— 3 —
“Thank you very much!”
Even though it was an item that NPCs wouldn’t touch, there were no problems for me, the player. After I picked up all of the skulls scattered on the ground and returned them to the cart, the employee bowed deeply towards me.
“Just 3 more seconds. If your help had come just 3 seconds later, I definitely would have peed my pants. Sir, you are my life’s… no, my panties’ savior!”
“…Mm, uh, good for you.”
That glimpse of the white paradise resurfaced in the back of my mind the moment she said that, but from the looks of it, she hadn’t noticed that I had caught a glance of it. I let out a breath.
Still, she was, after all, a female, and I kinda wished that she wouldn’t say such things out loud.
“If you need help with anything, please let me know! I’ll help with anything!”
“Yes! For the proper price!”
“…Ah, is that so.”
It seemed like she wasn’t about to offer any help for free. This employee had quite the salesman’s spirit.
“Okay, then. Do you have anything that works well against Golden Wild… Actually.”
I opened my mouth, hoping to get some items that would help with the Extermination Fest, but then changed my mind. Sneaking a look at Ringo behind me, still warily hiding from the employee, I adjusted my words.
“Do you have an item that can recall past memories?”
Throwing out a question that I didn’t really have any expectations for…
“Yes, of course! Follow me!”
The employee enthusiastically answered.
The object she showed me was a transparent orb like the crystal balls that fortune tellers use.
I recall having seen this in the game before. This was…
“A Replaying Orb, huh.”
“That’s right! If you hold this and say the name of the person whose past you want to see, you can relive their past… probably.”
–This smells fishy, I thought.
The reason I hadn’t immediately thought of this Replaying Orb when I saw that Ringo had lost her memories was because, in the game, this orb was an unreleased feature.
It was supposed to be a specialized item for recording replay data from inside the game, which could then be viewed later.
It would have two unique traits. First, the replay data would be saved separately from the normal game save, so even if the game save was deleted in order to create a new character, it would be possible to view the replays from an old character. The other being that, by reenacting the recorded situation through the replay data, it would be possible to watch your own play from a 3rd person’s perspective.
I had honestly believed that it would be released, so from the beginning of my first playthrough all the way until the later half of my second playthrough I had kept the recording functionality on, constantly creating replay data. However, even as it ate up a massive amount of storage space, there were no signs that the feature would be implemented any time soon. I had also started hearing bad reviews of Nekomimineko, so at that point I had completely given up on anticipating the replay functionality.
For what it’s worth, replay data should still remain in my VR machine. If the functionality were to be implemented, it was supposed to be possible to view the replay by touching the orb and saying the filename, and by default the filename was set to be the same as the player name.
While it wouldn’t be unthinkable to be able to see the past of the person whose name you say, it was questionable whether the orb would actually work. The employee’s suspicious attitude was the strongest proof that this item was definitely defective in some way.
It’d be different if I had money to spare, but for now let’s just wait and see.
Just as I had decided that…
She was supposed to have been behind me, but Ringo had somehow moved herself in front and was looking intently at the orb.
Had she been drawn to its mysterious looks, or had she heard our conversation and wanted to recover her own memories? In either case, it was rare for Ringo to show interest in something other than food.
“Do you, want it?”
Ringo twitched when she heard that; she looked at me, then back at the orb, and then at my waist where I kept the crystal used as a wallet, and slowly shook her head.
Even as she replied, she was looking longingly at the orb. Surprisingly, it seemed like she was trying to restrain herself since we had no money.
Sure, we had no money. But, this was where I would get to show off my resourcefulness.
I turned to the employee.
“Um, this orb–”
“It’ll be 5000E.”
“U-Um, I’m saying–”
“It’ll be 5000E!”
Faced with the employee’s steel skin and the cruel reality of being broke, my heart was about to break.
However, I didn’t give in. Even as unlikely as it was, we had finally come upon a possibility for Ringo to recover her memories. I persisted desperately.
“How about we, you know, do a bit of a give-and-take? I mean, I’m your pa…, your savior right? Couldn’t you give me some kind of deal…”
Hearing my proposal, the employee just smirked. She showed an arrogance not at all like someone who was about to wet herself surrounded by skulls a few moments ago.
“While give-and-take is how the world works, that’s only when exchanging things of equal value. A pair of new panties could be bought for just 300E. Even if you’re my panties’ savior, there’s no way you can get 5000E of merchandise just for a pair of panties.”
“B-But, being your p-panties’ savior can’t be measured so simply, right? It’s the kind of thing that money can’t…”
“Jeez! If you’re going to insist like that, I’ll give you these panties! Does that satisfy you!”
“I don’t get why you’re snapping at me, and that’s not the problem here!”
I reflexively shouted back, then a thought suddenly hit me.
“…Wait. We just need to provide something of equal value. So, how about something like this?”
Ten or so minutes later.
We successfully got our hands on the Replaying Orb, as well as a wallet crystal and an Adventurer’s Bag for Ringo, all free of charge.
I had proposed, as grounds for the exchange, to remove the skulls surrounding the employee’s home. Just by going to the employee’s home nearby and quickly retrieving the skulls, the employee’s attitude immediately did another 180, as she lauded me: “Dear customer, you’re a god!”
…Truthfully, while NPCs couldn’t approach or pick up those skulls, it was possible for them be destroyed from a distance, but I kept that to myself.
She seemed to be quite grateful for being able to enter her own home again, as she not only presented the items I wanted essentially for free, she even gave me her own personal gift.
As Ringo was adjusting her Adventurer’s Bag, she pulled me to a corner of the store out of Ringo’s sight.
With a slight blush on her face, she forced a small, folded, flower-patterned handkerchief into my hand.
“Are you giving this to me?”
I asked without thinking, and her entire face from her neck up turned bright red. After flapping her mouth like a fish a few times, she spoke as quickly as she could.
“I-I’m seriously thankful for your help, and I’m a woman who keeps her promises! That’s actually my favorite, so please take care of… ah! J-Just to let you know, that’s a clean one from the drawer!”
“Eh, ah, got it…”
Isn’t it normal to give something that’s new at times like these? I thought. But for being her favorite, it did fittingly have a nice design.
While it was very girlish and probably wouldn’t suit me, it was a bright and cheerful handkerchief very much like this employee.
I seem to remember having seen something similar very recently. Maybe things like this were popular in this city.
“I think that, while it’s a bit childish, it’s very nice and cute.”
“Thank you. I’ll take good care of it.”
I thanked her with a smile, and her red face turned even redder as she ran away from me.
Seeing her strange reaction I half teasingly, half gratefully waved the handkerchief at the employee who was looking at me from afar.
“P-Put that away! Hurry up and put that awayyy!”
She yelled with her face flushed, causing Ringo to look at her curiously.
Unexpectedly, it seemed that she had a cute side to her.