Chapter 16:

Modern Crusaders Arrive

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. And that is why I chose to be a Shopkeeper in Utopia Online.Bookmark here

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Recently I had my shop burglarized while I was offline. Fortunately, the thief was only Level 1, meaning that he was very easy to defeat in combat. But what if I didn’t get as lucky next time? What if a Level 1000 Berserker decided to steal from my shop? I wouldn’t stand a chance of getting my Gold back from them! That’s why I decided to make amends. In order to prevent such a mishap from happening again, I had decided…Bookmark here

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To hire an intern.Bookmark here

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-DINGALING!-Bookmark here

I put the door key back into my inventory as I entered the Fantasy Shoppe.Bookmark here

“Morning, Boss. You’re here earlier than usual” a soft male voice called out, “Is my shift over already?”Bookmark here

Kyoutarou Kitamura – Level 3 ShopkeeperBookmark here

“Not yet, Kyou,” I smiled, “It’s Sunday, and since I don’t have school today, I thought I’d check up on you to see how you’re handling the new job.”Bookmark here

After yesterday’s incident with REX, I had decided to hire an intern to look after the Fantasy Shoppe while I was away. After conducting many grueling interviews with other players (and even a few NPCs), I had finally found the right man for the job – Kyoutarou “Kyou” Kitamura.Bookmark here

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Kyou was a NEET, meaning that he was always online and readily available to look after the shop when I was either offline or otherwise busy. Currently, I had him working morning shifts while I was at school. Kyou used to be a renowned Therianthrope mercenary, but when the rest of his Guild stopped playing the game in order to pursue a job or higher-level education (blech!), Kyou retired to the humble life of a Shopkeeper.Bookmark here

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“Someone’s standing outside,” the boy informed me, his bat ears twitching. I suppose it shouldn’t come as a much of a surprise how good Kyou’s hearing is. Bats are known for their echolocation, after all…Bookmark here

-DINALING!-Bookmark here

A familiar bunnygirl entered the Fantasy Shoppe and took a seat in the swivel chair.Bookmark here

Asami Usami – Level 569 Therianthrope (Her Level had gotten significantly higher since I last saw her. I guess her Guild’s Orc-killing strategy must have paid off?)Bookmark here

“Hey there, cutie,” Kyou grinned, wiggling his eyebrows seductively as his bat wings slowly flapped behind him, “Are you here to buy something? Or perhaps you came to sell something instead? I’d gladly take those booty shorts of your hands.”Bookmark here

I smacked Kyou’s head with the back of my hand. “Don’t creep out my customers, Kyou.”Bookmark here

“Hey, Yuu,” Asami smiled, “Who’s your friend in the matching green kimono?”Bookmark here

“This is Kyou, he’s the newest employee at the Fantasy Shoppe,” I explained, “If you don’t mind, he’ll be the one taking your order today.”Bookmark here

“Sure, I don’t mind,” Asami beamed, “…Except I won’t be the one ordering today.”Bookmark here

“Huh?”Bookmark here

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-DINGALING!-Bookmark here

Just then, another player entered the Fantasy Shoppe and stood beside Asami – An incredibly toned red-haired man that I didn’t recognize.Bookmark here

Chris Hacksaw – Level 386 BarbarianBookmark here

“Ah, you must be the Guild Leader of the Modern Crusaders,” I asked, “Asami’s told me a lot about you.”Bookmark here

“Oh, really” he grinned, “What did she say?”Bookmark here

“From the way that she describes you, I’m pretty sure that you’re a coward who hides behind his teammates and lets them fight his battles.”Bookmark here

“I-I am not,” he protested meekly, “Tell him, Asami!”Bookmark here

“All you’re doing is proving Boss right,” Kyou chimed in, “All that aside, how may I help you today, Sir?”Bookmark here

“I want to buy some Gear with a high Seduction Stat,” he blushed.Bookmark here

“Seduction?” Kyou laughed, “But you’re a dude!”Bookmark here

I gave my intern another backhanded slap. “Men can be sexy too, Kyou.”Bookmark here

“Okay,” Kyou grumbled, “Right this way, Sir…”Bookmark here

Kyou opened up the storage-closet and the four of us entered.Bookmark here

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As Kyou was begrudgingly showing Chris our wares, Asami and I were making small talk a little ways behind.Bookmark here

“Hey, Yuu! Did you hear that the game was just patched to version 4.13B?”Bookmark here

“Yeah,” I replied, “That means that there’ll be an upcoming new feature to make it easier to find the Demon King, right?”Bookmark here

“What do you think the developers meant by ‘feature’ anyway?”Bookmark here

“I dunno,” I shrugged, “Some kind of map maybe?”Bookmark here

“Hmm, perhaps… What do you think, Chris?” She paused. “Chris?”Bookmark here

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It appeared that Chris Hacksaw and Kyou Kitamura had walked on ahead of us while we were talking. This closet is pretty big, so I shouldn’t be too surprised that we lost them so easily. Whatever, it was no big deal. They’d come back to the exit once Chris had found what he was looking for. I sat down on the floor and patted the space beside me, beckoning Asami to sit.Bookmark here

“So, why does your Guild Leader want more Seduction anyway?”Bookmark here

“I think he’s compensating for something,” the bunnygirl smirked, sitting beside me, “Really though, he’s just embarrassed that a cute defenseless bunny rabbit is the one putting in all the effort to distract the Orcs.”Bookmark here

“But doesn’t that just make the most sense?” I asked, “Orcs tend to be more attracted to fellow monsters, like a Therianthrope for example.”Bookmark here

“Well, yeah, but he doesn’t like the fact that he has to hide behind a girl while she does all the hard work for him.”Bookmark here

“I never could understand toxic masculinity,” I sighed, “There’s nothing wrong with having a girl fight all of your battles for you!”Bookmark here

“Glad to see that chivalry isn’t dead,” Asami said sarcastically, rolling her eyes. Bookmark here

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Suddenly, Chris ran past me and cowered behind Asami.Bookmark here

“A-Asami,” he stuttered, “Th-there’s a ghost in the closet!”Bookmark here

I looked over to Chris, who was holding Asami’s shoulders and fidgeting with her avatar’s bikini-top straps.Bookmark here

“Be careful,” I smirked, “You don’t want to… ‘expose’ your teammate.”Bookmark here

He blushed as he came to the realization of what his hands were doing, quickly removing them from the bunnygirl’s shoulders.Bookmark here

“S-sorry, Asami! I’m just a really n-nervous,” he stammered.Bookmark here

I looked over to Asami. “Well, you were right about him always hiding behind you,” I grinned.Bookmark here

I then turned my head to look at Chris. “Look, there aren’t any ghosts in this game, you coward. Whatever you think you saw, it was just your imagination.”Bookmark here

“E-even if that is the case, I’m still getting out of here,” he proclaimed nervously, “C’mon, Asami! L-let’s bail!”Bookmark here

And with that, the Modern Crusaders left.Bookmark here

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“Welp, there goes today’s profit,” I sighed as I heard the familiar ‘dingaling’ sound of someone leaving the shop in the distance.Bookmark here

“Don’t worry, Boss,” Kyou’s voice chimed in as he flew overhead, “I found Chris the perfect Gear. Even made sure to overcharge him, just like you asked.”Bookmark here

“Hmph,” I chuckled, “Good job, Kyou. I’m impressed.”Bookmark here

“Hey, since I’m working here now,” the batboy began, “Do you think we should form our own Guild?”Bookmark here

“A Guild?” I asked, “What would we even call ourselves?”Bookmark here

“What do you think of the name ‘Virtual Shopkeepers’, Boss?”Bookmark here

It sounded a bit generic, but it had a nice ring to it.Bookmark here

“Virtual Shopkeepers Guild it is,” I smiled.Bookmark here

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As the two of us exited the storage-closet, I thought I saw something move in the corner of my eye. Was Chris right? Was there really a ghost hiding in the closet? No, that would be ridiculous. It was probably just some sort of prank that my intern had set up while I was offline. I refused to be fooled that easily.Bookmark here

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END OF PURCHASEBookmark here

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