Chapter 30:

Sayonara, Mul-Sensei

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... Of course, as I’m sure you’ve probably already guessed, I don’t spend all of my time playing this game. When I’m offline, I’m just your typical everyday third-year highschool girl.Bookmark here

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Recently, my life had taken a downward spiral – My childhood best friend Nagisa Mul no longer wants anything to do with me… Oh, and one of my acquaintances was recently murdered by a freaking serial killer. No biggie. (In case it isn’t obvious, I’m being sarcastic.)Bookmark here

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But I was determined to get my life back on track! I had recently befriended a group of girls named Bonabelle “Bonnie” Rabbitte and Homura Usami who, while eccentric, seemed like good company, especially since I was actually close friends with Bonnie’s character (Asami Usami) in Utopia Online. With these two by my side, I’d forget about that stupid Nagisa in no time! I swear, from this moment forward, that I will never talk to Nagisa Mul ever again!Bookmark here

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I was getting ready for school, same as always, when I was interrupted by the television.Bookmark here

“This just in,” the newsreader on the TV said, “Korean inventor GaRam Mul, the founder of the ImagineTech company… Has been found dead in his home.”Bookmark here

My heart sank. “N-no... It can’t be?”Bookmark here

“The cause of death seems to be murder. Police suspect that this was is once again the work of the notorious serial killer known as Watashi.”Bookmark here

“Mister Mul,” I started to choke on my words as my eyes began to tear up, “Mister Mul is… dead.”Bookmark here

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I had rushed to school as fast as possible. (I didn’t even have time to tidy my black hair or put on a pair of pantyhose!) Nagisa was standing outside the school entrance, staring out into the horizon.Bookmark here

“Nagisa,” I called out, running towards my former best friend, “Thank the gods that you’re OK!”Bookmark here

I had vowed earlier that I would never to speak to him again, but I couldn’t even imagine what he was going through right now. He needed someone by his side. And that someone would be me, whether he liked it or not.Bookmark here

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“Yui,” he groaned, staring at me with a vacant expression on his face, “How many times do I have to tell you to--”Bookmark here

“I was so worried about you! I thought you might have been killed by Watashi,” I cried as I wrapped my arms around him, sobbing hysterically, “I heard the news, Nagi. I’m so sorry about your da--”Bookmark here

He placed a hand on my mouth.Bookmark here

“I’m going to stop you there, Yui. Didn’t I already tell you that I hated my father?” Nagisa asked, pausing momentarily before finishing his diatribe, “…I’m glad that my old man’s dead.” Bookmark here

“How could you say that?! He was your father, Nagi!”Bookmark here

“That man, GaRam Mul,” Nagisa seemed to speak with conviction, but I could tell that he was holding back his true emotions, “He cared more about that stupid videogame than he ever cared about me!”Bookmark here

Nagisa was trembling now, tears starting to form at the bottom of his eyes. I hugged him tighter, patting his back affectionately.Bookmark here

“It’s OK, Nagi,” I assured him, “I know that you’re upset, but the cops will eventually find Watashi and bring them to justice! I just know it!”Bookmark here

“Hey,” a voice yelled from behind, “Stay away from him, Shiotani!”Bookmark here

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I turned around to see a rather embarrassed Bonnie and an extremely angry-looking Homura.Bookmark here

“Get your hands off my friend,” Homura demanded as she walked closer towards us, “Otherwise I’ll have to use my Fire Magic on you, foul demon!”Bookmark here

“Whatever,” Nagi said, pushing me away, “It’s not like I wanted her to hug me, anyway.”Bookmark here

“What’s gotten into you?” I asked Homura.Bookmark here

She chose to ignore me, instead turning her gaze towards Nagi.Bookmark here

“GaRam Mul was your father, right?” she leered.Bookmark here

“Yeah, so what?” Nagi scoffed.Bookmark here

“So,” she began, leaning in closer to Nagisa, “Were you the one who killed him?”Bookmark here

Both Asami and I shot Homura a disgusted look.Bookmark here

“What is wrong with you,” I barked, “Nagisa’s father was just murdered and you’re accusing his own son of the crime?! Don’t you think that Nagi’s suffered enough?! And what evidence do you have for such a claim, huh?!”Bookmark here

“It’s… mainly just circumstantial,” the chuuni girl blushed, covering the lower half of her face with her cape.Bookmark here

Nagi looked like he was about to be sick. His face was an unholy combination of shock, fear and genuine anger.Bookmark here

“Why I oughta,” Nagisa growled under his breath.Bookmark here

“Bonnie, please take Homura inside,” I sighed, “I need some alone time with Nagisa right now.”Bookmark here

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As Bonabelle hopped into the school with Homura in tow, Nagisa and I couldn’t help but take a peek at her goods. (I guess we still weren’t so different from each other after all.) I waited for the two girls to leave, before resting a hand on his shoulder sympathetically.Bookmark here

“Please ignore Homura,” I said apologetically, “She’s just an idiot.”Bookmark here

“But she’s got a point,” Nagi frowned, “GaRam Mul was my father! I probably look hella sus right now!”Bookmark here

“Calm down, Nagi. I know you didn’t do it,” I smiled.Bookmark here

“Really,” he asked, “How can you be so sure?”Bookmark here

“I’ve known you for all my life, Nagi! And even though you’ve been a real jerk as of late, I know that you would never kill anyone!”Bookmark here

“Yui, I really appreciate the sentiment,” he sighed, “But that won’t mean anything to the authorities!”Bookmark here

“Relax, Nagi,” I smiled, “We’ll get through this together.”Bookmark here

“There is no ‘we’, Yui. In case you’ve forgotten, I don’t want to hang out with someone who plays Utopia Online all the time.”Bookmark here

“Look, I’ll be honest with you,” I began, clearing my throat, “I have no idea what you have against Utopia Online. But I do know that you’re probably going through a lot right now. So, if it will make you feel better, I hereby swear to stop playing the game.”Bookmark here

“Wait, really? Do you mean it?!” Nagisa asked, his face lighting up.Bookmark here

“It’s a promise,” I beamed, “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get going to class. I’ll see you later, Nagi!”Bookmark here

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As I walked away, I couldn’t help but think of what Homura Usami said. Did Nagisa really murder his own father? And if so, did that mean that Nagisa was Watashi? ...Nah, as if. Homura just had a really active imagination, that’s all. Watashi was notorious for evading capture, so there’s no way that they’d kill a member of their own family! That would be way too obvious and would be a surefire way to tip off the authorities! Whoever Watashi was, I knew that they’d be much more difficult to find.Bookmark here

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But I’m a firm believer in karma. I know that Watashi will eventually be brought to justice, even if I have to be the one to do it.Bookmark here

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