— 3 —
“Ringo! This way, not that way! Ringo!”
We had decided to head to the armor shop first, but along the way Ringo exhibited her personality to the max.
How should I put this. She doesn’t do anything that she’s not specifically told, and even when given directions, if they weren’t precise enough, she would continue to trip over bumps in the road or walk straight into obstacles and walls without a second’s hesitation.
It felt like I was playing a war simulation game while leading around an extremely dense friendly character. No matter how many times I warned her, it didn’t help, so I gave up and grabbed her by the arm.
It was all a big pain, but considering that it was only until we figured out her identity, I was able to somehow endure it.
“But what should I do if we don’t figure out who she is?”
In the capital with a recommended level of 50, she was merely level 1. Though as a level 13 I wasn’t really in the position to say anything, but given how she’s been, it seemed like it’d be impossible to get her to a level where she’d be able to survive as a solo adventurer like Train Girl.
(It could also be that she’s actually quite strong, but her level was just reset because of the bug.)
I don’t know what character or what level she was originally, but there was a chance that the rest of her parameters weren’t affected, and only her level had dropped. Thinking that, I studied Ringo, walking beside me.
But even before I could get a sense for whether she was strong or not, I felt a vague something tugging at my mind. I was almost certain that I had seen her somewhere before. Just why was I having such a hard time remembering it?
Putting that thought behind me for the moment, I peeked at her face, trying to figure out what she was thinking about right now, but all that greeted me was an expressionless face.
I say greeted me, but she wasn’t even looking at me.
While Hisame was expressionless and stoic, Ringo’s was of a completely different type. Hisame was expressionless because she didn’t show her emotions, but Ringo was probably expressionless because she didn’t really feel any emotions to begin with. Hisame chose to ignore people even while acknowledging their existence, but it was as if Ringo was ignoring the existence of other people itself.
I don’t know which is worse, but it might not make a big difference either way.
“Oops, almost passed it.”
While having rather rude thoughts, we arrived at the armor shop. It had a magnificent storefront, incomparable to the one in Ramlich.
Luckily, I had some money to spare. I still had some of the earnings from Ramlich left.
After two large expenditures, 50,000E for the Skyboat ticket to the capital and just short of 50,000E for the staff at the magic shop, my savings had dwindled quite a bit, but I should still barely be able to afford somewhat decent armor for two people.
There’s no way one could expect to survive in the battles ahead with only equipment bought at Ramlich, a beginner town. Though I had bought a ton of accessories so my defense would be boosted by quite a bit, it was like a drop in the ocean compared to what I needed. I even remembered having gone to the lengths of stuffing pieces of paper in the cracks of the armor, but in the end I doubted that would increase its defense.
Consulting my wallet, it seemed that I needed to take some care in choosing the armor. While going around the store comparing the items on display with the spec sheet in my brain,
I spotted an incredible item in a corner, and hurriedly rushed over.
“T-There’s no mistake!”
There, was a piece of equipment that would cause any Nekomimineko player to drool at the sight of it, one that could only be obtained from the randomly-changing Lucky Jackpot. It was a rare equip that had high defense and magic defense, and harbored a stealth stat that was one of the highest in the game.
The Lucky Jackpot system randomly cycled between items from each store’s Lucky Jackpot List, so something that was on display today might not be on display again tomorrow.
Gulp, I swallowed.
Based on its shape, it resembled a robe that a magician might wear, but it was a much more modern piece of clothing. It was one of those everyday items that sometimes made it into fantasy games like these, completely disregarding background settings: a raincoat.
Because of that, never mind the shape, its material was quite unique. It was made out of something that was half transparent like vinyl, and while just barely, I was able to somewhat make out the shape of the wall through it.
Both the sleeves and the coat itself were long, so just this by itself was capable of protecting the entire body. But, putting it another way, it meant that it wouldn’t be possible to put on any other equipment while wearing this, but right now I was quite strapped for cash so that’d actually work out for the better.
I looked back and forth between the price tag and the amount of money I had. This would use up almost everything I had.
(I have no choice, do I.)
After all, this was the only chance I had to buy this, and I had a responsibility to buy Ringo a proper piece of equipment. That’s why, even if it would be a bit tough, I had no choice. That’s right.
I grabbed the vinyl-like raincoat and headed to the register.
The female clerk that greeted me looked from me to the item in my hand, then over to Ringo, and finally back to me.
Receiving the merchandise from me, she said with a stone-cold voice.
“…One ero-raincoat. That’ll be 100,000E.”
(I, did it…)
When I came back to myself, holding the ero-raincoat that had just become my possession, I glumly hung my head.
In this game, there was no way for a character to become completely naked. You couldn’t mess with someone else’s equipment, and even if you could and removed all of their equips, items called inners would still remain, so they would not be fully naked.
However, certain items were more risque than inners, and while they were equipped, those inners would not be, resulting in a state that was closer to being naked than equipping nothing. Of those lewd equipments that were every man’s dream, one of them was this, the ero-raincoat.
This raincoat was made with a half-transparent material not for self-expression but rather for the stealth stat. The stealth stat from clothing was, well, to be blunt, how transparent they were. And this raincoat had quite a high stealth stat, defending against gazes only about as much as steam from a bath.
In addition, while it was longer than normal raincoats, it still flipped easily, making it quite a high-level item that even manics hold in high regard.
(There’s just one problem…)
I stole a glance sideways at Ringo.
My gaze fell on her innocent-looking eyes as she just happened to be looking this way, and I felt myself being crushed with a sense of guilt.
I had somehow ended up buying this out of habit, but I wasn’t rotten enough to be able to force an actual person to go about their everyday life wearing something like this.
Since I had already seen her naked… I mean, since it was a limited-time item I went ahead and bought it, but that didn’t mean I had been planning to make her wear it. I’m serious. I swear I’m not lying.
Still, it might not be that much of a problem. This world wasn’t just a game.
It was possible to become naked in this world, so the reverse must also be possible. Basically, if she wears it on top of other clothes then everything would be fine.
“Hey Ringo, this is an armor… ah, I mean, a piece of clothing, called a raincoat. Could you try wearing it? I bought this for you.”
Making sure to put it as simply as possible for Ringo to understand, I suggested to her. Hearing that, Ringo tilted her head a few millimeters.
“It’s called a raincoat! What a weird name!”
I yelled out, covering up Ringo’s words, and shoved the raincoat to her.
“It has a weird name, but a high defense! So, won’t you wear it?”
I pushed hard, and after thinking silently for a bit, Ringo pinched the clothes she was wearing.
“…More than, this?”
“Of course! This raincoat has a hundred times, no, more than a million times more defense!”
The one-piece dress that Ringo was wearing wasn’t armor, so it had a defense of zero. Zero times anything was still zero, so I wasn’t lying.
As if feeling the persuasiveness in my words, Ringo stared at me, and, after a bit of time, lowered her eyes and gave a small nod. Seeing that, I relaxed.
“See, this is how you put it on.”
Before she could say that she didn’t know how to put it on, I demonstrated in front of Ringo. It was a bit of a tight fit above my suit of armor, but I smoothly put my arm through the raincoat.
Perhaps feeling nervous about doing something she wasn’t used to, like changing clothes, Ringo assented in a stiff voice, receiving the raincoat from me.
And, while I thought she was going to equip it on the spot…
“…Ah, change room.”
She muttered, as if having just remembered something, and started to look around busily.
It seemed that she had remembered me desperately telling her “girls shouldn’t be changing or getting naked in front of people!” back at the inn.
…Though it was a bit of an overkill just for throwing on a raincoat, Ringo did finally manage to remember my words, so it was probably best to follow her wishes. Making a request to the young lady that handled our purchase, we were able to borrow a change room.
The clerk was quite hesitant to lend us the change room just to put on a raincoat, but when I told her that it was the first time Ringo had made a request by herself, she happily complied.
While Ringo was putting on the raincoat, the clerk and I waited together at a slight distance to the change room.
There, the clerk spoke to me.
“…I’m sorry, I might’ve misjudged you slightly.”
I turned to look at her with a surprised expression, and she leaked a slight laugh.
“At first, when you bought that raincoat, I thought you were a pervert trying to trick an innocent girl… but you’re actually quite caring.”
I laughed dryly. So she had indeed thought that way.
I had somewhat suspected it, but being told so directly was a bit irritating. Also, the fact that she thought that was just misjudging me slightly meant that she was probably still misjudging me.
Looking at my shocked reaction, the clerk gave an elegant smile, and walked energetically towards the change room.
“Are you done?”
Acting like an employee of a clothing store, the clerk called out towards the curtain, and a short “…nn” came.
“Then, I’m opening it!”
Accepting that response, the clerk pulled the curtain to the change room fully open…
It was fully open. Well, actually, it wasn’t completely fully open, but it was almost fully open.
Inside the change room was Ringo, having perfectly put on the transparent raincoat, and at her feet, in a pile, was her one-piece… wait, why did you take th–
Before I could figure out what was going on, the clerk pulled the change room’s curtain shut with full force, shouting what seemed to be something in between “kyaa” and “gyaa”.
Then, while quietly trembling, she slowly swung her gaze towards me.
“…Dear customer? Can I have a shoooort moment?”
As I winced at the female clerk approaching with ominous footsteps,
(…Its defense was lower than steam)
was what I thought.