Chapter 21:

Demon King (Part 3) - In the Court of the Crimson Kings

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.

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. But with the help of my IRL friend Dorothy O’Dougherty, we were tracking down the real Demon King to clear my name.

After escaping from ~Schrödinger~, we had arrived at the desert that lay between the dark forest and the Demon King’s lair. Unfortunately, this was all part of the catboy’s plan, and now we were caught between two members of the Crimson Kings Guild – The aforementioned ~Schrödinger~, as well as the rather threatening MIO.

“Excellent work, ~Schrödinger~ dear,” MIO said, “It looks like we’ve got you surrounded, Demon King!”

MIO-nee – Level 500 Berserker [TL note: Nee = Sister. As it is part of MIO’s username, I decided to leave it untranslated.]

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.

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

“A seal?” she asked.

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


I quickly removed the shield from my inventory again, holding it out in front of me as the Berserker ran forward, slashing her sword wildly.


The sound of Excalibur striking my shield was deafening. It was clear that MIO was putting all of her strength into each slash.

“Now, ~Schrödinger~ dear,” she shouted, “They’re open! Attack from behind, defeat the Demon King in the name of the Crimson Kings Guild!”

~Schrödinger~ removed the bazooka that I had given him from his inventory and pointed it in or direction.

“Hasta la vista, Demon King,” he cackled as the gun shot out a massive missile.

“Dorothy, look out!”

Dorothy quickly held her arms out, catching the missile between her bare hands. I guess that high Luck Stat was paying off after all!

“B-but how?!” ~Schrödinger~ gasped.

“I’ve maxed out my Luck,” Dorothy winked, throwing the missile back at the gobsmacked catboy.

~Schrödinger~ stayed still as the missile flew in his direction. He didn’t try to dodge it, nor did he pull something out of his inventory to try and shield himself from the blow. He just stood there, smiling devilishly and laughing like a maniac.

“What’s so funny?” I asked.

Just then the missile stopped in its tracks. ~Schrödinger~ walked forward, sidestepping around the hovering missile as he summoned a knife from his inventory. But the missile wasn’t the only thing that had suddenly and unexpectedly frozen – I wasn’t able to move my avatar’s body whatsoever. Had one of these idiots activated some kind of time-stopping Skill? No, that was impossible, no such Skill existed in Utopia Online. MIO gently lifted my shield aside and leaned in close, whispering something in my ear.

“And now, you will be able to move once more.”

Just as she said, I suddenly regained my ability to move, hastily putting my shield back into its original position.

“What just happened?” Dorothy questioned.

“I’m glad you asked,” MIO grinned, “Have you ever heard of… a lag switch?”

“A lag switch?” I asked.

“That’s right. It’s a device that allows me to temporarily cause a spike in my internet signal,” she explained, “By doing so, I can cause the game to lag, allowing me to move around while everything else is frozen. [AUTHOR’S NOTE: I know this isn’t actually how a lag switch works. Just roll with it, OK?]

“How come Mister Mistoffelees over there can also move during the lag?” Dorothy asked, pointing at the angry Therianthrope.

“Gosh, are you that thick?” ~Schrödinger~ scolded, “It’s because we share the same internet connection, dummy!”

“That’s right,” MIO-nee added, “~Schrödinger~ here is my dear baby brother.”

This is why I despised the Crimson Kings Guild. All they ever did was play dirty. (Well, except for Rose, but she was just plain annoying.)

“That’s cheating,” I scowled, “That gives you an unfair advantage against the other players!”

“But you’re not another ‘player’, Demon King. You’re just an AI,” the Berserker smirked, “An AI who I am about to defeat in combat. COME FORTH, THE LAG!”

Once again, my and Dorothy’s avatars froze in place. All we could do was look on in horror as ~Schrödinger~ withdrew multiple knifes, throwing them directly at us. The blades froze in place, ready to impale our avatars from all angles once the game stopped lagging.

“And now, time will flow once more,” MIO screamed maniacally, presumably flicking her lag switch IRL.

As promised, the knives began to move again, stabbing Dorothy and I within an inch of our lives.

“I don’t think I can withstand another attack like that,” Dorothy groaned.

“Me neither,” I replied, “I’ve only got 50 Hit Points left…”

“Game over, Yuu Watanabe,” ~Schrödinger~ taunted, “Your attempts to escape are MEWDA, MEWDA, MEWDA!” [TL note: “Mewda” is a portmanteau of mew (the onomatopoeia for the sound a cat makes) and muda (a Japanese word meaning “useless” or “futile”). Perhaps a suitable English translation would be “mewseless” or “mewtile”.]

Once again, the game slowed down around us as the catboy hurled a blitzkrieg of blades towards us. But out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone quickly approaching. Did MIO and ~Schrödinger~ have another sibling who was able to move during lagged time? No, as the person came closer, I could make out the familiar smile of an artificial intelligence – Lady Kaguya Fujiwara! Not even a lag switch would be enough to slow her down when she was running at Mach 20 speed!

“What the Hell,” MIO barked, “What’s the Princess doing here?!”

Within seconds, Lady Kaguya had caught up to us, sweeping the knives away with a comically large hammer she withdrew from her inventory.

~Schrödinger~ leaned in close to his sister, whispering in her ear. “Hey, sis, kill the lag. If the Princess finds out we’re using a lag switch, she’ll ban us on the spot!”

As instructed, MIO-nee killed the lag switch, causing the game world to return to its normal FPS.

“Good evening, Yuu Watanabe and Aya Murphy,” the Princess smiled.

“Boy, am I glad to see you, Lady Kaguya?”

“…Are you glad to--”

“We already went over this, Lady Kaguya. It’s a rhetorical question.”

“What are you doing here?” an extremely agitated ~Schrödinger~ grumbled.

“I was looking for the Demon King, and I couldn't help but notice that my Shopkeeper friend was in danger.”

“Wait, why is an AI looking for the Demon King?” I asked.

“The developers told me that they wouldn’t have to part with the prize money if I was the one who defeated the Demon King,” Lady Kaguya replied nonchalantly.

Wow, that was scummy. What a bunch of cheapskates.

“Now, with explanations out of the way,” the Princess turned towards the two Crimson Kings, “Which one of you was using that lag switch?”

~Schrödinger~ didn’t even hesitate to point at his sister. “She did it.”

“Ah?! M-my dear ~Schrödinger~ threw his darling older sister under the bus,” MIO pretend-sobbed.

But Lady Kaguya displayed no pity for the Berserker. She swiftly dropped her oversized hammer down on MIO-nee, causing her to slowly disappear.

“I-Impossible,” she gasped, “I am MIO!”

“The Demon King sends his regards,” Dorothy smirked, yoinking Excalibur from the cheater as her avatar disintegrated, “You won’t be needing this anymore!”

And with that, the Level 500 Berserker MIO-nee was no more.

“Wow, that hammer is pretty powerful,” I remarked.

“Of course, this is a one-of-a-kind weapon that the developers gave me,” the AI smiled, “It allows me delete the account of any player found violating Utopia Online’s guidelines. It’s called the Banhammer.”

“Night… beach?” I asked, confused. [TL note: Yuu confuses the word with the Japanese words ban (night) and hama (beach).]

“It’s ‘Banhammer’,” Dorothy sighed, “It’s a western expression.”

I looked over at ~Schrödinger~ and smirked.

“Do you want your account deleted by the Nightbeach, too?”

“O-okay! You win this round, Demon King! But I will have my revenge,” the catboy snarled as he retreated back into the forest.

With those buffoons out of the way, I healed myself up with Potions and continued towards the Demon King’s lair. With Dorothy’s jacked up Luck Stat, as well as the help of the strongest character on the server, defeating the Demon King would surely be a piece of cake!

The three of us now stood outside the massive castle. I was holding out my shield, Dorothy had an iron gauntlet equipped on each hand and Lady Kaguya was wielding her bronze sword. I charged forward with my shield, easily busting the door down.


In front of us stood a large staircase, and at the top was the silhouette of a person.

“Who goes there?” the figure boomed.

“You must be the Demon King?” I said matter-of-factly.

“That’s right,” they replied, slowly and menacingly walking down each step, “I’m impressed that you were able to find me.”

“Dude, your lair is an obviously spooky castle,” Dorothy stated bluntly, “I’m impressed that no-one else had found you first!”

“Oh, haven’t they now?” the Demon King chuckled, brandishing a bloodstained sword.

“Oof, that must have hurt,” I said, grimacing.

“Indeed,” the demon affirmed, reaching the bottom of the staircase, “And I’ll make sure that you three suffer a similarly painful death…”