As the sun rose on a brand new day, the area around the castle began to slowly flourish with people.
While half-awake, Mira walked with unsteady steps towards the bathroom, her mind still slow to completely dispel her sleepiness. Then, when she returned after doing her task, she just dropped her body on the bed without a second thought, resulting in a certain something to spring up and land on the young girl’s hand.
“What is this…?”
The moment she tried to grab that “something” and fling it away, Mira recognized, through her faintly opened eyes, rabbit ears bobbing up and down—and immediately jumped to her feet. At the same time, a piece of paper that had fallen nearby caught her attention.
『We have prepared a set of pajamas for you. Please, it would be our greatest bliss if you were to wear them—The Castle Maids.』
An extraordinary feeling of dread assaulted the girl. Currently, she was only in her underwear and the culprit was right before her eyes. Together with that written note, pajamas that looked more like a bunny costume had been laid out for her; as a matter of course, she had pretended not to see them.
Solomon’s words from yesterday crossed her mind. She had been told by her friend that all the maids were engrossed in creating a new outfit for her. And that was merely their first step, as the costume revealed a glimpse of how serious and fast those maids could be when doing useless work.
Opening the menu in a great hurry, Mira tried to confirm the current time: 8:45 in the morning, the clock indicated. It could be said that she had a completely late start in the race to escape from being treated like a dress-up doll. With only unpleasant thoughts passing through her mind, Mira tried to find what she could do next to escape from that predicament, alarms going off with every second that passed.
However, the girl’s thought process was forcibly terminated by a light knock on the bedroom’s door.
“Mira-sama, good morning. I have brought your clothing.”
A woman called out to the girl, from the other side of the door, in a slightly excited voice. Mira then realized that there was no escaping her fate now.
(There it is, she came here to bring the outfit!)
In a rush, Mira looked around the bedroom, but the only clothes she found there were the bunny pajamas and a cute one piece dress she had used right after leaving the bath. Although the young girl desperately sought for a way out of that situation, the time-out signal finally reached her ears.
“Hmm, there’s no answer… maybe she is still asleep. Oh no, at this rate, the breakfast is going to get cold. I must go in and directly wake Mira-sama up. Yes, I must offer my help.”
As if reading from a script, the woman spoke in a monotone way and, afterward, opened the door. Immediately, the first thing the maid saw in that bedroom was Mira’s small buttocks.
Having fallen into a slight state of panic, the girl had the idea to dive head first onto the bed. And that was the extent of her hastily made idea. She was the literal example of the ostrich policy, her head hidden and bottom exposed.
“Mi~ra~sa~ma. Good morning.”
Using quick and light steps, the maid ran up to Mira and, after gently lifting the bedding made of fine feathers, confronted the bitterly smiling girl with a smile of her own while also renewing her greetings.
“Ye… yeah. Morning.”
“I have been appointed as your personal maid assistant, Mira-sama. My name is Lily. I am looking forward to working with you.”
“I… I see…”
While feeling ashamed from her excessively foolish behavior, Mira was also at her wits’ end in anguish, having seen the thing that was on the maid Lily’s hands: forget about the faux dress she had been wearing, that new one had a full-blown magical girl-esque style.
Especially because of the white and black colors used as its basis, at a glance that outfit, made without any excess of fabric, gave off a feeling similar to a gothic lolita costume. The white, sleeveless dress and a—rather short—black flared skirt combined to form a single piece of clothing; then, to complete the outfit, a coat, resembling a robe with just its front split open, was worn over the dress. In the end, being denied most of her demands, she was dressed up in that outfit and thus the Extraordinarily Beautiful Magical Girl Mira was born, the frills and ribbons on her new clothing way more emphasized than the previous one. At least, amidst that despairing situation, Mira had one of her wishes granted: instead of lace underwear, she begged for something plain-looking, similar to the one she was wearing at the time of the request.
After she finished changing clothes, Mira was dragged against her will to the Maid’s Quarters, the only place within the castle where men weren’t allowed to enter. There, in one of the rooms, she was currently surrounded by an incredible number of maids.
“Okay, Mira-sama. Please raise your hands in ahooray.”
When asked by Lily, who carried a measuring tape, the girl obliged and held both hands up in the air. Her eyes were already devoid of life as she had been reduced to a mere puppet that obediently did as told.
They were now in the middle of measuring the girl’s chest area. Although the maid could be somewhat flexible with the choice of panties, the same couldn’t be said of the bra; if Mira were to choose and wear one that did not fit her properly, problems would occur in the distant future. Since Lily made sure to stress that point, Mira resigned herself to her fate and muttered, “Just do as you please then…,” and that is how they reached the present situation.
In fact, the young girl had not done any serious physical exertion to warrant a problem for her, but she still felt, over and over, a rubbing sensation caused by the robe coming into contact with her bare skin. In what sounded like a semi attempt at intimidation, all the other maids said that staying in a bra-less state like that would later make Mira feel great pain even at the slight touch. Nonetheless, at that point she had already given up and simply stopped caring about what the women did.
“You have such a great figure. I’m getting jealous…”
Lily turned towards Mira’s back after successfully taking the girl’s rough measurements and gently wrapped, with both hands, the two small mounds on that chest to accurately determine their size.
(When will this torture end…?)
Having grasped in every detail the chest measurements—against the absentminded girl’s will, it must be said—Lily directed various instructions to the other maids and they promptly brought an ideally sized bra.
“How is it, Mira-sama? Does it hurt? Is it too tight for you to breathe?”
“Hmm, it is okay. But one way or another, I cannot feel at ease with it…”
“It should be fine then. You see, the first time is like that for everyone.”
As soon as the bra was gracefully adjusted and put on her chest, she felt the underwear applying some slight pressure against it; at the same time, Mira breathed a magnificent sigh after looking at her own appearance.
Every single maid there wanted to, with all their hearts, entertain that important guest, whose concern about clothing was inexistent. Although they seemed to be just having a lot of fun, those were professional maids, after all, and both their work and coordination were nothing less than perfect. In the blink of an eye, they finished measuring not only Mira’s chest, but her entire body. Afterwards, the maids talked enthusiastically with each other, as they would now be able to create the perfect costu—the perfect clothesfor Mira, ones that would fit even better than her current clothing, since it had been prepared with unreliable measurements, only done by eye. The girl did not realize that yet, but right during her next visit to the castle, she would be facing the maids’ real deal.
Moving away from the other women’s gazes, Mira was guided by Lily to the dining hall and had breakfast there; the light but balanced meal, with bread and soup, salad, fruit juice and others, actually managed to bring her back to her senses. In a corner of the dining room sat a magical girl, a cheerful expression on her face as she slowly took small sips of her fruit juice. Keeping an eye on her with an affable look was the old lady that commanded the mess hall and, nearby, Lily—who was all smiles. The girl’s attire had suited her to an unimaginable degree and, naturally, attracted the attention of everyone in the surroundings.
It was only when the “magical girl” took the last sip of her juice that she finally raised her face and noticed all the gazes focused on herself.
(What the… is that everyone looking at me?)
Even though she revealed how weary she was of the surroundings, Mira’s state as she restlessly looked around only served to instigate the women’s desire to protect that panicky little girl. In fact, Lily herself was squirming in place while seeing Mira act like a helpless, small animal. The problem was that, to the girl who still wasn’t used to being the center of attention, it seemed like she was just being too conspicuous—and in a bad way. Feeling completely out of place, Mira vigorously stood up and rushed out of the dining room without so much as a glance back.
When Mira left the mess hall, she was appeased by her maid assistant and conducted to the Office.
“I have brought Mira-sama to you, Solomon-sama.”
Lily knocked on the door and spoke to the person on the other side.
“Good, come in.”
“Pardon my intrusion.”
Upon hearing Solomon’s reply, the maid calmly opened the door and bowed. Then, after Mira entered the room, she closed that same door without making a single sound and waited outside.
“Hey there, ‘morning.”
The girl returned the greeting and dropped down on the sofa, looking utterly tired. When Solomon glanced at her outfit, he quickly covered his mouth with a hand as his shoulders began to tremble, earning him a strong glare from Mira.
“Did you have a good night’s sleep?”
“Yes. I slept so well I could not escape in time from the maids.”
Mira replied, seemingly sulking, and her friend’s face simply broke out in an incredible smile.
“Hey, you look good in it. As expected of the maids from my castle.”
“I would be completely fine with a normal robe.”
Holding the hem of her skirt, the young girl revealed a wry smile as she shook and made the skirt flutter around. In truth, it was something so well crafted one would seriously doubt it had been finished in just a day or two.
“By the way, looks like you have made the things I’ve requested during yesterday’s night, huh?”
“Indeed. Aahh, now that you mention it, I think I forgot them in the bedroom.”
The King’s words brought a memory to Mira’s mind. Yesterday night, when she returned to the bedroom, the refining materials and table had already been arranged there for her, so she quickly used them to finish the items her friend had requested.
“One of my maids brought them to me after you left your room. With this we’ll be able to do some really productive experiments for a while. Thanks.”
“That was nothing, do not worry about it.”
Mira answered as if what she had done was completely natural and, while worrying about an absolutely unfamiliar sensation that arose from her chest, put her weight on the back of the sofa.
“Oh right. Before I forget, let me give this to you.”
At the same time he informed her, Solomon threw a pouch to the girl, a faint and metallic jingling sound coming from it.
“Hmm, what is this?”
She asked, shaking the bag to make even more sounds.
“It’s money, you know? The funds for the job you’re going to do from now on.”
“Come on, I thought it was something else. Still, I already have so much money it would be pointless to take this.”
“Ah, really? Did you have some deposited in the warehouse of your tower?”
“What do you mean? I have it right here with…”
Saying that, the girl tried to retrieve her money, but stopped on her tracks a moment later. She had attempted to pull around 100 Rifu applying the same kind of “feeling” that was used when playing the game; however, nothing came out. Incidentally, Rifu was the currency unit of that world.
“Ah, did you notice it? Did you just realize your situation now?”
Solomon’s face revealed a mischievous smile.
Although Mira hurried to open the “Status” field in her menu to check her current money, the numbers that had always been there, displaying her finances, were now completely gone. Her entire head shook violently.
“Where did my money go…!?”
“It’s the same thing that happened with the Floating Continent. Maybe it was swallowed by waves from the electronic world and disappeared. The majority opinion is that since the money wasn’t considered an ‘item’, it couldn’t get inside the Item Box. It wassomething else, in other words. During the time when we were still playing a game, our money was handled by the game system, but now that we are in the ‘real world’, that system doesn’t work. Well, that’s the gist of it, we believe.”
“How could this… my two hundred million…”
While paying no heed to about half of her friend’s explanation, Mira collapsed on the sofa.
“That’s quite the sum you had there… anyway, I had the same reaction when this happened to me…”
As the subject of the Floating Continent reopened the wounds in their hearts, both boy and girl remained silent for a while, looking up at the sky.
“And that’s why you can’t use money if you don’t carry the real thing with you. The pouch in your hands can be considered a reward of sorts for doing all that work yesterday. For the time being, I put 100,000 Rifu there, so you must manage it well—isn’t that your forte, anyway?”
Inside the pouch Mira had received, there were several pieces of money: one gold coin, three mithril ones, another three coins made of silver, four cobalt coins and ten pieces crafted with copper. Respectively, each kind of coin corresponded to fifty thousand, ten thousand, five thousand, one thousand and, finally, a hundred Rifu.
“One hundred… one hundred thousand…?”
“Hey come on now, forget about that already. I knowyouwill be able to earn even more in no time. Losing my money’s already water under the bridge for me. Yeah, water under the bridge…”
According to the rules of the game system, it was impossible to have your money stolen and even one of the penalties for dying only involved the loss of items contained within the player’s Item Box, leaving their money intact; consequently, there had been no need to deposit one’s own money in a warehouse. But now that mindset had backfired on them.
“Okay, I just remembered something after telling you about the money. Have you already used your Item Box since arriving in this world?”
Being brought back to his senses, Solomon recalled some of the changes that had occurred in the game world when it became real, things he was already starting to forget after thirty long years.
“Several times. Is there anything wrong with it?”
“With this kind of reaction, looks like you aren’t aware of it yet…”
As he concluded, the boy took a fountain pen from the top of his desk and, again, threw it to his friend. Drawing an arc in the air, the object was stopped by Mira’s hand and then brought at her eyesight level. Judging from its appearance, it was just a common fountain pen, with nothing special to it. Yet, considering it was something being used by a king, it wouldn’t be wrong to think of that pen as a luxury item, evidenced by how finely it had been crafted.
“Try putting it inside your Item Box.”
Wondering why she had to do it, Mira still did as told. She opened her Item Box and tried to store the pen within it; that, however, did not succeed, and contrary to her expectations, the item fell to the ground.
“Hey, what the hell was that?”
While fixing her eyes on the Item Box, the girl observed what was happening directly below, with the pen rolling on the floor. She had enough space in her box and there wasn’t any problem in particular with it. Having no idea about what had just happened, she then directed her gaze to Solomon.
“Remember how a while ago I said that the game system had been managing our money? In truth, looks like even the items themselves were managed by that system.”
The boy stood up and picked the fountain pen, opening his own Item Box a moment later.
“When this world was still game, fountain and quill pens were categorized as miscellaneous items, swords and armors were considered armament items, jewels and metals were raw material items and so on, right?”
Explaining, he took out and displayed a certain sword to his friend, one that was even known to her.
“A short while after the game became reality, some players gathered together and created a research center in order to clarify this world’s natural laws. There, they conducted a series of investigative experiments, from which they ascertained that during the game period,itemswere things that had been automatically assigned and classified as such by the game system. As a result, like its own name says, the Item Box can only contain things that are categorized asitems.”
As he continued talking, Solomon picked a book from his shelf and held it so Mira could see it.
“Since the game system isn’t working now, the fountain pen isn’t a ‘miscellaneous item’ and this book isn’t a ‘book item’. In other words, they can’t be placed inside the Item Box. Oh, by the way, the items that are inside your box have already been categorized, so they should be fine.”
Solomon then finished by returning to his Item Box the sword he had taken out beforehand.
“This is pretty inconvenient. In the end, does that mean I will have to travel with my hands full of luggage?”
The girl heavily lamented upon hearing those news. Every single one of the individuals she was supposed to find were problematic people, so the amount of goods necessary for that harsh journey would obviously be huge.
“But you know, half a year after the Item Box became unusable, a revolutionary technique was developed.”
“Oho… tell me more about it.”
Seemingly putting on airs as he said that, Solomon was urged by Mira’s gaze to continue.
“Basically, you should manually perform what was once done automatically by the system. With that in mind, the end result of the research was the development of [Abstractionism:Itemization]. After using this ability on an item, it can be assigned in all kinds of item categories and, thus, become able to be stored in the Item Box.”
“So to sum it up: with that ability, it will be possible to continue using the box as if nothing has changed, am I right?”
“Exactly. Since it’s pretty easy to do it, I’ll teach you the skill.”
“Okay, thank you.”
After taking a document from his bookshelf, the King brought it to the table in front of Mira and unfolded it. Written there—in a very detailed way—was the process required to obtain that new ability, so the young girl promptly began studying it.
Thirty minutes later, having learned the Itemization skill without any problems, Mira applied it to the fountain pen and nodded, satisfied, after confirming that it actually went inside her Item Box. Then, after successfully trying the basics of itemization, Mira returned to the sofa to take a breather.
“Now, going back to the Underground Graveyard matter. Differently than before, all dungeons are now managed by the General Adventurer’s Union.”
Solomon finally broke his silence and began talking about his friend’s requested mission.
“General Adventurer’s Union? What is that?”
While taking out from her Item Box the various things she had stored when playing with the new skill, Mira listened to what the boy said and asked for an explanation.
“It’s an organization that was created after the game world became real. Its main purpose is to prevent the general populace and the powerless from recklessly entering a dungeon and losing their lives.”
“Oho… so it was that… but I am not really buying that main purpose. What if they just wanted to keep a monopoly on the dungeons’ treasures or something?”
“You see, there was a certain incident that happened long ago… and one child died.”
“Humm, I see…”
Noticing how Solomon slightly dropped the tone of his voice, for some reason the girl felt inclined to agree to his point.
“Dungeon” was a term applied to all kinds of fields that, rather than occupying an area outdoors, they existed within an enclosed space. Riches and hidden treasures laid in wait inside the dungeons, but because those places were rife with far stronger wildlife and monsters than the ones in outside fields, they were considered to be very dangerous locations. Nonetheless, the dungeons still had a certain and great fascinating nature, so it wasn’t uncommon for people with the most diverse intentions to enter such hazardous areas—only to never see the light of day again, falling into the darkness of death. Obviously, that had not been considered a problem by the players during the game era, but now that everything became real, they couldn’t ignore an incident that happened there.
A child had set foot inside a dungeon. Their intention was to pick a flower, that served as an ingredient for a special medicine, and, thus, help their sick mother. As the night fell, however, the kid still hadn’t come back, so all the adults mobilized a large search party. In the end, just a little further inside the dungeon, the child’s corpse was found: its mangled, half-eaten and scattered state making it unrecognizable from a human’s body. Then, when the mother heard that one of their hands had been clutching a lone flower, she couldn’t endure it and passed away moments later, as if chasing after her child.
The game world became real. For the NPCs that had already been “living” there since the game period, it meant that now they were genuine living beings and, as such, were able to feel emotions like any other person; as a result, the death of a kid was accompanied by many kinds of sentiments that emerged within them.
When a certain player heard about the incident, they built an organization to manage the dungeons, so that such a tragedy would never happen again. And that was the General Adventurer’s Union.
There were those who had the intention of entering a dungeon. Others wanted the raw materials that existed there and wondered how they could obtain those items. After listening to all sorts of requests coming from individuals like the ones exemplified, the Organization did not stop at just managing the dungeons, but also started acting as an intermediary between the people making those requests and the strong enough to fulfill them.
Little by little, the Organization grew larger, and many countries allowed the establishment of branches in their own territories, albeit with the following conditions: the Union wasn’t authorized to take part in any disputes between nations and it was also required to cooperate with operations, performed by a country, to exterminate monsters.
“Well, that’s why you’re going, of course, to the Experts’ Union. Here is your letter of recommendation.”
Walking up towards Mira with an envelope in hand, a smiling Solomon presented it to her.
“Oh, so I just need this to enter?”
While receiving the letter, the girl briefly gazed at its front and back, then promptly used Itemization to throw the envelope inside her Item Box. There, the letter of recommendation had been classified as a “document item”.
“No no, that’s simply a recommendation letter. Only the adventurers affiliated with the Union can enter a dungeon. In addition, every dungeon has its own difficulty ranking, with the Underground Graveyard requiring a C and above rank, I believe. Now, a ‘rank’ is something you earn at the Union and, as you fulfill the many requests issued there, you’ll be recognized by your ability, receiving a suitable increase in your personal rank. It will be easier to understand if you think of that as an Adventurer’s Guild of sorts. Obviously, that kind of staple system didn’t exist in the game world, but thinking about it now, I wonder why it hadn’t been implemented… strange, isn’t it?”
“Indeed. So anyway, after raising my rank, I should be able to take higher difficulty quests, right? I enjoyed games with this gimmick too.”
Even if it wasn’t something big, the moment Mira heard about that game-like element in the new world, her excitement began, slowly but surely, to rise up.
“That letter of recommendation is something that will guarantee your identity and true strength. Originally, a newly registered individual will start with the G rank, but what I just gave you will instantly get you to the C rank. Speaking of which, the rules of the Union can’t really be bent that easily, so even as the king of a country this is the most I can do for you.”
“I understand. But it should be sufficient enough.”
Having finished putting her Item Box in order, the girl expressed her comprehension while also quietly leaving various objects at the edge of the table—things she had used during her experiments with Itemization.
“Incidentally, you need to know that there are two entry points in the Organization: the Warriors’ Union and the Experts’ Union. As you can probably guess from their names, the details for the jobs offered in each of them are different.”
“Hmm. So, does that ‘Union’ or whatever have a branch in this city? I must make my registration there without delay then.”
“Yeah, there is. Or rather, they exist in almost every city. Well, since you’re already going by carriage to the Underground Graveyard, there’s also one branch in the town near that dungeon. But are you really fine with doing it here? It takes a whole day for them to issue an Adventurer License, you see.”
Said Solomon, the smile on his face laden with some hidden meaning. Upon seeing that expression, Mira felt a slight sense of unease.
“Oh, is that so? Then I will spend one more night…”
That was the exact moment when her memories from the disaster in the morning resurfaced. If the girl were to grant the maids an entire day with her in the castle, she couldn’t even begin to imagine what kind of masterpiece work they would come up with. Now understanding what her friend meant, Mira started pondering her options.
She could spend the night in one of the city’s inns. However, the chances of her being captured by the maids, when returning to the castle in order to ride the carriage, were high. Even having the vehicle wait for her outside of the town was also out of the question, considering a maid could be waiting for her there. Then, taking into account all of her worries, Mira determined that it would be, without a doubt, completely fatal to prolong her stay by one day; as a result, she strengthened her resolve to immediately depart towards the Underground Graveyard.
“Please, prepare the carriage right now.”
“Huhuhu. Everything’s already ready, you can leave whenever you feel like it.”
As Mira stood up with intense vigor, she left the Office alongside Solomon. Then, accompanied by Lily, all three arrived at the castle’s stables. What Mira found there was a two-horse carriage waiting for her, its proportions about one size bigger than the vehicle that, just the other day, had brought her from the tower. Standing by the carriage’s side were two people: a maid, holding a large basket and a bag in her hands, and the one working as the coachman, Garrett.
“How should I put it… we meet really often, Garrett…”
Remembering the military man’s figure while he grasped the steering wheel of the Armored Jeep, the girl’s expression stiffened.
“Good morning, Mira-sama. It might not be on the same level as the Armored Jeep, but this vehicle here is also another wonderful piece of work! I am deeply touched by having the opportunity of being its driver.”
Garrett bowed and, with his arms spread, introduced that seemingly commonplace carriage, an inebriated-like smile on his face.
“I just do not care anymore about the kind of carriage we are going to use. But please, at least drive responsibly.”
She had requested that from the bottom of her heart, to which Garrett replied with, “But of course,” his previous smile changing to a greatly refreshing one.
“Well then, take care.”
After briefly exchanging farewells with Solomon and then being tightly hugged by Lily, Mira finally boarded the carriage. When she was already inside, the other maid brought the bag and the basket for the girl.
“Please be careful and have a safe trip, Mira-sama. Inside the basket, there is a meal we have arranged so you can eat along the way. In addition, there is a change of clothes prepared for you within this bag.”
“O-Okay… I see. Thank you…”
With a bow, the maid stepped off from the vehicle. Staring at the bag whose contents she couldn’t begin to imagine—or rather, she didn’t even want to imagine them—Mira sighed; it was still in the morning and she had already lost count on how many times that kind of reflex had left her lips. Then, moments later, when the vehicle slowly broke into a run, Mira felt greatly relieved and took a sip from an Apple au Lait she had previously retrieved from her box.
Outside of the window, the passing scenery gently gained speed. It was easy to notice that, when compared with the old days, the townscape that could be seen from there had undergone through a complete change. While vacantly gazing at such an unfamiliar sight, Mira concentrated on the sweetness that was spreading within her mouth.
Seeing his friend off, Solomon began moving in a hurry. From his own experiences, the unsettling behavior of the Lesser Demons, who hid themselves in the many groups of monsters that invaded the country, was something that, if left unattended, would bring too many worries for him. On top of that, there was their main destinations: the flower gardens decorated with a white pillar each. To the players, those places were known for possessing harvesting spots for a peculiar kind of medicinal herb, called “Angel’s Drop”—and it was just that, no more, no less.
However, because of what had just happened, there was now the possibility of something else existing and being concealed in those locations.Organize an investigative team and collect data related to the Lesser Demon. As Solomon quickly gave out those orders, he faced the direction in which Mira’s carriage had gone and, looking up at the sky, smiled.