Chapter 12:

Let's Go Eat Some Utopian Food!

Tales of Virtual Shopkeeper

Isn’t it strange how there’s always one player in the hero’s group who has the role of a Shopkeeper? Haven’t you ever wondered who, in a world of endless possibilities, would ever choose to play the mundane role of a Shopkeeper? …That would be me, Yuu Watanabe.

After all this time, you may be wondering what I actually do with all the Gold that I earn? As a Shopkeeper, I have pretty much every weapon and Gear readily available at my disposal, so earning Gold is pretty much useless, right? Well, no. There are actually plenty of uses for Gold.

Every successful sale that a Shopkeeper makes gives them EXP proportionate to the amount of Gold that they earned. More EXP means higher Base Stats, bigger inventory space and the ability to use more powerful weapons and Skills. Of course, you might have already guessed that none of that stuff is of much interest to me, since I rarely ever engage in combat. If you have high enough Gold, you can also trade it in for real-life merchandise and rewards, but that didn’t interest me much either. What would I even do with a real-life replica of my avatar’s outfit? If anyone saw me wearing that, I’d become the biggest laughing stock in the entire school!

No, the reason that I collect Gold… is to buy food.


Utopia Online is the most immersive and realistic VRMMO ever created. Using revolutionary (and patented), state-of-the-art technology, the developers were able to create a virtual world that felt real – Clothes feel like clothes, weather feels like weather… and the food. The food tastes freaking incredible! Obviously, it doesn’t provide the players with any real calories or vitamins or whatever, but it tastes amazing nevertheless! So you may be wondering… If the food here doesn’t actually have any actual health benefits, why don’t I just eat real food like a normal person? Well, that’s simple...

Where else can a guy go to eat some Dragon Egg Omelet, Mermaid Sushi or Doomberry Pie?! Compared to Utopia Online, food in the real world tastes like crap!


Sorry, we’re closed.

I had flipped the paper sign at the front of the Fantasy Shoppe as I departed for the day. Utopia Online is home to many virtual restaurants. Much like the various shops and stores, every single restaurant in the game is run by a real player, so you never quite know what you’re going to get. Different restaurants have different menus, and much like a real restaurant owner, those players aren’t just going to willingly give away their secret recipes to any rando who asks nicely. My favorite of these restaurants was Basilisk no Shita, an establishment that was located not far from my own. [TL note: Basilisk no Shita = Basilisk’s Tongue. To be honest, the name doesn’t really hold any significance, so I probably could have left it untranslated…]

After a short walk I arrived at my destination. I admired the sign atop the building, depicting Basilisk no Shita’s mascot –a man with a head akin to that of a monitor lizard– eating some tiramisu. It was always comforting to see that lizardman, that harbinger of good food. I took a deep breath as I opened the door and made my entrance.

“Good evening,” I beamed.

The nearby receptionist looked over at me and smiled. Much like the owner (and every other member of staff for that matter), she was a real human being.

“Evening, Mister Watanabe. Table for one I assume?”

“You know it, Meiko,” I replied cheerfully.

As you’ve probably figured out, I’m somewhat of a regular here. Everyone working at Basilisk no Shita knew me by name, without the need to use the View Other Players’ Usernames and Levels option. Meiko walked me over to my table and pulled out a seat.

“Enjoy your meal, sir.”

I removed my avatar’s dark green kimono, revealing my gray shirt (and rather impressive abs) as I sat down. I opened up the menu that sat on my table and looked through its contents. Usually I never had any more than a few hundred Gold on my person, but due to a certain Princess and hacker, I had a lot more dough as of recent. I felt like treating myself to something more expensive than usual. But what would I choose? Dragon Tail Soup? Barbeque Phoenix Wings? Steamed Hams? The possibilities were endless! I scrolled to the end of the menu looking for the most expensive item, and there it was in all its glory…


Sure enough, I hadn’t misread it. The most expensive item on the menu really was a pizza. In a world of incomprehensible foods and fancies no less. That must be one Hell of a pizza, I thought to myself. I wasn’t even very fond of pizza in the real world, but this had certainly piqued my interest.

“Hello there. May I take your order?” a female voice chimed.

“Ah. Good evening, Jackie. I’ll take the--”

I looked up at Jackie, my regular waitress… except she wasn’t my regular waitress. Instead, she was a brown-haired, fairly average-looking woman with a diminutive stature, adorned with a maid dress and a pointed top-hat. I assumed that she probably played the role of a Witch whenever she wasn’t waiting tables.

“Sorry,” I apologized, “I mistook you for someone else.”

“It’s quite alright,” she said softly, “Your usual waitress is busy with her exams in the ‘real world’, so I’m taking over for a while. I hope you don’t mind?”

“Not at all, Miss… uh…”

I always turned off the option to view players’ names whenever I went to Basilisk no Shita, since I knew all of the staff by name. I guess that decision finally came back to bite me in the ass. I stared down at the girl’s chest, reading the nametag that was attached to her left breast.

“…Jo. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Jo.”

She stared at me with a look of disgust. “My eyes are up here, sir.”

“Ah, s-sorry,” I blushed, apologizing profusely, “I-I was looking at your nametag, I swear!”

She crossed her arms, furrowing her brow.

“N-not that there’s anything wrong with your breasts, ma’am! You’ve got a pretty impressive rack! A-are they that big IRL?”

“Please stop,” she sighed, blushing lightly, “You’re only making this situation worse, sir.”

“Aheh, my bad…”

After a rather long and awkward silence, she withdrew a pen and paper from her inventory.

“So, uh, what would you like to order, sir?”

“Oh, right! My order! I almost forgot!”

I fumbled nervously with the menu that was in my hand, eventually pointing to the pizza.

“I’d like a pizza please.”

She looked at me as if I was crazy. I couldn’t exactly blame her either – It was rather odd to purchase (of all things) a pizza, in a restaurant that sold a plethora of fantasy dishes.

“Excellent choice,” she said whilst rolling her eyes, “Your order will be ready shortly.”

She bowed her head and walked away to give the chef my order. I guess this gave me some time to myself. I picked up a lone sugar cube that lay on the restaurant table, popping into my mouth and sucking until nothing was left.

After about fifteen minutes, Jo returned with my pizza. As she placed the cheesy circle down in front of me, I took a good look at it. No matter how you sliced it (heh, pun), it just looked like your standard, run-of-the-mill pizza. I curiously picked up a slice and examined it closely – Cheese, tomato sauce, pepperoni… the only thing unusual about this pizza was the chef’s decision to add pineapple, blech. Well, it was whatever, I guess. Pineapple isn’t the be-all-end-all of a good pizza.

I lifted the slice up to my avatar’s mouth and bit down slowly. My eyes widened as I felt the thick, sticky goodness flowing into my mouth. The classic combination of cheese and tomato, the warm slices of meat and even the pineapple tasted incredible! But even more than that, there was a flavor that I couldn’t identify, one that created a perfect harmony with the rest of the ingredients, elevating this delicacy to the next level. A secret ingredient I’d wager, and likely not one that you would find outside of the realm of Utopia Online.

“Are you surprised, sir?” the waitress smiled.

“Hell yeah, this pizza is incredible! What’s in it?”

“Heh,” she smirked, “I’m not allowed to reveal the chef’s recipe to a customer.”

By the time I had finished eating the first slice, my table-manners had been completely thrown out the window. I reached for a second slice and gobbled it down in seconds! In that moment I had completely given into temptation, formalities be damned!

“H-hey, sir! Y-you should slow down,” Jo stammered nervously.

“To Hell with that,” I replied, “This stuff is too good to savor! It deserves to be enjoyed fast and in the moment!”

As I grabbed yet another slice, my head began to feel hazy as my vision darkened. “What’s… going on?”

And just like that, I collapsed face-first into the dining table.


After who knows how long, I opened my eyes, the familiar walls of the Fantasy Shoppe greeting me. What had happened back at Basilisk no Shita? Did I fall asleep or something? I looked around, noticing a familiar shortstack waitress sitting in the swivel chair at the corner of the room.

“It looks like you’re finally awake,” she sighed, “It was a real pain carrying you all the way back to your little shop. Do you realize how heavy you are?”

“Aheh. Sorry,” I apologized, “What happened to me back at the restaurant?”

“You ate too fast and the poison kicked in,” she stated like it was no big deal.

“P-poison?! You mean that the secret ingredient is--?!”

“It’s normally completely harmless in small doses,” she told me, “But you consumed too much, too quickly.”

Jo proceeded to explain to me what I had already figured out – That I had collapsed from the poison damage, reducing my Hit Points to zero. I suppose it was similar to how a salaryman would pass out after having a few too many drinks at the office party. Apparently, she had also healed me back to full-health using her personal supply of Potions and waited until I woke up.

“I see,” I said, adjusting my glasses, “Thanks for everything, ma’am.”

“No problem,” she giggled, “But you know that you’re gonna have to pay me back for all those Potions, right?”

In all my years playing this game, I must confess that that was the first time I had ever had my HP drop to zero in Utopia Online. Thankfully players have infinite Continues, so I didn’t have to worry about such a mistake becoming costly in the future. In fact, if losing all of my Hit Points was the only negative side-effect of eating that incredible pizza, then this might just become a regular occurrence, if you know what I mean…?