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

Chapter 14

“Okay then . Continuing from where we stopped, the biggest difference between us, former players, and the former NPCs is the state of our bodies . As you can see, it seems like we don’t grow old at all . ”


While saying that, Solomon spread both of his arms and showed off his figure .

“And that is why, even after living here for thirty years, your own body stayed the same?”

“Yeah . To be honest, there’s still a lot that we don’t know, so I can’t say with confidence that it’s something absolute . Do we really never age? What if it’s just our appearances that won’t change and we’re still growing old as usual? Do we have some sort of life span? Well, that’s the kind of doubts we still have . Maybe we’ll be able to understand things after four or five more decades have passed, I guess . ”

If they didn’t grow old, it would also mean that their bodies would stay healthy, without ever deteriorating . The same would obviously apply to their skin, with its firmness remaining the same after the passage of years . It was mostly because of the very fact that their appearances wouldn’t change that Luminaria said their current world was the best; if a person was beautiful, it would be for eternity .

After her friend’s explanation, Mira understood why their figures remained unchanged . Also, it apparently was something that only happened to former players . What caught her attention, however, was how Solomon talked about a “life span . ” Evidently, no one would die of age after just thirty years, but what if they died of other causes?

When it was still a game, every time a player was killed by the likes of a monster, for example, they would revive at their base or affiliated country and receive a debuff . The point was, it happened when they were in a game . Now that the world they played in became reality, would the same rule apply if they died? That was what worried the girl .

“By the way, what happens if we die here? Do we still revive with a debuff?”

“If we die, huh…”

As he listened to Mira’s question, the boy made a troubled expression and crossed his arms in thought . After taking a moment to put his ideas in order, Solomon raised his face and began his reply with a few words, stating that the matter was “still inconclusive . ”

“To tell you the truth, we’ve yet to hear about a player dying in this world . Well, my personal view on it is that maybe… we just die, I guess . ”

As blunt as it was, the king’s answer was completely serious . Considering the game became reality, it wouldn’t be impossible to think like that . Even though she wished it wouldn’t be the case, Mira also believed that such a convenient thing would be too good to be true, so she easily accepted her friend’s words .

“Is there any reason for you to believe we would just die?”

“It’s because of the Friend List . I kept checking it every single night . And even now, just like you guys, it seems that there are others who suddenly arrive in this world . But the opposite also happened too . I had a friend whose status appeared as online, but their whereabouts were still unknown . ”

At that point, Solomon stopped his explanation for a moment to moisten his dry lips . During that time of silence, the only thing that could be heard in the room was the sound of Luminaria bundling up the documents . Apparently, she was still working to keep the place tidy .

“One night, when I verified the Friend List as usual, that person’s name had changed tooffline . After that happened, I have never seen it return to the previous online status . ”

“I see…”

In that world, being online in the Friend List meant that the person existed there . On the other hand, being offline was a sign that they weren’t in the world . From that, they could think of two possible answers as to what happened with that individual .

The first one was that they somehow managed to find a way to logout . The other was that, for some reason, the person disappeared from the world; in other words, they died .

Believing in her friend’s reasons, Mira decided to act even more careful while living in that new reality .

“Even if we’re askin’ whether we’ll die or not, the most common cause of deaths in this world is related to actual fights . Well, I doubt we’d ever die because of that shit . That’s how strong we are, and even if we’re up against something we can’t beat, be it a Demon Beast King, Demon King or Dragon God, we can simply use all our strength to escape and survive, right?”

While organizing the papers, Luminaria sat on the table in a seductive manner and spoke . Indeed, if it were those three in the room, they wouldn’t be in serious trouble; during the four years since the official launch of the game, those individuals employed a great variety of means and ended up as one of the strongest powers in the world . So much that there was nothing that would beat them .

“Agreed, it is just like you said . ”

“Yeah . And in the end, this is only a hypothesis I have . Let’s just put that matter on hold for now . Currently, there’s no need to find an answer for it, and even if we were required to find one, there’s simply no humane way to test it . At most, I guess we just need to be careful not to die . ”

Returning to his previous smiling face, Solomon opened the menu from his bracelet and confirmed the current time .

“Okay then, since this is a rare occasion, I’m dropping my work for now, so let’s have dinner together . Just like the old days . ”

The king proposed that and rose from his chair, telling the gist of it to the two subordinates that were on standby, outside the room . After a short while, with the preparations for their meal finished, one maid came to pick them up; the three friends then switched places from the King’s Office to a big banquet hall . Being alone there, they would able to eat and chat without any kind of restriction .


“As expected of a king . What an extravagant dinner you have here . ”

Inside the hall, it was like they were in a standing buffet party with tables of food lined up before them . Holding a plate on her hand, Mira decided to try every single one of the dishes there and started taking turns, eating them one by one .

“Of course! That food was prepared by first-class cooks with the best of the ingredients . Everything you see here is absolutely delicious . ”

As Solomon bragged about his banquet while also holding one plate, he walked and stopped near Mira’s side, to her left .

“There’s even fried chicken here, damn! First-class fried chicken![1]”

Not even losing a moment to stuff her cheeks with the fried food, Luminaria praised it and, at the same time, placed some of that golden, perfectly cooked dish on the little girl’s plate . To both of Mira’s friends, it was already natural to have top grade goods to eat, but that look of excitement she had was a great way to remind them of her former self . Then, with her eyes sparkling at the sight of such a magnificent banquet, Mira served as inspiration to Solomon and Luminaria, turning their dinner in the Arkite Castle into a very lively event from beginning to end .

———–

After their meal, the three friends sat down on the edge of a stage, situated in the middle of the banquet hall, and merrily talked about their old days .

“This really takes me back . Even now, I can still remember its dauntless figure . ”

The boy closed his eyes and recalled the offline event he went to, thirty years ago . Organized yearly by the JSDF[2], it was an exhibition where people could gaze upon military related items, from equipment to real weapons . Although the event started as a means to recruit new personnel for the Self-Defense Forces, it became a hit between military aficionados; as one of those enthusiasts, Solomon also attended it, making sure to adjust his schedule whenever it was necessary .

“Man, how I want to see the gallant form of the Type 10[3] again . ”

“It could have gone without you walking around everywhere . I am not exaggerating to say that it was the day I walked the most in my whole life . ”

“I freakin’ gave up at that time . You told us you would cover for all our expenses, so we accompanied you, but in the end it was a damn festival for army nerds . ”

In contrast to Solomon, whose expression was of complete bliss while immersed in his memories, Mira smiled bitterly and Luminaria made a completely sour face as both remembered their experiences at that time; yet, they still longed for those old days .

“Don’t be such a killjoy . Didn’t you guys have plenty of fun there too?”

The boy began swinging his legs around and, seemingly sulking, retorted . To Mira, it had been about two weeks since the events of that festival happened . Being told that all her necessary expenses would be paid and feeling like traveling, it turned out that her destination was a large venue, where all sorts of warplanes and military weapons were lined up . Looking back at the overall appearance of that place, still fresh in the girl’s memories, the figure of the Armored Jeep suddenly came into her mind .

“By the way, what was that sort of armored vehicle you made me ride during the day? Instead of fuel, it used sealing gems to move and was even equipped with a fire cannon . I think Garrett said something about Sorcery Engineering or something like that . ”

When Solomon heard Mira’s question, he stood up with a brand new smile on his face and, after walking to the center of the stage, struck a daunting pose .

“I have been waiting for the very moment that you would ask me this . To tell you the truth, the Armored Jeep is the first step towards my dream!”

In a clearly cheerful tone, the boy began talking about his dreams . Eventually, he announced that, as a king, he would bring to completion a Type 10 Tank . Trying to go along with Solomon’s enthusiasm, the other two sporadically applauded .

“Thank you very much for your attention . Oh! This is just perfect, it’s about time for our appointment . ”

As he stood there, posing with both arms spread wide, the king took a look at the wall clock positioned near the entrance to the hall; after confirming the current time, he jumped out of the stage .

“Oh yeah, that’s right . It was the reason why I came here anyway . ”

Remembering the original purpose of her stay, Luminaria followed Solomon and spoke .

“What? What time is it?”

It was almost like they suddenly decided to change from reminiscing of the past to talking about their current reality, causing the girl to ask a question in the daze of being brought back from her thoughts . Turning their heads to look at their friend’s state, they gave her a smile brimming with confidence .

“Just wait and you’ll see it . ”


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“I’ll show you how much this world has progressed . ”

Said Solomon in a playful tone, a moment before the beautiful woman walked towards Mira and, as if it were completely natural, took the little girl’s hand and pulled her .

———–

Advancing through the corridor, the three went down a countless number of stairs . With every new floor they reached, the silence there would deepen even more, causing the sound of their footsteps to echo off the cold, grey walls around them and violently ring inside their ears .

They had already traveled about ten stories down . At almost the same time that such a thought went through Mira’s head, she finally caught sight of a large iron door and, nearby, the figure of sentinel guarding it . As soon as the guard recognized Solomon and Luminaria, he made the traditional military salute from the Kingdom and informed that nothing out of the ordinary had happened .

“Thank you for your efforts . ”

Being in front of others now, Solomon returned to speaking like a king and directed a few words to his subordinate . It was also the same for Luminaria .

“Everyone is already gathered inside . ”

“I see . ”

“In a short while they will commence the operations, but… Solomon-sama, who is that person?”

The palace guard directed his gaze towards Mira .

“She is Mira, Dunbalf’s disciple . Her skills might be useful in the coming experiments, so I brought her along . ”

“Oh, that lady? Please excuse my rudeness . ”

After offering an apology, the guard took a card-shaped key and held it up near the door . Slowly, that heavy iron mass opened, only to reveal a white passageway that continued behind it . The girl then followed her friends and, as she went through the door, found something incredible on the other side . Around Mira was a scenery completely different from the usual medieval style she was accustomed to seeing; it seemed like she had just entered inside an ultramodern facility .

The moment she scanned her surroundings to get a complete view of that spectacle, the surprised girl recalled something she had seen in the past, when she watched a TV program exhibiting a certain foreign country’s “National Aeronautics and Space Administration” agency .

(Well well, they seem to be doing something interesting here . )

Deep underground, a strong door and an experiment . It was simply obvious that they were inside a secret research facility .

———–

“Okay, we’ve finally arrived . ”

Indicating as such, Solomon stopped in front of a large door that, after a few seconds, began opening by itself, albeit at a slow pace .

“Now look at what you have here, this is incredible . ”

Behind that door, a white and vast room appeared . That space’s height, width and length continued over a great distance, to the point that their limits could only be seen far, far away . Inside there, a countless number of what appeared to be machines were lined up, but what instantly caught Mira’s attention was a remarkably large device in front of her, placed in the middle of the room . It had a cylindrical object, sticking out horizontally from its heavy-looking body, and a row of meters and gauges, positioned around it . In front of those instruments was someone clad in white robes; then, in the vicinity of that massive machine, was the figure of a person wearing an apron and a very conspicuous jumpsuit, still dirty with oil, discussing this and that with the other .

Observing that situation in the background, near the door from where Mira and the others entered, was a group of people . There were eight robed Experts and five nobles, with the latter ones wearing some extravagant clothing that looked completely out of place .

“We have been waiting for you, Solomon-sama . ”

Appearing from the door’s side was the king’s aide, Suleiman . He slightly bowed to the three friends and stood by Solomon’s side, waiting for further orders .

“Everyone, thank you for your continued efforts . ”

The moment he spoke, everyone stopped what they were doing and, together, turned around to give a deep bow towards their king . Then, when they raised their faces, everyone’s gazes gathered on the unfamiliar girl there . Still not used to receiving such curious looks, Mira slid her feet sideways in an attempt to move away from their sight; however, when she tried to hide herself behind Luminaria, the woman grabbed the girl’s shoulders and, with all her might, put Mira in the spotlight .


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“This young girl here is the disciple of Dunbalf, Mira-chan . She has inherited all his refining techniques, so I am fairly certain that she will be of great help with today’s experiments . ”

While voices filled with all kinds of emotions could be faintly heard around the girl, one of the nobles took a step forward .

“So she is that Dunbalf’s… may I be allowed to greet her?”

“Okay, very well . ”

Receiving Solomon’s permission, the nobleman walked towards Mira and kneeled . Seemingly around his sixties or seventies, with silver-gray hair and dense wrinkles on his face, the noble looked up and kindly smiled at the girl . While looking like the personification of a sage’s composure, the title of “King” appeared to fit way better with that man than with her own friend . Even his gorgeous garments didn’t have an excessive amount of ornaments and were elegantly in order .

“Nice to meet you . My name is Edward Corse Steiner . It is the utmost honor for me to meet the disciple of our Hero Dunbalf-sama . ”

After greeting Mira, Edward took her hand and gently kissed the back of it . Although Mira would instantly try to brush away his hand, she admired how the noble acted in a perfectly gentlemanly way . Or rather, it could be even said that the girl was charmed by it . Obviously, it was because Edward’s form was the very ideal she held of a male figure .

“Hm, I am Mira . ”

The nobleman then stood up, bowed and began his return to his initial spot . As she observed his retreating figure, Mira renewed her conviction over the ideals she was devoted to . Curiously, no one there could understand why Luminaria, who was behind the girl, kept chuckling .

(…Wait a moment… Edward… did I meet him before?)

While pondering about that noble’s gentlemanly behaviour, Mira felt she had already heard the name “Edward” in the past . However, just like a reflection on the surface of water being disturbed by ripples, no matter how much she looked through her sea of memories, the girl couldn’t get a clear picture of the figure she was searching for .

“Well then, is everything ready? Let us start from the first phase . ”

Being brought back from her thoughts by Solomon’s voice, Mira began following with her eyes the researchers and engineers that were moving around in a hurry, not forgetting to also look up at what was in the middle of them, the gigantic machine .

“This thing… it looks similar to the one atop that vehicle… the ‘Armored Jeep,’ I guess . ”

“The one you’ve seen was just a small prototype . This here is the real deal . ”

Some of the researchers there, after seeing Luminaria’s gentle smile directed at the younger girl, were struck by the woman’s sisterly allure, causing their hearts to beat even faster . On the other hand, as someone with the knowledge of who was behind that affable expression, Mira had a subtle, completely unknown emotion showing on her face while she slowly moved away from that spot . Then, at that moment, in a corner of her sight, the girl noticed some kind of device that was placed far away, in the exact direction the gun barrel pointed to .

(Just what is that thing there…?)

When Mira inclined her body slightly to get a good look at the object, her flowing and shining silver hair softly fell upon her shoulders while the many ribbons on her robe swayed .

“Hey, someone’s staring really hard at us . ”

“Hmm, what? You know there’s no problem in doing that . Just get this stuff ready already . ”

“No, well… err, I mean, it’s…”

“The hell’s with all that mumbling?”

In the direction she was looking at, there was a researcher and an engineer carrying out the last adjustments on the device; when they caught a glimpse of that lovely young girl, whose eyes were observing them with great interest, the workers began a discussion .

“If my memory serves me right, she’s the disciple of Dunbalf-sama, err…”

“Ahh, yeah! It’s Mira-chan!”

“Hey hey, come on . Don’t add ‘chan’ to her name . You’re being rude, you know?”


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“But, no matter how you look at it, she’s ‘Mira-chan . ’ What else could I use with her name?”

“…How about ‘Mira-sama’?”

“Mira-sama… seems OK to me . ”

Said the researcher with a grin . The engineer, who had the exact same thought, nodded in agreement . Then, although they were discussing something completely trivial, they actually started to work even faster; being watched by Mira was enough to put them in high spirits .

“The preparations are finished! We are ready to start the experiment at any time now . ”

One of the engineers, the only one among them wearing a red headgear, announced that they were done with the arrangements . He was the one in charge of that place and also the person who designed the main part of the cannon being experimented that day .

Glancing once more at the huge machine, Mira could guess that they were about to start a firing test . However, judging by its appearance, it didn’t seem to be an ordinary cannon . That kind of mounted gun, able to shoot out common shells, already existed when it was still a game; as weapons commonly used by every country, the cannons could be produced by players who had developed the blacksmithing skill . But the ones from that time weren’t as big nor required a countless number of meters and gauges connected to them like the cannon in that facility .

(Let me see, the other one was small but had that much power . I cannot even imagine how strong the big version will be . )

Mira happily stroked her chin with a hand, eagerly waiting for the outcome of that experiment . In front of the many devices linked to the weapon were the researchers, waiting on standby . Meanwhile, the nobles were all lined up near the wall, watching attentively for the results of that experiment .

“Begin the experiment!”

“Start the experiment, now!”

With Solomon’s loud signal, the chief engineer repeated the order to his subordinates, who soon activated the main engine of the cannon . Inside the room, the high-pitched sound of a motor could be clearly heard and, at the same time, the needle indicators in the meters began to tremble . As the nobles had their breaths taken away, Reynard and Joachim stood on guard in front of Mira and her friends, observing the cannon with great care in case something went awry .

“First phase starting in five… four… three…”

As the countdown continued, the roaring made by the engine grew even louder, with the sound of electric discharges mixed in it from time to time .

“Two… one… critical point confirmed!”

“Fire!”

On the king’s orders, the engineer in charge pushed a lever . Immediately, along with a thunderous roar, a flash of light shot out of the barrel, dangerously large electric arcs encircling the entire beam . The lone device, previously prepared as a target, had a curtain of light deployed in front of it, but when that torrent of destruction scored a direct hit, a powerful vibration spread and jolted the entire room with the impact; after a moment’s delay, a massive explosion sound assaulted everyone’s ears .

For a short while, when everyone in the facility witnessed that destructive power, enough to blow away the barrier of light along with its generating machine, they stood there in a daze, entranced by the weapon’s might . Its power was on a completely different level if compared with the cannons from the past, so the girl couldn’t help but observe with sparkling eyes that new model and its gallant figure .

“Wow, this is a whole new league of strength . ”

Luminaria then placed her hands on both of Mira’s shoulders and leaned over, bringing herself closer to the amazed girl so that their faces would stay side by side .

“During those thirty years you were gone, we developed a brand new crafting technique . Then, using the Sorcery Engineering, we created this state-of-the-art weapon, the Accord Cannon . ”

Having demonstrated enough firepower, the “Accord Cannon” was presented by the beautiful woman, who raised her eyes towards it with satisfaction .

 

TL Info:

1↑鶏唐(揚げ) – Basically, the deep-fried chicken they all talk about .
2↑JSDF – “Japan Self-Defense Forces” in case you still didn’t know .
3↑10式(戦車) – Type 10 battle tank used by JSDF, entered service in 2012 . Makes you wonder why they would still be using it in the year of 2100+ and not a newly created one from that period . Maybe a “Type 14” or something like that… or they were just making an exhibition of old military stuff .
エドワード・コルス・シュタイナー – Edward Corse Steiner

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