— 2 —
After departing the Bounty Hunters’ Guild, we first went to the Item Shop.
Thinking about it, I had completely forgotten to buy a crystal to use as Ringo’s wallet. Fortunately, the Elements from the monsters she killed in the Deus Plains had found their way into my wallet for some reason, but if I didn’t get her a crystal of her own soon it’d start to feel unfair.
“…This brings back memories…”
Here, in the capital’s Item Shop, was the last place I had entered in the game, and the last place at which I had been killed. Just seeing it broke my good mood, but there was nothing I could do about the past.
Bringing along the ever-stuporous Ringo, we went inside.
An employee pushing a large cart, possibly in the middle of restocking, called out to us in a cheerful voice. What’s more, they actually came towards us, pushing the cart along, wearing a friendly smile on their face.
“Are you looking for something? Everything is at a discount!”
The employee boasted, but as far as I could see, everything in the store was at regular price.
I started to make a bitter smile, when…
“How about it? I can give you a huge discount!”
The employee came on forcefully, pushing both their words and the cart towards me.
Seeing the item that filled the cart in large quantities, I was slightly taken aback.
In the cart was a countless number of human skull… shaped ornaments.
I accidentally muttered out loud, and the employee gleefully persisted.
“As I had expected! You must be quite the person to know about these Kuul Skulls!”
“Y-Yeah. I, gue…ss.”
On the other hand, I couldn’t help but give an unenthusiastic response.
Of course, the reason I knew about these [Kuul Skulls] was because of my experience in the game. These pure-black ornamental skulls were necessary items for the quest “Beacon for the Lost Child”.
Beacon for the Lost Child was a simple errand-type quest where your goal is to “place guiding beacons at the target locations to help my little sister, who has no sense of direction”… but for a while, it was believed that this event was impossible to clear.
The requester handed you 30 [Bread Crumbs] to use as the beacon, but just like in that famous fairy tale, birds would eat these and cause you to fail the quest. Then, when given [White Pebbles] to use, they would all be picked up by neighborhood kids and in the end you’d fail the quest. Even when you tried using your own items, they still ended up being picked up by kids, and you failed the quest. So just how could you set up these beacons?
Most players had given up there, but a certain player had published the correct answer online. It was these ornaments, so unpopular that stores had over a hundred in stock: [Kuul Skulls].
These skulls apparently had the system setting that “when placed, nobody will want to pick them up”, and truly enough, they were ignored by even the neighborhood kids that would pick up pebbles without fail. While it made one worry for and wonder why the item shop had stocked so much of such an unpopular item, as a result, this quest could finally be cleared.
It was true that these skulls were bigger than [Bread Crumbs] or [White Pebbles], and the ominous aura that they project far into the distance definitely made them stand out, but normally nobody would consider using something like this as a guiding item. It was really a very Nekomimineko-esque choice.
By the way, probably since they were quest items, these skulls would remain on the ground without disappearing even after the quest finished, waiting for the player to retrieve them. Since they considerably tarnished the look of the city, players basically retrieved them as soon as they cleared the quest, but no matter where they went all they would get was “we definitely won’t buy that”. The unpopularity of this item could make one cry.
However, even with its lack of popularity, it was priced at a ridiculous 100E each. To clear the quest, a minimum of 25 were needed, which meant a minimum of 2500E. It was an amount that was a bit out of my reach right now.
Yet, it seemed like this employee was extremely eager to sell these fashionable skulls.
“They’re this month’s specials! Our store highly recommends these fashionable ornaments. You can use them as interior decoration, or wear them as stylish accessories, or use them to establish the feel of a cursed ceremony, or secretly slip them into the house of someone you hate, or place them around your house to guard against burglers; they’re wonderful, perfect items!”
Um, the last three were clearly the complete opposite of fashionable.
Seeing my hesitation, the employee drew even closer to me. Too close.
“Th-They’re really amazing! I tried putting them around my own house, and wow! Not only have I never gotten robbed, my neighbors won’t even come close, stray cats won’t even wander near my place, and I’m even too scared to enter my house anymore!”
“B-By living in the store I’ve gotten more shifts, so it’s actually a lucky item! It’s a cursed skull that brings good fortune! A-And, what’s more, if you buy one of these wonderful cursed skulls today, you’ll get ten more for free!”
“Uh, you called it ‘cursed’ just now.”
Just how much do they want to get rid of these skulls.
Finally, unable to put on airs any longer, the employee clinged onto me.
“Please, I’m begging you, just take it off my hands! If I can’t get rid of these, I might end up going out of business!”
“Suddenly you show your true character!”
Putting aside this employee’s lack of respect for their customers, what they were saying might not have been a lie. In the game, wherever these skulls were placed, the NPCs, animals, and even monsters all avoided it. If you put it by the entrance, then of course people wouldn’t come in.
“Ah, this young lady over here, would you like one? Actually, don’t stop at just one, would you like a few?”
Perhaps my silence had caused them to give up on me, as the employee changed their target to Ringo. Rolling the cart along, the skulls were pushed towards Ringo.
While maintaining silence and emotionlessness, Ringo very clearly shook her head. For that Ringo to express her opinion so clearly, she must really detest it.
“If you don’t want to buy them, at least have a look! Just have a look, then pick it up, then bring it to the checkout!”
As the employee approached her with the cart, Ringo quickly slid behind my back. Hugging her body to my back, only her head peeked out slightly, wary of the employee.
“Now now, don’t say that! If you just try touching it, I’m sure you’ll understand the charm of these skulls.”
As if the employee had set their mark on Ringo, they continued to move towards her. Ringo hastily made a half loop around my body, escaping away from the employee. The employee continued to chase with the cart.
Somehow, we ended up in a situation where the two of them were running circles around me, playing tag.
“What are you two doing…”
After the two continued circling around me at high speed for a while, I started to feel like I should probably try to stop them.
“Fufufu. Dear customer, it’s about time you resigned yourse-eh?”
The cart the employee was pushing caught onto something, destroying its balance. However, the momentum of the cart could not be stopped, and the cart, along with the employee, flipped over.
The skulls scattered all around, and together with a loud scream, the employee fell onto the skulls.
Ringo had shrewdly hidden behind me, and after checking that no harm had come to her, I approached the employee in the middle of the skulls.
“Hey, are you okay?”
I called out, and the employee slowly opened their eyes.
But, realizing that they were surrounded by skulls, their face slowly turned pale.
“–N-Noooooo! Skulls are scaryyyyyyyy!!”
No longer caring about looks, they broke down crying.
“Weren’t you supposed to understand the charm of these skulls if you try touching it…?”
This was a perfect example of a situation brought upon oneself. As I merely looked on in amazement, I heard Ringo’s appreciative murmuring from behind me.
“…This is fanservice.”
After noticing the flash of a white paradise inside the employee’s skirt, I hurriedly rushed to help her up.