Chapter 20:

Demon King (Part 2) - Schrödinger's Catastrophe

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, the man who was currently the biggest target in Utopia Online.Bookmark here

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Recently the developers had placed a series of wanted posters depicting the Demon King –the most elusive boss monster in the game– all across the overworld. Unfortunately for me, he looked almost exactly the same as my avatar (sans the glasses), leading to a case of mistaken identity. I had just exited the Fantasy Shoppe through the back entrance. I was pretty confident that I would be completely safe here. The only other player who knew about this secret entrance was Dorothy O’Dougherty. But she wouldn’t attack me, would she? As if to answer my question, a dagger suddenly appeared in front of me, stopping right before making contact with my avatar’s face.Bookmark here

“Hey there,” the Irishwoman holding the dagger smirked, “I’ve been expecting you, Yuu.”Bookmark here

Aya Murphy – Level 213 RogueBookmark here

“Just great,” I sighed, “Look, I’m not the Demon King, Dorothy. Just let me explain--”Bookmark here

“Silence,” she bellowed, lifting her blade up as she prepared to strike me, “That prize money is as good as mine!”Bookmark here

I closed my eyes as I braced for impact. And then…Bookmark here

…Nothing.Bookmark here

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I opened my eyes to find that the blade had once again stopped right before making contact with my face.Bookmark here

“You’re so gullible,” the foreigner laughed, “You actually thought I’d strike you with my jan ken?” [TL note: Jan ken = Rock-Paper-Scissors. Dorothy confuses the word with tanken, meaning “dagger.”]Bookmark here

“Huh? Why didn’t you?”Bookmark here

“I was just messing with you, dude,” she sighed, “We’ve texted each other outside of the game on multiple occasions. How could you possibly be the Demon King?”Bookmark here

“Fair point,” I said, breathing a sigh of relief.Bookmark here

“That’s why I came to find you, Yuu,” she smiled, “I think I know where the actual Demon King is!”Bookmark here

“Wait, really?” I asked, “Where?!”Bookmark here

Dorothy stared at me blankly as she pointed in the direction behind us. In the distance, I could make out a dark forest. And at the end was a rather foreboding castle surrounded by gray thunderclouds.Bookmark here

“Huh,” I said, “I don’t know how I never noticed that castle before.”Bookmark here

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Dorothy and I walked together in the dark forest, hacking down any monsters that attacked us. Even the higher-level beasts were no match for the Rogue’s incredible Luck Stat. As long as we didn’t encounter something too strong, our path to finding the real Demon King would be a piece of cake.Bookmark here

-SHING!-Bookmark here

At that moment, a knife flew out of the nearby bushes, narrowly avoiding my chest! So much for that idea!Bookmark here

“Well, well, well,” a familiar voice purred, “It looks like I finally found you.”Bookmark here

Crap, that was ~Schrödinger~’s voice! On top of his ability to turn invisible, the forest provided a lot of great places to hide one’s self.Bookmark here

“I know that’s you, ~Schrödinger~,” I sighed, “Look, I know that you probably think I’m the Demon King, but I can assure you that there’s a very good--”Bookmark here

I was interrupted by yet another knife being hurdled towards my face. I quickly dodged to the left, grabbing Aya by the arm and running behind a nearby tree.Bookmark here

“What’s going on?” she asked.Bookmark here

“We’re under attack,” I informed her, “And the culprit is ~Schrödinger~, quite possibly the strongest player that I’ve ever met!”Bookmark here

“Where are you hiding, Demon King?” ~Schrödinger~ hissed, briefly making himself visible. Atop his usual white dress, he was wearing some red chest armor with a skull painted on the left side. Of course, why not? The last time that we met, I had suggested to him that he should join a Guild. And of course he picked the Crimson Kings! (Have I ever mentioned how much I hate those guys?) Why am I not surprised?Bookmark here

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Dorothy poked her head out from behind our hiding spot in order to get a good look at our adversary.Bookmark here

“Aw, she’s just a cute little catgirl!”Bookmark here

~Schrödinger~’s face contorted into a look of disgust, as his head quickly jerked forward in our direction.Bookmark here

“What did you just say, girly?”Bookmark here

“I said that you’re a cute little catgirl,” she cooed.Bookmark here

I quickly popped my head out from behind the tree and started waving my arms frantically. “Sh-she didn’t mean it! She’s still learning how to speak Japanese! She meant to say ‘catboy’! R-right, Aya?”Bookmark here

Dorothy wore a puzzled look on her face as she stared at ~Schrödinger~, and then turned back to face me.Bookmark here

“She’s a boy? Are you sure?”Bookmark here

“Shut up,” the Therianthrope yelled, retrieving several blades from his inventory before turning invisible again.Bookmark here

I quickly withdrew a large shield from my inventory and held it out in front of Dorothy and I as a paroxysm of anger and knives was hurled in our direction!Bookmark here

“How many knives does this guy have?!” the Rogue complained, her voice drowned out by the sound of metal clashing against metal.Bookmark here

“Dorothy, you’re pretty lucky,” I stated, “If you jump out from behind this shield, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to dodge all of these knives!”Bookmark here

“How will that help us?” she asked, “Even if I dodged all of the knives, I still won’t be able to land a hit on this nutjob while he’s invisible!”Bookmark here

“Good point,” I sighed, “We need to find an opening and get out of this forest! There’s too much places here for ~Schrödinger~ to conceal himself!”Bookmark here

“But how will we do that?” she grumbled.Bookmark here

“We just have to wait until he runs out of knives.”Bookmark here

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…As if on cue, the sound of the knives colliding with our shield had died down. Either he had ran out of knives as I had predicted, or else he was just trying to trick me into letting my guard down. Regardless, if we wanted to escape, this was probably our only chance. I cautiously walked forward, still holding the shield in front of me. Dorothy slowly followed my lead, making sure to stay behind the protection of our barrier.Bookmark here

It’s quiet, I thought, too quiet…Bookmark here

~Schrödinger~ was obviously up to something. And if I know ~Schrödinger~, then he’s probably sneaking to a different position in order to prepare for a sneak attack.Bookmark here

“Keep your guard up,” I whispered to my companion.Bookmark here

“But he’s out of knives, isn’t he?”Bookmark here

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-SNAP!-Bookmark here

I looked behind us see what had made that noise. In the distance, I spotted a snapped twig lying on the ground. And just above it something was flickering in the darkness of the forest – A knife blade!Bookmark here

“Crap, he’s behind us!” I yelled, quickly running up to Dorothy and holding out my shield in front of her.Bookmark here

We were pelted with yet another onslaught of daggers as ~Schrödinger~ howled with laughter.Bookmark here

“Nyaa~ I’ve got you now, Demon King! And your little friend, too!”Bookmark here

“Dammit! How are we gonna get out of this mess?!” I yelled.Bookmark here

“Don’t you see, Yuu? This is a good thing,” Dorothy beamed, “The exit is right behind us! We can just moonwalk out of here!”Bookmark here

The two of us started to walk backwards as knives continued to bounce off of our shield. Before ~Schrödinger~ knew it, we had exited the forest.Bookmark here

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Before I knew it, we had arrived in a desert. It was, for lack of a better word, deserted, meaning that ~Schrödinger~ wouldn’t have anywhere to hide. (Plus the ground was covered in sand, meaning that even if he turned invisible, we’d still be able to track his movement via his footprints.) I breathed a sigh of relief as I put the shield back in my inventory. Farewell, friend. You served us well.Bookmark here

“The castle is just up ahead,” Dorothy smiled, “Soon you’ll be able to defeat the Demon King and prove your innocence!”Bookmark here

“Our journey should only get easier from here,” I added, “~Schrödinger~ would be a fool to fight us in this environment,” I smirked.Bookmark here

“And that’s why I’m here,” a voice called out from afar.Bookmark here

Dorothy and I turned our heads to look at the woman in the distance as she was slowly approaching us. The setting sun behind her made her already unique silhouette stick out even more in the otherwise empty desert. She had three large horns protruding from her head, as well as a long, bushy tail – It was like someone had gone completely crazy on the character creation screen! I was sure that I had seen her somewhere before (how could someone possibly forget such a striking avatar?), but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.Bookmark here

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“~Schrödinger~ was just a distraction,” she snickered, “And he led you right into my trap.”Bookmark here

The girl stepped closer, allowing me to get a good look at her face. Of course, I remember now! She was that window-shopper that I had encountered shortly after Dorothy failed to remove the sword from the stone. And speaking of Dorothy, she was angrily staring at the girl’s lower-body.Bookmark here

“My eyes are up here,” she cooed, “Looks like someone’s jealous of my massive bust?”Bookmark here

“I-I’m not staring at your chest,” Dorothy blushed, “I-I’m looking at the sword attached to your waist! Where the Hell did you get it?!”Bookmark here

“Oh, you must mean Excalibur,” the woman teased, unsheathing the sword from her belt and stroking it seductively, “I pulled it out of the anvil, obviously.”Bookmark here

“Hey, MIO! I did it,” a familiar voice said from behind, “I lured these idiots right into our trap!”Bookmark here

I turned around to see that ~Schrödinger~ had caught up to us.Bookmark here

“Excellent work, ~Schrödinger~ dear,” the woman who was apparently called MIO replied, “It looks like we’ve got you surrounded, Demon King!”Bookmark here

Dammit, she was right! MIO was in front of us and ~Schrödinger~ was behind us. And to make matters worse, I only had one shield! With MIO’s Excalibur and ~Schrödinger~’s endless supply of knives, I failed to see any way that we could block both of their attacks at once, unless Dorothy also had a shield in her inventory.Bookmark here

“Hey, Aya,” I whispered, “You wouldn’t happen to have a shield on your person, would you?”Bookmark here

“Bamboo?” she asked. [TL note: Dorothy gets the word tate (shield) confused with the word take (bamboo).]Bookmark here

“Never mind,” I sighed, “By the time I explain it to you, we’ll probably already be dead.”Bookmark here

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END OF PART 2...Bookmark here


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