— 5 —
The person who came to offer me unwanted advice about weapons was an adventurer called Cruggs, but I didn’t care about that in any way.
Yeah, I know, Cruggs was just trying to help.
But I wish he’d just leave me alone. At least for now, I wanted him to just go away somewhere.
Having embarrassingly triggered the flag with this skinhead adventurer, I proceeded to place the same order with the actual shopkeeper and checked out hurriedly, leaving the store as if I was escaping.
“You’re late, Souma!”
I bumped into Train Girl right after that.
Having finally met up, though not quite angry, Train Girl seemed slightly sullen.
“Souma, I couldn’t find you anywhere… I was even almost about to go check the Skyboat platform again!”
“A-Ahh. Sorry about that. So, did you sell the items?”
“Oh man, that was a big pain too you know!?”
Despite what she was saying, Train Girl seemed to be quite thrilled.
It seemed that she had gone around to various stores for appraisals and conducted her trades so that she could sell them for as much as possible. Being a loner yet having good social skills, what a rare combination.
“And the results are… An amazing 38000E!”
I wasn’t sure whether that was a lot, but I thought I’d at least cheer with her since she seemed so happy.
Actually, it did seem a little more than what I had expected. There were only around ten drop items, so each of them would’ve had to have gone for around 4000E.
If it was like back in the game and sale prices were set at half of the purchase price, each of them would have had to be priced at even more than the Piercing Spear from earlier.
“U-Uhm, since you said you didn’t want any of it, I sold everything except the Wakizashi, is that okay?”
“Huh? Yeah, that’s fine.”
I nodded unhesitatingly.
Since Armor Knights are essentially a set of heavy armor, the type of equipment that they dropped were almost all pieces of heavy armor. Though their defense values were quite enticing, the increased weight of the equipment dulls movement.
The decrease in speed due to weight applied to skills as well, and there was basically no way around it. Taking into account our current fighting styles, there was no choice but to give them up.
“Phew. So if we split this in half, that’s 19000E for each of us!”
And, of course, she was fully intent on splitting the earnings evenly with me. Even though I thought that it would’ve been fine for Train Girl to take all of it since she was the one who did all the work.
However, it probably wouldn’t benefit anyone if I tried to push back on this. If anything, based on her personality, Train Girl would probably be happier if I accepted.
“Alright, thank you.”
I held out the crystal that served as my wallet, and…
“Okay, I’m transferring it!”
Train Girl touched it with her own crystal, transferring magic power between them. As simple as that, 19000E was moved into my crystal.
For the danger we faced, farming with Train Mode at the Cave of Trials was quite efficient. Even if all of the earnings were split in half, the amount should be more than enough to serve as Train Girl’s savings.
While we chattered on about such things, we headed towards our next destination, the Accessory Shop.
An Accessory Shop sounded like the type of store that female middle-schoolers would frequent, but, of course, accessories in this world referred to the type of accessories worn on the neck, wrists, and fingers. Of course, each of them increased a character’s abilities like any other piece of equipment.
Compared to armor, their individual effects were small, but with a necklace and a bracelet, as well as two rings, a total of four accessories could be equipped, meaning that their combined effect could not be overlooked.
In addition, now that equipment could not be changed from the menu screen anymore, it took time to change one’s armor.
However, it was easy to change rings, and it was simple to change them to match the type of enemy one faced. It could be said that there’s absolutely no downside to having them.
The shop’s inventory was unchanged from when it was a game.
Perhaps due to the fact that they were items in the very first town, there was nothing with very high effects. They offered more or less placebo effects, such as raising defense slightly, strengthening elemental attacks by 5%, allowing the use of an elementary elemental magic, or increasing natural HP recovery by 20%.
However, there did exist items famous just because of their weak effects.
(Since I’ll probably use a ninja sword sometime in the future, something like this is a must have.)
From within the rings, I found [Ring of Light I].
While this ring was sold in stores in the early game, it had an exceptional effect of “raising light element attack power by 15% and lowering dark element attack power by 80%”.
By the way, clearly the “I” indicated that it was an item in a series, and as the number increases to II or III, the effect also became more powerful. For IV, the effect was apparently raising light element attack power by 60% while lowering dark element attack power by 50%, becoming something that could probably be quite useful.
Well, IV won’t be sold in shops, and, of course, I had no intentions of looking for something like that in the first place.
Without hesitating, I picked [Ring of Light I] up. It wasn’t something that I needed right now since I hadn’t learned any elemental attacks yet, but it’s sure to come in handy in the future.
(Actually, never mind the elemental attacks, I probably don’t really need rings for a while…)
I did not plan on removing the stamina rings I had on for a while. Since only two rings could be equipped at once, any more would be… Wait a minute…
Thinking I was on to something, I walked over to Train Girl, and asked in a low voice:
“Hey. What happens if you put on more than two rings?”
I didn’t think it was such a weird question.
However, Train Girl’s eyes turned round:
“You can’t put on more than two rings, you know.”
And replied with an answer that wasn’t much of an answer.
“That’s not what I mean, I’m wondering what happens if you try to put another one on.”
“Eh? You know, you can’t put on more than two rings.”
…What’s going on? Train Girl had become like a broken NPC all of a sudden.
Still, just what would happen?
In the game, equipping had to be done through the menu, so it wasn’t possible to put on more equipment than the number of slots available. However, in this world where equipment was worn manually by hand, I felt as if one could possibly overcome that limitation.
(Well, I guess I can just try it myself.)
After seeking permission from the shopkeeper, I took a [Ring of Water] and tried putting it on my finger.
As the ring neared my finger, a mysterious power activated and pushed the ring away… That was what I had thought would happen, but nothing like that happened. The third ring easily slipped onto my finger.
It was so easy that it felt disappointing.
“Somehow, I seem to be able to just wear it normally…”
Saying this, I showed Train Girl my fingers, and:
“Wh-What are you doing, Souma!”
She was extremely surprised. More than that, she was almost fuming.
“You can’t put on more than two rings!”
Even if you say that, I’m already wearing them.
Still, it was possible that its effect wouldn’t activate even if I wore it.
“Let’s see, Water!”
Pointing towards the floor, I ordered the spell Water.
As I did so, a stream of water gushed out towards the floor.
It hit the ground at full force:
“S-Sir! Please don’t wet the floor!”
And drenched the shop’s floor.
It seemed like in this world, after one used Water, the water remains, in contrast to how it used to work in the game world.
Touching the remaining water didn’t seem to inflict any damage, so it was no longer part of the attack, but, in any case, it was annoying.
What was annoying? Mostly, cleaning it up was annoying. Also, the sharp gaze of the shopkeeper was annoying.
I wished this world would just stop with this half-baked realism.
(Well, regardless of that, the effects of the ring had activated.)
However, based only on this, it was possible that one of the other rings could have lost its effect.
Further taking [Ring of Fire] and [Ring of Wind], I asked the shopkeeper:
“Excuse me, I’d also like to test these out. Ah, don’t worry, I’ll make sure to use the magic outside.”
From the results of the various experiments I then performed, I learned that it was possible to wear one ring on each finger for a total of ten rings, and the effects of all of the rings would be active.
But, unfortunately, it didn’t seem possible to wear two rings on the same finger.
When one wore a ring on a finger, it automatically adjusted its size to fit, but when a second ring is placed onto that same finger, in exchange for equipping the second ring, the first comes loose.
Though strange, it was a development that fit my needs perfectly. I hypothesized that this must be what happened when the game setting of “only two rings can be equipped” clashed with the common sense of the real world of “you can put on as many rings as you want”.
Thinking back, it would seem that some of the game’s rules were not implemented as physical limitations in this world, but rather by controlling people’s actions.
Just like making Reinhart want to give me a ride to town on his wagon, and just like how Train Mode made Train Girl want to run around in the same field I was in, could it be that the people of this world were just somehow made to not want to equip a third ring?
I mean, the phenomenon causing the rings to swap when putting on a second ring on the same finger was the same as in the game. However, trying to put on a third ring was something that could not be done in the game, but something like that was more than possible in reality. So, in order to do something about this contradiction, the idea that “it’s impossible to put on a third ring” was implanted into the consciousness of people. That was what I deduced.
I had no idea whether this hypothesis held any water, but, well, this was a buggy world already filled with contradictions. With that, I forcibly made myself accept it.
However, isn’t it human nature to want to test a few more things if this were the case?
Next, I tried the other types of accessories, and found out that while only one accessory could be equipped on the head just like in the game, I found that bracelets could be equipped on both wrists, so one on the head, two on the wrists, and ten on the fingers, I learned that a total of thirteen accessories could be equipped at once. This was simply amazing.
Is there any way of somehow getting Train Girl to accept this insight?
“Train Girl, are you wearing any rings?”
As I asked, she held out her right hand in front of my eyes.
“Ah, yeah. These.”
On her right hand, she was properly wearing two rings.
Even I didn’t memorize all of the equipment in Nekomimineko. While trying to recall what those rings were, Train Girl answered, seeming somewhat proud.
“This is the defense up ring that I bought here, but this other one is not sold in shops, and reduces magic damage taken by 30%.”
As expected of Train Girl, she was wearing something that was quite good for someone at the first town.
“It’s my father’s memento… My father died when I was young, and most of his possessions had already been cleaned out. This ring was the only one that my mother was able to salvage…”
And, as expected of Train Girl, it did not come without a heavy story.
“Th-Then, just as a test. Why don’t you try putting on one more ring?”
At this rate, a Train Girl Sad Memories convention might end up beginning. I hurriedly interrupted Train Girl’s story with this suggestion.
“Eh? B-But, you can’t put on…”
“Don’t worry. Just maybe, it might be possible, you know?”
I pressed on the reluctant Train Girl.
“See, this is just another one of my experiments. You said you’d help me with them, didn’t you?”
“That’s, yes. B-But, this is… ah.”
Still reluctant, Train Girl stared at her hands, and:
“I-I’ll try it. Please!”
Suddenly seeming to make up her mind, she held out her left hand towards me.
“Eh? You want me to put it on?”
I asked in surprise, and Train Girl nodded as if it was obvious.
The act of putting a ring onto someone else’s finger made me recall a certain traumatic event without fail. Still, I couldn’t back out of an experiment that I myself had requested.
Left with no choice, I took another one of the same defense up rings that she owned, and moved it towards her left hand.
Whether due to nervousness or because I had rushed it too much, as I brought the ring towards Train Girl’s left hand, her hand slipped slightly to the side.
Because of that, the ring happened to perfectly align with Train Girl’s ring finger.
(This might be a bit problematic.)
If I remembered correctly, this world also had the custom of placing the wedding ring on the ring finger of the left hand.
Feeling a stinging pain from the thoughts of marriage, I tried to casually move the ring towards her pinky finger…
Just as I was about to put it on, Train Girl’s hand once again moved to the side, moving the ring in front of her ring finger.
(I-It must be a coincidence.)
Once more, I tried to put the ring onto Train Girl’s pinky finger…
It wasn’t a coincidence! The movement of Train Girl’s hand was obviously aiming for something, trying to guide the ring onto her ring finger.
“Umm, could you hurry it up?”
For some reason, I felt an overwhelming pressure coming from Train Girl.
(W-Well, I’m the one who requested it, so I have no choice, right?)
So, though it wasn’t as if I had lost, I resigned myself and slipped the ring onto her ring finger.
The ring fit perfectly on Train Girl’s finger, as if it had been made for her. A-Ah, that was due to the magic within the ring, and there’s no particular meaning behind it.
“S-See, even with a third one, everything’s just fine.”
Concealing my inner turmoil, I deliberately acted indifferent and said that.
But, Train Girl was silent. However, after a while, as if she had just been holding her breath:
“I-I can’t do it anymore! Something just doesn’t feel right!”
She quickly pulled off the ring on her finger.
…Except, it wasn’t the ring I had put onto her left hand, but one of the rings that was originally on her right hand.
“Excuse me, I would like to buy this! Can you please ring me up!”
She asked to buy the ring from the shopkeeper.
It all happened in a flash, without giving me any chance to stop it. Glancing at the ring on her ring finger:
“B-By doing this, it’s almost like we’re, e-engaged, isn’t it?”
My words weren’t even words anymore. I didn’t think that she was someone who would say something like that.
But, seeing my flustered self, a chuckle slipped out of Train Girl. She lightly waved her hand, as if it were all a joke.
“I’m just kidding, just kidding. Even I hadn’t thought that far yet.”
So just how far have you thought?
Toying with me in a rare turn of events, Train Girl quickly finished up her purchase, and while caressing the ring, said:
“But still, haven’t you ever wanted to get married? Even just a little?”
At those words that almost made me involuntarily feel dizzy, I…
“–No, not at all. I will never, never marry anyone in this world.”
Strongly, strongly, rejected them.
–The marriage system.
That was one of the main selling points of Nekomimineko when they abandoned the MMO idea. But, at the same time, it was this game’s biggest trap, incomparable with things like the Lizardmen’s Trap or Train Girl…
And it was also the most important reason for why I had started playing Nekomimineko solo.