TLN: Hey guys, Reigokai here!
And so here we go, a new journey.
I have posted an announcement where I go in more detail on my thoughts about the story. Click Here
That’s it. Enjoy the chapter and Merry Christmas to everyone!
Year 20xx, 7th month, 1st day.
“Y-You are the one at fault. It is because you cheated on me that I…!”
A voice pounded on me.
Prostrated onto the ground, a knife deeply embedded into my chest.
(You have to be kidding me… me…by something like this…)
And so, I…Sagara Souma, died.
Well, we are talking about the game here though!
The game I am playing is New Communicate Online.
A VR game that, in a sense, dominated a generation.
Of course, it is a game, so even if I die, I will simply be returning to my last save point.
While I was thinking that, the screen changed and I was standing at the last monolith I had been in.
“To think I would get killed for something like that…”
As expected of New Communicate Online.
Its reputation as the worst shitty game of this era is not just for show!
What I was doing just now was a quest of getting along with a female NPC and clearing a dungeon together.
After quite the hardships, I somehow managed to get close to that character (name’s Leila), but before I headed to the dungeon, I went to the Item Shop to buy healing items, and I was suddenly stabbed on my back.
In hindsight, she must have not liked that the shopclerk was a woman.
…Just how jealous can you get?
I was once again tasting the unreasonableness of this game, and then, a notification sound came in telling me that I have a call.
“Aah, it is from Maki.”
I opened the window and pushed the call button.
“Souma? Can you hear me?”
“Yeah, I can. Is something the matter?” (Souma)
One of the few good things of this game is that you can do and receive calls and mails from the real world while you are playing.
Thanks to this being a VR space, you can talk with no need to occupy your hands which you could say is convenient.
“What’s the matter, you ask? You promised you would help me sort the stuff in our warehouse…” (Maki)
“Eh? Ah, now that you mention it…” (Souma)
I think I made that promise, or maybe not…?
In the first place, since the time I began living alone, I have been playing games all day every day, so I don’t even know what day it is.
“Forget it. I knew this would happen, so I have already begun on my own.” (Maki)
“O-Oh, I see. Sorry about that.” (Souma)
Maki is my 2 years younger cousin, and is a conceited brat that would call me without honorifics despite that.
She is small and petite, yet she has abnormal strength, so she is also quite the troublemaker despite having the face of someone who wouldn’t even be able to kill a bug.
Putting it bluntly, my fingers and toes aren’t enough to count the amount of troubles I have been caught up in because of Maki.
We have been slightly estranged since I began living alone once I entered college, but even with that, we are still close enough to have conversations through mails.
“More importantly, I found weird stuff in the warehouse…” (Maki)
“Weird stuff?” (Souma)
“Yeah. First, an orange…ball…kinda thing?” (Maki)
“Orange ball?” (Souma)
It is not a normal orange, I hope.
Ah, it is in the warehouse, so it would have rotted a long time ago…
“There’s a whole lot of them, you know? Uhm…1, 2, 3, 4… 7 in total, I guess?” (Maki)
“7? …7 orange balls?! H-Hey, could it be that they have stars inside?” (Souma) <DBZ reference>
No, there’s no way that’s possible, but…
“Hm? Let me check.” (Maki)
“Huh? Check, you say. What do you me—” (Souma)
My question was cut off easily by the sound of something breaking.
“Eh? There’s nothing inside of it.” (Maki)
“Y-You…! What did you do just now?!” (Souma)
“Eh? You asked me if there was something inside of it, so I tried opening it up…” (Maki)
Maki answers as if nothing.
This is why I can’t lower my guard with her.
She always does outrageous stuff with a nonchalant face.
“Listen here, Maki, that could possibly be…” (Souma)
“Could possibly be…?” (Maki)
“…No, it is nothing.” (Souma)
I swallowed the words I was about to say.
We are in these times, so it would be better to not say anything.
“Anything else?” (Souma)
“Hm? Let’s see…” (Maki)
Rummaging sounds were being made after I asked this.
“Found it. What’s…this? The hand of a mummy? Moreover, it is small. Could it be the hand of a monkey?” (Maki)
“C-Could it be the famous monkey paw that can grant up to 3 wishes…?” (Souma)
What I was about to say was interrupted by the rustling sound of a bag.
“Eh? Did you say something? I put the mummy hand in the burnable trash just now.” (Maki)
If I remember correctly, the monkey’s paw grants the owner their wishes in an undesirable way.
I doubt it is the real deal, but we shouldn’t get involved with it regardless.
“Anything else?” (Souma)
After a while.
“There’s a phone booth and a water well~.” (Maki)
A way too unexpected response came.
Putting stuff like that in a warehouse? Just what is the family of Maki thinking?
Or more like, how in the world did they bring a phone booth and water well there?
“Ah, but it seems like there’s no electricity supplied to the phone booth, and the well seems to be dried up~. I will search for other things, okay?” (Maki)
I don’t know the use of the phone booth or the well, but there’s no way you could get your wish granted if you set something on the phone booth or you drink all the water in the well.
They probably really just threw it into the warehouse because it really was a hindrance.
I feel like the objective of sorting the warehouse has already been lost here, but I am curious about the things that are sleeping in this warehouse, so I decided not to point it out.
Eventually, it seems like she found something new to tell me about, the bouncy voice of Maki hit my ears.
“I found another thing! What’s…this? It looks like normal long and thin paper.” (Maki)
“Long and thin paper?” (Souma)
What would a long and thin paper be when speaking of wishes…? Ah, right!
“Hey, isn’t that a tanzaku paper?” (Souma)
“Tanzaku paper**? Aah, yeah, it might be something like that!” (Maki) <Paper used for the tanabata festival. Where you write your wish and hang it on a bamboo.>
But the stuff has become simple in one go, or like, traditional.
No, I don’t really mind though.
“Since I’ve got the chance, let’s write a wish.” (Maki)
“Ah, oi! Don’t do anything careless—” (Souma)
I hurriedly tried to stop her.
“That was fast, oi!” (Souma)
I was too slow.
Thinking about it normally, a tanzaku doesn’t have anything dangerous to it, but it is a different story if it was together with all that suspicious stuff.
I was honestly scared here, but it seems like Maki isn’t feeling anything.
Or more like, she isn’t thinking anything at all.
“…Nothing is happening~.” (Maki)
That’s why, when I heard her say that, I was honestly relieved.
“Obviously. As if wishes could be granted with something like that… And so, what did you write?” (Souma)
“I wrote that I wanted to become a princess.” (Maki)
“…It is so nice how you are still so full of hopes and dreams.” (Souma)
Sarcasm is dead on her too.
Well, you could say that’s what makes Maki Maki.
“Wonder why I couldn’t become a princess? Is it really because it is not Tanabata yet~?” (Maki)
Maki spits that thoughtless remark while continuing her search.
“Ah, I found something incredible again. What was it called again…? Uhm…a Piko-Piko Hammer**?” (Maki) <Sonic reference>
I don’t have any idea what the Piko-Piko Hammer has to do with granting wishes.
I tilted my head and Maki threw me a completely unrelated topic.
“Hey, I remembered this with the tanzaku, but Tanabata is coming soon, right~?” (Maki)
“Hm? Aah, yeah…” (Souma)
Well, I will most likely just be cooped up in my house the whole time playing games aside from the time when I am in my classes, so it has nothing to do with me though -is what I thought, but Maki requested something weird.
“Souma, come hang out at my house in Tanabata. You know, to make up for skipping out on sorting out the warehouse today~.” (Maki)
“Huh?! No way, no way, no way! I have class that day! I am going to be gaming once I get back, so I have no time to go there!” (Souma)
It was such an unexpected request that I ended up refusing in a way too strong tone.
The moment I finished saying all that, I noticed I messed up there.
The atmosphere on the other side of the call changed.
“Hmm, I see… So for you, that game is more important…than me.” (Maki)
“Ah, no, uhm…Maki?” (Souma)
The voice of Maki is low.
This is a sign of her being angry.
Me covering my ears in the VR world and a shout so loud that could echo in the whole world happened almost at the same time.
“If you love games that much, live inside one!! You idiot!!” (Maki)
Just as that happened, I heard a big cracking sound as if something broke from afar.
I was dumbfounded by the unexpected outburst of Maki, and I also heard the dumbfounded voice of Maki from the other side.
“Eh? The Piko-Piko Hammer broke. Even though it looked like it was made from pretty tough wood…” (Maki)
“A hammer made from wood?” (Souma)
When I heard that, something clicked in me.
A wooden hammer.
When speaking of a wooden hammer that grants wishes, there’s only one.
In other words, that’s not a Piko-Piko Hammer, but…
“Hey, could it be that that’s the Fortune—**” (Souma) <Uchide no Kozuchi(wiki): a legendary magic wooden hammer held by Daikoku-ten. When one goes out into a wide open field, it can be used to tap out anything you wish. However, all the items wished for disappear at the sound of the bell tolling.>
But I couldn’t finish what I wanted to tell her.
My vision spun.
This made-up world was being folded and changing shape.
(What’s…going on…?) (Souma)
My question couldn’t even ring out.
Everything turned into a spiral and was being swallowed by something big.
Just at the faint moments of losing my consciousness…
—If you love games that much, live inside one!!
The bitter shout of Maki resonated in my head again for some reason.