Yuji: “Eh? What are you saying?”
Elfa: “I understand that you just lost your girlfriend so I’m not going to press on, I just… thought that I should let you know…”
Yuji: “I… erm… thank you… for being honest… and yeah… I don’t think I want to be in a relationship ever again…”
Elfa: “But… everyone deserves happiness.”
Yuji: “Maybe not me.” and I walked away.
Both of us kept walking, Elfa walked behind me. Eventually, we walked to a safe zone.
Yuji: “Let’s take a break here.” and she nodded.
We sat down and leaned against a wall.
Elfa brought sandwiches and we ate lunch.
Yuji: “Wow, these tastes great.”
Elfa: “My cooking level is nearly maxed… I should probably max it out.”
Yuji: “Eh? What about your other stats?”
Elfa: “I do improve them after leveling up, but once I’m done with maxing the cooking level, I will probably fight a lot better.”
Yuji: “Oh we’ll see, we will duel again after this raid.”
Elfa: “Of course.”
“Looks like we are not that awkward anymore…” I thought to myself.
Then I heard chattering behind the wall we were leaning on.
“Shh.” I stopped eating and I climbed up the rock wall. I peeked and I saw the hideout. I then got down from the wall.
“Their hideout is here.” I said.
Elfa: “I will place a marker on the map.”
Yuji: “Now we need to go around the hideout, check the scale and size of the place. Maybe we can do a surround raid.”
Elfa: “I will place the markers. Let’s go.”
We started walking together. “Keep close, and also we are going to walk faster. Let’s get this thing over with quickly, we don’t want to get detected.” She nods and keeps pace with me.
Yuji: “This place is pretty massive…”
Elfa: “Yeah, it is…”
And we then got ambushed by them.
Yuji: “They knew we were coming?!”
Elfa: “Someone sold us out.”
We then start to fight them back. Elfa pulled the SOS.
Yuji: “How long will they take?!”
Elfa: “I don’t know! 3 teams responded to my distress call and they are coming over!”
Eventually I got stabbed from the back.
Elfa: “No!” and then she got slashed. Witnessing her getting slash then reminded me of the day Kotomi died. I went into a rampage and brutally killed 4 members before I eventually got subdued by the others. We both got knocked out cold.
Then I regain consciousness, I find myself in a small shed and all tied up. I then heard someone getting killed outside, and the doors open.
“Are you all right?”
Yuji: “Eh… Hanami…”
Hanami is also another female player, also part of the recon team.
Hanami: “Looks like you are okay, where is Elfa?”
Yuji: “I don’t know. Both of us were knocked out. When I woke up, I’m here.”
Hanami: “But not killed? Weird.”
Yuji: “They probably going to use us to “negotiate” with the guild. Where are the rest?”
Hanami: “We were sneaking around looking for you two. But now we have found you, we look for Elfa.”
Yuji: “They took my weapons, items and equipment.”
Hanami: “I found them for you.” and she threw them to the ground. “Hurry up, we need to find your princess.”
Yuji: “She’s not my princess.” and I starts to wear my armor.
Hanami: “Eh? You two are not dating?”
Yuji: “Erm… no?”
Hanami: “But you two looked close and great together… A lot of people in the guild thought you two were dating.”
Yuji: “Pff… please…”
Hanami: “But she does like you.”
Yuji: “Yeah I know that… Wait, how do you know?”
Hanami: “I asked her about it once… and for some weird reason, she said she don’t want to pursue you… And how did you know?”
Yuji: “She confessed during a break… She pulled back herself.”
Hanami: “Is there a reason why she would not try and pursue you?”
Yuji: “It’s a secret… between us.”
Hanami: “Okay then, I will not pry any further.”
Yuji: “Thank you.”
Then shouting can be heard.
Yuji: “Where is that from?”
Hanami peeked outside: “Looks like it’s over there.” and points to a crowd.
Yuji: “Let’s go, she might be there.”
Hanami passes me clothes: “Wear their clothing, we are going undercover.”
Yuji: “Okay.” And I wear their clothing.
We then walked to the crowd and tried to blend in. We slowly moved to the front of the crowd. Elfa is tied up onto a pole.
Hanami: “What are they doing?”
Yuji: “I don’t know…”
Then there is a guild member on top of a podium saying: “We will use her as a bargaining chip with that stupid clearer guild… But first, we must torture her…” and he picks up a whip.
Yuji: “I need to save her, now.”
Hanami: “Wait, let me call for backup…”
I couldn’t wait at all, all of these moments reminded me of that day. I jumped up to the podium, cut the whip and kills the player. Then I jumped up to cut her ropes. Hanami grabbed her from below.
Yuji: “Let’s go!” and we ran to the exit. I tried to fight them back while making sure that Hanami gets out, but of course, I’m outnumbered. The other players from the recon team came to the rescue and we retreated back to base.
After reaching the base, I put Elfa in her bed in her room.
“Just stay with her and rest! We will do the report!” Hanami told me after passing me Elfa back in base. She’s smiling widely.
I stood up, intending to get a cup of coffee, but Elfa’s hand pulled my sleeve.
“Don’t… go…” she said with her eyes still closed.
“Is she having a nightmare…” I thought to myself. I decided to sit back down, and place her blanket higher. She is still holding onto my sleeve. I messaged Hanami to grab me a cup of coffee.
Yuji: “Come in, the door isn’t locked.”
And Hanami appeared with two cups.
Yuji: “She’s still asleep… Then why two cups?”
Hanami: “I cannot drink coffee for myself? Am I interrupting your private time with Elfa? So much for bringing you coffee…”
Yuji: “I’m sorry… Thanks for the coffee.”
Hanami then sat down on a chair: “Eh? She’s pulling your sleeve?”
Yuji: “Yeah, that’s why I called you to make my coffee… Is the report done?”
Hanami: “Yeah, we just submitted everything, all of us will get a week of leave.”
Yuji: “When are they attacking?”
Hanami: “I don’t know, they need to plan it carefully. Besides, it’s not just this guild that is fighting them, we are bringing in other guilds and high level solo players to fight them.”
Yuji: “Oh really? I see…”
Hanami: “She’s still holding on to your sleeve… She’s cute. Proves how much she loves you.”
Yuji: “I have my reasons why I can’t date her…”
Hanami: “Since it’s just the three of us, tell me about it. I won’t tell anyone else.”
I sighed and told her everything.
Hanami then teared up.
Yuji: “Woah… Are you okay? The tissues are over there on the desk…”
Hanami: “I’m… I’m fine… Just… touched… I finally know why you are so enthusiastic about ending the Laughing Coffin, you are the one who started this movement after all.”
Yuji: “Not really… Without Elfa’s help, this operation probably wouldn’t even happen.”
Hanami: “But… you should give it a try…”
Hanami: “Dating Elfa… She might help you walk out of the darkness.”
Yuji: “I… I don’t know…”
Hanami: “Her last words before she died did say you should live your life to the fullest without her… Maybe you should.”
Yuji: “I am still mourning here, I cannot attend her funeral thanks to this game.”
Hanami: “I’m sorry for being insensitive… I don’t know how it felt to witness someone dying in this game… Me and my friends were all beta testers, so we know our way around the game when it started.”
Yuji: “It’s okay, I don’t expect you to understand anyway.”
Hanami: “I’m sorry, I should leave. I will see you later.” and she walks out of the room.
I stayed in the room all day, Hanami brought dinner for me but she’s still thinking about what she said earlier and left the room promptly after serving dinner. I eventually fell asleep on her bedside at night.
The next morning, I woke up, and Hanami is behind me, serving breakfast.
Hanami: “Ah good morning… You didn’t go back to your room so I assumed that you are here.”
Yuji: “Ah… Thanks for serving me breakfast… and dinner last night.”
Hanami: “It’s nothing… compared to what I said yesterday…”
Yuji: “You don’t have to feel guilty about it, I’m over it already.”
Hanami: “But my conscience still feels the guilt. I probably will not get over it for awhile…” and she leaves the room.
Yuji: “Hey…” and I didn’t stop her.
“Who was that…”
Yuji: “Eh? You are awake? That was Hanami, she was serving breakfast.”
Elfa: “What happened…?”
Yuji: “We nearly got killed by the Laughing Coffin, but somehow we made it out alive, with the help of the rest of the team…”
Elfa: “Oh… How long have I been out for…?”
Yuji: “A day or so?”
Elfa: “And you have been here the whole time?”
Yuji: “Yeah… I feel responsible for making you go through that.”
Elfa: “You don’t have to… It’s out of our control…”
Yuji: “You can have my breakfast…” and I serves the breakfast to her.
Elfa: “What about you?”
Yuji: “I will eat mine in the cafeteria. Have a good rest.” and I’m walking towards the door.
Elfa: “No… Eat breakfast with me… Bring your breakfast up to my room… I don’t want to be alone…. Stay with me…” and she looks down.
Yuji: “Sure. Be right back…” and I left the door. That moment reminded me of Kotomi again…
I came back to her room with my breakfast.
Elfa: “Welcome back…” and she smiles.
Yuji: “We have a week of leave so let’s go somewhere later, if you are feeling okay to move around.”
Elfa: “Eh? A week?”
Yuji: “Yeah, if you don’t feel like going out, we can do it another day, it’s fine.”
Elfa: “No, let’s go! I’m feeling okay already!”
Yuji: “It’s on then.” and we both started eating.
Elfa: “Where are we going?”
Yuji: “I don’t know…”
Elfa: “Eh? You asked me out and you don’t know where to go?”
Yuji: “I will bring you wherever you want to go…”
Elfa: “Hmm, I want to go wherever you spent time with girlfriend… I want to know how she was like when she’s still alive.”
Yuji: “Eh? Sure…” I was totally not expecting this and I fear that I might not be able to hold it in.
So after breakfast, I brought Elfa to my house that I lived with Kotomi…
Elfa: “It’s still here?”
Yuji: “Yeah, Kotomi told me not to sell the house, no matter how broke we were, she treats this place as a shelter if we were to screw up in anyway in the future…”
Then I unlocked the door.
Yuji: “After you…” and she walks into the house.
Elfa: “You didn’t touch the furniture?
Yuji: “Yeah, everything is the way it is since we left.”
Elfa: “Looks… cozy…”
Yuji: “It is… I… really miss this place and the life we used to live…”
Elfa turns around to look at me and passes me a cloth.
Elfa: “You are crying…”
Yuji: “I am?” and I touched my face. “Oh no…” and I grabbed the cloth to wipe the tears.
Elfa then walked to a photo of me and Kotomi.
Elfa: “You looked… happy.”
Yuji: “Living with Kotomi was the happiest days of my life… I wish I can go back… to the day when I first logged in… so I can stop myself and her from logging in…”
Elfa: “You really love her, huh…?”
Yuji: “She already planned to move in with me in real life… and when she told me that, I planned to get a ring after I log out so I can propose to her at the airport…”
Elfa: “Sounds sweet…”
Yuji: “What about you? Do you have past romance experiences?”
Elfa: “Here or in real life?”
Yuji: “Real life.”
Elfa: “I did had one relationship… but it crashed and burned in the end.”
Yuji: “Sit down on the couch. I will make coffee… Then you can tell me all about it, I told you a lot about myself, but I don’t know anything about you…”