The next morning, I went down to the first floor and took out the rice balls and green tea from my inventory, and placed them on top of the front counter for our guild members who couldn’t log out. The inventory can be accessed from anywhere.
One by one, the guild members lined up calmly and received them.
In between bites, I announced to them,”…and that’s about it. If you have your own house, check there and make sure you have enough underwear, clothes, equipment, and so on. Also, it looks like it’s a mess outside, so be careful out there!”
I said this with a hopeful smile, and everyone nodded as they ate. Within this guild, there hasn’t been any noticeable disorder—yet. However, I know very well that this is just the situation at our guild hall . Nachi has been busy chatting away with his friends since this morning, and from what he told me, the situation is very different elsewhere.
After the meal, I checked the inventory again. I’ve already expanded my inventory to the maximum size, so it can store 99 items per slot and has 8,000 slots… so it is capable of storing 8,000 multiples of 99. Currently, there are 200 vacancies. The rest of the inventory is being used to store materials, processed goods, recovery items—now including food and drink—and some equipment that I quietly made with my crafting skills, which I planned to give to novices as support.
I’m not a particularly hardcore player, so I don’t typically need powerful equipment. And while my character’s level is high, the status and skill levels aren’t maxed out. I was just… wondering if it would be better to distribute some of my equipment to the guild members considering the chaos outside, even if it doesn’t necessarily count as clothing…
I am troubled by it.
As Nachi suddenly called out to me, I reflexively hit the inventory’s exit button. The inventory window that had been unfolding in front of my vision closed.
“Well, I was thinking, why don’t we check out the situation in town for a bit?”
“Ah… That’s what I was thinking too. Depending on the situation, it might be better to ration a rice ball, or something, once every three days.”
“Uh-huh. Well, I guess everyone in the guild is going to check their inventories and private houses today, right? Why don’t we go first?”
“That’s right. In a way, I think it’s up to you and me to decide what direction to take in the future.”
When I agreed, Nachi laughed softly. Maybe the reason I’ve been able to maintain some level of composure is because Nachi has been so calm all this time.
Thus, we ate rice balls and green tea with everyone for lunch as well, and then decided to take a stroll around Clock Town. Normally when I’m in the square, I don’t carry much of a weapon to use my skills, but just in case, I kept my spear on my back.
Even though I have a spear weapon, there basically aren’t any offensive skills for a bard—it’s the weakest class by itself in the game. Even so, I can still wield the spear as a physical weapon and use my bard skills to take out the early bosses with a single blow. I’ve been using those to help novices so far—although I can only help them up to about lvl 100.
Nachi also carried a staff on his back. We both tied our shoelaces together, gave each other an unspoken nod of affirmation, and walked out of the guild’s front door.
Since the guild house was on the outskirts of the plaza, we decided to first head to the center of the plaza where the announcement board and official general store were located. There were no longer crowds like there were at the time of the event announcement, but I noticed some people lying down on benches—obviously having slept out in the open. I opened the console window to see what the general store had for sale, and it was sold out yet again today. Normally, most people don’t buy food items like eggs, milk, rice balls, etc. because they are cheap and ineffective—but now they are all sold out. The official general store was supposed to reset every morning at 5:00 a.m. to replenish, and that didn’t seem to have changed. The reason I could tell was because there was a sign that read, “Sold Out Today”.
After looking at the surroundings, Nachi spoke up, “Everyone seems to be in need of food, clothing and shelter after all. Especially the light users who don’t pay for in-game items and don’t have any in-game currency.” 1
We consider ourselves casual players, but we enjoy the game as much as we can, so others probably think of us as being more hardcore. Although, not all of our guild members are like that.
“The guild members of Mashed Potato are lucky to have Neji.”
“Neji is cheerful, gentle, a bit of a pushover, but also a hard worker.”
“Why have you been flattering me, since yesterday?”
“In a situation like this, it’s to be expected that the only people you can trust are your real friends…” Nachi strangely lowered his voice, “but to be honest, I’m very worried.”
It was surprising because he seemed so calm. But I understood what he meant, because I would have been worried too if Nachi hadn’t been here.
“Well just in case, let’s take a look around the whole city. Around the corner, there’s a rental stall for the F2P players, a trade board, and an official cafe.”2
Nachi regained his composure and spoke, “That’s right. I want to know if there’s no food there either.”
So we turned the corner, and then entered a winding, usually deserted, back alley as a shortcut to the stalls area.
At that moment, a voice suddenly called out to us, “Ah, you’re the two from Mashed Potato.”
Nachi and I both abruptly turned our heads. There were five men standing there. Everyone was well equipped to some degree. From their equipment, I could tell that they were a group of axe-wielders.
“I see that your avatar was shared with your real appearance.”
“I always thought you were pretty cute but… wow.”
They surrounded us, grinning. I was wondering what this was all about and then Nachi narrowed one eye.
“We are in a hurry, please let us through.”
Then the men gave us vulgar smiles.
“We can’t even log out because of the situation. But we can still kill’ya. If you disobey us, the weak and chatty ones like you will die in one shot. You know that, right?”
My eyes widened when I heard that. Next to me, Nachi gasped.
“This game was originally about sex too, ya’ know? How about you let us fuck you? See?”—the man crudely gestured towards his genitals—“you know what they say about your sex drive going up before you die?”
“Which one should I fuck?”
“I’ll use Neji’s mouth.”
“Then I’ll take Nachi’s back.”
I was shocked and in disbelief. Nachi furrowed his brow and kept his eyes downcast for a long time. He seemed to be controlling something with his eyes. At this point, I clearly understood that I was about to be raped as the men crowded me and tried to touch my clothes. I turned pale and felt like my whole body had gone cold. Considering the number of people involved, their skill level, and the quality of their equipment, there was no doubt that we would be killed if we defied them. Sure, we were told that we would be revived, but there would still be pain in the process.
I instinctively blurted, “Just take me. Let Nachi go.”
Nachi opened his eyes next to me and he then glared at the men.
“Neji. Never mind that. You’re out of your mind for messing with us.”
“Wow, you’re a lot tougher than I thought.”
One of the men laughed mockingly. Then he picked up his axe. He swung it.
Ah. I am going to be killed. Despite my fears, I picked up my spear to somehow protect Nachi.
At that moment, a cold and hoarse voice emanated from behind us.
“What are you doing?”
TL note: Guess whose voice is it? Place your bets Heath or Mao.
I was given a double room with Nachi. Probably because we were guild master and vice guild master, that’s why everyone was considerate of us. It seemed that everyone else had chosen a room appropriately, with three to five other people. Because the bedrooms only have one huge bed, which were big enough for six adult males to lie on, but there were no individual items, so the result is that the bedrooms were divided appropriately.
When the door opened, it revealed a large room. This defied the laws of physics. The guild hall’s exterior looks like a two-story tavern, but each door on the second floor leads to a large room.
I took a shower to test it as well. The electricity was on and the water was running, but that is no different from the original game. It was just that I couldn’t log out and the sensation became real, but since I was inside the game, I guess it was useless to think about things like sewers and such.
Wiping my wet hair with a towel, I went back to my room, which only had a bed, and Nachi was sitting down on the bed with his eyes closed, it seemed like he was having some kind of friend chat. It did not seem to be a voice chat because his mouth wasn’t moving. In the case of text chat, it is possible to communicate with multiple people all at once.
I sat down and maintained some distance so as not to disturb him. But soon enough, Nachi seemed to notice, he opened his eyes and looked at me. Then he seemed to have ended the chat and sighed, ‘Haa …’ .
“As expected… Everyone is feeling confused?”
When I asked while putting the towel in the bag feature, Nachi nodded vigorously.
“You sure know. It’s a big chaos. Isn’t there a lot of chat coming to you, Neji?”
“Me? I’ve got a character message now that says, ‘I’m on leave until things settle down.'”
A character message is a personalized message that can be viewed by selecting the character’s name in the friend list.
“I think there is no such thing as a leave in this situation. I see. Are you blocking everything?”
“I guess I will. Because I’ve got my hands full with the guild. Even though I haven’t done anything yet.”
Even so, I’m a guild master, and I have a strange sense of duty that I can’t just throw it away. In response to my words, Nachi folded his arms.
“We moved quickly to the guild hall and were able to declare that we had no problems for the time being with sleeping quarters and food- I feel it was more than enough. I’ve heard stories of guilds without guild halls, of guilds gathering in private homes, of warehouses that only had weapons in them to begin with, and on and on.”
“It’s better to think things through simply. I mean, I don’t have the capacity to think too hard.”
I believe that if humans can sleep and eat, they can take care of themselves to a certain extent.
“By the way, Neji and I kind of got a room in the guild home, but… we have our own private homes too, right?”
A private home is a home feature that could be purchased by an individual with real money. Stalls and the like could be set up on that lot. If there is no payment, it is not possible to set up a stall. In such cases, we would use the bulletin board to trade.
“Do you want to sleep at home?”
“I’m staying here for today. I don’t know if I will be able to sleep. I’m not so brazen that I can just nod my head and say, ‘Yes, that is so,’ and sleep soundly when someone suddenly says, ‘You can’t log out’.”
“Yeah, me too.”
Nachi agreed. In addition, unlike the guild hall, the private home could be reached with a button instead of each town. There is a home button above the logout button. Come to think of it, many of the guild members probably have homes as well, so we might as well encourage them to move there once they calm down.
“But not many people have planters at home.”
“There won’t be much unless they decide to craft.”
“Neji, you have a lot, right?”
“I have. I’ve been growing rice, and the day after tomorrow I’m supposed to harvest about a thousand grains of rice, so I plan to keep steadily producing ingredients for the rice ball.”
“I’m glad Neji is the guild master. Sorry, but I am thinking that you should make the box lunch that’s in the production recipe if possible.”
“I shouldn’t have said that. I get it. If you help me gather the ingredients for the pickled plums, I will make it.”
After such an exchange, he would usually reply, “That’s fine with me though.The priest also has a range annihilation skill.” but we both fell silent. As far as I can tell from the status, there is no sign of any change in level or anything like that, but since the senses are so real, there is a good chance that the monsters are too. Even if it’s killing weak monsters, it seems that from now on, we will also experience the sensation of pain if we get injured.
“Do you really want to go through the pain for the pickled plums? Nachi, I don’t mind the salty taste of the rice ball…”
“…That’s right, but I kind of want to try killing them.”
“Because I’m not going to die, am I? I, for once, want to have a realistic hunt. I want to defeat the boss at least once, too.”
“It’s like you’re celebrating the situation where we can’t log out?”
“If you call it an escape from reality, then that’s all it is.”
Nachi laughed jokingly when he said that. But I was convinced that he was serious. After three years of playing with him almost every day, both in real life and in games, I could tell that much.
“I’ll send the recovery medicine to your mail. Let me know when you go.”
Mail is the letter feature. Items can be attached. At the sound of my voice, Nachi nodded nonchalantly. Nachi was kind, but he was definitely more of a hardcore player than I was.
“Even so, defeating the boss? I wonder if Genesis is going to take the lead in defeating it after all.”
Vaguely remembering Heath and Mao, I opened the lid of the sports drink item that I took out of the bag feature. And when I took a sip, I found that this one also had a taste that I hadn’t felt before I became unable to log out. The drinks after the bath are delicious.
“I’ve been chatting with Mao too, and it looks like Genesis is going to defeat it.
“I’ve been asked if I’d like to join a guild that has a lot of attack power but not enough priests and need a healer. I refused, but… from now on, the people who are going to attack may have to move guilds quite a bit.”
“It’s just that there’s a lot more ruckus from the casual chatting players than that kind of talk from the hardcore players.”
Nachi looked down. He closed his eyes with a complicated look on his face.
“What do you mean?”
“Look, me and Neji shared the avatars with our real appearances, so our appearances haven’t changed, right?”
“In short, the ‘casual players’ were the ones who were trying to date, so many of them were making changes with their appearance to make themselves more popular.”
“I heard that the lover who was supposed to be a peerless pretty boy has turned into an unrecognizable old man.”
“As long as you have love, it won’t matter.”
“I guess he only had love for the outward appearance. It seems there aren’t many people with values like Neji, and there’s been a string of breakups.”
I’m a casual player, but not a dating person, so I wasn’t too sure about that part.
“For now, I’m going to go check out the town tomorrow and try to talk to friends.”
“Is that so? Be careful.”
“Yeah, thank you. What about you, Neji?”
“I’ll check the inventory and see if there’s any other things… like clothing besides food? I’ll check those out. I’ve got shampoo and stuff, but no underwear or anything like that.”
“Ah, I appreciate it.”
After such an exchange, we went to bed for the day. In the end, I slept.
“…No logout button means that the five senses have become real, which means that our senses have entered the game, right?”
Nachi, who was next to me, looked at me and tugged at the clothes of my arm. Only the clothes are the same as my avatar. Today, I’m wearing a costume from the Lawbreakers Series. Although the name sounds chuunibyou, the appearance is relatively simple: a black high-necked top and bottom, with only a silver cross embroidered as a one point.1 On my back, I carry a spear that can activate bard skills by wielding it.
“There’s no change except that the hair and eyes are the same color as in reality, but that can be considered a change, too…”
Nachi fixedly looked at my hair and eyes. When I was told, I picked my hair and found out that my hair was dyed dark brown with a slight hint of green, and it was just as real. In the game, I’ve always had silver hair, so it’s definitely a big change.
Nachi’s hair on the other hand, which was light brown in the game, is now jet black with a bit of blue just like in real life. Nachi had just re-dyed his hair for job hunting. In addition, the avatar of Nachi is wearing the costume from the Holy Angel series, which also sounds like chunnibyou name, but it is a blue priest-like outfit. On his back, you can see a huge, cross-shaped staff.
“Master! Nachi-san! All the official general store items are already sold out!”
Ango shouted right then. Nachi and I looked at each other in surprise, and then, both of us without a second thought, opened the general store button by eye control. There was a line of sold out labels there. Soon after that, I also checked the status of the stalls that players could set up themselves, but they too were either sold out or just closed.
“Looks like everyone’s securing food!”
“Eh… quick action…”
Nachi’s face stiffed from the voice of Ango. I folded my arms. I’m a casual player, but I’ve spent all of my part-time paycheck on this game, so I’ve already expanded my warehouse etc. and have a lot of useless items stashed away. That’s why I have a lot of rice balls that have been used as recovery medicine. I have a lot of them because it used to give me 99 of them when I helped novices. I took it out of my bag to try it out, and a rice ball appeared in my hand just as I had seen it. I took a bite and found that it tasted salty.
“What should we do…”
At that time, the surroundings began to buzz. The people around me were, of course, the guild members of mine and Nachi’s guild, the Mashed Potato. Ango was also looking at me like he was at a loss.
“For, for the time being! Gather at the guild hall!”
I’m still the guild master, so I decided to take charge. Then the people who got their appearance changed– in other words, the guild members who had lost track of who was who, nodded. However, if you choose the target and check the profile one at a time, you can see their name and profession, so if you take your time, you can confirm them.
Although the game originally had only men, the avatars also had animal appearances, so it was a sight to see a group of only men as far as the eye could see.
As I took the lead and started walking, Nachi came up next to me. And then, he looked at me with sharp eyes.
“It’s not a death game, but they said we can die from hunger.”
“Besides Neji, are there any other producers in our guild capable of producing something edible?”
“That is…even if you say that, I’m also a casual player, so crafting is not up to that point …”
“Now enough with modesty and all, it’s a state of emergency! Do not throw cold water on me who is happy that a guy with all max crafting skills, which few hardcore players have, is a guild master, or rather a friend!
“Because that’s kind of invalid…”
“I’ve always wondered why Neji didn’t go to a guild of hardcore players.”
“We had the same thoughts, didn’t we? I thought the same thing about you.”
“Lately, some people have been calling us casual hardcore players… oh, anyway, aside from all the guild members, how much food do you have for surviving if it’s just the two of us?
“If I only need to eat one rice ball a day, I think I can last for 5,000 days.”
“Since there are about fifty guild members… it means that even with all members, we can last for some time. As long as we have the materials, we won’t have to starve to death.”
We stood in front of the guild hall with such an exchange going on. Even the door to the tavern was real. I could feel the wood from the doorknob.
“It’s the guild hall and for R18, but it’s an inn… There are bedrooms with showers, and we can sleep in there. Food Ok, Bed Ok, then… we just need to stay quiet until someone finishes the game and defeats all the bosses, right? I’m still not sure what the costume will be, but I have a feeling it’s going to be clothing, even if it’s beginner equipment or something.”
Nachi whispered as we walked inside. I nodded gently, because I agreed.
I’m sure the hardcore players will take the initiative in defeating them.
“For now, I’ll talk to the guilds members in that direction, and tell them that each of them can use the room of their choice in groups of four or so.”
“I am counting on you, Neji. I’ll contact my friends in the other guilds and see what’s going on.”
In this way, we’ve divided up the roles, so once I made sure everyone is in the tavern area, I told them that they don’t have to worry about starving to death. The guild members, who were in their teens to forties, in their real appearances, listened to my words with various expressions.
“For now, let’s rest for today. We will each be responsible for our own friend chat and such. Also, everyone should check what they have, ok? Help each other!”
As I concluded, everyone nodded and started to head upstairs.
The first night began in this way, without much chaos.
After finishing my meal and other things during maintenance, I was excited in my apartment where I live alone. It has been rumoured for some time that a new large-scale event is coming. I’m really grateful that it coincided with the university summer break period.
Even though I’m not a hardcore player, that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the RPG aspects of the game at all.
“Alright! I will throw myself into chatting basically from today!”
The situation was the same as usual in the end, but that was okay. With a certain amount of enthusiasm, I logged into the night of the Grand Guignol. I put on the goggle-type VR connection device with my eyes closed and turned it on. Then, the puppet logo appeared on the other side of my eyelids, and soon the login screen of the game appeared. The BGM was peaceful.
Without hesitation, I pressed login. The excitement I felt at this moment was unbearable. Eventually, I got the feeling that my eyes were open, and the next thing I know, I’m in the plaza of Clock Town. This game is where the players respawn from the place where they logged out.
We were all talking about discussing the new event today, so I decided to head to the guild hall where all the guild members gather during the day. The guild hall of our guild, [Mashed Potato], is a tavern-type place with a counter and chairs. On the second floor, there is a row of rooms that remind me of an inn. It is used for R18 functions such as sex, but since I am a virgin, I have not used it.
According to hardcore players, the casual players are, [The group that only thinks about hooking up]. In fact, they’re not wrong. My main focus is chatting, but there are quite a few people who are interacting ‘sexually’. In Mashed Potato, it is up to the individual, but we don’t really encourage it, and players who want to mainly do that immediately move to guilds that focus on hooking up. Note that there are also levels in the sex function.
When I headed to the guild hall in the west of Clock Town, I found that many guild members were already there. I thought I logged in within a few minutes after the maintenance was over, but everyone, you all are really fast.
“You are late, Neji.”
“No, I think you guys are just too fast?”
When I told Nachi, he snarled at me.
“More importantly, did you see the notice?”
“Not yet. What is the new event like?”
“It says the announcement will be made at 22:00 in the sky above each town plaza.”
A town is a city, like the clock town, that has several hangouts in different places. Once you clear the scenario, you will be able to move on. I can move on too, but I like the scenery of the Clock Town so much that I’ve set my guild’s base here. The same is true for Heath and his group, the Genesis guild, for example. Each guild is free to choose the town where they want to set up their guild hall. However, no matter how much they are in the same city, the hardcore players, who are always battling, and the casual players, who are always chatting, almost never cross paths.
“Normally, they’d at least reveal the character design for the new boss, right? What about that? Anything at all?”
I selected the notification button by looking at it and checked it.
“Tell me if there is a difference.”
Nodding, I returned my gaze to Nachi and the others. There are currently around thirty people at the guild hall. While I was thinking about that, Ango brought a bottle of “Gold Beer” in front of me. It is a crafted item. There is also a drinking function in this game. I’ve never smoked, but I hear there’s a smoking function too. You won’t get drunk particularly, but you will get an item buff when you drink. If it’s gold beer, it’s a buff that turns your cheeks red. It’s an item that changes your avatar slightly. The effect lasts for thirty seconds.
Currently, it is only a little past 18:00.
Four more hours… It seems both short and long. If it’s within a dungeon, it’s definitely a long time. However, when chatting, the time passes more quickly than expected.
“Anyway, look at this staff.”
Nachi enchantedly showed me his golden, ornate staff. It seems he was able to trade it safely. This is the most powerful equipment item among the current staff for priests. As for my equipment, the latest edition of the bard’s equipment hasn’t been released for about a year now, so I am prepared for it with the Marilyn that I have saved up just in case. Because there are not many people who are willing to play bards, equipment is also cheap. Many times, they are sold at throwaway prices. But with a popular profession like priest, the equipment changes constantly and is very expensive.
“I’m glad you bought it. I have to say, it is best that you found a trade partner so quickly.”
“Ah yeah. Mao told me he knew someone who wanted to sell.”
“Mao is very diligent, isn’t he? He sends me a greeting chat every day. So we started chatting, and he introduced us.”
I’m not friends with him, so I can only nod vaguely. I’ve almost never interacted with Mao. But there is no doubt that friend of friend method is safer for high value trades and the like.
As we talked like that, we waited for 22:00. I knew it was going to be quick when I was chatting. We all decided to go out to the clock town square at 22:00, with all fifty or so of the guild members who had logged in by then, and headed out under the night sky.
The night sky and the shining stars are so beautiful that it is hard to believe that this is a virtual reality. While looking up with that in mind, countdown numbers like a digital clock appeared in the sky.
With 5 seconds left, it will be 22:00. Four, three, two, one――
The moment it hit zero, I felt as if something suddenly brushed against my skin and went through it. When I opened my eyes wide in surprise, the air I breathed in felt strangely chilly. I’ve never had that feeling before in VR, but it felt as if I had really breathed the outside air.
“On behalf of the management, we are launching a new event. From now on, everyone will not be able to log out.”
At that moment, an image appeared in the night sky that looked just like the puppet I always saw on the login screen. While I was unsure of what was being said, that puppet’s mouth moved.
“You will not be able to log out until you have cleared all the current bosses that are available and all the upcoming bosses from now on. Please confirm the disappearance of the logout button.”
I looked for the button that was supposed to be in the corner of my eye, feeling like I was starting to sweat awfully. Sure enough– there is no logout button in the place where it should be.
“This is not a death game. No matter how many times you die, you will come back to life exactly as per the game specifications. But because we have changed the reality limit code, the sensations are altered to be more realistic. Pain will occur. Taste, smell, touch, appetite, sex, and sleep will all conform to reality.”
As I listened to the puppet’s words, I stood there blankly, unable to say anything.
“There is no urge to urinate. In reality, all of you are in a state of unconsciousness and are being properly taken care of by medical institutions. In short, all of you are our hostages.”
I was surprised to hear that. I’ve heard of it too. I heard that there is apparently a criminal group that commits VR terrorism. It seems that half of the group are criminals who take delight in people’s reaction to their crimes and the terrorists are forcing users to continue playing the game, threatening the government with unconscious users as hostages until the users are able to log out voluntarily. I think I saw on the news that it is a common type of terrorist attack overseas these days.
“Well, enough of this topic. There’s only one thing you can do. All you have to do is defeat all the bosses, complete the scenarios and quests, and log out on your own! You will be brought back to life, but you will also starve to death in the future, so please be careful. Last but not least, a gift from us!”
The puppet said so, and then pulled the cracker in his hand. At the sound of bam, the realistic surroundings blurred for a moment.
“From now on, everyone’s appearance will be in a shared state with your real ones. No more avatars, except for your clothes. Your face is just as it is in real life! I hope you enjoy this more realistic state! So long!”
With that voice as the last word, the puppet image disappeared from the sky. I indirectly glanced around me. The face of Nachi was still the same, but Ango, for example, who was standing next to him, had been a gorilla avatar until now, but he had turned into a normal old man.
At that time, I still didn’t understand the situation very well. However, this is how my life of not being able to log out began.
TN: I don’t know if I wanna get stuck in the game or get isekai more. I just hope it will be a peaceful world where I can live peacefully.
Editor’s Note: For some odd reason, I’d love to be stuck in this game…
“Yeah. If those two are there, the people we’re meeting won’t be able to come.”
Nachi nodded at my words, and that’s when the two men on the bench stood up. And then, what do you know, they walked up to us. Glances from the people around us came flying.
“Neji. Have you requested for a party yet?”
I couldn’t help but give a stiff smile when Mao, with his demon-like stern face (usual), spoke to me. Next to him, Heath had an expressionless face that was also terrifying. The reason they knew me is because… of the name, I’m a recruiter, and I’m somewhat famous as a casual player, and since we were at the meeting place and our professions also matched…
While I was thinking that it might be a lie, I made a party request to them. Soon after, two of them joined, and we became a party of four. Next to me, Nachi was flabbergasted.
“At least make a quick party request.”
Heath said in a whisper. I closed my eyes, still smiling. It seems to be true that he has a demon-like personality. You were so obedient that day that I supported you though. I’m sure he doesn’t remember about me anymore…
“Ah, uhh …”
“Uh, do you have any skills in mind?….”
“Don’t tell me you can’t even use your skills without instructions?”
I was smiling, but I felt like crying. The buffing skills of a bard vary in content depending on the professions of the party members and the boss being fought. A priest’s recovery skills are always the same, but that’s not the case for a bard. Therefore, the moment there were four of us, Nachi had finished casting his skills. Mao didn’t say anything. I swallowed my words, tried my best to smile, and casted the best buff I knew of. This is exactly why I am sick of hardcore players.
Thus, as soon as I finished casting my skills, the dungeon began.
…I’m an easy-going, casual player, so if I’m doing a dungeon with friends or guild members, we’ll take breaks in moderation. But there was no mention of that subject at all. Instead, no one uttered a single word, and the outcome was that we worked tirelessly, defeating the boss at high speed. It lasted for four hours. After two hours, I was half-heartedly casting my skills. I stated once that I wanted to go to the bathroom, but even that was awkward. I wonder what’s going on with the rest of the party’s bladders other than mine.
“Amazing! I’ve already made enough Marilyn for my target amount plus extra.”
When Nachi said this, for the first time, everyone stopped moving. In other words, it means that’s how many rare items have dropped. As for me, I was planning to play half this pace and give what I got to Nachi, so I can’t say anything. I’m tired. I’m really tired.
“I will go with you anytime, if it’s just this much. If you like, let’s add each other as friends?”
Mao looked at Nachi and said speedily. Then with a smile, Nachi shook his head.
“No thank you!”
“Because I’m a casual player, there is a threshold for these kinds of dungeons…”
“I, I see… no, wait. Heath and I are not particularly… that’s why… that…”
“Hardcore players are extreme, right?! I appreciate you, but what the hell happened that you had to accept a stray recruitment today?”
“Not-nothing in particular, sometimes Heath and I go to the bulletin board for stray recruitment too.”
“Hmm. Anyway, thank you very much! I guess it’s time to disband!”
“W-wait! It’s not like I want a friend for a dungeon…,that’s why…! I also want to chat…”
“Mao is looking for a chat friend…? Eh? Well, then I’d be happy to, but… Eh?”
Nachi smiled and tilted his head in confusion. Mao looked somewhat desperate. I was watching them absentmindedly. Then, I saw that in front of me, Mao had sent a friend request to Nachi. When you add a friend, a crown glows above your head. And while I was thinking about it, I got a request for me too. It’s not from Mao however. Surprisingly, it’s from Heath. It was from Heath, the man I had admired until four hours ago. I agonized over whether to reject it, but I accepted it for the time being.
“Let’s play again, the four of us.”
Mao finalized. But Nachi shook his head with a smile.
“You are welcome to chat, but Neji and I don’t like to play in a hardcore dungeon much.”
“Ah, I see…”
Nachi has a decisive personality. He’s not even afraid taking on the hardcore players .
Thus, the dungeon for today was over, so I dissolved the party.
――From that day on, Heath’s name would shine in my friend list.
When you are logged in, the name on the list glows. But I’ve never chatted with him individually, not once. I have no business with him after all.
I stood in front of the bulletin board in Clock Town, arms crossed, and thought blankly about the other day’s dungeon run. They’re hardcore players, but…. really, when I dig back into my memories of partying with them, those two were good, and their attack power was also strong.
However, while those who admire the hardcore players may think it’s cool to be strong, for me, It’s tiring. I don’t want to have that kind of dungeon for a while. Really, I only need to do it every once in a while, when I am very free and in good shape. But chatting is better for me.
As I stood there in a daze, I heard Ango call out to me. When I turned around, I saw that Ango and Nachi had just walked up to me.
“It seems that today’s update will introduce a new event.”
“Ah yes, I heard about that!”
The three of us looked at the bulletin board. It seems that a new event will be released at 18:00 today. The maintenance time is from 14:00 to 18:00. Currently, it is 13:30.
“Then, let’s meet later at night.”
After chatting, we logged out.
TN: I wonder how courageous Neji is to be able to chat in the game channel. There is always one troll in the game so it’s scary chatting in game. Maybe I am just being a scaredy cat.
I finished turning in my assignment and saw Nachi sighing in front of me. Nachi and I decided to chat in the student lounge after we both came to the university to turn in our lecture reports, which were required to be submitted on paper, a rarity in recent years.
“What’s the matter with you? You’re sighing so openly.”
“I wanted you to ask me, ‘Is something wrong?’…”
“Is something wrong?”
“I knew it. I knew that Neji was kind enough to listen to me.”
My character’s name, Neji, is my nickname in real life. Moreover, Nachi’s name in-game is also his real name.
“I’m contemplating if I should buy a new staff.”
“Why don’t you buy it?”
“2700 million Marilyn is tough…”
Marilyn is the in-game currency used in Night of the Grand Guignol. For example, a rice ball of recovery medicine costs 500 Marilyn each. The price may not seem like a big deal to the hardcore players, but it’s certainly expensive for us, the casual players.
“How much do you have now?”
“500 million marilyn.”
“I guess you’ll have to make some money. ”
“I know that too. Let’s chat after logging in.”
“Cheer up. I understand your situation very well.”
When I vigorously nodded, Nachi sighed again with a sad look in his beautiful eyes.
As a priest, Nachi frankly has one foot in the hardcore player level to the point where other players wonder why he’s in my guild. He is often invited to play in dungeons with hardcore players.
A dungeon is where players fight a boss in succession with the aim of getting a rare equipment drop. To sum it up though, he is in my guild because we’re friends in real life. The only other reason I can think of is because we formed the guild together.
“Neji, I haven’t seen you doing any dungeons lately, aren’t you going to do it?”
“I’m too, you know, busy chatting.”
“If I heal and Neji provides the buffs, then a party of four with a vanguard and attack power, no, even with just attack power alone, can defeat the boss!”
“I don’t have any skills as a player, so I don’t really like to party with people outside guild members.”
“It’s not good to lie, okay? Neji is deadly good at controlling, right? Rather, I can’t play with any other bards except Neji. And you party with unfamiliar novices almost every day to assist them, right?”
Nachi was looking at me with a smile. Well… it’s been three years since the game was launched. It would be a miracle to the contrary if I was not good at controlling after playing it every day for three years.
“I’m going to start making money today, so come with me!”
“Let’s go home immediately and log in!”
“Let’s meet at 7 PM.”
Nachi stood up vigorously. I could only laugh awkwardly. It’s true that I haven’t been doing any dungeons lately either, and I think it’s good to do it once in a while. And so we headed off home respectively.
After a quick shower and dinner, I reconfirmed that I would be on summer vacation tomorrow, and picked up my VR connection device. And then, I logged in at 18:50, ten minutes before the promised meeting time. Then, in the square of the [Clock Town], Nachi was already there. Both Nachi and I have avatars that look the same as our real selves. Only the clothes are different. In other words, the face shape and height and weight are the same as ourselves, but we paid for the clothes.
Many of the other guild members were online, and they were all busy chatting.
There are many different chat features. However, there is only one option for voice chat, unless you are face-to-face. This time, Nachi and I muted the guild chat and town chat, and only opened the party chat.
“All right! We need to recruit party members. Neji, you should issue a recruitment. ”
“I am ok with it.”
So, I decided to issue a recruitment for party members. Recruitment is available through the bulletin board function, which can be viewed in real time.
“[Recruiter: Neji] There are two people standing by, a bard and a priest. I’m thinking of doing the ‘Dungeon of the Mountain Whale’ (Boss). I’m recruiting two people who can play as tank and attack power.”
And then soon after, I received a mail.
“[? ? ?] We are two people, a swordsman and a gun slinger.”
It was written on the letter. On the bulletin board, the recruiter must give their name, but the letter can be sent anonymously. Even so, they had the right professions, so I replied immediately.
“Nachi, I found them, so let’s go to the meeting place.”
“Isn’t it too fast? Ok, I got it.”
On the bulletin board, I wrote down the name of the boss called “Mountain Whale” which is the dungeon we planned to do today, so that’s where the dungeon location will be. It is a new boss that was introduced last month, and it is very strong. It’s a favorite hunting ground for hardcore players these days. The reason being that the items it drops can be sold for a lot of money. If we play here for about four hours, Nachi will be able to buy a staff.
After that, we transported to the front of the boss using the paid transportation items. It’s crowded with hardcore players. The meeting place was supposed to be a bench by the pond nearby, so Nachi and I made our way there. And then, we both froze and stopped moving.
The reason being that the top two hardcore players, [Heath] and [Mao], were sitting on the bench where the meeting place was supposed to be. No way. There’s no way that those two would respond to a recruitment on the bulletin board to do a dungeon. This kind of recruitment is called stray recruitment, so it’s unlikely that they would respond to a stray recruitment as they are always in demand from all sides. In other words, they’re probably there by chance.
TN: Everytime I see Neji, my mind reminds me of Neji Hyuga from Naruto. I have never seen a character named Neji except Neji from Naruto before. I thought it was a bit of a unique name but now there is another one.