me. Are you sure you can take this on, Hiro-kun?”
Unlike goblins and orcs, demons were a race that represented powerful monsters in most RPGs, at least that was my impression. I was aware still that if I die, I would lose my console and the game again, but in the end my anticipation won out.
I tore down the quest form which had just been placed up.
“Reona-san! I’m going to test my strength and see how far I can go!”
“So you’re doing it? Alright! You’re so full of yourself!”
You’re saying that again! Just when I was about to retort, the door to the guild flew open.
With the sun at her back, the girl walked briskly and determinedly in my direction.
—Wh-What is it…?
She looked clearly different from the NPCs I encountered so far. Although she was also dressed in a cloth tunic like the rest of the townspeople, she had lustrous brown hair and wore silver earrings. Her lips also had a layer of lip gloss applied. Overall, she gave off the feeling of a real-life person like Reona-san.
She came right before me, her eyes opened wide.
“You are also a player… am I right?”
“Y-Yeah. That’s right.”
My voice came out husky and slightly shaking. Her sudden mention of the meta term took me aback. She then turned her sight onto the floating Reona-san and stared deeply.
“A fairy… there’s no mistake…!”
“Y-You can see me too?”
Like Shougo-san, the girl with short brown hair could see Reona-san and she gave a nod before turning back to me. Drops of tears welled up in her large eyes before I even realized.
“I’ve been waiting for you to come…”
And then she proceeded to hug me in a tight embrace.