Chapter 79: Even if they Lived on the Other Side of the Country, Meeting Someone Who Came from the Same Country in a Foreign Land Always Feels Like a Miracle
“I’ve sent away the guards at my house by guilt-tripping them into aiding Sir Ilyos. So is that the girl?”
Seimei-san came hurrying back down the mountain.
I had contacted both Masaki and Seimei-san in a group chat and told them that Ragnall and I were going to be at Seimei-san’s house, but instead we’re hidden in the shadows outside Lydia Nee-san’s – that is, the receptionist at the bathhouse – house.
I had told them that I needed help hiding a girl that “the enemy” was after, but other than that I hadn’t told them much about the situation.
Just that, “It’s kind of important, and definitely should be kept a secret.”
Masaki looks anxiously at me, but the communication crystal he’s been clutching has been glittering for a while, so the time we all have together is short.
The people with Carnus probably want to hear about what happened after Masaki and the others went into the city.
“I’d like to know the story behind this girl, however… her complexion does not look so good.”
Seimei-san said as he peered past my shoulder and looked at the girl’s face.
I try to look over my shoulder, but the elf girl’s head is drooping so I can’t see.
She’s not being very responsive to what the people around her are saying, either.
… I’m worried.
“The further she is from the person who holds the lead, the more painful the shackles will be for her, so it would be best to get those shackles off. If it’s Jun, I’m sure she can find a way.”
Huh? What do you mean the lead?
No, wait. More importantly …
“Why didn’t you tell me that before?!”
“Sorry. I didn’t think it would have been wise to, since we couldn’t do anything about it in the sewers.”
… Unfortunately, what Ragnall said is true.
In a sewer, with an item I’m unfamiliar with, while being chased down by hostile people… There’s no way I could easily take the shackles off.
I swallow my anger as Seimei-san organizes the others and say to Ragnall,
“That’s true. Are you going to come with – “
“I’m going to the Guild. To the infirmary.”
… Ah. Right. I somehow keep forgetting he had a near-death experience.
He seems so lively, after all.
From behind me, I hear the other gamers arguing with Seimei-san.
Midori-chan in particular wants to stay behind, worried about the girl, but Seimei-san convinces Masaki and the others to go back to Sir Ilyos’ mansion to make a report and handle the Nobles.
In the first place, I was only asking Seimei-san to come over; I had only reported to the others through Masaki just so they would be aware of what’s going on.
Well, all three of them are the rare sort of kind-hearted people, so it wasn’t surprising that they came as well.
Hurrying into Seimei-san’s house, Seimei-san leads me over to his bed and helps me gently lay the elf girl down on it.
Her color really isn’t good.
I have to get these shackles off, NOW.
The same strange sound that I used for Urol’s sledgehammer sounds again.
It’s something like an analysis spell, where I use my own MP to brute-force the magical mechanics and bypass any magic defenses.
I called it “Forced Analysis” as a joke, but then it actually ended up in my Status as <Forced Analysis>.
Normally I wouldn’t use this spell, since it could damage lots of delicate circuits and enchantments, but in a situation like this, or like when I was facing off against Urol, trying to avoid damaging fragile magic technology is the least of my worries.
The metal the shackles and chains are made of is a jet black color, but it’s dull, unlike galvorn’s shiny, lustrous black.
I can tell it’s not a product from around here, because I don’t recognize the metal immediately.
This … could it be deep iron?
Despite being called “iron”, it’s not actually iron.
Mined deep, deep down in underground parts of Labyrinths, it is heavier, for one. Although that might not be immediately noticeable.
But the problematic thing about deep iron is that, although it is somewhat similar to iron while it’s processed, once it’s quenched it becomes as hard and unyielding as adamant.
Even reheating it won’t cause it to lose its shape or structure, and it even becomes impervious to magic manipulation.
I won’t be able to get it off her easily through brute force.
From my Forced Analysis, I can tell there are several circuits.
One draws on the elf girl’s MP at a predetermined rate; one measures how far it is from a ‘lead’ and slightly increases the rate proportionally to the distance; one uses the MP to keep the shackles tightly around her neck; one sends a sonic wave throughout her body to increase nausea.
Although all of these circuits bother me, the last one really makes me mad.
I can’t even destroy the circuits because they’re encased in the deep iron.
The only thing I can even try to do is unlock it from the keyhole.
This … was not too difficult to do.
With Mana Imprint, it was something like taking a magic-based mold, then with a little bit of silver and by abusing Seimei-san’s fireplace, I quickly shaped a key with material manipulation.
Un. I should take care not use this ability for criminal purposes.
Because it’s just pure silver, my substitute key deformed when I turned it in the keyhole, but at least it unlocked the Prisoner’s Shackles before it became useless.
All in all, it took 10 minutes for me to be able to get these shackles off of the elf girl.
In disgust, I threw the heavy things into a corner.
“Thank goodness… you’re really something else, Jun-kun.”
Seimei-san had been hovering over us nervously the entire time, but now he heaved a sigh of relief.
He seems used to taking care of a sick person, as he carefully elevates her head a little and then pours water into her mouth from a strange little jar with thin spout.
Later I found out that he’s been collecting the various tools used in medicine and nursing in this world, so it wasn’t strange that he was prepared with something like that.
After she swallows the water, a few minutes later her breathing becomes steady, and the tension sweeps out of Seimei-san and me so that we both nearly collapse on the ground.
We were actually pretty nervous.
“Haaa… so? Jun-kun, who is this?”
“Un… haa, well, she was a slave of the guys behind all the attacks tonight, but because she could speak Japanese, and because she recognized me to be Japanese, I took her and ran.”
“So you conducted property theft – I guess I’ll permit it for now.”
Seimei-san laughs lightly at his dry joke before he said,
“But … Japanese? She herself doesn’t look Japanese… Could there be a language here in this world that resembles Japanese?”
“She properly said ‘Japanese’, though. Would a language or nationality in this world be so similar by name? And also, forget about whether she looks Japanese, she’s not even human. She’s an elf, right?”
Seimei-san put on a confused look.
“Hm… but, well, I’ve seen some elves in Carnus, but … she looks like a different … race of elves? Maybe that’s not that strange, though…”
Is that … so.
I’ve only seen half-elves in Nyl City, but if they’re any indication, elves seem to have more Northern European looks, though maybe a bit more delicate.
I hesitate to judge the differences in body-types, since I haven’t seen any full-blooded elves, but if Seimei-san says there’s a difference, then maybe there is.
To tell the truth, there’s something about her physique that bothers me.
Long, slender legs slightly longer, proportionally, than normal; a trim waist-to-hip ratio that isn’t even seen on supermodels, and a long, slender neck. Certainly it was more elven than human, but there was something … odd feeling.
Like, how her hips were slim, but the thighs were fleshed out and somewhat plump. Or how her waist is so much thinner than her ribcage and hips.
It almost feels like all the parts are too “perfect”, or something.
It honestly gives a bit of an uncomfortable feeling.
As for her face, it had a distinctive Asiatic look to it, but at the same time it didn’t feel quite like a fully “Asian” face.
Un… even despite these oddities, I feel like I’ve seen something like it somewhere before…
“I guess we’ll just have to ask her, huh?”
I say, as I give up thinking hard about where I’ve seen her looks before.
“I guess so, but probably not right away. After she’s had a meal and a bath, and some time to recover, maybe. I don’t want to push her too hard too soon.”
“No. I want to talk now.”
With a trembling voice, the elf girl spoke as she sat up.
Ha-! She was awake?
“Ah, it’s better not to push yourself-.”
Seimei-san quickly, reaching over to help stabilize her.
Although she’s trembling and shivering, she looks like she’s desperate to talk to us.
“I – I’m from Japan, too. Even though I look like this, I’m fully Japanese. This body is … at least, it’s modeled after my avatar in Archage Eternal Legend.”
“Archage Eternal Legend?”
I haven’t heard of it before.
“Aah … that Korean VRMMO that came out a few years ago. We called it cutscene-online, though.”
… Seimei-san. You’re getting sidetracked.
“I-it’s … good once you get past level 40, there aren’t as many cutscenes…”
Elf girl-san, you’re also getting sidetracked.
… Ah! I see! She looks just like a female character model from a Korean videogame!
Or actually, that’s exactly what her body is.
But suddenly, just as I was thinking that, tears started pouring down her face.
“…hic… un, uwaaaa…”
Men really are useless when a girl cries like this.
The only thing I can do is pat her awkwardly on the head.
She calms down rather quickly and, embarrassed, shyly takes the handkerchief Seimei-san handed her.
“S-sorry. I just … even though I used to get upset when people made fun of ArchLeg, I started thinking about how I didn’t think I would ever hear someone make fun of it again, and I just …”
“It’s alright. It seems you’ve been through a lot, so …”
The elf girl coughs a bit hoarsely, composes herself, then says,
“Um … P-pleased to meet you. My avatar’s name and the name on my status is Echo, but my real name is –“
“Ah, stop, stop! Since this is a world with magic, try to keep your real name to yourself.”
Seimei-san says suddenly.
“Seimei-san … you didn’t seem to care when Masaki and Midori used their real names.”
I say accusingly.
“Nn. Well, I mean, they were already using it before I could say anything.”
“Just why do you think we shouldn’t use our real names anyway?”
I honestly have no idea what Seimei-san’s thinking.
“Well there’s usually things like being able to control someone with their real name in a world with magic, right? Isn’t it better to be cautious just in case?”
… Ah. I forgot. No matter how elite he was in Japan, Seimei-san is someone with THESE kind of hobbies.
“Mm… to be honest, I don’t think there’s any way for magic to take advantage of something like that … or like, Seimei-san. Our REAL name that magic recognizes would be the name that’s listed in our statuses, you know?”
So in other words, Masaki is now Masa, and I’m now Jun.
But to begin with, I don’t think there’s magic like true name binding or kotodama in this world. Magic seems to work with what the word intends to mean, at least with the spoken word.
Of course, it’s not like there’s not a possibility of magic spells that can manipulate things with the written word, but I’m nearly certain that there’s nothing that can force you to obey someone just by knowing their name.
Seimei-san has dropped to the ground in an orz pose.
“No way … so even if I was being careful, just by going with ‘Seimei’, I was completely negating my efforts?”
“… At least, magic thinks your ‘real’ name is Seimei.”
The elf girl was laughing quietly at us.
Seimei-san stood up and dusted himself off.
“Ahem … anyway, I am now called Seimei of the House of Hara, but in Japan, my name was Hara Seiji. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Seimei-san performed a perfect, 30 degree angle bow.
So the ‘Hara’ was his real surname anyway… I wonder if Seimei-san wasn’t trying to loosen the girl’s tensions with that stupid diversion.
The girl stopped laughing and said,
“I guess my name is now Echo, but I’m Asahina Hibiki. I’m in your care.”
And she bowed a little as well.
“Ah, I’m Imamiya Junichirou, but everyone’s always called me Jun, and Jun appears to be my name now as well.”
“Um, I – um, thank you very much for saving me, Jun-san – … Ju-Junichirou?”
…Ah, crap. I went with the flow and gave my full name too, but I guess I’ll have to explain this troublesome situation.
With a kind of bitter look, I say
“That’s, that is …”
I’m cut off by a startled yell.
“Jun wasn’t short for Junko? No, wait, it’s Junichirou?!”
Eh… why is Seimei-san also so confused too?! I give up, I’ll just say it bluntly!
“… Didn’t Masaki tell you? I was a guy in Japan.”
“No, I didn’t know at all!”
“I thought for sure Masaki told you, since you were properly using ‘-kun’ to call me by.”
“Jun-kun, I call Masaki Masa-yan and Tatsu Tatchan. I don’t think you can use that criterion to assume things … Oooh, I see, the machine misidentified you, huh?”
“Oh, so you understand?”
Seimei-san scratched his head.
“Well, it’s not that common, but every once in a while the scanner will get the gender wrong, and it does seem like it’s more likely to recognize guys as girls, rather than girls as guys, when it does get it wrong. In that situation, you should have gone back to the shop attendant with an ID card with your actual gender, and he’ll hard-code your gender in before you get scanned.”
Dammit, I should have … ah, no, that means I’d have to get re-scanned in that tiny coffin.
But all of these problems I’ve been having could have been avoided!
I clutch my head in my hands.
“Um… So you guys are also in game avatars?”
Seimei-san looks pityingly at me for a second before he goes back to her.
Yeah, yeah. Go back to talking with her, please. I want to wallow in my misery over here…
“I see, so that’s how it is. ArchLeg is the VRMMO type that doesn’t allow you change your gender, but you don’t have a profile scan of your actual body, it’s just the avatar.”
Asahina-san was currently taking a bath in Seimei-san’s bathroom.
We were just down in the sewers after all. I also feel like wanting to take a bath.
Seimei-san suggested we could take one together, and I round-house kicked him in the back.
“Eh… but you’re a girl now, right? So it’s okay?”
He complained, rubbing his back with a huge, cheeky grin as he picked himself back up.
“Exactly HOW is that going to be okay?!”
I yelled. Glancing over at Asahina-san’s somewhat conflicted expression,
“Look, even Asahina-san agrees with me!”
Anyway, after something that felt like it came straight out of some sitcom, we told Asahina-san to take as long as she needed in the bath.
Who knows how long she’s been in slavery without a chance to take a decent bath.
We haven’t been able to bring ourselves to ask about that type of thing yet.
Now, Seimei-san sat on a wooden chair in his bedroom, staring moodily into space.
His goofy attitude from earlier seemed like a lie as his brows knit together with a dark, worried expression.
“Jun-kun. What do you make from all this?”
We don’t know anything about how Asahina-san has been living in this world, and I also haven’t told Seimei-san about the people who had been her former owners.
But there’s still something that’s bothering both of us very, very badly.
See, we had assumed that we, players of Mourning Star who had been on the special event server, were the only ones who had been transported to this world.
In response to Seimei-san’s question, I can only say,
“… There might be other Japanese people from other VR games who were displaced here.”
Our faces grew even gloomier in an instant.
<a/n: Thanks Skirie for the donation!>