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Chapter 21 – [Side] At the Genesis Guild
[Note: I do believe POV switched from 1st person to 3rd person cause Neji is incapacitated at the moment]
“In the threatening letter it said that the culprit would contact us at 17 o’clock, right? To PK Heath’s partner.”
It was around 16:50 when Nachi confirmed it once again. Since this morning, everyone has been gathered around Mao, scrutinizing the scattered contents of the threatening letter. Both Heath and Mao nodded at Nachi’s words. Nachi is gripping Mao’s lowered left hand.
“That being said, PVP is my specialty and I’ve been raising my PK levels too. I’m not going to lose to someone in that area.”
Saying that, Mao glanced at his hand. He’s happy that Nachi is holding on to it but that’s not the problem. Speaking of Nachi, he’s stubbornly determined not to let Mao get taken away and has no intention of letting go of Mao’s hand.
Looking at those two, Heath crosses his arms. Since he’s the master of a top guild, he’s received countless grudges even before logging out was impossible. The situation is like this, and they have to be careful because there’s a high probability that the target is Mao, but he thought that if this were the first time that something like this had happened he would have ignored it.
Like this, the ticking of the clock steadily continued— the alarm indicating it’s 17:00 resounded throughout the Genesis guild. It’s time. A chat window appeared in front of everyone.
This was not a feature of the game. The only way to open such a thing in a random location would be to access it from outside. As soon as he thought that the culprit was a betrayer from the terrorist group after all, Heath saw the person projected on the screen and narrowed his eyes.
A smiling Ruki was reflected there. A famous assassin. As the master of a solo guild, he also appeared in the Clock Town’s guild masters’ meeting the other day.
“Were you worried about Genesis disbanding?”
His voice was mingled with a bright smile, but the moment it came out of the screen, the bloodlust could be felt. Nachi narrowed his eyes and tightened his grip on Mao’s hand. The people around Nachi also indirectly took up positions next to Mao, thinking that if Ruki is revealing his true character in such a grand manner, their opponent must have a lot of confidence in himself.
“Heath, I’ll be fine so don’t think about something like disbanding.”
When Mao stated that, Heath gave a slight nod, his arms still crossed. Seeing this through the screen, Ruki let out a sigh as if lamenting.
“I understand the concept that protecting the whole is more important than protecting a single individual, but is it ok to say that all the people gathered here think the same way as Heath? If you don’t accept my demand for Genesis to disband I’ll keep PKing this person for eternity.” 1
Hearing this, everyone felt a shiver run down their spine. Both the hardcore players that had been involved in it and the casual players who’d heard the rumors knew that Ruki specializes at PK.
But Mao’s right here. He’s safe.
That was when a number of people began to think that it’s strange.
The image on the screen changed, showing the scenery of a certain café. On the bottom right were the digits of a digital clock, it showed that it was five minutes before 16. There, fervently looking outside the window, was Neji with his big, twinkling eyes. Seeing his figure, Nachi and Mao, and most of all, Heath gasped.
When he heard someone mutter that, Heath was about to run out, but Nachi gripped his wrist with his free hand, stopping Heath.
“Heath, the time. That’s a video from an hour ago!”
The surroundings became noisy. A lot of people thought– why Neji? There were also a lot of Genesis guild members who knew that there was a period of time when Heath went out of his way to help Neji, and that the two seemed to be close. Neji himself is also the most well-known person among the casual players. Even before it became impossible to log out, he had a reputation for being a kindhearted casual player who supported beginners, and there are a lot of people who’d been under his care before they became hardcore players.
Though they understand that he currently looks the same as he does in real life, there are a lot of people that find his clean-cut features, that were considered beautiful among men, his tasteful avatar, and above all, his cheerful personality to be desirable.
From a negative perspective, he’s a bit too kind. Helping beginners even with problems they could solve themselves through trial and error in turn taking away their opportunity to learn the game. Thus, making it look like he’s mass-producing users who can’t do anything unless someone tells them to. Because of this he is made fun of as a “Beggar-making Machine.” The person himself, though, is truly kind and seems to mean it when he says, “Since this is an MMO let’s help each other and have fun.”
He’s different from those people who overwhelm beginner players just because they lost to a hardcore player before, and anybody who’s ever been involved with him knowns that he’s good-natured at heart. This is something that Nachi, his real-life friend, knows especially well and something that Mao, who’s been looking at Nachi and Neji from afar, also knew.
But even those two didn’t know about Heath’s daily visits to Neji’s house. Heath and Neji seemed close, and when Heath was asked where he’d been disappearing off to, he answered “to Neji’s place for a bit,” but they thought he was going there to play. They certainly didn’t know that every night, he went back to Neji’s house instead of his own home. Even Nachi thought that, if anything, it is Neji that likes Heath.
Even if they are closer than what people had originally guessed, the current dispute is Genesis’ problem. Which is why everybody thought that the target was Mao.
…Why is Neji projected there?
It was an unspoken question held by many. Only Heath kept looking at the screen, his face distorted at the appearance of Neji who hadn’t noticed anything.
The moment the digital clock at the bottom of the screen turned 16, Ruki turned around from the seat behind Neji, a suggestive smile on his face, and tapped Neji on the shoulder. The people around that saw this froze.
Before Neji had fully turned around, he was struck in the nape by the side of a hand and fainted. It’s an assassin’s skill.
“You’re really loved. As soon as I sent the letter that falsified from the outside who the sender was, I was able to lure him out. Though, originally, faking the sender was impossible.”
The picture shifted, it projected Ruki as it did at the start but this time also projected the image of an unconscious Neji, bound to a chair, at the front of the screen.
“I’ll ask you again– between your precious lover’s life and logging out, between the fate of this world, which one do you choose?” Ruki laughed like he’s having fun.
With those words, the surrounding people gasped. No one knew that the two were lovers. Of course, that’s not the case. Heath knows it well.
He is convinced that their relationship doesn’t go beyond his own feelings of unrequited love.2
“I’ll disband Genesis.” Heath answered immediately.
… Ruki, on the other side of the screen, stopped moving. The people in the guild also froze. Heath’s words even made Nachi surprised.
“I’ll disband the guild so release Neji.”
Nachi pulled on Heath’s hand who had repeated his words.
“Eh? No, of course as Neji’s partner I want to say that that’s the best decision, but…”
“Are you serious? This… I thought you’d waver a bit, or anguish over it, or throw him away… Is he, is he that important to you?”
Confusion also spread among the guild members. Certainly, this might be a situation where a life cannot be exchanged but… currently the fate of the world depends on logging out and, more than anything else, Genesis is a magnificent guild. To readily disband it… everyone had mixed emotions.
It was such a decisive and immediate decision that even Nachi, Neji’s partner, and Ruki, the enemy who had captured Neji, were surprised. Heath didn’t show even the slightest bit of hesitance.
“I’ll disband it. That’s why, please, let Neji go.”
“Heath, how about we all go save Neji…?”
Mao started cautiously. Even Ruki on the other side of the screen nodded.
“Not possible. I never want to see him suffer. I don’t want to let him feel any pain. Really, I’m sorry. I’m disbanding the guild.”
When Heath decides on something like this, he won’t yield. The guild members knew this and, once again Mao nodded.
“I see. Well, certainly if it had been Nachi in that position I would have made the same decision.”
“For Neji’s sake… Thank you. I’ve come to think that if it’s Heath, then I can leave Neji in your care. But, if he’s this important to you, I’d like to hear why you haven’t attached guards to him as well. Also, I feel like beating you up from involving Neji in this.” Said Nachi.
After that, everyone’s gazes focused on the screen once again. When they did, Ruki laughed as if troubled.
“L-let’s do this. Since this isn’t as fun as I thought it would be, and there’s no pride in it, it’s fine if you don’t disband for now. Heath, first of all, please step down from the position of guild master. A-and for now, um, for now… I’ll let you go with that.”
Hearing this, Heath nodded with his usual stern face.
“Mao, I’m counting on you to replace me. I’m transferring the authority to you.”
The place seemed to be Ruki’s house. Seeing Ruki take Neji out of his house, a number of people thought that the urban legend that Neji has Ruki registered as a friend is true. Just like that, Ruki picked up the unconscious Neji and teleported to the tea party’s4 rose garden. He then dumped Neji in the gazebo, letting out a sigh.
“Here you go. As promised, I didn’t do anything.”
Saying that, Ruki’s figure disappeared once again and the screen went away as well. This time, Heath broke into a run.
Reo: Welp… this is a bit anticlimactic
Lu: Kek, I think of the same thing ://