Chapter 33:

The Calm Before the Storm...

Tales of Virtual Shopkeeper

I’ll be coming back for you very soon, Yui Shiotani. I’m going to strike when you least expect it, so you better be prepared to die!’ – That is what Watashi had told me before vanishing into the night.Bookmark here

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Mayoi Oda seemed to know something about Watashi, the killer who murdered Nagi’s father. So I had decided to ask her for more information and, apparently, she had figured out that Watashi exclusively targets people who play Utopia Online. I couldn’t help but think back to the accusation that Homura had made earlier – That Nagisa was Watashi. Nagi did seem to have an unusual hatred towards Utopia Online, but that wouldn’t drive him to commit murder… would it? Nagi definitely seemed have a motive for killing players, but I just couldn’t believe that my childhood best friend was a murderer! Instead, my mind had landed on another suspect – Kiran. But she seemed so nice. Was she really a killer? I wasn’t sure, but I certainly knew how to find out.Bookmark here

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Lunchbreak. I was sitting at the back of the classroom telling Bonabelle and Homura about my encounter last night.Bookmark here

“No frickin’ way,” Bonnie exclaimed, “Watashi met with you in Utopia Online while standing right outside your house?! And they knew your real name?!”Bookmark here

“Hey, keep voice down,” I said, “That isn’t exactly the kind of information that I want to spread around the entire school!”Bookmark here

“Hehe, sorry,” she said, sheepishly rubbing the back of her head.Bookmark here

“And you’re absolutely sure that this guy isn’t Nagisa Mul?” Homura asked.Bookmark here

“Nagi is my best friend,” I stated, shooting a death glare towards the chuuni girl, “If he was secretly going around killing people for all these years, I’m pretty sure that I would’ve noticed!”Bookmark here

“But if Nagi isn’t Watashi, then who is?” Bonnie pondered.Bookmark here

“I think I know the answer to that – Mii.”Bookmark here

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The two Modern Crusaders looked at each other before letting out a unified ‘who’.Bookmark here

“Ryuuhei Miiki, he goes by the name Kiran in Utopia Online.”Bookmark here

“I still dunno who that is,” Homura stated.Bookmark here

“Why do you suspect this Kiran guy so much, Yuu?” the more astute Bonnie asked.Bookmark here

“Well firstly, Mii is, aside from you two, the only Utopia Online player who I’ve told my real name,” I explained, “And secondly, he always seemed to be hiding his true-self by playing as a girl in-game.”Bookmark here

“So what? I play as a girl, too,” Homura interrupted, completely missing the point. (Seriously, how is it possible to be so mindbogglingly idiotic?)Bookmark here

I chose to ignore her and continue vocalizing my theory.Bookmark here

“At first, I didn’t think much of it. I mean, I also play as the opposite sex in Utopia Online, so who am I to judge? But now I’m wondering if there was more to it, like he was trying to hide something?”Bookmark here

“So, are you going to report him to the police,” Bonnie asked, “Your dad’s a cop, right?”Bookmark here

“I can’t,” I sighed, “My evidence is purely circumstantial. What if I’m wrong? Mii would never forgive me for accusing him of murder!”Bookmark here

“Then how are you going to prove that Mii’s guilty?”Bookmark here

“I’m glad you asked, Bonnie,” I replied, smugly puffing out my chest, “We’re going to stalk him!”Bookmark here

“Woah, woah! Time out, Yuu,” the New Yorker said waving her hands out in front of her, “That’s, like, super rude, potentially dangerous and quite possibly illegal! And besides, do you even know what this guy looks like or where he lives?!”Bookmark here

“Well, not exactly,” I admitted, “But I’m sure that we can ask around town! If he was standing outside my house last night, then he can’t live too far away, right?”Bookmark here

“I guess that makes sense…”Bookmark here

“What’cha say, Bonnie? Wanna come with me after school and ask around, just the two of us?”Bookmark here

“What about me?” Homura piped up.Bookmark here

“No offense, Homura, but you’d probably get in Yuu’s way,” Bonnie apologized awkwardly, “You’d probably say that we were looking for a demon lord, a fallen prince or a haunted milkman… or something like that.”Bookmark here

“Whatever, I know that Nagisa is the real killer anyway,” the chuuni scoffed, walking away from the desk, “Don’t come crawling back to me when you find out I was right!”Bookmark here

“Speaking of Nagisa,” I began, “Can you make sure that he doesn’t find out about last night? I kinda promised him that I’d stop playing Utopia Online.”Bookmark here

“Well, that’s gonna be hard,” Asami retorted.Bookmark here

“Oh, c’mon! I’m not that addicted to Utopia Online!”Bookmark here

“That’s not what I meant. I meant that it’ll be hard to keep that from Nagisa,” she corrected me.Bookmark here

“Oh? How come?”Bookmark here

“Because he’s standing right behind you.”Bookmark here

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I turned around, greeted by a rather disgruntled-looking Nagisa Mul.Bookmark here

“You played Utopia Online last night? Didn’t you promise that you wouldn’t do that anymore?!”Bookmark here

“Look, Nagi! I can explain – There’s this real-ass zashiki-warashi living in my virtual shop’s storage-closet and she told me that Watashi's victims are all--”Bookmark here

“People who play that stupid game, right?” Nagisa frowned.Bookmark here

“W-wait, you knew that already?”Bookmark here

“For a genius such as myself, it was easy to figure that out,” Nagi bragged, “Doing simple research on all the confirmed Watashi victims is but child’s play!”Bookmark here

“And he’s so humble,” Bonnie snarked, rolling her eyes.Bookmark here

“That’s why I wanted you to quit playing that stupid game, Yui! I didn’t want to lose you!”Bookmark here

“Hang on,” I began, “If you knew, why didn’t you tell me? No, scratch that, did you tell anyone?”Bookmark here

“I did tell my father, but he refused to announce it to the public. Utopia Online’s ‘oh-so-precious reputation’ would’ve been on the line,” the boy scoffed.Bookmark here

“If you knew something that important, you should’ve told the freaking police,” Bonnie pontificated.Bookmark here

“You think I don’t know that?!” Nagi barked, “Look, I’m sorry that I didn’t tell anyone! I was scared, OK?! What if Watashi found out and went after me?!”Bookmark here

“Well, Yuu and I were just talking about searching for Watashi,” Bonnie informed him, “Want to tag along with us? We can catch him together~”Bookmark here

“Your offer is tempting, but I have to attend my father’s funeral. He was far from the best father in the world, but he was still my dad.”Bookmark here

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The surrounding air had become melancholic. Nagisa was clearly distraught about his father’s passing, but hopefully GaRam Mul’s soul would soon be able to rest easy. After school, Bonabelle and I were going to search all over town for Ryuuhei Miiki, the man who was (hopefully) responsible for all those unjust killings.Bookmark here

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“This is the place, huh?” Bonnie asked.Bookmark here

School had ended a few of hours ago and Bonnie and I had immediately started searching for Mii’s whereabouts. (After changing out of our uniforms, of course. There’s nothing wrong with looking fashionable while hunting for a serial killer.) After searching all over town, we finally found someone who could tell us where Mii lived. Now the two of us were standing outside his house. Welp, here goes nothing. I reached for the door and…Bookmark here

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-KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK!-Bookmark here

The door opened and we were greeted to a muscular man wearing nothing but his underwear – Ryuuhei “Mii” Miiki.Bookmark here

“Can I help you ladies with something?” he asked politely.Bookmark here

“Wow, guess you really are a dreamboat,” I muttered.Bookmark here

“Do I… know you?”Bookmark here

Asami was staring down at the man’s crotch area, examining his tight underpants.Bookmark here

“Are those… women’s underwear?”Bookmark here

“Yeah, s-so what,” the man blushed, covering his delicates, “Who do you think you are, coming to my house and judging my life choices?!”Bookmark here

“Oh, right! I’m Asami Usami, and this is Yuu Watanabe!”Bookmark here

“Y-Yuu Watanabe,” he stammered, “S-so you really are a girl?”Bookmark here

“You… don’t recognize me?” I asked.Bookmark here

“Look, we don’t have time for this,” Bonnie sighed, “Yuu knows that you’re actually Watas--”Bookmark here

“I don’t think that he’s Watashi,” I interrupted bluntly, “It seems that he genuinely doesn’t know who I am.”Bookmark here

“W-wait, you thought that I was W-Watashi?”Bookmark here

“Aheh, sorry about that,” I apologized weakly, “It’s just that I met Watashi, and they knew my name and--”Bookmark here

“You MET Watashi?!” Mii blurted out.Bookmark here

“Well, I guess this lead was a bust?” Bonnie frowned.Bookmark here

“Guess we should go home now, it’s getting pretty late,” I said, “Sorry for, y’know, accusing you of being a serial killer, Mii. No hard feelings?”Bookmark here

“I-it’s fine,” he smiled, taking the situation surprisingly well, “I-if you don’t want to walk back home, you could always s-sleep over for the night?”Bookmark here

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Bonnie and I looked over at each other and nodded.Bookmark here

“Sure, I don’t see why not,” we replied in unison.Bookmark here

“A-alright then, come on in.”Bookmark here

The two of us stepped inside. I removed my black Mary Janes at the genkan, while Bonnie removed her red high-heel boots. Although we didn’t have any luck finding Watashi today, I have a gut feeling that we’d find the killer soon! It was only a matter of time before they slipped up and made a crucial mistake… But for now, I needed to figure out where I was going to sleep tonight.Bookmark here

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END OF PURCHASEBookmark here

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