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Published at 12th of March 2016 10:11:44 PM

Chapter 11

Situated on the fifth floor of the Royal Castle, the king’s office had the privilege of overlooking the city’s lake . And it was inside of such special place that Mira and Solomon stood, completely alone . Awaiting further orders on the corridor that led to the room were the king’s loyal servants, Reynard, the Knight, and Joachim, the Expert .


The interior of Solomon’s study was surrounded by bookshelves, with every single one of them packed full of books containing knowledge about the techniques and histories of places from all sides of the world . Under the view of said bookshelves, the king was currently sitting on a leather-covered chair, his back closely pressed against the furniture . On the other hand, Mira was nonchalantly observing the room as she sat down on the corner of a sofa that looked dangerously close to get buried by official documents .

“Well, this place seems like a complete mess, you know?”

“Come on, I’m so loaded with work there’s no way I could find a breather to clean the room . ”

Even if he was addressing a young girl, the tone Solomon used to speak with her was incredibly informal, unthinkable for someone who stood as the king of a country . That, however, wasn’t a problem since Mira had already forgotten the difference between the positions they currently held in the kingdom .

“Humm, indeed . ”

After that reply, both of them straightened their postures and exchanged looks .

“First of all, could I go directly to the point and ask you something?”

Solomon focused intently on Mira while raising his index finger .

“Alright, what is it?”

With the intent of increasing her level of comfort while sitting, the girl took the many documents that were in her way, on the sofa, and placed them indiscriminately by her own feet . During that time, she just directed an affirmative answer to the king, without paying much attention to the person himself .

“Are you… Dunbalf?”

Those words were enough to bring her back and Mira caught herself turning to look at Solomon with surprised eyes, the official papers she held moments ago now scattered all over the floor . The reason she was taken aback was simply because the young girl was in the middle of thought, trying to find a harmless way to explain, if possible, her current situation . She wanted to keep to a minimum the damage to her own image, or rather, to her very existence as a human being .

However, not even in her wildest dreams did Mira expect it would be the king himself who would start with that delicate subject . Furthermore, his question wasn’t something he used to try and collect basic information about her, but actually a means to confirm his suspicion; the smile on Solomon’s face already revealed how much he was sure about that fact and had no traces of his usual love for playing pranks on others . Finally, after looking at that very expression he displayed, Mira was able to confirm that, without a doubt, the boy in front of her was none other than her close friend Solomon, the person with whom she’d worked hard together when it was still a game .

At least, somehow, things will be quick then and she won’t even need to fabricate any more lies . While disregarding her own image for now, the girl decided that the first thing she needed was to get a good grasp of the current situation . Without paying any mind to the documents she’d dropped, Mira once again sat down on the sofa with all her weight .

“Indeed, well done . ”

To Mira’s short and affirmative answer, Solomon’s lips parted into a huge grin .

“Man, talk about a complete change!”

While holding a hand over his mouth and giggling like mad, the king glanced at Mira over and over; every time he caught a glimpse of her figure, he would lose it and burst out in laughter .

“Yeah yeah yeah, a lot of stuff happened to cause this, you know?”

The girl glared at the laughing Solomon, a disgruntled and sour look in her eyes .

“But that kind of change… it’s like heaven and earth . Well, somehow, that’s so like you . That loli body, I mean . ”

“Oh, leave me alone . ”

He held his laughter back while eyeing Mira’s whole body again and gave his seal of approval . However, that only made her turn away and pout, seemingly annoyed . The entire scene was so ridiculous that, at first glance, no one would be able to guess it was made by one of the highest ranking Experts of the kingdom together with that country’s very king .

“Anyway, could you answer me something first? Just what is this world?”

Mira started with the most simple and direct question she had .

Solomon briefly finished laughing and, while fixing his posture, sorted out the information he had in his head to finally reply with a few words .

“I don’t know . ”


“How is that possible? Even after thirty years you do not know anything?”

Her eyes slightly widened when she heard what the king said .

“Oh yeah, that’s right . Properly speaking, we’re not in a game . The world here is real, but… is this planet somewhere in the same universe as our Earth, the place we were born? Or are we now living in a world from some kind of universe that follows a completely different set of laws? What if it isn’t any of that and we’re actually in a dimension composed of principles that are outside our very comprehension? I still can’t answer these questions so that’s what I actually meant when I said ‘I don’t know . ’ ”

“I see now… but anyway, we really are in a real world, huh?”

“Most likely . Just what kind of crazy daydream would make it possible for one to clearly feel the passage of thirty years?”

Solomon shrugged while directing his gaze at a part of the bookshelves, replete of data collected from events that had happened during those three decades since the game became reality; “I really did my best . ” he said in a self-praise upon seeing the sheer amount of information stored there .

“Well then, in my case it would still be enough for me to think of it as a dream…”

“Okay, that’s fine since you’ve only spent one day here . But, too bad! This is real . ”

Spent one day .  In a sense, these words reminded Mira of a really important question that kept bothering her mind .

“By the way, Solomon . How did you know that I was Dunbalf?”

She didn’t remember giving any hint that would lead to such conclusion . At most, it would be the Master Key, but the excuse that it was an item given to her by her master wasn’t something so poor it would fall apart so easily . In fact, both Litalia and Mariana were convinced after seeing the key . Anyway, who would really expect that someone who went missing for thirty years would suddenly reappear there? That boy, however, got the answer right in an instant . There must’ve been a reason for that and Mira wanted to hear it .

“Hmmm, yeah . If I were to go into details it would take too much time, so I’ll be brief . I received a report from my Magic Clothed Knights stating that they’d met a young girl named Mira . It also detailed that said girl was a Summoning Expert who controlled an incredibly strong Dark Knight . And right after the report, I heard that some girl, also called Mira, appeared in one of the Silver Linked Towers and claimed to be Dunbalf’s apprentice . ”

“So with that alone you managed to guess it?”

“Oh no, I received the report yesterday night immediately after checking the Friend List . For thirty years your status had appeared as offline but, on that day, it changed to online . ”

“Wait, did you just say ‘Friend List’?”

Of course, that list wasn’t something unknown to Mira; simply put, it allowed one to register friends and verify if they were online or not . What she really wanted to know was where did Solomon find such thing in the menu . If there were an entry for it she might have tried to open the list, but that was exactly the reason Mira didn’t consider doing that . When the girl was still in a game, the Friend List could be accessed by opening the System entry in the menu, but that option was now gone from the screen . Then, how did her friend manage to check that Friend List and confirm that she was online?

“The System option in the Menu is gone, so how is it even possible that you managed to open the list?”

“Man, that’s right . Considering you’ve just arrived in this world, you must only know thegame methods to do that stuff, right?”

When he finished talking, Solomon placed his fingers in the usual position to open the Menu, over the bracelet on his left arm, and kept them there . After a short while, a screen that only the boy could see was projected to him, its appearance differing from the regular Menu .

“Now, try copying what I did a moment ago . ”

Mira did exactly what she had seen him doing and continued to press her fingertips against the Menu . A second later, a completely new screen appeared and, there, she was able to confirm the entries in the list .

“Ohoho… look at this…”

From top to bottom, the items listed in the menu were: 『Friend List』, 『Map』 and 『Divine Protection』 .

“There is one entry here I have never seen before…”

The girl murmured in surprise and tried selecting the “Map” entry that floated mid-air .  Although the entire screen suddenly blanked out, there were no further changes to it .

“Hey, Solomon . What is up with this ‘Map’ in the menu? I believe it did not exist before…”

Since she didn’t understand what it did even after testing the item, Mira was quick to ask her friend . Then, while closing his terminal, Solomon turned his eyes to look at the girl .


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“It’s a newly added entry . If you leave a map in the special items section of your item box, it can be easily accessed through that ‘Map’ entry . Pretty useful, no?”

“Ohh, so that is how you use it . Yeah, it is handy, indeed . ”

The moment Mira heard the king’s explanation, she instantly understood just how convenient was that item in the menu . Basically, it could be said that while playing in a game that boasted a naturally large world, the “Map” function was essential; however, Ark Earth Online did not have such a feature . Instead, there were rough diagrams of the continent sold at the Beginners’ Three Kingdoms, but even then their selling price was at a level that newbies, the ones who needed maps the most, couldn’t afford .

Although later the players managed to create more detailed versions of that kind of item, they still needed to take out and unfold a different map for each region if they wanted to check a certain location . Of course, those maps had no markings on them, let alone a dot that would show the player’s current position .

“Right? If you have a map with you, why don’t you put it in your special items section now?”

On his suggestion, Mira immediately opened her item box but then, she found no map there .

“Ahh, now I remember . I left all my maps in the flying island . ”

“Oohh my . Now that’s a disaster you have there . ”

That flying island she mentioned was the ¥2000 item from the cash shop, the Floating Continent . When her item box had gotten incredibly cluttered, she ended up placing all the maps inside the wooden house of her portable mass of land . In most cases, when Mira wanted to go somewhere (a dungeon, labyrinth or a field, for example) she would use the Floating Continent and check the corresponding map to reach the place . But right now, that convenient way of traveling backfired on her .

Then, at that moment, she was reminded of something . .

“Now that I think about it, I cannot find the Cash Shop Management menu…”

As the girl expressed her concerns, even though Solomon displayed a meaningful smile on his face, a distinct and serious tone appeared in his voice when he proceeded to answer .

“Apparently, that entry is simply gone, together with the ‘Message Box’ and the ‘Shutdown’ to log out . ”

The Cash Shop Management was, just like its name said, a menu that handled everything related to cash shop items; obviously, it was right there that one could select and use the Floating Continent . Since that entry disappeared, it meant that her ability to access her flying island was also gone .

“No… way…”

“Yeah, at first I was really upset . All kinds of holy swords were left on my flying island… ahh, even now I can still remember them clear as day…”

Afterwards, while under the comfortable light generated by a lamp in the office, somehow both people there spent a few moments simply staring at the space in front of them, reminiscing about the many items they’d lost . Inside the room, the shadows cast on the walls wavered faintly and hopelessly, as if reflecting the two friends’ state of mind .

———–

“Anyway, after finding out about me, you went and sent that urgent invitation for the audience, right?”

Despite the fact that the wound inflicted on her by the earlier shock was still big, Mira managed to recover herself .

“Exactly . The timing was simply too perfect, you know? And even if your appearance had changed, I could guess that it was because of the Vanity Case . Something like that wouldn’t be impossible to happen . ”

Following Mira, Solomon also sealed once again the scars from his past and turned to face the reality in front of his eyes .

“If I knew this would have happened, I would have never used it in the first place…”

“You were so obsessed with that appearance of yours to the point you created a damn collection of screenshots of your avatar doing cool poses . That’s why I thought you absolutely liked that old man’s image… but why did you end up changing it?”

“Hmm, well… it is a long history…”

She then continued and talked about how she had received a message informing that her game money balance would be expiring soon, resulting in her buying the only ¥500 item in the shop . Next, while omitting the fact that she’d pulled an all-nighter after deciding to create the ideal female image, Mira explained she had just wanted to check, out of curiosity, the parts that could be selected by the Vanity Case .

“And then you turned out like that, huh . ”

While displaying a bit of compassion on his face, Solomon expressed how it was, indeed, a misfortune that had happened to the girl .


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“Yep . I do not remember ever hitting the ‘confirm’ button, only that I fell asleep while looking at the screen . ”

“Reaally…? It’s pretty strange for you to suddenly doze off like that . You probably lost yourself working on the character editing . ”

“When I noticed, I had spent the whole night on it . ”

It was too late, but Mira realized her mouth had just splendidly betrayed her . Furthermore, that longtime friend of hers had already started to suspect something was missing from her history . To prove his assumptions, Solomon moved his lips and spoke .

“That ‘Mira-chan’ of yours was really done with all your might… ”

“…It is my greatest masterpiece…”

“Yup, yup! Say it again! That loli body is soo like you!”

The king looked like a kid whose prank was successful, but that appearance was easily overshadowed as the corners of his mouth distorted in a broad and wicked smile . In the past, the two of them used to talk all night about the characters and idols they liked; as a result, they easily understood each other’s preferences . And because of that, Solomon was able to see through Mira’s excessively honest figure .

So far, the girl didn’t give out any specific examples of her interests[1], so she tried thinking objectively about her own appearance, something that was customly made from head to toe . Then, upon realizing that she was now a walking embodiment of her inclinations, Mira threw herself to the back of the sofa, feeling completely drained .

“Solomon… do you have a Vanity Case?”

Sounding almost like a plea, Mira asked her friend .

“Yeah, I have one . Here, look . ”

Meeting his friend’s expectations, Solomon produced a japanese-style black case from his item box . Undoubtedly, it was the 『Vanity Case』, its lustrous lacquer coating easily recognizable from the distance .

For a second, Mira stared at that box in sheer amazement . But suddenly, she stood up and assaulted the king .

“GIVE ME THAT!!”

“W-Whooa!”

When Solomon was hit by the jumping girl’s body, he ended up falling together with his chair . Moreover, some accessories on the desk were caught by the ribbons from her clothing and also fell on the floor making a loud noise .

“Solomon-sama! What happened!?”

Promptly reacting to that huge commotion, Reynard opened the door to the office without any reservation and became speechless by the spectacle in front of his eyes; it was a scene that easily surpassed anything he would have expected to happen .

There were two people entangled together . Mira had fallen over Solomon and was now in a straddling position over him, all the while grasping the hand he held the Vanity Case with both of her own . At first glance, it would appear that she had assaulted the boy, but the biggest problem was Solomon’s current posture . The hand he had used to push Mira back was magnificently holding a very soft swelling on her chest . In addition, his leg was in such a position that it ended up lifting the hem of the girl’s skirt-like robe, exposing her lower body .

“Oh, don’t worry, there’s no problem here . ”

Solomon informed the knight while feigning serenity, but no matter how one would look at it, there was indeed a problem, and a huge one at it .

“I see it now, you bitch! You finally showed your true colors!”

As usual, Reynard started displaying his reckless behavior . And arriving a little late, but with the important job of cooling down the knight’s anger, was Joachim, whose face appeared at the door to take a peek inside the office .

“My, Reynard-san . Let’s calm down and observe the situation here . Look, isn’t it fine? At a glance, it will only seem that Mira-sama has pushed His Majesty down, but I ask you to give a careful look at Solomon-sama’s hand . Can you see how firmly our King is rubbing it?”

Following Joachim’s suggestion, Reynard confirmed it with his own eyes and twitched his eyebrows in anguish .

“Hmm, indeed… but even then… ngh!”


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With one hand, the Expert stopped his companion, who was about to object once more, and presented his reasoning .

“In short, this is what happened: when they were having a good time on the chair getting to know each other, they suddenly lost balance and ended up in this position . And… oh yes, that’s right! I simply believed that Solomon-sama had no interest in women, but it was actually a case of finding someone with a suitable figure that met His Majesty’s tastes . I finally understood it! Now the future of the Arkite Kingdom is secured . ”

Apparently enjoying that spectacle, as evidenced by his smile, Joachim reproached Reynard .

“There’s a problem, though, Joachim . Will the others accept the likes of that little girl?”

“She is the disciple of Dunbalf-sama . Isn’t this one of the greatest titles someone could have?”

“Hhhnngh… certainly…”

Having their circumstances arbitrarily decided by others, Mira and Solomon finally realized the entire situation they were currently in . The girl was straddling over the boy with their faces close to each other; simultaneously, the boy was feeling an extremely pleasant and soft sensation through his hand . Then, coupled with Reynard and Joachim’s behavior, they deduced the answer to that entire scene . Finally, at the same time, both friends looked at each other in the eyes and, as if kicking one away from the other, instantly separated themselves, keeping a considerable distance between their bodies .

“Hey, wait a moment! You people are making a huge misunderstanding there!!”

“Yeah, she’s right . When Mira was falling I ended up getting dragged by her and fell down too, there’s nothing else besides that . ”

In a big hurry, they attempted an explanation by correcting what the others had said . However, compared to the spectacle witnessed just now by the king’s assistants, their words had zero persuasive power .

“Ah, Solomon-sama . Just in case, I will leave it to Your Majesty on how to conduct yourself when we leave . ”

“For the sake of the Kingdom… for an heir…”

While Joachim finished with some unnecessary lines and Reynard dreamed of the future, they both calmly left the office and gently closed the door .

“I’ll hold an emergency meeting later…”

“I feel bad for you . ”

“Don’t go thinking it doesn’t concern you . ”

“If I return to my old appearance using that Vanity Case it will be fine, right?”

Instead of working out a way to clear the misunderstanding, it would be faster to just restore Dunbalf’s figure . That was what Mira suggested while pointing at the item in Solomon’s hand .

“Ahh… that’s impossible . Did you forget this was a cash shop item?”

“Of course I did not . I am aware that since we cannot access the cash shop anymore, this item is indeed really valuable . If you let me use it, I promise to work with all my might for you and repay your generosity . So, give that item to me . ”

Just like a kitten leaping at its prey, the girl reached for the king’s hand .

“I’m talking about the rules for this kind of item . You can’t give or trade them with others . ”

As he reminded Mira about that rule, Solomon extended his arm and held out the Vanity Case to her .

“Oh come on, look . I can just pick it up like… wait a moment, what is the meaning of this!?”

When Mira, whose fingers were the only part of her hands not covered by her sleeves, tried to take the item from the boy’s hand, something unexpected happened . As if laughing at her efforts, her fingertips hopelessly went through the Vanity Case like it were a simple hologram, leaving no sensation of touch .

 

TL Info

↑ This part here was (and still is) a pain in the ass . I’ve tried looking for related examples but it didn’t help much . If someone with more experience gave a tip, I would be really glad . The line in question was: “ミラは今までの例をあげる趣味の暴露と違い” and continues into “隅から隅までオーダーメイドの自身の姿を客観的にイメージする . ”

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