Interlude 6 – Player Killer? ◆

 


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Within a gentle, very gentle, hazy slumber, I gotta get going to work —such a thought crossed his mind.

He should’ve had an important briefing for a new project today. It’d be bad to stay asleep, but just a little longer wouldn’t hurt — he tried to turn over while thinking that.

But then, his eyes suddenly flew open.

Thinking back, he hadn’t heard his alarm. Rather, it was too bright. This could only mean—

“—Did I oversleep?!”

He reflexively jerked up — and became dumbfounded.

A transparent blue sky. Grasslands sprawling towards the end of the horizon.

“—What the-?”

He wasn’t in his usual room back home. He even wasn’t in a room to begin with. The strange back pain he felt came from sleeping on the hard ground of this grassland. As he stared in surprise, he heard a neighing from right beside him.

His eyes shot towards the source, only to see an ashen-haired horse looking at him while eating grass.

“—Whaa?!”

He reflexively bent and rolled back, just to immediately jump to his feet. Then the two stared at each other as they stood amidst the grasses, gently swaying thanks to a fresh breeze. The horse gazed at him languidly as if not understanding why he was acting so surprised, then neighed and went back to chewing grass.

Still in a daze, he suddenly remembered to take a look at his own body. A wooden staff lay at his feet. And he was clad in an ashen robe which flapped in the wind.

“This body…”

He touched his body all over to confirm things. The staff, the garments, and ashen horse. Frankly, he remembered them too well.

When he touched his chin, he couldn’t feel a beard.

“…What’s going on?” Standing still, the man — Kou muttered to himself. “…I can’t log out? More importantly, this…”

His senses were abnormally vivid. Moreover, he had been trying to operate the settings mentally, but he couldn’t get the menu screen to open up. Why didn’t he possess Kou‘s splendid beard, if he was inside the game?

A green hilly area in front. Rocky mountains and a dense forest in the back, with an endless mountain range beyond it.

“Mh….gh…”

Suddenly, he was startled by a voice that didn’t belong to himself.

His attention had been focused on the surrounding scenery and thus he failed to notice it before, but looking carefully, there were people laying on the ground behind him. Next to them a black and a mottled horse were grazing at leisure.

“Mmm…”

The one raising groans was a woman lying face-up. She had dark skin and black hair that fanned out widely. Her tall height and nice figure were apparent even as she lay on the ground.

In addition, she had another, particular trait. On top of her head, ears were perking out of her black hair.

“Nekomimi…?!”

Kou stared at them with a surprised expression, reflexively gulping down his saliva.

Those ears, currently drooping feebly, were animal organs that no human should have. The only way Kou was aware of when it came to describing them was the term he had just shouted out.

The sight of a busty young woman with cat ears was too much for Kou, a man of culture and highly familiar with Japan’s HENTAI scene.

The woman’s appearance itself was not helping the matter either. She only had some leather armor protecting her chest and neither region, leaving her almost naked. Moreover, her ample chest peeking out from underneath her armor was extremely seductive. Seeing how she was frowning and twitching her eyes from time to time, she was maybe about to wake up.

In addition, crushed under that woman like a flattened lizard was a creature who could only be described as a lizard man. His skin was covered with mottled scales and his fingertips possessed sharp nails. In addition to laying face down, his long golden hair was covering his face. He had a smaller build compared to the woman, but you could see muscles bulging on his body.

Like the woman, the lizard man was almost naked as well. He wore tattered leather armor and a sad excuse of a rag. A club was affixed to his belt and a rusted mace lay next to him.

“Ugh… I have a bad feeling about this. These two also look way too familiar…!”

Kou muttered as he slapped his forehead, seemingly at his wit’s end. Considering that he was dressed like his in-game character Kou, the black-haired woman and the lizard man under her were most likely Kou‘s acquaintances.

“Mgmm…”

While Kou racked his brain, the catgirl opened her eyes a little.

“Nnngh…?”

While mumbling something, she raised her body halfway with sleepy eyes. At the same time, the ears on her head twitched. Now that she had sat up, it was pretty obvious that she had hair growing where a human’s ears were supposed to be.

Her half-open, deep emerald eyes locked on Kou.

For a while, the woman, now sitting cross-legged on the ground, and Kou, who was getting cold feet, stared at each other, but then her eyes flew wide open.

“W-Who’re you?!”

“Ah! S-Sorry!”

When the woman backed away, her private parts almost entered plain sight, causing Kou to reflexively apologize.

Her ears perked up and while clearly wary, she tried to get up, just to finally notice the lizard man underneath her.

“Huh, what? …What the hell?! Huuh?!”

In a fit of confusion, she leaped back like a feline animal. In the process, one of her feet landed on the lizard man’s head, triggering the lizard man to groan.

“Huh, wait where is this? Where the hell am I?”

While the woman looked around in bewilderment, the lizard man scratched his back and groaned, still not showing any signs of awakening.

“Uh, can I have a moment?”

“Huuh?! What do you want!”

“…You’re Iris, right?”

At Kou’s question, the black-haired woman — Iris, fell silent.

“Your appearance… Kou, is that you?”

“Well, yeah.”

Iris observed Kou quizzically with narrowed eyes.

Ashen robe, a wooden staff at his feet. Those were the only parts that were identical to the Kou she knew from in-game. His stature was about the same, but his trademark beard was gone, revealing his Asian baby face. From Iris’s perspective, he seemed to be in his mid-twenties, but considering his Asian descent, he could’ve been in his thirties.

“…Are you really Kou?”

“Yeah. My beard’s gone so you may not recognize me.”

“I mean, not just the beard, your face looks different too. And your speech isn’t fragmented either…”

Having this pointed out, it was Kou’s turn to be surprised and touch his face.

“…My face changed? How do I look?”

“How, you ask… You have a baby face and droopy eyes kinda like a weary system engineer.”

“Oof, that’s some scary accuracy…”

Kou appeared to have taken mental damage from Iris’s remark. But he immediately realized something else and started to grope around at his waist, searching for something.

Then he pulled out his short sword.

“…What are you doing?”

“I’m gonna use it instead of a mirror.

He tried to reflect his face on the shiny blade. But it didn’t turn out to be as polished as he expected it to be, resulting in it not serving as much of a mirror, but he still managed to grasp how much his face had changed compared to the face he had in the game.

“Yeah, looks like it’s my real face.”

“Wait, that means mine’s like that too…?”

She started to touch her face, but then her gaze moved down and she froze.

“…Huh, w-what’s up with this getup…”

She seemed to have finally realized that she was practically half-naked, causing her cheeks to become bright red. She held her breastplate and loincloth, starting to fidget around, but it was a little too late. Looking closely, you could see a black tail wagging at her back.

Kou suffered another impact when he realized that she also had a tail, but he quickly averted his eyes, believing that it was improper to direct such a rude leering at a lady.

“Uhh, you can use this. It’s pretty tattered though.”

 

————— End of Part 1 —————

 

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