Volume 11 prologue
The New Year's Eve. Just when we finished eating the New Year's soba and were about to rest——
"Onii-chan, I'm bored! Tired of this! Let's do something fun!"
"Calm down, Myu-chan. Here, have a mandarine."
We were spending some leisurely time in a kotatsu at our home.
Right now, Myu put her jaw on the kotatsu table, and Shizuka-nee peeled off skin off the mandarins and fed her with an "aan".
I looked at the two and thought that they're like a bird parent and child as I ate my own mandarins.
"Still, it's not like you'd be any happy with a busy New Year holidays, right, Myu?"
"That's true. But everyone else is busy with the New Year's, they're meeting with relatives and spending time with family."
"Thinking of it, we're different from everyone else. Dad and Mom always go out on a date whenever there's time off."
Our parents are working together and they dress themselves all up as they go on dates whenever there's holidays.
They're having lots of fun huh, I thought, and reached out towards the mandarins in front of me.
"Aa-aah, I want to play with Luka-chan and everyone~."
"Speaking of which, Mikadzuchi said she's "kinda busy"."
Miu did a stretch then fell on her back, then, Shizuka-nee put a hand on her cheek and muttered.
It seemed that was the reason Shizuka-nee who came back home after Christmas, and Miu, have lately been focusing on playing with the 【Eight Million Gods】 guild and own party respectively.
"AAaa! It's boring, BORING! It's boring when Luka-chan and others aren't here!"
"Stop throwing a tantrum. How about going for a new year's shrine visit in OSO?"
Miu, who has been laying on her back has raised herself up and pointed at me. Hey, no pointing fingers at people.
"Hey, let's go do it! In OSO! There's a cathedral there, right?!"
"You're right. And there's supposed to be a new year's update too, so we might as well spend the end of the year in OSO."
"Really? I mean, are you okay with the new year's shrine visit being that?"
Shizuka-nee received Miu's words with a smile, but I was a little doubtful about having the new year's shrine visit like that, and questioned her. Maybe their real goal was the new year's update?
The cathedral's for praying, is what I wanted to retort with, but seeing Miu in such high spirits I thought it didn't really matter.
"Guess it's still better than going for a shrine visit in this damn cold."
I rubbed my hands inside the kotatsu to warm them up as I trembled imagining the cold outside.
"Then, let's meet up in front of the cathedral, I'll go ahead."
"I'll go ahead with Miu-chan and log in."
While saying so, Shizuka-nee stretched grandly and followed Miu who headed to her room.
"Yes yes, I'll come soon."
When the two left, I sluggishly stood up and muttered quietly.
"Well, we're just going to the cathedral for a bit… it'll be over right away."
I turned off the power from kotatsu, cleaned up the orange peels and headed for my room.
In my room, I turned on the air conditioner, put on the VR Gear and lied down on the bed.
I let my consciousness be taken by the pulling feel of logging in, and fell into the darkness to enter the world of OSO.
Like usual, I appeared standing in 【Atelier】 before heading outside, heading for the cathedral where I was to meet up with Myu and Sei-nee.
The First Town's main road that I passed through as I moved, was filled with quite the amount of players who logged in.
"It's the End of the Year yet there's so many people logged in, huh."
Speaking of which, when I logged into OSO for the first time to meet up with Myu and Sei-nee, I also met up with them in front of the cathedral, I thought while being overwhelmed by the amount of people logged in.
This time, all the players around me were also walking the same way, towards the cathedral.
"Everyone's thinking of the same thing, eh."
Players with free time like me and Myu gathered up their friends and headed towards the cathedral for the new year's first shrine visit, and the players with stalls by the main road took advantage of that by selling food and accessories.
It felt like the new year's stalls in front of the shrines in real world.
Glancing to the sides, I found Myu and Sei-nee in the place where we first met up in OSO.
"Myu, Sei-nee, did you wait?"
"No, not at all, Yun-oneechan!"
"We met up just a moment ago, too. So then…"
Sei-nee's gaze turned towards the cathedral, where the main doors were opened and had a line of players stretching out from it.
With everyone thinking the same thing and such a long queue, the year would end before we could even enter.
"Hey, Yun-chan, Myu-chan. I think we should come when there's fewer people, what do you think?"
"I also think it would be better if we killed some time elsewhere."
"Agreeed! Let's gooo! Yun-oneechan! Sei-oneechan!"
"I said, Myu, don't call me "onee-chan". ...Good grief, can't be helped."
I sighed as Myu pulled my hand and we moved from in front of the cathedral.
Here and there were players who prepared some interesting things for the New Year's Eve.
When we walked around eating food from stalls, we found a player stuttering around while wearing a full-body costume of the next year's zodiac animal. Myu tackled and clung to him with strong momentum, making him brace himself to bear it. Seeing that, I felt quite strangely impressed. Then, shaking hands with the costume-wearing person made me feel happy, too.
Then as we strolled around, seeing plenty of heavy food being served tonight, Myu suddenly muttered.
"...I want to eat something sweet."
"Oh, good idea. Actually I also feel like having sweets."
"If it's sweets… then there's just one place to go."
I agreed with going to eat some sweets and the three of us headed to the 【Commonest Café & Clothier】 that we know well.
And when we arrived, we saw that the store was specially decorated for the new year's.
The Café's terrace had the tables and chairs removed, instead there was a hanging bell and a wooden hammer set in there.
Besides the bell, which rang loudly when hit, there was a sign saying "One time per person", and there was a small line of players in front of it.
Also, by the entrance of the Café, there was a red torii set-up adding an Eastern feel to the Western-style building making it seriously out of place.
Still, the world of OSO was so styled on Western fantasy, that just by having a little bit of "Eastern" feel made people gather.
"Today, 【Commonest Café & Clothier】 isn't functioning as just a café, we are having special New Year's sale! We have charms, Evil-Warding Arrows and special limited-edition sweets! Moreover, we're having a New Year's free service offering sweet sake!"
"This service is limited to today only, and will end when we are out of stock!"
Latem-san and Calian-san who were in charge of 【Commonest Café & Clothier】's café part have guided the players who finished ringing the bell, and were advertising the store.
The two weren't wearing the store's uniforms like they usually do, but hakama. Latem-san was wearing a purple colored, and Calian-san was wearing scarlet-colored hakama, which were a priest's clothing.
Then, we heard a quiet yells from the two who were leading people in.
"Why is it so damn busy?! Latem, where are we short on manpower?!"
"I prioritized the sales, but the free sweet sake's customer service isn't going too smoothly. Still, if we overcome this it should get calmer eventually… probably."
"Oh c'mon, your predictions are just off."
Hearing the conversation, I ended up calling out to the two.
"Um… are you okay?"
They were acquaintances so I approached and spoke to them, but then the two instantly grabbed my hands.
"Yun-san! You came!"
"W-well… yeah, to kill some time."
"Cloude-san! We found extra help! Calian will bring her right now!"
When Latem-san raised his voice towards the other side of the queue, there was a quiet and hard to catch "got it" answer.
And so, pulled by hand by Calian-san I was brought into the back of the store.
Seeing me like that, Myu and Sei-nee said "looks interesting" and followed us… hey, don't just look, stop them, help me.
"Cloude-san! We found Yun-san!"
"WHAT?! Good job!!"
Cloude appeared, wearing a purple hakama.
Then after looking at me and Calian-san, as well as Myu and Sei-nee who followed after us quietly he nodded strongly.
"A'ight! I'm hiring all of you!"
"No, wait. What's this all about?! Also, don't count myu and Sei-nee as part of the workforce!"
When I protested, Calian-san finally noticed Myu and Sei-nee behind me, and went "When did they…?!" with surprise, but immediately retrieved her calm and started requesting the two to help.
Meanwhile, Cloude explained.
"What's this about? ...Well, to put it short, I'm asking you to help us out overcome this situation."
"This situation… well, I get that you're short on people but…"
I was stumped by the ever-growing crowd in front of the store.
"How did this even happen?"
"The talk of accessories made by Magi has spread among players."
While saying so, Cloude pulled out one item from among the well-selling goods and showed it to me.
Seeing that over my shoulder, Myu suddenly raised her voice.
"OHHH?! Is this an accessory made from the 【Crystal Pillar】?! I heard that 【Crystal Pillar】 was hard to process and wasn't fit for crafting weapons or accessories!"
"Oh, that's unusual. 【Crystal Pillar】 is hard and brittle so 【Eight Million Gods'】 crafters are having a hard time with it."
It looked like it was an item with a fairly high difficulty to make accessories out of.
Classified as an accessory, it had a magic defense bonus and could have up to three additional effects added to it.
"And yet the price's just 100kG, plus free service! It's too cheap! I want onee!"
"Kukuku, it's a featured product that I asked Magi for, I got it while being ready to go in the red. Even if you line up now, it will probably be sold out before your turn even comes."
Cloude said and glanced my way. He must have been implicating that if we help out with the store, we'll receive a 【Crystal Pillar】 as a reward.
"By the way, where can you get this 【Crystal Pillar】?"
"In the 【Inorganic Cave】 area you can get to by passing through Volcanic Area's 【Demonfolk Resort】 dungeon. It's an item you can gather from collection points, but it requires at least level 40 of either 【Tempering】 or 【Engraving】 to craft with it."
"Whoa, that's high! Looks like it's impossible for me either way."
It wasn't like I couldn't access the location it's gathered in, but even if I get some, my 【Engraving】 level is at 26 so I wouldn't be able anything for Myu. Furthermore, if it's a hard and brittle material that requires the player work with it in a special way, it would take a lot of try and error tries to finally succeed, also making multiple trips to the area necessary.
"Now then, once again I'd like to request you three to help out with the store. As a reward, I'll give you three 【Crystal Pillar】 charms, how about it?"
"Let's see, in addition to that, could you prepare some limited edition sweets for us?"
"I see. Very well, I'll prepare those too."
"——Hey, Sei-nee! Why are you negotiating by yourself!"
"Eeeh〜, 'cause I too want a【Crystal Pillar】 charm."
Riight? Both Myu and Sei-nee said together.
"I really want one, Yun-chan."
With the two asking me like that I could only give up and nod wordlessly. Damn, there's no way I could refuse such cute request from my sisters.
Falling silent for a moment, I sorted everything out in my head and slapped my cheeks for some extra fighting spirit.
"All right, let's do it. So, what do we do?"
"Then first of all, change into this equipment here."
"All right! Let's hurry and change! Changing in dressing room is okay, right?!
Suddenly pulled by hand by Myu, I entered the café's dressing room and put on the equipment I was given.
After changing clothes by clicking once in the menu I checked on my appearance in the mirror the dressing room was equipped with.
It was a kimono that perfectly matched my stature. The upper part of it was pure white with short sleeves and the hakama on the bottom was colored——scarlet.
"I knew it… I predicted that might be the case, but why does it have to be scarlet? Guys get purple don't they."
I spoke towards the wall of the dressing room in a stifled voice.
Also, between men and women the height at which hakama is worn is different, too, so no matter how I looked at it, it was an outfit for women.
Moreover, even the hairstyle was part of the equipment set. My long black hair were gathered behind my neck and tied with a leather strap which was further hidden by washi that was wound around it.
"Yun-oneechan, did you finish changing? Hurry up and come out!"
Prompted by Myu, I sighed deeply and opened the dressing room's curtain.
Waiting there, wearing miko outfits just like me were Myu and Sei-nee. The three of us headed back to where Cloude was.
Not even trying to hide my displeasure, I stood in front of Cloude.
"I changed. Got anything to say to me?"
Why miko outfit, I wish I wore the same kimono for men that you have. Is what I tried to say with my gaze to him, in response, he nodded strongly.
"As I thought, the prim and proper miko's the way to go. Fantasy hair and skin colors feel a bit off when you wear miko outfit… yup, I'm satisfied with this."
Satisfied all alone Cloude, and in contrast me, disheartened. Staring at us like that with a smile, were Myu and Sei-nee.
"All right, as for what you'll help out. Yun, you take care of Evil-Warding Arrows and sweet sake sales. Myu and Sei, you two guide people in from the entrance."
"Understood! Let's go, Sei-oneechan!"
"Well then, do your best, Yun-chan."
After watching Myu and Sei-nee leave, I stood on my station.
"Excuse me. I'd like two cups of sweet sake… also, what are those Evil-Warding Arrows?"
"Yes, right away. Evil-Warding Arrows have a silver tip and are an item effective against undead. In order to use them, you need the 【Bow】 Sense, so unless you are a possessor of said Sense, it's mainly a decoration item."
I politely explained the item's usage to a customer who came asking, meanwhile my hands didn't stop as poured sweet sake into a wooden cup.
Among the items sold here, 【Crystal Pillar】 charm and New Year's limited edition sweets were the items that had best sales, and most of the customers came to have some free sweet sake as well which made me quite busy.
Moreover, Evil-Warding Arrows didn't sell too well at first, but when I took charge of their sales, they slowly started to sell.
I wonder why, I thought. Well, it doesn't matter as long as they sell, let's not think about this too deeply.
"——Sold out! All items have been sold out! What's remaining is just the free sweet sake service〜!"
When Latem-san raised his voice saying "sold out!" I relaxed slightly, it seemed like I was more nervous than I thought.
"You can take a break, Yun. I'll take care of the rest."
Although Cloude proposed that, there were still customers remaining in the line despite the fact items sold out, so I decided to help out for a little longer.
"Hmm, I'll continue for a little longer. Can you have Myu and Sei-nee take some rest first?"
When Myu and Sei-nee finish their break, it'll be a moment after the the midnight. By then, the cathedral should have less people in it, I thought and continued to pour sweet sake into wooden cups.
Then, passed it to the next player as well——
"Here, please have this. It'll warm you... up?"
"Yun, why are you in that getup?"
"——?!! Taku! Why the hell are you here?!"
Because I left myself to the flow of the work, I didn't notice Taku who approached to have some and my voice was completely filled with surprise.
"I came back after doing some light solo hunting, so I came by since there was a free sweet sake service. To recover some satiety, y'know... and then I saw you."
Being seen in a miko outfit by a childhood friend made my face burn up with embarrassment.
From Taku's point of view, it was just me being made to wear women's clothing again, but to me, being seen in such clothes by an acquaintance it was embarrassing to no end.
"Hmm, that outfit looks good on you."
"Stop saying stuff like this again! Don't make me any more embarrassed!"
I raised my voice in protest, meanwhile, Calian-san and Latem-san who saw us together had come with help, making a proposal.
"How about taking a break, Yun-san? I'll take your place."
"You can use the break room in the back, Taku-kun can come with you."
Certainly, upset like this I might fail at work.
I nodded in response and taking Taku with me I headed to the break room in the back.
That moment, I heard voices of disappointment saying "Ahh, the person in charge changed." and those of resentment saying stuff like "Just a little more and I'd get some sweet sake from Yun-chan... I won't forgive him!", but when I turned my head around everyone calmly stood in the line. Thinking it was just my imagination, I decided not to think about it.
And when I entered the break room together with Taku, I was greeted by Myu and Sei-nee who have started their break earlier.
"Nice work, Yun-oneechan. Also, Taku-san, why are you here?"
"Yun-chan, thanks for hard work. Also welcome, Taku-kun."
Myu turned tilted her head questioningly while eating sweets, and Sei-nee naturally greeted Taku.
"Myu-chan, Sei-san, good evening. I came to get some sweet sake, but I ended up talking with Yun and getting in the way so we were sent here."
Taku's explanation wasn't wrong, so I remained silent there.
And when we all together drank some tea in the break room, Cloude entered it.
"Sorry to have you do work so suddenly. These are the promised 【Crystal Pillar】 charms."
While saying so, Cloude passed a simple charm with crystal accents me, Myu and Sei-nee.
【Crystal Pillar】 Charm 【Accessory】 (Weight: 1)
The three of us happily received the charms, which still had yet to be equipped with additional effects.
Taku was looking at us with slight envy, but since I didn't have a hobby to show off I immediately put it into my inventory.
"It's about time for the New Year's countdown. I want everyone to greet the new year together, so come in front of the store."
"Oh, got it."
Taking us with him, we left the break room and passed through the café and left the building.
Everyone looked at the clock in the menu screen, the countdown for the New Year's had started.
"""10, 9, 8…"""
Myu, Sei-nee, Taku and I have lined up one next to another and looked up at the night sky, joining the New Year's count.
"""3, 2, 1…"""
In the distance, the bell was rang for midnight, and the sky above was filled with colorful magic and balls of light.
Myu and Sei-nee had joined in, and have glanced my way, signaling they want me to join in.
"Good grief, all right. ──《Explosion》!"
I used the earth element's attack magic 《Explosion》 and fired it far above us.
My 【Sky Eyes】 took a point in the sky as a target, and activated magic there.
Although it was activated quite high, it didn't leave any trail behind and had made a big yellow explosion.
Without any obstructions in the night sky, the explosion had spread out, coloring the sky.
Beside me, Myu sent a converged ray of light into the sky which had passed through tiny particles of cold summoned by Sei-nee and diffused into various directions to illuminate the sky.
The sight of the fireworks made by magic coming from various parts of the town, had filled the sky with colors.
"Ehehehe, take care of me this year as well. Sei-oneechan, Yun-oneechan, Taku-san."
"Yes yes, same here."
I pat Myu's head and exchanged New Year's greetings with Sei-nee and Taku as well.