Chapter 7 Mysterious Acquaintance
“Gear! Didn’t I tell you not to come out until I said so? Moreover, what are you doing showing up without the disguise?!!”
The Guild Master exclaimed loudly at the figure that slowly rose from the merged shadows.
“I don’t remember being under your direct order. The only person who can order me around is That Guy”
A cold voice rippled through the air, and the Guild Master immediately went quiet. It was as if he didn’t want to offend this person in any way.
“Who are you?”
I stared at the man shrouded in shadows, whom was staring right back at me.
“Do you remember the name, Gig?”
The shadows slowly receded back into their original positions as he revealed himself.
Gig, that name was very nostalgic. It was a name I could never forget. In the early days of Project Iris Online, he stood at the top of the game’s player versus player system.
He and I sparred on numerous occasions. I was his number one choice as a punching bag because I had mastery with a wide range of weapons.
However, two years ago, he stopped logging into Project Iris Online. Eventually the PvP leader board ranking was reset, and someone took his spot as number one in the ranking system. After a while, his name was also forgotten.
From the shadows, a man outfitted in lightweight dark clothing that was just a few centimeters taller than me appeared. His hair was light brown, and although he wore a mask, his gaze seemed to pierce right through me.
“I do, but what does that have to do with you?”
“That’s right, I’ve forgotten. My character looked completely different in that game”
As he spoke, something felt extremely wrong.
“That’s right. Back in that game world, you formally knew me as Gig. I want to thank you for everything back then”
Walking towards me, he held out his right hand as a friendly gesture. As I shook his hand, I couldn’t help but feel that something was slightly strange with this Gig.
In PIO, his character model was based off the humanoid cat race. Rather than that however, back then he seemed like a cheerful person. Although his gestures were friendly, the current Gig’s expression seemed to indicate otherwise.
“It’s good to finally see someone from the same world as me”
I replied back with a smile.
Certainly, this Gig was strange. But, if he’s the same Gig as from back then, maybe he could answer most, if not all the questions I have.
“Ahem! Sorry to interrupt your reunion, however there’s still something we must discuss”
Although he seemed reluctant to interrupt us, the Guild Master forced himself to bring up the topic at hand.
“Guild Master, I’ll leave the explaining to you. I’ve got something to attend to. Tetsu, we’ll meet again later”
The shadows converged around Gig, and quickly swallowed him. He had left just as quickly as he came.
“Sir, the tea is ready”
“You may come in Zen”
The butler that had disappeared came back with tea cups and a tea kettle.
“Now then, Tetsu, it seems like you two are already acquainted with each other. That makes a few things easier to explain”
Crossing his legs, the Guild Master looked up towards the ceiling with a serious face as his butler poured the both of us tea.
“Originally, I wanted that person to join you in your journey while in disguise. However, that’s no longer necessary, as you are already both familiar with each other”
The Guild Master continued talking as he directed his gaze at me.
“Instead, he’ll be observing you as a party member”
After his simple explanation, we began talking about various other things. The frogs that I encountered meant that a lot of new adventurers would be forced to stay around the city than to adventure out. A request to scout the area would immediately be put up for seasoned adventurers. Scouting and extermination would take at least a week. That meant that I was stuck in this city for a week until it was safe for new adventurers like myself to go out. Although I don’t particularly mind, I wanted to train Cece a little before leaving anyways.
Before leaving, I did ask him a few questions about Gig. In the end, there weren’t many questions that he could answer. Of the things I did learn, was that in this world he went by the name Gig, and he’s been in this world for the last two years of his life.
“Welcome back, I’ve finished registering Cece as an adventurer and party member. If there’s anything else I can do, please don’t hesitate to ask”
After making it back down to the first floor, I was quickly greeted by the voluptuous bunny lady.
I gave her a quick reply as Cece quietly walked over and held onto my shirt from where the bunny lady stood behind the counter.
“Before you leave, here is your reward for defeating 129 Monstrous Frogs. Inside, you’ll find your reward of 2 gold and 9 silver”
The bunny lady quickly handed me a bag filled with coins.
“Along with your reward, your rank has increased from E-rank to D-rank. Please do your best to make it to the next rank~”
The bunny lady teased me by winking right at me as she finished talking.
Leading Cece by her hand, we left the Guild Hall in search of a store that sold equipment. Although I hadn’t intended to, we spent a lot of time in the Guild Hall. It was already late afternoon as we made our way through the busy streets.
It had taken a while, but we eventually got Cece some leather armor. Because I wasn’t sure of what would suit her best, I bought a few different ones, ranging from a dagger, to a short sword, and even a bow. Tomorrow I plan to have her test weapons and see which one shes comfortable with.
As soon as we finished buying equipment, the sun had begun to go down. I originally planned to finish doing everything on my schedule today, but after finding out I couldn’t leave the city just yet I decided to check in on the old lady’s clothing store tomorrow. Cece seemed exhausted, and with a long day of training tomorrow, I wanted her to rest as much as possible today so we headed back to the Inn early.
“Yo! How have you been, Tetsu?”
Casually greeting me in front of the Inn was a person dressed in a green tunic and a green hat.
“Who are you?”
I pondered while staring at the person who had begun talking to me cosplaying as a certain character form a certain popular game. His voice was familiar, but I couldn’t quite make out who he was.
“Did you forget who I am already?”
The person dressed as Zelk, from the game The Legend of Linda, spoke with a slightly high pitched voice.
His eyes were brown as was his hair, but I don’t recall meeting an average looking guy like him anywhere. As a matter of fact, besides the cosplay, it was rather refreshing talking to someone as average looking as me after a long time.
“Sorry, have we met befo-“
And then it hit me right as I was going to finish my question. This person must be Gig! The Guild Master did mention something about a disguise, and he did say we would meet again later.
“Ah, I remember now… I didn’t expect to meet you here in that disguise”
“Ohhh! So you do recognize me! Were you able to finish your Guild Hall errands yet?”
“Ah, I’m finished for now…”
“Good Good! Then, see you later. I was just passing by!”
Before I could say anything, the cosplaying Zelk quickly ran away.
Somehow, Gig’s voice was perky and full of emotion rather than cold and emotionless. Unless… could it be… he’s actually a roleplayer?!!
With that thought in mind, I walked inside the Inn with Cece by my side.
Cece quickly and quietly dozed off as I tucked her inside her own bed tightly so she wouldn’t sneak into mine during the night.
It was still a little early, but I decided I should also probably rest as well.
Eerily I heard a whisper at the foot of my bed.
A-a-a a g-ghost?!!
The unknown voice caused me to jump up in fright.
Calm down!!! Ghosts… ghosts don’t exist! Yes, that’s right. Ghosts are fake! Zombies aren’t real! There no such thing as ghosts! Calm down!
I continually talked to myself, trying to calm myself down.
“G-g-g-g-ghost?!! I-I’m sorry, I’m sorry! Please haunt someone else!”
As a dark shadow rose up at the foot of my bed, I quickly threw on my blanket covers.
“…… Hey… I’m not a ghost. It’s me, Gig…”
Throwing off my sheets, the black figure had turned into the man with light brown hair I had met earlier today inside the Guild Hall, and in front of the Inn.
“O-oh… It’s just you Gig. You scared me you know…”
Breathing a sigh of relief, I got up and headed towards the door as Gig, now known as Gear, signaled me to leave. Cece was fast asleep, I guess he didn’t want her to wake up.
Inside another private guest room, we both sat down at a small table with a large burning candle that illuminated the room, located next to the window overlooking the street.
“It’s been a long time…”
Gear stared at me with an empty expression. I couldn’t quite make out what he thinking. However, he said its been a long time, but didn’t we just meet in front of the Inn not too long ago? And before that was inside the Guild Hall. Although I suppose being in another world for two years is a long time.
“This might be random, but do you like to cosplay?”
He must be a closet cosplayer.
“Alright, so what are you doing here Gear? The Guild Master already explained the circumstances, so there’s no need for you to go out of your way to come see me if you’re busy you know”
“Before that, allow me to take off my mask as a sign of gratitude”
Right as he reached behind his head, a clicking noise was made. With his other hand, he grabbed his mask and pulled it off.
Behind the mask, his green eyes almost glittered as he stared right at. Isn’t this guy much more handsome than the person from earlier?!!
“Gear, can I ask you another question?”
“Have you ever cosplayed before?”
“No, I’ve already told you I don’t like that stuff”
They were two different people!? Then who was the guy that I met cosplaying as Zelk?!!
“You’re looking for answers am I wrong? I’ve heard you’re searching for someone that also came from the same world as us. You’ll probably get the same answers from me if you were to ask him as well”
My eyes lit up as I listened to him. It was as he said. I wanted to find someone from the same world. Maybe then I could finally make sense of what happened.
“Then first off, who’s the hero we’re suppose to help?”
“That’s an odd question. All of us who formed a contract with a god can be considered heroes. However, whether or not you’re willing to call yourself one is another matter”
I slightly furrowed my brows while listening. Sure enough, there was more than one person who was summoned, but it felt slightly off. The little girl I met before being sent here, what were her words again?
“You’ve been called here by me in order to assist the next Hero…”
I recalled her words from back then.
If we’re all heroes, then what did she mean by that?
“what do you mean by that?”
“Any of us can receive the title of Hero. It’s not bound to just one person. It’s just a matter of meeting the requirements”
“Alright, what about the status screen that pops up. I’ve wondered why for a while now, why is it similar to a game?”
These two things were the things I didn’t understand the most. This world wasn’t a made up game world. The pain I’ve experienced so far has been very real.
“Didn’t the god that contracted you explain that?”
“The god that summoned you into this world should have explained all of the basic information for you”
HAH?!!! That little girl was suppose to explain that to me?!! WHATTT!! Impossible!
“Did something happen?”
In the first place, why didn’t she explain that?!! Well, for starters, it didn’t help that I kept interrupting her right?
It was her job to wasn’t it? If she was a god, then couldn’t she explain things in a more believable fashion? Half of the things we talked about, she didn’t know as well! What kind of god wouldn’t know that Project Iris Online is a game?!!
“Hey… your face is turning pale, are you alright?”
No But, no matter how you look at it, wouldn’t the fault lie with me? When she was talking to me, she already seemed rushed. And Didn’t my pointless remarks cause her to waste more time? After-all, it seemed as if she was fading from existe-
“HEY!!! KEEP IT TOGETHER!!!”
Gig had suddenly appeared and was violently shaking me while I was deep in thought.
“Ah… sorry, I was uhhh… just lost in thought…”
After breathing in a deep sigh of relief, we continued our talk after a few moments passed.
“It seems to me you don’t know even know the basics of what was told to everyone, so I’ll briefly explain it to you. For us who have been summoned, we’re allowed to look at our status window at anytime. We also have access to skill points, and can distribute them into whatever we wish. That is what our god’s blessing allows us to do as heroes.
Normal people in this world aren’t given that freedom. For example, they would have to use [Analyze] to see their own status. In this world, a majority of strength comes from steadily training yourself like in our world”
“Continuing on, what is a blessing?”
“……A gods blessing is something they bestow upon you before coming to this world. It’s under you titles list”
My titles list doesn’t have any blessings listed, but its most likely that entry that says [???]. Judging from what hes saying, everyone should know what blessing they have.
“Anything else you want to ask?”
Gig looked in my direction, and eagerly awaited my response.
For the most part, he’s answered a majority of my questions, but those answers left me with more questions. Ones that he probably couldn’t answer.
Who was the girl that summoned me? Why doesn’t my blessing show? There’s a few more questions that have come up, but it’s useless to think about it, so for now I’ll push them to the back of my mind.
“That’s enough for now”
“Then I’ll be on my way”
“Ah, by the way, what were you thanking me for earlier?”
Out of curiosity, I asked him another question right as he was getting up from his chair.
“Are you interested in hearing my story?”
There was nothing to lose from hearing his story. So I decided to hear it out. I also happened to be curious what he’s been doing these past two years in this world.
Standing up from his chair, his expression seemed dark and bitter.
“It’s a story from roughly 2 years ago”
Sitting back down, be started to recount his tale.
“It was during the time when I was first summoned here…”
At that time, I didn’t realize the struggle he had experienced. The story he would tell me, was one filled with fleeting romance, violent betrayal, heart breaking sorrow, and everlasting revenge.