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. I get tons of customers with interesting tales to tell. The smiles on their faces as they tell me all about their latest quests and achievements is the greatest high in the world… That said, it wasn’t very often that I actually got to hear good stories from my customers. More often than not, they’d just arrive, cause some sort of ruckus, buy something and then leave. Not that I really minded, since that was also entertaining in its own right. (Certainly more so than my real life anyway…) Plus it meant that I could earn some Gold to spend at Basilisk no Shita.
But what if a customer came to the Fantasy Shoppe and didn’t even buy anything…? Well, by definition, that would mean that they weren’t a customer. Rather, they were a cheapskate. Pedantries aside, people like that typically irked me. Emphasis on ‘typically’, as every so often one of these cheapskates was actually interesting.
11th PURCHASE – INTERVIEW WITH THE KAPPA
I stood on a stool as I decorated one of the walls of the Fantasy Shoppe. Asami Usami had recently gifted me with something that she received as a reward for completing a Quest – A taxidermy Orc head, which now hung proudly above my chair. (Although how one could make taxidermy out of a creature that poofs out of existence once killed is a mystery to me.)
“Excuse me, sir,” a rather squeaky-sounding voice called out.
I turned around to look at the man who had entered the doorway. “How can I help you, Mister… um…”
물 가람 – Level 1000 Inventor [TL note: His name is written in Korean, and is read as GaRam Mul.]
How odd, I thought, His name is written in gold. The usernames displayed above an avatar’s head were always written in white, but for some reason his name was written in gold. But that wasn’t the only odd thing about this fellow – With his beaky mouth, webbed fingers, green skin and a turtle shell attached to his back, he certainly looked unique. Perhaps this avatar was his best attempt at recreating a kappa using Utopia Online’s limited character customization? [Author’s note: A kappa is a semi-aquatic humanoid monster from Japanese folklore with a turtle-like appearance and short stature.]
“I’m sorry. I can’t read your name,” I apologized, “I don’t speak Korean.”
“It’s Mul,” the man sighed, straightening his glasses. They had a circular rim with pure-white lenses, not unlike a smug anime villain.
“I can’t say I’ve ever heard of the ‘Inventor’ Class before, Mul.”
“It’s not a Class,” he stated smugly, “It’s a title.”
“Aren’t those… pretty much the same thing though?” I asked him.
“Heh, you misunderstand, Shopkeeper. I’m not just an Inventor,” he began, “I’m the Inventor, the founder of ImagineTech!”
Was he serious? ImagineTech was the revolutionary company responsible for the VR technology used to create the lifelike experiences of Utopia Online.
…Of course, how didn’t I realize it sooner?! I was in the presence of one of my biggest idols!
“You’re the Mul? GaRam Mul?!”
He winked, giving me a pair of cheeky fingerguns. “The one and only.”
“I-I’m a huge fan,” I stammered nervously, “Wh-what can I get for you, sir? Gear? Weapons? The deed to my house?! Just say the word and it’s yours!”
“Calm down, boy,” he scolded softly.
“I-I’m actually friends with your son, Nagi--”
“I said calm down, Shopkeeper! I didn’t come here for small-talk, and I’m not here to buy anything either.”
“O-oh,” I said, “Then why did you come here, sir?”
“A routine inspection,” he stated bluntly, “As an important figure in Utopia Online’s development, I’d like to be assured that the player-run stores are… up to code.”
“Routine inspection?” I asked, “In all my years playing Utopia Online, no-one from the game’s development team has ever inspected my shop.”
“Do you know how many stores there are in this game, Shopkeeper?”
“It's over nine-thousand,” I answered.
“Exactly,” Mul replied, “And do you think that we have time to inspect over nine-thousand stores on a routinely basis?”
“Fair enough,” I said, “So how are you going to carry out this inspection? Ask me a few questions? Check my stock?”
“You’ll see,” he stated ominously as he walked behind my countertop and entered the storage-closet, closing the door behind him.
I sat in my chair, waiting for GaRam Mul to finish whatever he was doing in the closet, when I heard the familiar chime of a bell.
A girl that I didn’t recognize had just entered the Fantasy Shoppe. She looked over to me briefly, before adjusting her dolphin shorts and taking a seat in the swivel chair.
“I’m sorry, ma’am,” I apologized, “Could you come back some other time? I’m a bit busy at the moment.”
“No,” the women spoke, “I don’t think you are.”
Satou Tajiri – Level 1 Villager
Much like Mul, her username was written in gold. Of course, I see what’s happening here. This is some sort of test. Mul wants to see how well I handle my customers. Very well then, let this test commence.
“Of course, Miss. You’re right, terribly sorry,” I smiled, “How can I help you today?”
“Well, well,” the woman sneered, leaning over and resting her avatar’s ample chest on my countertop, proudly showing off her décolletage, “I’d like some chest armor, the most expensive that you have. And make it snappy.”
My eyes briefly darted to her breasts, catching a glimpse of the pink and white polka-dotted bra that was underneath her shirt.
“Oh, my. Is something the matter, Mister Shopkeeper?” she jeered.
“N-not at all,” I murmured, my avatar’s cheeks red with embarrassment, “I’ll go and find that armor now, ma’am.”
She waved smugly as I got up off my chair and entered the storage-closet. Upon entry, I was greeted by Mul who was nonchalantly resting against the wall.
“Is something wrong, Yuu Watanabe?” the kappa asked slyly, “Your cheeks are bright red.”
“Of course not,” I stated matter-of-factly.
“You weren’t doing anything inappropriate with a valued customer, I hope…”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” I snapped, “A proper Shopkeeper would never harm a customer. Especially not a cutie like her...”
“What was that last part?”
“N-nothing,” I stammered, “I’m gonna go get that armor now! I can’t keep my customers waiting!”
After a while, I had returned from the storage-closet with some pink, floral-pattern chest armor. Rather fitting for Miss Tajiri’s character, if I do say so myself.
“What do you think?” I asked confidently as she put on the armor.
Satou Tajiri examined herself in the mirror, looking her body up and down.
“An excellent choice,” she beamed, “How much does it cost?”
If this were any other random customer, I might have tried to charge them a little extra, but I couldn’t do that now. I’m sure that Mul and Tajiri probably know how much every single piece of Gear should cost. I’d fail the test for sure!
“That’ll be 50,000 Gold, Miss.”
“Oh, can’t you give a discount for little ol’ me?” she asked, placing her finger on her lips seductively.
My heart was pounding. I could tell that her Seduction Stat was incredibly high, but I had to stay strong.
“I’m afraid not,” I pontificated, “Rules are rules.”
“I see,” she said, reaching into her cleavage and pulling out a wallet, “50,000 Gold it is then.”
My face was bright red as I took the money. “Th-thank you, Miss. Enjoy the rest of your day!”
Miss Tajiri adjusted her shorts once more, waving as she walked towards the doorway. As she left, I noticed something fall off of her person – Her wallet. Under normal circumstances, I may have pocketed the cash for myself, but this was probably part of Mul’s routine test.
“Hey, uh, Miss Tajiri,” I called out, “I think you dropped your wallet?”
“Oh, did I?” she asked, clearly aware that she had, in fact, dropped her wallet. Her acting was absolutely atrocious.
I sighed as she bent down to pick up the wallet that she had ‘accidentally’ dropped, shaking her backside back and forth in the air.
“Congratulations,” a voice called out, “You have passed the test!”
I looked over to the closet, where GaRam Mul had emerged.
“You were able to find the customer a product that they were happy with, you weren’t willing to overcharge her or undercharge her, plus you didn’t steal her Gold! I’d say that this was a remarkable business transaction, Mister Watanabe.”
“Don’t mention it,” I smiled.
“You even managed to resist the temptation of Satou’s snug shorts, even though we boosted her Seduction Stat as high as it would go,” the kappa chuckled, giving Tajiri’s bottom a cheeky spank.
“Eep!” In the blink of an eye, the girl instinctively jolted upright, turning around as she delivered a roundhouse kick straight into the Inventor’s face, knocking his avatar’s glasses clean off!
“O-oh my gosh! I am SO sorry, boss! It was an accident, I swear!”
The Villager hastily picked her superior up off the Fantasy Shoppe floor, dusting off his clothes and putting his glasses back onto his kappa-like face. I looked over his unconscious body and smirked.
“Looks like you failed the test, Mister Mul,” I chuckled.
END OF PURCHASE