Tales of Virtual Shopkeeper
[AUTHOR’S NOTE: In order to fully understand the events of this chapter, it should be noted that every character in Tales of Virtual Shopkeeper is speaking in Japanese. The dialogue in this story is merely translated for the benefit of my audience.]
Utopia Online is a virtual-reality MMO game of Japanese origin. So, perhaps unsurprisingly, most of its player-base is Japanese. The game doesn’t have any specific servers for other countries, so it isn’t unheard of to bump into a player speaking an entirely different language to you. Usually I had to find a way to politely usher out foreigners from my shop. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to help them (as long as they were a paying customer, I couldn’t care less what country they were from), it was more so that I couldn’t help them. Japanese is the only language that I can speak, so interactions with would-be foreign customers usually tended to be difficult.
The keyword in that sentence is ‘usually’. I did have one regular customer from the western hemisphere, someone who I considered to be a rather close friend…
6th PURCHASE – "AYA’M HERE!"
I stared at the vase that once again sat atop the coffee table, admiring my handiwork. It was only mere hours ago that a certain Crusader who shan’t be named broke it, yet now it looked brand new.
“Hehe,” I chuckled to myself, “You’ve really outdone yourself, Shiotani...”
“Who’s Shiotani?” a familiar voice asked.
I removed my gaze from the porcelain vase, as I greeted the girl who had just walked into my shop.
Aya Murphy – Level 76 Rogue
Aya Murphy is a student studying Japanese at a university in Ireland. She started playing Utopia Online in-between her studies in order to better her comprehension of the Japanese language and culture. (She’s also quite the blabbermouth, hence why I know so much about her personal-life.) She does occasionally mix up her words or make a few grammatical errors, but that just adds to the charm to her character and provides me with some much-needed comedy in my more often than not monotonous job.
The two of us had actually hit it off outside of the game. We’ve never met in person, but we occasionally send each other texts and dank memes.
“What’s the craic, Yuu?” she asked me in English, her mother-tongue. Apparently ‘craic’ was an Irish expression, although I was never quite sure what it meant…
“Good morning, Dorothy,” I teased.
“I-I told you not to call me that,” she protested, “When I’m in the game, you have to call me by my username!”
Dorothy O’Dougherty – That was the girl’s real name. She accidentally let it slip out in one of our many conversations, and I’ve never let her live it down since.
“So, what brings you here today, Dorothy?”
“This might sound a bit odd,” she began, “But you wouldn’t happen to sell any pantsu here, would you, Yuu?” [TL note: Pantsu = Underpants.]
“P-pantsu…?” I blushed as I adjusted my glasses, “Y-yeah, there’s a lot of pantsu here. I’m sure I’ll be able to find something to your liking.”
“Oh, goodie,” the girl beamed, “May I?”
Without permission, she stepped behind my desk and opened the storage-closet. If this were any other customer, I might have been offended by their brashness, but since it was Dorothy I didn’t really mind.
“After you, shounen.” [TL note: Shounen = Young male.]
“I think the word you’re looking for is shounin,” I muttered. [TL note: Shounin = Merchant.]
The two of us explored the clothing section of the storage-room.
“I don’t see any pantsu here, Yuu…”
“Ahem,” I cleared my throat, “So, uh, what kind of pantsu do you like, Dorothy?” I felt really awkward asking her that question, since we were so well-acquainted. It was just part of the job, I thought to myself, it’s perfectly normal for a girl to buy underwear. Who am I to judge?
“I love soft and fluffy pantsu,” she beamed happily, “White ones are the best, but brown ones are good too!”
What?! Did this girl have no shame?! Why was she so open about this, especially around me of all people?! If a friend asked me what kind of underwear I liked, I would’ve given a generic answer like ‘I don’t really care as long as they’re comfortable’… or something along those lines. But Dorothy was practically confessing to me what kind of panties she wears! My face was bright red, imagining her in a pair of fluffy white and brown undergarments.
No, no, no! I didn’t want that kind of image in my mind, so I quickly changed the subject.
“Wh-why are you looking for pantsu anyway, Aya?”
“Oh, that’s simple. I heard that the pantsu here feels incredible, even if this is just a game!”
Utopia Online uses state-of-the-art technology to make everything in the game feel like it’s real. I guess it would make sense for the devs to make the underwear especially comfortable and effective, since most players wear huge suits of armor. I couldn’t even begin to imagine how uncomfortable it would be to wear armor without a decent pair of undies! As a Shopkeeper, I guess I wouldn’t really know anything about this kind of thing. My avatar didn’t wear any armor, nor did he wear underwear for that matter. Like any other Gear in the game, underwear could be equipped with Stat buffs or Special Skills, but since I play a passive role I don’t have a reason to wear them. And besides...
Wait a second. Dorothy had said that she heard the pantsu here feel incredible. Heard. She almost makes it sound like she doesn’t have any first-hand experience.
“Aya,” I asked slowly, “You have actually tried the pantsu in Utopia Online before… right?”
“Nope,” she smiled innocently, “This will be my first time!”
What the Hell?! I didn’t need to wear any underwear because I wore pants, but her character was wearing a damn knee-length skirt! What if she fell over, or there was a sudden gust of wind?! I know it’s just a videogame avatar, but didn’t the idea embarrass her even a little bit?! Why would anyone admit to their friend that they weren’t wearing panties?!
“…Hey, Dorothy,” I began, “Are you… a pervert?”
“Gah! Wh-what?!” The foreigner stammered, her face turning bright red, “I-I told you to call me Aya Murphy! A-and I’m not a pervert! What even gave you such a ridiculous idea?!”
She opened up a menu, removing an iron gauntlet from her inventory and equipping it.
“Huh? Wh-why’d you equip a gauntlet? There’s no monsters he—”
“Ow,” I rubbed my avatar’s face, adjusting my glasses, “That really hurt, you know?”
“You deserved it,” she pouted.
She was probably right. There must have been a logical explanation that I just wasn’t seeing. It was rude of me to jump to such conclusions so quickly.
“I’m sorry,” I apologized, “That was an inappropriate thing to ask a customer, especially one who I’m acquainted with.”
“Whatever. I forgive you,” she sighed as she put the gauntlet back in her inventory, “Just don’t ask me something like that again…”
“So what are you going to do with these pantsu anyway? Increase your Stats? Equip a new Skill?”
“Fufufu,” she chuckled, “Isn’t it obvious, Yuu? I’m going eat them!”
“Y-you really are a per—”
Dorothy leered at me.
“A perfect Rogue,” I laughed nervously, “You really are a perfect Rogue!”
That was a close one. I shouldn’t make such a hasty judgment again, lest I face the wrath of O’Dougherty’s iron fist. Maybe there was some sort of game-mechanic that I was unaware of? If a player eats their Gear, maybe they permanently inherit its properties or something? I know that sounds pretty ridiculous, but what other explanation was there? If you were going to eat any type of Gear, it would probably make the most sense to use underwear. It certainly would be easier to consume than armor or boots… Call me crazy, but you could probably even make it into a somewhat decent meal if you added meat, condiments and some… bread. Of course, that’s it! How couldn’t I see it before?!
“Hey, Dorothy... Are you perhaps looking for some pan?” [TL note: Pan = Bread. The Japanese word ‘pan’ is spelt almost identically to ‘pantsu’, pantsu just has the extra character ツat the end.]
“Pan…? Oh, so that’s how you say it,” she replied, affirming my theory.
“Wait, but if it’s called pan, then what does pantsu mean?” she asked, scratching her blue hair curiously.
“O-oh, um,” my face was red as I spoke, “I believe the word they typically use in Ireland is… ‘knickers’?”
Dorothy’s face turned bright pink as she recalled everything that she had said to me up until this point. “Eek! Y-you thought I wasn’t wearing any knickers, didn’t you?!”
“Yeah,” I sighed, “That’s exactly what I thought…”
“…A-and that I wanted to purchase a pair and e-eat them!”
“Yeah, it does sound pretty dumb when you say it out loud…”
I held the closet door open for Dorothy as she emerged with some bread in hand.
“Aheh, thanks for your help, Yuu.”
I shrugged. “Don’t mention it, Aya.”
As she headed for the exit I called out to her. “Aya, wait! I’ve got something else for you!”
I chuckled, pulling a pair of clover-print underpants out of my inventory and tossing them at the girl.
“Ah! H-hey,” she pouted as she caught the delicates with her available hand.
“Since we’re friends, I’ll let you keep those for free,” I winked.
“Haha, very funny,” she scoffed sarcastically, putting the loaf of pan and the pair of pantsu into her inventory.
“Come back soon, Dorothy.”
“Alright, I’ll see you soon! Aragoto gozaimasu!” [TL note: Aragoto is style of acting used in certain kabuki performances. Dorothy gets the word confused with ‘arigatou’, as found in the phrase ‘arigatou gozaimasu’, meaning ‘thank you very much’.]
“I think you mean ‘arigatou’,” I laughed.
END OF PURCHASE