Chapter 14:

Interview With the Kappa

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.Bookmark here

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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.Bookmark here

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-DINGALING!-Bookmark here

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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.)Bookmark here

“Excuse me, sir,” a rather squeaky-sounding voice called out.Bookmark here

I turned around to look at the man who had entered the doorway. “How can I help you, Mister… um…”Bookmark here

가람 – Level 1000 Inventor [TL note: His name is written in Korean, and is read as GaRam Mul.]Bookmark here

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.]Bookmark here

“I’m sorry. I can’t read your name,” I apologized, “I don’t speak Korean.”Bookmark here

“It’s Mul,” the man sighed, straightening his glasses. They had a circular rim with pure-white lenses, not unlike a smug anime villain.Bookmark here

“I can’t say I’ve ever heard of the ‘Inventor’ Class before, Mul.”Bookmark here

“It’s not a Class,” he stated smugly, “It’s a title.”Bookmark here

“Aren’t those… pretty much the same thing though?” I asked him.Bookmark here

“Heh, you misunderstand, Shopkeeper. I’m not just an Inventor,” he began, “I’m the Inventor, the founder of ImagineTech!”Bookmark here

Was he serious? ImagineTech was the revolutionary company responsible for the VR technology used to create the lifelike experiences of Utopia Online.Bookmark here

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…Of course, how didn’t I realize it sooner?! I was in the presence of one of my biggest idols!Bookmark here

“You’re the Mul? GaRam Mul?!”Bookmark here

He winked, giving me a pair of cheeky fingerguns. “The one and only.”Bookmark here

“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!”Bookmark here

“Calm down, boy,” he scolded softly.Bookmark here

“I-I’m actually friends with your son, Nagi--”Bookmark here

“I said calm down, Shopkeeper! I didn’t come here for small-talk, and I’m not here to buy anything either.”Bookmark here

“O-oh,” I said, “Then why did you come here, sir?”Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

“Routine inspection?” I asked, “In all my years playing Utopia Online, no-one from the game’s development team has ever inspected my shop.”Bookmark here

“Do you know how many stores there are in this game, Shopkeeper?”Bookmark here

“It's over nine-thousand,” I answered.Bookmark here

“Exactly,” Mul replied, “And do you think that we have time to inspect over nine-thousand stores on a routinely basis?”Bookmark here

“Fair enough,” I said, “So how are you going to carry out this inspection? Ask me a few questions? Check my stock?”Bookmark here

“You’ll see,” he stated ominously as he walked behind my countertop and entered the storage-closet, closing the door behind him.Bookmark here

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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.Bookmark here

-DINGALING!-Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

“I’m sorry, ma’am,” I apologized, “Could you come back some other time? I’m a bit busy at the moment.”Bookmark here

“No,” the women spoke, “I don’t think you are.”Bookmark here

Satou Tajiri – Level 1 VillagerBookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“Of course, Miss. You’re right, terribly sorry,” I smiled, “How can I help you today?”Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

My eyes briefly darted to her breasts, catching a glimpse of the pink and white polka-dotted bra that was underneath her shirt.Bookmark here

“Oh, my. Is something the matter, Mister Shopkeeper?” she jeered.Bookmark here

“N-not at all,” I murmured, my avatar’s cheeks red with embarrassment, “I’ll go and find that armor now, ma’am.”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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“Is something wrong, Yuu Watanabe?” the kappa asked slyly, “Your cheeks are bright red.”Bookmark here

“Of course not,” I stated matter-of-factly.Bookmark here

“You weren’t doing anything inappropriate with a valued customer, I hope…”Bookmark here

“Don’t be ridiculous,” I snapped, “A proper Shopkeeper would never harm a customer. Especially not a cutie like her...”Bookmark here

“What was that last part?”Bookmark here

“N-nothing,” I stammered, “I’m gonna go get that armor now! I can’t keep my customers waiting!”Bookmark here

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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.Bookmark here

“What do you think?” I asked confidently as she put on the armor.Bookmark here

Satou Tajiri examined herself in the mirror, looking her body up and down.Bookmark here

“An excellent choice,” she beamed, “How much does it cost?”Bookmark here

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!Bookmark here

“That’ll be 50,000 Gold, Miss.”Bookmark here

“Oh, can’t you give a discount for little ol’ me?” she asked, placing her finger on her lips seductively.Bookmark here

My heart was pounding. I could tell that her Seduction Stat was incredibly high, but I had to stay strong.Bookmark here

“I’m afraid not,” I pontificated, “Rules are rules.”Bookmark here

“I see,” she said, reaching into her cleavage and pulling out a wallet, “50,000 Gold it is then.”Bookmark here

My face was bright red as I took the money. “Th-thank you, Miss. Enjoy the rest of your day!”Bookmark here

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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.Bookmark here

“Hey, uh, Miss Tajiri,” I called out, “I think you dropped your wallet?”Bookmark here

“Oh, did I?” she asked, clearly aware that she had, in fact, dropped her wallet. Her acting was absolutely atrocious.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“Congratulations,” a voice called out, “You have passed the test!”Bookmark here

I looked over to the closet, where GaRam Mul had emerged.Bookmark here

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“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.”Bookmark here

“Don’t mention it,” I smiled.Bookmark here

“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.Bookmark here

“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!Bookmark here

-SLAM!-Bookmark here

“O-oh my gosh! I am SO sorry, boss! It was an accident, I swear!”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“Looks like you failed the test, Mister Mul,” I chuckled.Bookmark here

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END OF PURCHASEBookmark here

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