Tales of Virtual Shopkeeper
You know how basically every protagonist seems to have that one awkward friend? The shy girl with the glasses and the stutter, for example? …That would be me, Kiran (although that isn’t my real name or gender), the Villager who was currently exploring a dark cave in search of Dragon eggs.
Slaying a Dragon – A cliché as old as time. It was somewhat common for RPG creators to place a Dragon as the first boss of their game. But lemme tell you – A Dragon is definitely not just some low-level boss monster that grants cheap EXP! That was the assumption that my Guild had made when we agreed to take the risk of fighting one. And lemme tell you, we definitely weren’t prepared for how tough it would be…
After what felt like forever, we eventually spotted a light at the end of the tunnel. Was this an exit? Had we travelled along this dark path for naught? …No, upon closer inspection it appeared to be the flickering light of a flame. But why would there be a fire in the middle of a cave?
“Looks like the developers have a flair for the dramatic,” Lyre stated.
Indeed, that was the only reason I could think of to explain it. If my deduction was correct, this could only mean one of two things – Either there were eggs at the end of the tunnel… or we were about to stumble into the Dragon.
ADDITIONAL PURCHASE 2 – KIRAN’S STORY: DUMMIES AND DRAGONS (PART 2)
I silently motioned my companion to stand behind me. There wasn’t much that I could do in a fight, but at least I had some body armor to protect me. Lyre just wore a robe and bishop’s hat – Not exactly the most ideal choice of Gear when potentially facing a fire-breathing monster! As we walked closer to the light, I felt something brush against my shorts. Were we under attack? As if to answer my question, I felt a hand strike me hard on my backside!
“Ah?!” I blushed, quickly covering my mouth.
The thin metal alloy that made up my avatar’s shorts wasn’t strong enough to insulate me from the sheer force of the blow. The sound reverberated all around the walls of the cave. I turned around, trying to look for my aggressor in the darkness. All I could see was Lyre… Of course, why was I even surprised?
Lyre Sonnet – Level 57 Bard
“The view back here is pretty nice,” he smirked.
“Are you insane?! We have to be qu-quiet,” I whispered, “There’s a v-very strong possibility that there’s a Dragon up ahead! Are you trying to get us k-killed?!”
“Chillax, Kiran. It’s just a game!”
I sighed as we marched onwards into the light. Eventually, we found ourselves standing at the entrance of a cavern, the walls tinted orange by the numerous flaming torches that hung on the cave walls. At its center lay a giant red mass of virtual flesh and scales – The Dragon.
This wasn’t good. There was no way that a Villager and a Bard could take down a Dragon on their own, especially when we were so underleveled. Luckily the beast appeared to be asleep. We could still sneak away undetected as long as we didn’t make a sound…
“You know, the lighting here is actually quite romanti--”
“Ssh!” I quickly pressed a finger against my teammate’s lips, looking over towards the Dragon. Still asleep, thank the gods.
“What is wrong with you?!” I asked in a whisper, “In case you haven’t noticed, we’re st-standing right next to a Dragon!”
“Kiran, Kiran, Kiran,” he guffawed, “The danger makes it more exciting, don’t you think?”
“N-no, I don’t think so actually,” I stammered, “L-let’s just turn around and leave this place! Inferno’s p-probably found the eggs in the other t-tunnel!”
“Hang on,” Lyre said, “There’s something I want to tell you, in-private…”
I sighed. “OK, j-just make it qu-quick…”
Without warning, Lyre suddenly leaned in and pressed his lips against mine, embracing me in a surprise kiss. I gasped, my muffled moans filling the small chamber. (The Dragon was amazingly able to sleep through all of it.) Calm down, Kiran! He’s just playing a character, he’s just playing a character! He’s not really into me… R-right? As our lips parted, he spoke softly.
“When we first met, I was just playing the role of a flirt, but I really do think that I love you, Kiran.”
“B-b-but,” I stammered nervously, my face was as red as a beetroot as I frantically adjusted my avatar’s glasses, “Y-you don’t even know what I l-look like in real life!”
“Nonsense,” he smiled, “Looks aren’t important to me.”
“T-trust me, I think that my… ‘looks’ might be a d-deal-breaker…”
“Don’t be ridiculous! Even if you look hideous, you’ve got such a sweet personality,” he beamed, “Besides, you shouldn’t beat yourself up! You’ve probably got the body of a goddess!”
Nope, definitely not.
Things just got super awkward. Lyre was a pretty nice guy –albeit a tad annoying at times– I didn’t want to break his heart. But I also didn’t want to tell him that I was a man either. I had no idea how he’d react, and I didn’t want to risk the potential of him throwing a fit and waking up the Dragon. But it seemed that we didn’t need to worry about keeping the Dragon asleep for much longer…
-CLANG, CLANG! CLANG, CLANG!-
The sounded of metallic boots echoed in the path behind us. Was it another monster? I removed a mallet from my inventory and assumed a combat stance. I wasn’t very strong, but if this foe was a weakling, then I could probably take them down by myself (which was fortunate, since Lyre didn’t have any weapons in his inventory). As the potential aggressor drew closer I breathed a sigh of relief.
Inferno Jones – Level 100 Crusader
“Oh, Inferno. I-it’s just you,” I whispered, smiling.
“Hey, guys! Guess what,” he bellowed enthusiastically, “I found the Dragon eggs!”
Lyre and I gave our Guild Leader a unified stern look.
“What’s the matter, guys? Didn’t you hear me?! I got the freaking eggs!”
“O-ok, that’s great,” I began, “But we really should be going…”
“Yeah, what Kiran said,” Lyre affirmed.
“Ah, of course,” Inferno smiled, “We don’t want to run into the… the…” He paused as he looked behind us, finally noticing the beast that we were trying desperately not to wake. “DRAGON!!!”
Dammit, Jones! Now you’ve done it!
The three of us watched in horror as the Dragon’s massive eye shot open and it let out a ferocious roar. I slammed my mallet down on one of the monster’s massive toes but, as I had suspected, my attack was in vain. The Dragon was too strong, and I was too weak.
“Step aside, my love,” Lyre spoke gallantly, “Your savior has arrived!”
In that moment I could have almost reciprocated his feelings… But that quickly changed when I watched him feebly punch and kick the beast’s gigantic leg. The Dragon kicked him away with ease, roaring boastfully as Lyre collided into the nearby cave wall.
“Th-this is your fault,” I angrily pointed at Inferno, “D-do you have any ideas how to get us out of this mess?”
“Sure, of course I do,” Inferno replied, his confidence filling me with hope, “I have a secret weapon for situations such as this.”
“A s-secret weapon? R-really?!”
What kind of weapon could he be referring to? Was he concealing a rare sword in his inventory? Perhaps he had equipped a new Skill while he was gone?
“Why, isn’t it obvious,” he gloated smugly, “Look at the Dragon’s legs. Lyre basically blew them to smithereens and they still haven’t fully healed yet. That’s our ticket there.”
Was he joking? The Dragon looked completely fine.
“Wh-what do the Dragon’s legs have to do with y-your weapon?”
“My legs are in great shape,” Inferno stated matter-of-factly.
“So, what are you gonna do then?” Lyre chimed in.
“RUN FOR MY LIFE!”
Inferno quickly turned around, bolting down the tunnel as fast as he could. Lyre and I exchanged a glance at each other, before chasing after our Guild Leader. It wasn’t like we had any better ideas. The Dragon opened her mouth and shot a large gust of fire down the tunnel as we ran for our lives! As hard as I tried, I was unable to outrun the flames due to my rather large armor (among other things). Luckily it protected me from any serious damage. Unfortunately the same thing couldn’t be said about my teammates…
I had just finished telling my story to the local Shopkeeper. (I omitted the parts about my real gender, obviously.)
Yuu Watanabe – Level 34 Shopkeeper
“I guess that explains the state of your teammates,” the Shopkeeper chortled as he looked over Lyre Sonnet and Inferno Jones’s burnt bodies.
I had to agree with him. The sight of two muscular men with their clothes burnt off –exposing their form-fitting boxer briefs– was rather hilarious.
“It’s not funny,” Lyre protested meekly.
“It kinda is,” Inferno snickered.
“Says the guy in the heart-print boxers,” the Bard retorted.
Inferno blushed, quickly covering his embarrassing undies. That certainly shut him up.
“There’s a changing-room at the back of the shop,” Yuu smiled.
The two boys got up and entered the storage-closet behind the countertop. Yuu waited until they were out of earshot before he spoke to me.
“Have you told Lyre that you’re actually a boy?” he asked me.
“I-I, uh… not yet,” I replied sheepishly.
“There’s nothing to be worried about,” Yuu assured me, “I’m sure he’d still be willing to hang out with you, even once he knows what’s really in your pants.”
“That doesn’t reassure me,” I muttered under my breath.
“And maybe he might still be into you,” Yuu winked, “You would like to date him, right?”
As much as I hated to admit it, Watanabe was right. Even though he was always playing the role of an annoying pervert, I had actually grown quite close to Lyre. All I had to do was find a time when I could talk to him in-private… such as right now.
I opened up Utopia Online’s in-game Messenger and began typing.
hey lyre. can u keep a secret?
END OF ADDITIONAL PURCHASE