Chapter 7: Not Good, Strawberry Cheese is Hime’s Favorite
Because I belonged to the “Go Home Club” so I quickly went back home when school had ended.
Near the road going home was a middle school for highclass ladies, and that caused a little bit of problem.
There was a private tennis court that belonged to that private school that was being built in a park separated from the school yard, because of that it had been difficult for me to walk next to it.
Because, that was a place only surrounded by a wired fence so I could see everything inside. Unless I ignored it, there was no way for me to walk past that place……
If I were to accidentally see a visually provoking scene then my weird condition would appear again. Even so there was no other way to go around. So hard…
Because of that so whenever I came to this section of the road, I ran past it as fast as I could.
Today was the same, when the bike arrived near that section of the road, I switched to ready mode. I sped up when those bright white uniforms reflected in the corner of my eyes. Even though I heard their voices but I ignored them.
When I stepped on the pedals stronger to give up everything then…
Sound of metal breaking, the force that I felt from the pedal suddenly disappeared.
A feeling liked I had slipped, my body lost balanced. I quickly pulled the break, it was lucky that the bike was still standing. To check what had just happened, I parked the bike. When I sat down to check, I discovered that the chain was broken. Even worse that it was heavily damaged.
Look like I needed to replace the chain. The cost must be really expensive……While I was thinking with my head down, I suddenly realized. This bike was parking right in front of the fence. Because there was no cover so the tennis courts were completely exposed in front of my eyes.
Like I said before, I initially was just checking the bike. I was not a suspicious person.
Right now, in front of me was a line of legs belonged to the members of the tennis club. ‘With that amount of legs, I wonder how many people are there?’ I was curious about the number of people in front of me. Next to that line of students, I heard a voice as if it belonged to a teacher. This looked like it was a meeting regarding the content of the training. Furthermore, it sounded like it was about the be finished.
“………and that’s it. That’s the conclusion of this meeting, then you guys should separate into pairs and practice. Remember to check the form of each other.”
A uniformed voice resounded the entire court yard.
Pairs of leg separated from each other. Afterward, they paired up like the teach had told and began to practice. Even though the court yard was pretty big, it was not large enough for all the members. Therefore, some pairs were forced to wait to their turns.
In that group, I saw a person who was standing alone.
Right after the teacher said “Hey, pair up”, innumerable sentences such as “****-chan, let’s practice together?” and the answers “Of course, we are a pair!” resounded everywhere. Because everyone had a partner so she had been left out.
She quietly leaned back toward the fence, making a sad expression and playing with a ball in her hand.
“That girl……is it she…?”
I suddenly recognized that lonely girl. Even though it was quite far away so I could not have seen clearly but I could never mistake that blonde hair. That definitely was Hime.
She really is a highclass lady. But why is her avatar so malicious? And looks like her friendlist in real life is also empty.Maa~ when Kyouya was absent during those days with PE class, I also fell into a similar position. Therefore, I could truly understand how she was feeling.
Look like I need to get closer and talk with her? Thinking so, I began to push my bike.
At that moment, I heard a female student, as if she was a senior, say something in front of Hime.
“Hey, Kujiyou-san. If you are free then can you put away these balls? Because they are so damaged so we can no longer use them—.”
She was pointing at a basket full of damaged balls while talking. However, the face of Hime that was as if she was saying ‘Why do I have to do that?’ caused the senpai who was asking to be a little bit nervous. Even so, she docilely carried the basket and left the court yard without any complains.
The fence’s gate opened, from the inside, the figure wearing uniform of Hime stepped out. She was carrying a basket with the size of a shopping basket. Inside was filled with balls, with a struggling expression. Looked like it was very heavy.
I raised my hand to greet her. Facing me, she showed a surprised face. But then she was starting to make sense of the situation.
“W-w-w-w-w-w-w-why, are you hear!? Uh, hyaa!?”
Her emotion affected her hands, causing the balls to fell out of the basket. Hime gathered countless of those balls that were rolling on the sidewalk in despair. Because I helped her so we did not waste too much time picking them up.
“Here, last one.”
When I gave it to Hime, she expressed a complex emotion liked it was a mixture between ‘anger’ and ‘embarrassment’. And then I felt like she was looking at me.
Not just look, I could even hear muttering noises. Those were the sounds of the members of the tennis clubs. Looked like they had noticed due to the sound caused by the basket when it dropped.
“Who is that?”
“Is he her boyfriend?”
“Eh, of Kujiyou-san? No way……”
“You mean the-boyfriend-of-Kujiyou-san?”
“But, his face looks pretty normal.”
What’s wrong with normal? But wait, what are you saying!?
While I was feeling indignant, Hime started to get embarrassed in front of me.
“W-what do we do now? We are getting misunderstand. They thing you are my…um…b…b-b-b-b-b”
“B-boyfriend. Don’t make me say it, so embarrassing!”
“Ah, is that so? Then we only need to explain ourselves.”
I yelled toward the people on the other side of the fence.
“Um… I am only her GuillMem––!”
Then, the muttering continued.
“GuilMem? What is that.”
“So he really isn’t her boyfriend. Kujiyou-san can still keep her nickname.”
“But, what is GuilMem?”
After that sentence, Hime absentmindedly walked away for some reasons. Then, I felt a really strong force applied on my collar. If I paid attention, I could see that Hime was looking at me with a furious look.
“W-walk with me for a moment! Hurry up!!”
Hime used pure strength to pulled me on the sidewalk. As we arrived at a place that covered from the tennis courts, Hime put down the basket and let out a sigh as if she had just finished some laborious task. Looked as if she had never sigh like this in front of the tennis courts.
“A-are you stupid?”
“Don’t yell like that!”
“Because you are afraid of getting misunderstand so……ah, so that’s it, because normal people don’t know that GuilMem = Guild Member, right? Then how should I explain it…?”
“Eh…a-about that matter…”
Hime muttering quietly, but immediately after,
“But first, why are you here? Are you being a stalker following me around?”
“In your dream!!”
“Uwa, then are you… a peeping tom?”
“Also wrong? Then a person who secretly takes obscene photo!?”
“Look like you are trying to make me into some kind of criminal! This is my everyday road to school……recently my bike’s chain was broken so……”
“Hah……broken bike chain……?”
Hime looked at my bike with a look full of suspicion.
“Really, you can also look, here! It is broken, right?”
It was so difficult to gain her trust.
“However, I can’t imagine I could meet Hime here. Are you good at tennis?”
“I am not good.”
“Eh……then do you like it?”
“I don’t like it.”
“I have only joined the club for three days. But looks like it doesn’t fit me. I…really suck at sport.”
“Then why didn’t you join other club?”
“Before I joined the tennis club, I have participated in the traditional tea club, before that was archery club, then before that was the music club. Every time I try to do something new, I feel like it doesn’t match me. Why is that…”
I think the problem lies in your personality.
“But, isn’t this good? Because you don’t have to constraint yourself anymore.”
“You only need to do things that you feel making you happy.”
“Things that make me feel happy……ah?”
Her response was a little bit weak. Was there some problem?
“Hey, is Hime’s real name Kujiyou?”
“Right, Kujiyou Kiri. It is a beautiful name, right?”
“Uh… it makes me feel highclass.”
“But just call me as Hime like usual is-fine.”
She proudly lifted her chest. But the “is fine” part had no emotional impact.
I asked myself while looking at her prideful face. And then, my eyes suddenly moved toward her legs. Lying there was the ball basket.
“It is really heavy, right? If you want, let me help you?”
I slapped *boof* at the back seat of the bike. With this, moving this small basket was a small matter.
Without waiting for Hime’s agreement, I lifted the basket on my backseat and began rolling the wheels.
“Ah, w-wait a second!”
I didn’t say much, I just turned my head back to hear her reason.
“What’s wrong?”, when I opened my mouth to ask again then,
“Let’s me borrow it.”
She said with a blushed face.
“I will push it!”
“Eh, is that so? Then, I will support the basket.”
After saying so, I docilely gave her the bike’s handle. She used her other hand to hold the seat to make sure it was stable.
Immediately, the bike’s frame shook a little. A ball dropped down on the sidewalk.
“C-can you handle it?”
I asked while picking up the ball.
“I-I can manage……”
But despite saying so, after the bike began to move slowly, it started to stagger, as if it was about to fall at any time.
“But look to me you are not fine.”
She glared at me.
“Well this is the first time I carry something this heavy……”
“What did you just say?”
Even though I thought that putting something this heavy in the back should make her unstable but was it to this degree? Or was it because she lacked exercise? But I myself lacked exercise. Anyway, I cannot describe this in a word. I would have been better if the bike was still able to ride, because right now the wheels cannot go straight.
“How come it can’t go straight? Is it broken somewhere!?”
Even though the chain was broken but the gears were still okay. Despite wanting to help her, I thought ‘Surely she would have complained’ while walking behind Hime, who was staggering left and right.
“Wait, hey? Aaa, w-where are you going!?”
She told that to the bike. But I on the other hand wanted to ask her the same question.
After that, overcome countless struggles, finally we had reached the school gate. She picked up the ball basket and returned the bike to me.
“Wait here for a little bit.”
Saying that, she lifted the heavy basket and staggering toward the school yard. Because she did not allow me to return so I only stood there. What did she want to do anyway?
As I waited for about ten minutes, Hime returned. At that time, she had changed her uniform. With a backpack on her back. Clearly that was a style of going home.
“Going home? Then what about your club?”
“I have written a form to resign from the club and placed it on the teacher’s desk. So there will be no problem, right?”
No problem……ah? But I felt that she didn’t want to listen to this anymore……
“But hey, do you like to eat ice cream?”
I was suddenly asked.
“I somewhat like it, especially in hot days like this. But why are you asking me that?”
“Is that so?”
She did not answer my question, only turned around and moved toward some place.
Having not understand anything, I could only silently follow.
After walking for a while I spotted a store that looked like a doll’s house. Because Hime was walking toward it so it surely was the destination.
In front of the shop had a sign [Ice Cream]. Standing in front of the counter, she ordered:
“Two orders of strawberry cheesecake flavor, with waffles.”
After receiving two waffled ice creams from the seller, Hime immediately returned to the spot I was standing at.
She thrust one cone toward me.
“What is with this?”
“What do you mean? Didn’t we just agree on it? Stop talking, hurry to try this. The ice creams at this store is super delicious.”
“Hey, I will ask again to make sure, but why are you suddenly this nice?”
“No reason. It is the responsible of rich people to donate for the poor people, that’s it.”
“Then, thank you my lady!”
I received the ice cream as if I was receiving a huge treasure.
Wait, so this was her goal? Or was it something else?
More importantly, right after I tried to give it a lick then,
The taste of cheesecake perfectly mixed with strawberry, I felt like there was a rondo song being played on my tongue!
How come I didn’t know of this super delicious ice cream shop around here?
“What is this, it’s so good.”
“Really? But you can only have one cone for today. If you are a good boy then I will treat you again.”
“How come you are talking as if you are feeding a dog!?”
“I am not feeding a dog. I am training a dog.”
“Training a dog……”
“W-what are you imagine? So disgusting…”
“No, I did not imagine anything? But hey, why are your face so red?”
“Hah!? W-what, there’s no way that is happening!?”
Hime denied with all her mind, looking really cute.
“A-anyway, can we sit down over there for a little bit?”
Still a little bit embarrassed, Hime pointed at a square next to the ice cream shop. Because there was no reason to reject so I followed her suggestion. The two of us sat down on a bench.
In front of us had a small fountain with a few trees around. It was a quite peaceful place. Sitting in a peaceful place like this, we did not do anything else besides eating our ice cream. Completely silence from start to finish.
What to do in this situation…… Because there was a beautiful girl sitting next to me, I did not know how to start a conversation. To me she had a perfect figure. Even better was her attractive blonde hair. There was no one who could be compared to her.
Ah, she looked this way!
“What are you looking at?”
“Ah no, I just thought that your hair is really beautiful.”
“Hah!? W-why so suddenly… you are just flattering me, right?”
“No, it’s true.”
“Eh……r-really? But…I, on the other hand, don’t like it so much…”
“My Mom is English. So, my hair has this color. But I do not have any good impression with this hair. Other people have bright blonde hair. However, my hair has a tint of red…looks like a strawberry.”
“Hmm, but isn’t strawberry pretty cute? I thought this really fit you.”
I said so while looking at the strawberry cheesecake ice cream on my hand. She looked at me suspiciously. Feeling a little bit nervous.
“W-why are you suddenly saying things like that? A-are you thinking this is a date?”
“What? So it feels like this!?”
“S-stop saying it like that! Did you hear me, baka! And what is with that hopeful face!? You pervert bug!”
I got yelled at. And, what is a pervert bug?
Clearly to a guy who barely interacted with a girl like me, this was like a dream. But I had never dream of unrealistic stuffs like a date.
Because of that after I had heard she said so, my feeling got erupted again. Immediately after,
She was talking while staring at her feet. Unlike before, she looked pretty calm.
“What do you think about Riel!?”
I was surprised, she mentioned someone’s name.
“What did you just say……”
“C’mon, doesn’t she not show up in ZX nowadays? Don’t you think something must have happened?”
This was something I thought I would never heard of. Riel, the avatar that I played daily, was not logged in for a long while. But because I did not have the password so there was nothing I could do.
Furthermore, it was possible that I would never get back Riel.
“Umm…what if she just got busy in the real world?”
“You think so? But I have always paid attention, the log in time that was no difference from a waste of her made her feel like a person who was always free. Maybe she did not have any friend in the real world.”
I am sorry, but it’s true that I am a person with a lot of free time. But if talking about how much of a waste I am then the other members, including Hime, all have log in time longer than even me. What kind of people are they then? But about having friends…maa, maybe she is right.
“S-so that’s not true? Then maybe she just got sick? Did you think about that? Umm, definitely not yet.”
While I was looking for a reason, Hime spoke up.
“Anyway, I do not really care so much.”
“Then don’t ask!”
What the heck, I had to thought of up to twenty reasons in my head.
“Return to the question in the beginning……what do you think about Riel?”
This again, while thinking so, I felt the face that was still staring at my feet began to heat up.
“Do you think…Riel was really cool?”
I had heard of an illogical phrase.
I subconsciously repeated. Using that phrase to praise a female player, doesn’t that feel a little weird?
Sitting next to me, she showed an abnormal smiling expression. Then started to talk embarrassingly.
“Right, like the time when I have not joined the guild for example. When I was collecting materials solo in the beginning forest, I met a notorious PK group.”
PK. That was a system that allowed players to hunt and kill other players, available in almost all MMORPG. Of course, ZX was not an exception. There were some special groups of people who make money and item using that way. However, according to the rules, there was nothing wrong so it was useless to report to the GM. They enjoyed hunting for prey on that gray line.
“There were about 5 people at that time if I remember correctly? That situation was like I was the main heroine of some shounen manga who was being attacked by a group of ruffians.”
She started calling herself as the main heroine…
“At that time, I said something like ‘Release your dirty hands, you animals!’ I think.”
“Hey, that was not a line of a heroine!?”
Wouldn’t that just make them angrier? I thought.
“And then, I began to heavily rebuke their leader such as ‘Pitiful, a bunch of chickens who cannot do anything in the real world so they escaped into the game to show off, right? Can this be call a kamatte-chan group?” and so they got furious for some reason. Even though it was all fake but it felt pretty scary♪”
(TN: kamatte-chan means attention seeker.)
‘felt pretty scary ♪’ my butt!! Who asked you to provoke them?
“At that time, I yelled out ‘help me!’.”
Finally say something proper for once? I thought.
“After I yelled for help, a girl appeared. As if she knew I was standing right there.”
Ah no, at that time I was on my way returning to Firmus and was just passing by……
“Showing up in a cool manner! Standing in front of the ruffians was a girl in a white skirt.”
It was true that they were behaving like ruffians at the time.
“Even though her level and occupation did not fit to battle with those ruffians but without hesitation, she had used high class item to steal the initiative of the entire battle.”
Now that I thought about it, at that time I had used the item [Fire Flower’s Fruit]. It was similar to a bomb with the ability to attack multiple targets at the same time. With their levels at the time, one bomb would be able to kill them all. Back then, I had only carried with me one high class item for defense purpose. But then I thought it was an appropriate time to use it.
“At that time, they all ran away with tails between their legs. And so, I got saved without any problem, right?”
Clearly Hime was asking me, but why was that?
“Afterward, I usually talked with her. Seeing me still without joining a guild so she had invited me……”
Her face while recalling back to those times looked pretty happy. I also remembered back to those days. Although those memories were nothing significant but those were happy memories. The guild was formed by Shizuku, then Hime joined, then I met Mashu and Ricotta, and then Hugues appeared last.
Talking till the evening, sometimes having disagreement, fight, sometimes ending up in failure but everyday were fun days–– I remembered back to those days I spent along with the girls.
All were memories when I was still Riel. But right now, I was playing at Knight-sama. Although the avatar was not bad but the feeling was different……
When I returned to reality, I realized Hime was looking at me from beside. And then––
“If there was not Riel…… surely I would be really lonely in ZX……”
What’s this? Why was she looking at me when saying that? Furthermore, Hime’s eyes right now looked different from normal, they were wet.
Why was she talking about Riel’s matter with me? Why?
Was it……Hime knew I was Riel!? If that was true then she really appeared by herself. The person who knew me = Riel was only one.
That’s right–– it was Hugues.
This thought began to change in to my belief.
That scared the crap out of me, Hime suddenly yelled out loud. Her voice covered up my voice.
“W-what are you doing?”
“Aa, it has gotten so late? Not good.”
She hurriedly jumped up while doing the action of looking at her wristwatch.
“But hey, you don’t have a wristwatch!”
“If I don’t hurry up to go home, my dad will get mad. Anyway, see you later on ZX.”
When I took out my phone to clarify, I saw right now was 4 PM. This time was nothing, the sun hadn’t even set yet. But she had already stood up and ran away with the speed of Idaten.
(TN: Reference to the manga series Idaten Jump.)
Her reaction was too suspicious.
Alone sitting on the bench, after thinking about it for a moment, I began to push my bike home.
I had decided.
I had thought this through. Hime’s behavior at that time. It was clearly dark, not just suspicious. If she logged in today then I would clarify this matter. But even though I said so……
Next to me, Shizuku was displaying that irritable attitude. Standing near her, Mashu and Ricotta were also of similar mood.
We were standing in front of the road leading to the Kingdom’s Square. Everyone decided to go to [Happy City] that was held today. But even now Hime still had not shown up. We were waiting endlessly.
“I am about to reach the limit of my patience…”
“Now now, let’s try to wait a little bit more.”
I said so to calm down Shizuku’s irritation. Immediately after, a blue light effect appeared.
<<[Shirousahime] has logged in.>>
When that blue light had disappeared, a girl with blonde hair appeared.
“Ara? Isn’t today Happy City day? What are you guys doing here?”
Hime looked at the member with curious eyes.
“Waiting for this lonely rabbit, what else?”
Shizuku said so while stepping ahead.
“If so then thank you. But Shizuku, even you waited for me?”
“I only afraid that after you has logged in, you would say something like ‘There’s no one! I will die in loneliness! That is the fate of a rabbit!” while covering in tears and snots. If you cry like that in the middle of the town, the guild’s reputation will be loss.”
“Hah!? I would-never act like that. Furthermore, I can barely accept tear but why are there also snots!?”
“Oya? I saw someone used that special ability when she was discovered by security camera.”
“But that person was not me.”
The usual argument had begun again. If I didn’t stop them then it might continue till tomorrow.
Because I experienced it once so I knew it really well. Therefore, I picked an appropriate time and jumped in to interrupt them.
“Enough enough, enough––h.”
The two mad horses looked at me with cold gazes. But for some reasons those two stopped arguing with each other. We stepped foot into the Kingdom’s Square.
It was very busy inside the square. Full of people, people, and people. This would cause so much lag. Even though I really wanted to talk to Hime but it looked like I couldn’t do that in this crammed atmosphere.
Happy City. That was a fair that was held in the Kingdom’s Square so that players could sell items that they had collected. Even though private stores were familiar sights on the side of the street but this was an event organized by the game’s producing company. While the fair was happening, there would be many events such as parade, lotto for special item, meeting special NPC, or the chance to meet special creatures that we couldn’t normally see. Because of that everyone was waiting for this day. This would become a fair of a giant proportion. There were a lot of people went out shopping on this day with the goal of buying item cheaper than usual.
In the line of people walking around, we were walking around to visit other players opening their shops. Cheap armors and swords, countless luxurious items, but our group did not stop at any of those shops.
“A–– that looks delicious nya~”
Ricotta pointed at a colorful stick of candy. Those sticks of candy in red, yellow, blue, green were arranged in a line. They were made from [Gorin] harvested in a beginning forest. Gorin candy mixed with [Boruboru’s nectar], drop item of a vegetation monster named Boruboru. We could create new item if your Cooking skill reached level 5. Even though they were not rare but the beautiful way they were arranged caused me to feel somewhat happy when I recalled of the Summer Festival in the real world.
“If you like it that much then let me buy you one!”
Feeling like I got cat-glared from Rio so I was inclined to take out my wallet to buy candies for her. There was no way I would do this in real life. Ah no, there was some other instances previously, I think? But you don’t have to add ‘nya’ after ‘wa––i’, I thought.
But how can Ricotta have logged in? Was there a PC in her room? I asked myself those issues while opening the trading window.
“Please give me one stick.”
“Yes, one stick!”
“Ah, uncle, please one more stick.”
“Hee, ok, one more stick!”
Standing next to me, Hime requested.
“What? Is this not good? Just treat this as a return for the ice cream in real life.”
The other members yelled out surprisingly in response to Hime’s words.
“H-hime-chan…… besides the offline meeting, you guys have met other times in real life~?”
Mashu clung onto Hime with eyes filled with tear.
“Because Knight-sama’s school and my school are close to each other.”
Hime said so with an arrogant tone. But at that time, Shizuku’s shoulder began to shake. Then she started laughing weirdly.
“Fufufufu, to be honest after that day, I had also met Knight-sama in real life.”
Three surprise sounds again appeared.
“Wh-when?? W-where did you meet!?”
Hime could not cover her shock. On the other hand, Shizuku was displaying a mischievous attitude.
“Who know, where was it––?”
“W-what, hurry up and say it clearly!”
“Maa~ the only thing I can say is that Knight-sama had definitely hugged my underwear in his arms.”
“Hey!? Don’t slander me! When did I hug it? I only held it in my hand!”
“Held it in your hand?”
Hime looked at me with whitened eyes.
“No no no, that was not it!”
Before I could find a reason to deny, Shizuku had again added fuel into the fire.
“By the way, we had stayed together at my house until the next morning.”
“The f…!? Why did you say that matter!?”
“Uu… Knight-sama, is that true?”
Mashu and Hime were staring at me intensely.
At that time, Ricotta’s cat ears twitched when she was jumping up and down.
“If so then Ricotta is living with Knight-samanya.”
“Hey!? Stop saying things that can be easily misunderstand!”
Hime’s eyes changed into disgust.
“No, that’s not it!”
What the heck, this chain of events? I would really cry.
“Everyone is so unfair…. playing together at places that I don’t know about.”
Mashu still had not stop her crying face.
But today she was looking somewhat different from usual. Biting her lips to display her displeasure, she announced officially.
“If that is the case then I suggest we have our second offline meeting!”
Even though everyone all had surprised faces but immediately after…
“That sounds good.”
“Isn’t that too good?”
“Very good nya~”
Those agreement voices of everyone appeared. And of course, they had not care about my opinion from the beginning. Therefore, at this place, the group had decided to hold the second offline meeting.
[Receiver] Keita [wan_U-x-U@pocomo.co.jp]
[Look like there were a lot of thing happened at places that I didn’t know about.
I am not quite pleased to this.
But anyway, I am looking forward to the incoming offline meeting.]