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Chapter - 1:
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The depths of the gate to another world 【THE NEW GATE】

There, two figures were squaring off against each other.

One was the figure of a monster.
The name of the Gatekeeper{monster protecting the gate} was 【Origin】, the very end of the VRMMORPG 【THE NEW GATE】, and its strongest monster.
It was a humanoid dragon type, with a humanoid body, a dragon's head, wings, and a tail.
It's total length was roughly 20m. It's eyes were dyed a sky blue, and its horns and the scales that covered its body glittered golden. A golden armour also concealed a figure like that of a trained warrior. The unadorned spear it held was also golden.
Though its colour scheme could be very possible taken as ugly, but though you could feel a sublime divinity from its physique and overwhelming pressure, there was no hate.
It was no exaggeration to call it a divine beast, and could be said to be a monster worthy of the title 'strongest'.

The other figure was a person.
His name was Shin, and his real name was Kiritani Shinya.
A veteran player who held top class combat ability.
His height was a little over 180cm. If you had to choose between bulky or skinny, he'd be the latter.
Black hair and black eyes. Despite facing off Origin, from his plain face that could neither be called beautiful nor ugly, not a shred of nervousness could be felt.
Around his neck was a light muffler, black-coloured with red zigzags. What he was wearing was a long coat with pants of the same design. His arms and legs were wearing crimson tekkou[手甲, arm guards] and kyakkou [脚甲, legs guards], but besides those there wasn't anything else that resembled armour.
As for weapons, there was only the black katana in his right hand. Both the handle and the tsuba were black, but the blade alone faintly sparkled red, as though it had rubies mixed in.

Shin took a step forward. In response, Origin readied its guard. In contrast to Shin who seemingly wore no armour besides his arm and leg guards, Origin was armed and guarded from head to toe. From an outsider's point of view, it was a sight that was the epitome of recklessness. You couldn't imagine anything except Origin turning Shin into a piece of meat with a single swing of its spear.

Once Shin took yet another step forward, Origin responded by thrusting its spear. With a speed unimaginable for its size, the attack with the spear was like a fast approaching wall.
The spear bore into the tiled floor. Where the point pierced the floor, not only were stone tiles sent flying, but the spear gouged even the floor beneath the tiles.

However, Shin's figure wasn't there.

Shin was by Origin's feet.
A moment before the attack, Shin had used the Support-Type Martial Skill 【Shingan [mind's eye]】 to predict the location of the attack, and furthermore relocated himself at high speeds with the Movement-Type Martial Skill 【Shukuchi】[※].

Aiming for Origin's right leg, having left its sight, Shin activated the Toujutsu-Type Martial Skill 【Kogetsusen [Arc Moon Flash]】. [Note: Here, Toujutsu = katana swordsmanship]
Together with the activation of the skill, the blade of his katana started to glow red. For just an instant, the sharpness and speed of his attack was amplified by 1.5 times, and he slashed into Origin with all his might.

"Shii!"

A single yell and strike.
Leaving behind a bright red trail, the blade bisected the armour around Origin's right leg.
The blade continued and cut apart the leg about halfway up, and the flowing blood dyed its golden scales red.
Origin's HP gauge decreased by 1/50. Considering it was a single blow against the strongest monster, it was a shocking amount of damage.

"■■■■■■■■■■■■■■――!!"

Origin let out a cry at the pain that assailed its leg.
A high pitched cry like the screeching of metal resounded through the room. Immediately reacting due to 【Shingan】's attack prediction, Shin swiftly made a big jump out of the way. The leg strength that had been strengthened to its limit made Shin fast enough that he left behind an afterimage.

Immediately after Shin moved, the butt of the spear smacked down like it was trying to crush the afterimage. Probably because it had weakened, there were fewer smashed tiles than last time. Even so, it goes without saying that even so, it was with force beyond the norm.

"How quick. As expected of the last boss."

Even seeing the fearsome strength of the spear, Shin had enough leisure to admire it. The final Gatekeeper. Filled with fighting spirit worthy of being an opponent.

Though Shin had a lot of leisure to spare, he was definitely not being careless.

If the HP gauge that floated in the corner of his vision emptied, he would die. Not only did he understand this, he had made it this far.

【THE NEW GATE】 had been turned into a death game, it was for the sake of clearing it that Shin was here right now.

The comrades he had fought along with weren't here in the death game, but people who supported him were.
Almost all of the gear Shin was using were his own creations, and though the items he had been given were basically all useless in boss fights. Even so,  the feelings of his allies that had supported them him with all their strength were important[heavy].

There was a girl who cried from missing her family. There was a boy who was at a loss having lost his older brother. There was a man who refused to lose, and challenged himself. There was a woman who would come running to help those who were troubled. All of them had struggled, given up, challenged, fought, and a number of them had disappeared.

It had ben a year since they had been trapped here. Shin wasn't sure if that was a long time, or a shrot time.

However, what filled Shin's heart right now was but one word――――

『Win』.

He'd defeat Origin, and he'd release those who had support him, and those who had pushed him forward, from this game.

It was because of this――――

"I'll take that head of yours!!"

Against Origin who glared over at him, Shin once again took a stance with his sword.

"Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!"

With a yell, his slash cut off Origin's wing from the base.

Toujutsu-Type Martial Skill 【Hazan [Mountain Crusher]】.

It was a vigorous slash from above.
And, as the as the name suggested, it boasted enough power to cut a mountain; a massive 2.5 damage to enemies larger than oneself.

The one-winged Origin fell to its knees from the damage it had sustained.

Shin thought 'Alright!', in his mind. The cooldown from the skill was covered by the collapse of the opponent.

The armour that Origin was wearing was now broken and cracked all over.
Not only was one of its wings missing, but its left arm had been cut off, and even the tip of its golden horn was broken off.
Only a little HP remained in its HP gauge.

"Hahh, hahh, hahh."

Origin was wounded all over, but Shin wasn't uninjured either. His equipment durability was still okay, but he had repeated warded off the huge Origin's blows, repelled its blows, and occasionally blocked its blows. Though his HP gauge was in the safety zone, he was mentally exhausted, so he was panting as though he really was tired.

"Hahh, hahh, suuuuuu haaaahhh…"

He breathed in, then out.

Even if it was needless because of the game system, to Shin, it was a necessary action.

As though to calm his anxious heart, he took control of his breathing.

With 【Hazan】, he'd need only need one more hit to finish things, but the cooldown[delay time] for this skill was long. It was long enough that if not the longest, it had at least the second longest cooldown of all skills. He probably wouldn't be able to use it again in this fight.

(It's not so easy an opponent that it'll just take huge moves one after another, after all. But that's only one of my skills. There's no reason to worry.)

He didn't only have the high damage 【Hazan】. If they lacked in quality, then he'd make up for it in quantity.

"Don't get hasty, me."

Though Origin had little HP left, it wasn't zero. If he got done in at the very end because he lost focus for a moment, it'd be terribly pathetic. [there should be limits to being pathetic]

There was still fighting spirit left in those eyes that stared at Shin. Though it should've been just graphics, that was what Shin felt.

Immediately afterwards, a monotonous female voice reached Shin's ears.

――――【Survival Instinct】 Activate: Attack and Speed increased
――――【Golden Wave】 Activate: HP, damaged parts, and broken armour, steadily recover

Shin's Autoskill, 【Analysis – Ⅹ】['analysis ten'] activated and let him know that Origin was reinforcing its abilities.

And at the same time, Origin's HP gauge began to recover just a little. At the subs of its lost arm and wing, a goldened light formed and grew just a little, slowly regenerating its arms and wing.

If he left Origin alone, at this rate it would return to its original status.
Of course, Shin wouldn't.

At the same time he received the information from 【Analysis Ⅹ】, Shin used 【Shukuchi】 to move, and came down hard on the still kneeling Origin.

"■■■■■■–!!"

In response to Shin's movement, Origin roared and at the same time mowed the spear in its right hand across.
GOU-!! rang the sound of the spear cutting through the air as it approached Shin.

Without a pause, Shin activated the Toujutsu-Type Martial Skill 【Shirahanagashi [Drawn Sword Diversion]】 and the Barehanded-Type Martial Skill 【Steel Repel】.
Lowering his centre of gravity, using 【Shiraha Nagashi】 he blocked the spear with his katana, and shifting the top of the blade, he diverted the power of the spear strike away. On top of that, his right hand propped the blade, and using 【Steel Repel】, he reduced the power of the spear.
However, because the strike was strengthened with 【Survival Instinct】, Shin was unable to fully ward off the blow, and a little of his HP gauge was shaved off.

"Hu-!"

Whilst taking damage, the moment he part his blade from the spear, from his crouched position, Shin increased the power of the strike of the spear above him.
Because of that, the spear struck faster than Origin had intended, and as a result, Origin's posture was destroyed.

Shin immediately activated the Toujutsu-Type Martial Skill 【Gekkou Zanmai [Moonlight Beheading Dance]】. Silver light like the light of the moon wrapped the blade katana, and took the form of a silver blade. The blade length would be temporarily extended by two times. [Note: The pre-edit webnovel says it extends to 2 metres]

"Sehhhhyaaaaaah!"

The light blade struck into Origin's defenceless torso.

One!

Two!

Three!

Each time the blade swung with a speed that left afterimages, a trail of silver was drawn in the air. The three strikes had whittled away the amount of HP that 【Golden Wave】 had recovered.

Four!

Five!

Six!

Seven!

Eight!

Nine!

Ten!

The seven strikes that followed depleted Origin's remaining HP in one go.

The moment ten silver trails were etched into the air, the light disappeared from the blade, and let Shin know that the skill had completed.

【Gekkou Zanmai】 was a skill that increased the attack speed and range for ten strikes. The speed of the attack would be increased 1.3 times, and the range by 2 times.

Though the damage given by one of the strikes wasn't that high, because of the increased range and number of strikes, the combined damage taken from the attack was greater than a simple power-increased skill.

Though it certainly didn't reach a 【Hazan】 that was performed with Shin's STR, weapons and attack power, it was able to deal damage close to it.

And truly, the intense attacks from the 【Gekkou Zanmai】 ten-strike combination left Origin's HP gauge with almost nothing left.

"This finishes it!!"

Shin ran up to Origin, who was collapsed from 【Gekkou Zanmai】's damage. Even in this time, Origin's HP had recovered a little, but Shin judged that he would make it.

Perhaps as a final struggle, Origin's right hand let go of his spear, and let loose a backfist. Shin leapt over it, and set up a joudan guard in mid-air. [Note: Joudan no Kamae. Oberhut. Vom Dach.]

His eyes met with the collapsing Origin's. Despite the fact that this blow would truly spell the end for it, for some reason Shin felt not anger in its eyes, but a quiet calm.

However, even if he could feel no animosity from those eyes, the power in shin's blade didn't let up an inch.

Having decided on victory, his heart didn't waver.

"This is the end!"

Along with those words, Shin brought down his blade blade on Origin's forehead.

 ◆◆◆◆◆◆

――――『You have defeated Gatekeeper 【Origin】. Accordingly, you will be given the boss defeating bonus.』
――――『You have gained Gift(s) 【Limit Breaker】, 【Accomplished One】 and 【Liberator】.』
――――『You have learned Skill(s) 【Wave of the Dark King】, 【Focus Wave】 and 【Scattered Wave】.』
――――『You have gained Items(s) 【Corpse of the Guardian】, 【Soul of the Guardian】 and 【Heart of the Guardian】.』
[Note: First of all, 'gifts' are what would be called 'titles' in other games. The kanji says 'title', but in the light novel, the furigana reads 'gift'.
Also, I have seen 臨界者(rinkaisha) used before in D. Gray Man as well, but the translators there couldn't find a good English equivalent either. In light of the rest of the series, will write it as 'Limit Breaker' for now. It more literally means something that has hit the critical point. Ah, also, Dark King (冥王) sort of equates to Pluto/Hades in a sense, esp. planet (冥王星).]

Hearing the voice of the announcer, Shin stood still.

The place filled with light.

Origin's body turned into light and scattered, and filled the room with light.
The light glittered for a few moments, and disappeared. After that, all that remained in the tattered room were an undamaged door, and Shin.

When the light faded, the announcer spoke again.

『The Gatekeeper of the Depths of the Gate to Another World, 【Origin】, has been defeated, and the dungeon has been cleared.』

It announced Shin's victory to his companions.

『Accordingly, all players are now able to log out.』

It let all the players that fought in THE NEW GATE know that they were released from the game.

"It's over…"

Right, it was over.
The death game they had been trapped in for a year was now over.
Just to be sure, Shin confirmed that at the very bottom of the menu, the 【Log Out】 command was certainly there.
Shin opened up his friends menu to see, and even at that moment, the names of the players were changing from 【Online】 to 【Offline】.
It seemed that everyone was able to log out safely.

"I kept my promise. Right, Marino?"

His chest brimmed with a sense of accomplishment.
Would the girl who had fallen in this world have praised him?

So wondered Shin.

"Now then! Shall I wait to make sure everyone else has logged off?"

Deciding to stop thinking about the depressing, Shin switched his mood and sat down on the floor.
Shin had decided to make sure everyone else made it home before logging out himself.

Shin took out something like a rolled parchment from his item box; the Survivor's List, and quietly spread it. This list was an item that showed the names of the surviving players in real-time.
A companion alchemist who sympathised with Shin's thoughts had spent 7 days and 7 nights coming up with the item. If the player died, or otherwise logged out, their name would disappear from the list.
Whilst feeling grateful towards that alchemist friend, Shin continued to watch the list for a short while longer.

The time it took was roughly 3 minutes. Finally, the only name left on the list was 【Shin】.

"I'm the last one, huh?"

He unconsciously let out those words.

While he was fighting, he did nothing but focus on what was ahead, but now that now that he was about to end things, it felt somehow deeply moving.

After logging out, he probably wouldn't return here again. For a game that had been turned into a death game to continue running; no matter how you thought about it, it was impossible.

(It ended up as a death game in the end, but excluding that, I really had a lot of fun times with it.)

For Shin, the time he had spent playing THE NEW GATE actually equated to a 1/3 of his life. For better or worse, he had spent a long time in this game.

"Cya, THE NEW GATE."

Muttering words of farewell, Shin made to log out, but at that moment, the door before his eyes let out a groan.

"Mn?"

Preoccupied with the gate, the finger that made to touch the words Log Out, stopped.

The gorgeously decorated, and dignified doors were slowly opening with a groan. Light shone from the opened gap, and from where Shin was, it was impossible to tell what was happening beyond the doors.

"What's this? There shouldn't be anymore events…"

Shin was bewildered.
Besides Shin, the door continued to open, and the overflowing light dyed the room white.

"Something is wrong."

Feeling a sense of abnormality, a moment faster than Shin's finger managed to touch the words 'Log Out', the light filled the room.
As though swallowed by the light, Shin lost consciousness.

—————————————————

Gate of the Otherworld ・ Deepest Part of【THE NEW GATE】

 

Two shadows were squaring off against each other.

Volume 1 Chapter 1 Part 2

 

――『Gatekeeper [One Who Guards the Gate]【Origin】has been defeated. According, you will be granted the bonuses for defeating the boss.』
――『You have gained the Gifts【Limit Breaker】,【Accomplished One】, and【Liberator】.』
――『You have gained the skills【Meiou no Hadou [Wave of the Dark King]】,【Shuusoku Hadou [Convergence Wave]】, and【Kakusan Hadou [Diffusion Wave]】.』
――『You have gained the following items:【Remains of the Guardian】,【Soul of the Guardian】,【Heart of the Guardian】』
(T/N: In TNG, Titles are called ‘Gifts.’ The kanji reads ‘Title’ while the furigana reads ‘Gift.’)

 

While listening to the announcement, Shin simply stood still.

 

The place was flooded with light.

 

Origin’s body had scattered into the particles of light that now filled the room.
After dancing around the room, the lights gradually faded away. At the end, all that was left was the tattered room, a door without a single scratch on it, and Shin.

 

When the lights disappeared, another announcement was broadcasted.

 

『Gatekeeper [One Who Guards the Gate]【Origin】of the deepest part of Gate of the Otherworld has fallen. The dungeon has been cleared.』

 

That was to inform Shin’s nakama that he had emerged victorious.

 

『Accordingly, all players will now be able to log out.』

 

Now all the players that had fought in THE NEW GATE knew that they had been freed from the game.

 

“It’s finally over...”

 

Truly, it was over.
The death game that had imprisoned all of them for a whole year was finally over.
Just in case, Shin pulled up the ingame menu. There really was a “Log Out” button at the very bottom.
He then pulled up his Friends List. The indicators to the side of each name that used to say “Online” were changing into “Offline” one by one.
It appears that everyone was able to safely log out.

 

“I’ve fulfilled my promise! Right, Marino?”

 

A sense of accomplishment filled his chest.
Would that girl who had left this world praised him?

 

So wondered Shin.

 

“Well then! Shall we stay behind until all the other players have logged out first?”

 

“No more depressing thoughts,” thought Shin as he sat down.
He decided to stay behind and watch over everyone until they’ve all safely logged out.

 

Shin took out the Survivors [Those Who Remain] List from his inventory. It was rolled up like a sheepskin parchment, so he spread it out. This item was a real time list of the names of every single player in the game.
Alchemist nakama of his who had empathized with his wish to see everyone off until they’ve all logged out had spent 7 all-nighters making this item. They said that when a player dies or logs out from the game, their name would disappear from the list.
While thanking his alchemist nakama inside his heart, he kept on watching as the list gradually grew shorter and shorter.

 

After about 3 minutes, the only name left on the list was【Shin】.

 

“I’m the last, huh.”

 

He unconsciously uttered those words.

 

When he was fighting, all he did was to stare straight ahead. But now that everything was over, it felt somehow deeply moving.

 

He probably won’t ever return here after logging out. There was no way that this game that had turned into a death game would still continue running; no matter how you thought about it, it was impossible.

 

(In the end, it turned out like this, but putting the dying part aside it was actually quite a lot of fun.)

 

Shin had been playing THE NEW GAME for pretty much 1/3 of his entire life. For better or for worse, he had spent an enormous amount of time together with this game. (T/N: I suppose that means the game didn’t turn into a death game at the very beginning like SAO.)

 

“Seeya, THE NEW GATE!”

 

As Shin murmured his farewell and reached to log out, the door in front of him let out a groan.

 

“Nn?”

 

Transfixed by the door that was now opening, the finger that was about to touch the Log Out button stopped in midair.

 

The massive doors whose resplendent ornamentation had become loose gradually creaked open. A brilliant light from the other side spilled through the widening crack, such that it was impossible for Shin to see what was beyond.

 

“What? I thought the game was completely finished...”

 

Shin was bewildered.
Without regard for Shin, the door continued to open, and the light filled the entire room until it was pure white.

 

“Something’s not right here!”

 

Feeling a growing sense of foreboding, Shin rushed to hit the log out button. But an instant before he could make it, the light filled up the entire room.
As if he was swallowed up by the light, Shin immediately lost consciousness.

 

 

 

The first thing that he felt was the wind.
As his hazy consciousness gradually came back, he felt a warm wind flowing upon his skin.
The next things that he registered were the hard ground against his back and a sweet smell that was tickling his nose.
Oh right, the world is all dark because my eyes are still closed.

 

“Nn...”

 

He opened his eyes as he sat up.
The world before him was a meadow that stretched as far as he could see, with tree groves dotted here and there.
White and pink flowers were blooming where Shin had been sleeping. With Shin at the center, the circle of flowers had a diameter of roughly 3m. Apparently, the smell which had been tickling Shin’s nose from earlier was from these flowers.

 

“This place is...”

 

His mind began to turn, trying to answer the question of why he was in a place like this.

 

(Today, I fought with the boss Origin at the deepest part of Gate of the Otherworld and won. That’s right, I’d cleared THE NEW GATE. Then it became possible to log out, and I had waited until everyone else had been freed...”

 

His mind gradually came back into focus.
The light at the end that he had seen, that was,

 

“The doors ... opened?”

 

That’s right, after defeating【Origin】, the last boss, it became possible to log out, and he too was just about to log out when the door that had been closed suddenly opened and he lost consciousness.

 

“What on earth was that? And this place...”

 

Even when he looked around again, there was really nothing but grass and groves of trees. Nothing else was to be found.

 

“Could it be that I’m still inside the game?”

 

Shin wasn’t sure whether his finger had actually reached the Log Out button at the end. He wasn’t sure if it was some kind of an event at the end and that he hadn’t actually logged out yet, so he tried to call up the ingame menu.

 

“...oi, oi.”

 

Lined up in front of his eyes was a translucent interface and menu items lined up next to it. It was without a doubt the ingame interface from THE NEW GATE.

 

“What on earth, I’m still inside the game?”

 

“Ahhh, that scared me,” thought Shin as he scrolled down the menu.
There, at the bottom, the Log Out button...

 

“... is not here!”

 

It wasn’t there.

 

The Log Out button that should have been between Gold Owned and Help was not there. After defeating Origin, he had confirmed that the button was back. But now it was gone again!

 

“Oi, oi, oi, you’ve kidding me, right?!”

 

He checked every single menu from the interface, but the log out button was really nowhere to be found.

It was exactly the same as when he was inside the death game.

 

“Tch!! Oh right, what about everyone else?”

 

Was there anyone else other than himself? Entertaining that possibility, he took out the Survivors List from his inventory. If there were any other players who’d also been left behind, then their name should appear on the list.

 

“What on earth ... is this??”

 

On the list was only his name. However, below his name was a message floating in the blank space that said,

 

――『Cannot display due to lack of connection with the network.』

 

His alchemist nakama had told him that the Survivors List functioned by accessing the network inside THE NEW GATE and confirming the avatars who are still present.
If that was true, then it means that Shin’s avatar was currently cut off from THE NEW GATE’s system.

 

“If I’m not connected to the network, then how come I can still move my avatar?”

 

Even though he didn’t log out, he was cut off from the system. Was that even possible? In such a situation, Shin would have become unable to move his avatar. Shin was by no means an expert on VR technology, but he at least knew that that was how THE NEW GATE worked. If he thought about it normally, it was a contradiction to be cut off from the network and still being able to move his avatar.

 

“I don’t get it! What on earth is happening?”

 

As the earlier feeling of relief evaporated in one go, Shin threw himself back onto the ground.
Without standing up again, he wracked his brain as hard as he could, but no matter how hard he thought he still couldn’t come up with any answers.

 

(I can’t go on like this. In times like these, I have to empty my mind for a bit first.)

 

This is what Shin usually does to calm down when he finds his mind all muddled up. When he couldn’t make anymore inroads, he would let go of all his thoughts, then rebuild everything again from the bottom up.

 

First of all, I can’t connect to the network.
Secondly, I can indeed move my avatar.
Thirdly, the above two points are mutually exclusive.

 

The first point could be confirmed by once again checking the message shown on the Survivors List.
As for the second point, it is indeed true that a connection to the network is essential to manipulate his avatar. In actuality, players who had been disconnected from the network due to bugs or whatever had become unable to move their avatars, so this must also be true.
There is no particular need to confirm the third point.

 

Therefore, Shin now thought about how it was possible for the two points to coexist.

 

He considered the possibility that it was just the Survivors List that was bugged and that he was actually connected to the network. It wouldn’t be strange if that was true.
The second possibility was that it was now possible to control his avatar even without a connection to the network. The problem was that Shin was indeed moving his avatar, so there was no way to test this theory.

 

“The last possibility is that this is now a fantasy.”

 

He smiled wryly at this thought that had floated across his mind while trying to think seriously.

 

Shin was a total gamer. He was into games so much that his friends even called him the gaming addict. At the same time, he also spent a lot of time on anime, manga, light novels, and web novels.
He had read many novels of the “can’t get out of this death game” genre. He was very surprised when he himself got to experience the exact same thing from the novels. Therefore, of course he had read stories with the setting of “oh I’ve arrived in a world exactly like the game world!”.
The reasons given had been varied, but there were a lot of stories where the main character had entered the game world as is.

 

What had entered Shin’s head just now was exactly that. Abruptly, the thought that this was perhaps the real THE NEW GATE world had floated into his mind.
This would explain how he could move his avatar even though he was not connected to the network.

 

“No way,” thought Shin as he gave up thinking for a moment and just looked up at the sky. The blue sky spread out before his eyes, and little white clouds floated along.
At the corner of his eyes was the meadow and the edge of the groves. When he focused there, he could distinctly see each leaf one by one.

 

“...................”

 

He could see them. Very distinctly. Leaf by leaf.

 

 

 

He was seeing TOO well.

 

 

 

He could now see even better than when he was in the game. It was almost as if this was the real thing.

 

Indeed, VR technology had already reached the point where it was possible to construct a world that was almost like the real world. Sensory input was not limited to vision and sound; it was also possible to reproduce touch, smell, and taste.
However, there’s a limit. No matter how accurate the reproduction, it was still only possible to get close enough to be “almost like” the real thing. The resolution was such that anyone who has seen the real thing would easily be able to tell that it was a mere replica. In the end, it is only pixels and voxels.

However, everything that Shin could see, from the movement of the clouds to the luster of the leafs to the contours of the flowers blooming in the wild, was screaming that this was reality.

 

“...................”

 

Shin slowly brought his hands to his face. 

 

The creases and fingerprints that he couldn’t see while in the game were there.

 

“Is this ... really real?”

 

Having reached this realization, he started to understand everything else one by one. The scene in front of his eyes, the rustling of the leaves, the feeling of the wind on his skin, the smell that was tickling his nose — everything was different from what he had felt while inside the game.

 

“After the death game, now a trip to a parallel world ...”

 

Shin had now succeeded in experiencing the two biggest urban legends related to VRMMOs.
Depending on the person, this might be a highly desirable situation, but all Shin was thinking was that he would have preferred some down time between the two happenings. The only outward indication of this weird way of thinking was Shin’s calm expression.

 

“Ahh ... why is this happening~~”

 

He raised his voice lazily while rolling on the ground.
The gallant figure of him fighting Origin was nowhere to be found.
In addition to the fatigue of fighting Origin, being sent to a parallel world right when he thought he could log out had made him so tired that he just wanted to take a rest.
To sum it up in one word, he was now the very image of languidness.
It would take a while for this syndrome to burn itself out, so for the moment Shin’s chest was only filled with the desire to just laze about.

 

“Ahhhh~~~ ... Haaaaaa~~~ ... ”

 

For a while, Shin just repeatedly rolled around like as if he had regressed back into an infant and gotten stuck in that state. Abandoning thought and just lazing around for a short time apparently seemed to suffice as a modicum of rest. Feeling a little bit better after those few minutes, Shin began to think again.

 

There were too many unknown in his present situation. As there was no one nearby, he couldn’t gather any information. Although his body still felt a bit heavy, he started to move and at the same time began considering what he should do next.

 

(In any case, I have too little information. For now, let’s bring up the menu interface again and confirm my status and items. After that, let’s go look for somewhere with people.)

 

He called up the menu interface and looked at his character screen.
The left half of the screen was a 3D model of Shin’s avatar, while the right half had menus that led to other interfaces like【Attribute Points】,【Equipment】,【Gifts】, and【Skills】. (T/N: One more reminder that in this game, ‘Titles’ are called ‘Gifts.’)

 

The 3D model of his avatar was a young man with black hair, black eyes, and a common face whose sole unique characteristic was the slightly sharp look in its eyes. Being a direct reflection of Shin’s real face and body, this avatar was also around 180cm tall and looked a little gangly. His friends in real life who were in athletic clubs had frequently told him to go train his body more.

 

He realized some slight changes from the fight against Origin when he checked the【Equipment】window. The main thing was that he was no longer wearing his muffler, handguards, and greaves. What he did have on was the black long coat with red lines on it,【Long Coat of the Dark King】, the pants that were part of the set, and accessories .
He found【Shingetsu [True Moon]】in the column of weapons. It appears that his favorite beloved katana was safe and sound.
In his equipment storage was everything that he had from before coming here and also the stuff that he was no longer wearing after the fight. All of his items and the money that he had were all unchanged, so there were no problems on that end.

 

Next was his【Attribute Points】.
Originally, aside from LUC, all of his other stats had been maxed with 9’s. While praying that he didn’t get nerfed, he opened the window.

 

Name:           Shin
Gender:        Male
Race:             High Human
Job:                Samurai
Level:            255                (MAX: 255)
HP:                22832            (MAX: 9999)
MP:               21349            (MAX: 9999)
STR:              2225              (MAX: 999)
VIT:               2017              (MAX: 999)
DEX:             2170              (MAX: 999)
AGI:              2236              (MAX: 999)
INT:              2032              (MAX: 999)
LUC:             36                  (MAX: 99)

 

“... No way, no way, no way.”

 

Shin took his eyes off of the screen, looked somewhere far away for a bit, then looked at the screen again.
There was no way that doing that would change what was on the screen, though.

 

“No, wait a sec. Wait a moment!”

 

He looked away from the screen again and stared at a point far away. He then rubbed his eyes. Confirming that his vision was not blurry, he finally looked at the screen again.

 

“I’m not seeing wrong ... right?”

 

In the end, Shin had to look three times before finally acknowledging that he wasn’t seeing wrong.
 

The reason was simple. Aside from LUC, all of his stats differed greatly from what he remembered.

 

VRMMORPG【THE NEW GATE】was different from other VRMMORPGs in that if you spent enough time, it was possible to max out every single stat (except for LUC).

 

Ever since closed beta, Shin had spent an overwhelming of time in the game and calculated the most efficient ways of farming. He had also repeatedly reincarnated his avatar before finally maxing out every single stat. Although there were other players who had gotten close, he was literally the only player who had truly maxed out his character.

 

Consequently, he had maxed out HP and MP at 9999; STR, VIT, DEX, AGI, and INT at 999; and LUC at 36. His LUC was so low only because the amount was decided during character creation and couldn’t be increased nor decreased afterwards. However, all of Shin’s other stats were now more than double the max.

 

“This game’s balance ... has been totally destroyed ...”

 

There was nothing to do but to just be amazed.

 

His stats were now so high that he had no idea how strong his full power would be.

 

“... I’m pretty tired of being surprised by now ...”

 

He was almost going to hit himself because of how ridiculous he looked from having been continuously surprised the whole time.
With that said, though, it would be unproductive to just continue staring at the status window, so for now he decided to continue checking other interface menus.

 

(There’s something here that I’ve never seen before.)

 

The long and short of it was that there were Gifts and skills that he had never seen before.

The new Gifts were【Limit Breaker】,【Accomplished One】, and【Liberator】. The new skills were【Meiou no Hadou [Wave of the Dark King]】,【Shuusoku Hadou [Convergence Wave]】, and【Kakusan Hadou [Diffusion Wave]】.

Shin had heard the announcement after defeating Origin, but it had completely slipped his mind.

Curious about their effects, Shin selected the three new additions to his list of Gifts.

 

【Limit Breaker】
Your power can surpass the limit.
The upper limit for all stats has been removed. Stats will rise according to how many attribute points were discarded prior to limit removal.

 

【Accomplished One】
Blessings be upon the one who has broken free of samsara.
At the moment this Gift is attained, all attribute points will be doubled.

 

【Liberator】
You are the hope of those who have been imprisoned.
Immune to all binding and restricting effects. Forbidden magic, traps, items etc. are rendered ineffective.

 

“... what on earth is this?”

 

Every one of these new Gifts that he had gotten were ridiculous. He knew pretty much every Gift, but he had never heard of such game-breaking Gifts.

 

It was well and good that he finally solved the mystery of why his stats had jumped up so much, but with these Gifts he was now basically cheating.
It was not even on the same dimension as having rare equips or having high levels from the start. But LUC alone remained unchanged (in accordance to the game’s settings). Was it supposed to be some form of harassment?

 

“Most characters who get sent to a parallel world from an MMO are strong enough to be cheating, but isn’t this overdoing it a little?”

 

With his original stats, Shin had already been publicly called a cheater. After he single-handedly beat a party of 12 max level players (their levels were maxed, but not their stats, and they had never been reincarnated), they had screamed “You freaking cheater!” while dying. Shin did have a harder time against players who had reincarnated several tens of times and who’d almost maxed out their stats, but he was still able to handle four of them at the same time. In the first place, it was extremely rare for any other players to seriously consider beating him.

 

Now that those stats have been even further amplified, as long as he didn’t get killed off instantaneously there was no way he would ever lose to anyone else.

 

Shin prayed fervently that these Gifts would never be propagated.

 

One of the shadows belonged to a monster.
The name of the Gatekeeper [One Who Guards the Gate] was【Origin】.
It was the end of the VRMMORPG【THE NEW GATE】, and its strongest monster.
As a humanoid dragon type, it had a humanoid body with a dragon’s head, wings, and tail.
It spanned roughly 20m. Its eyes were dyed sky blue, while the horn on its forehead and the scales that covered its entire body glittered golden. Concealing the stature of its well-trained body was, again, golden armor. The spear in its hand that was completely devoid of ornamentation was, once more, golden.
Though one might be tempted to just call it ugly, its body was radiating an overwhelming air of intimidation that was on par with the gods. However, it did not emanate hatred.
It was indeed worthy of being called the most powerful monster. It would not even be an overstatement to call it a divine beast.

 

The other shadow belonged to a human.
The man’s name was【Shin】. His real name was Kiritani Shinya.
He was the top player with the highest combat ability who had been in the VRMMORPG【THE NEW GATE】from the very beginning.
His height was slightly over 180cm. If one really had to say, his physique was more on the slim side.
Both his eyes and his hair were black. Despite facing off against Origin, his face, which was quite mediocre, being neither very handsome nor particularly ugly, did not show a single sign of nervousness.
Around his neck was a thin, black muffler with red zigzag lines on it. He was also wearing a long coat and pants that were also black with red lines. Aside from the deep crimson hand guards and greaves on his arms and legs, he was not wearing anything else that looked like armor.
The only weapon he was wielding was the black katana in his right hand. Though the handle, guard and blade were all black, the edge of the blade glowed a faint red, as if rubies had been rubbed in.

 

Shin took a step forward. In response, Origin took a stance.
In contrast to Shin, who had on only hand guards and greaves for armor, Origin was equipped head to toe with his armor and spear. From an outsider’s point of view, this scene was the epitome of folly. The only foreseeable future was one where Origin would turn Shin into a lump of meat with only a single swing of his spear.

 

The very moment Shin took another step forward, Origin lunged with its spear. A speed unimaginable for its gigantic body coupled with the sheer size of the spear made it look like a wall was pressing in.

 

The attack from the spear pierced the ground under the flagstones. The thrust not only blew away all nearby flagstones, it even gouged out a large part of the earth underneath.

 

However, Shin’s figure was no longer there.

 

Shin was at Origin’s feet.
The instant before the attack, he had predicted where the attack would land through the Support-Type Martial Skill【Shingan [Mind’s Eye]】, then rushed forward at high speed using the Movement-Type Martial Skill【Shukuchi [Blink]】.

 

While hidden from Origin’s sight, Shin aimed at its right foot and activated the Sword-Type Martial Skill【Kogetsusen [Arc Moon Flash]】.

 

The edge of the blade glowed crimson along with the activation of the skill. At that moment, the speed and damage of the sword was amplified by 1.5 times. Shin struck with the weight of the momentum of his entire body.

 

“Shi!”

 

All of his fighting spirit concentrated into that split second.
Leaving behind a red trail, the blade split the armor on Origin’s right foot in half.
The slash almost sliced the foot in half, causing fresh red blood to gush out, staining the golden scales.
Origin’s HP bar fell by about 2%. Considering that it was a single strike against the game’s strongest monster, it was an impressive amount of damage.

 

"■■■■■■■■■■■■■■――!!"

 

Origin shrieked from the pain of the attack on his foot.
A shrill sound like pieces of metal being scratched against each other echoed around the room. As【Shingan】predicted the next incoming attack, Shin reacted instantly, dashing out from under Origin as fast as he could. Having amplified his leg strength to the very limit, Shin’s body left afterimages from the movement.

 

Right after Shin moved away, the butt of the spear slammed down, almost as if it was trying to crush the afterimages. The power did seem to be slightly less than before, seeing as fewer flagstones were blown away. However, it needs not be said that the power was still way beyond any normal standards.

 

“Fast. As expected of the final boss.”

 

Even while facing the frightening power of the spear, Shin had the composure and room for admiration. Acknowledging his opponent, the last Gatekeeper [One Who Guards the Gate], as a worthy opponent, he stoked up his fighting spirit even higher.

 

Although Shin was composed, he still remained very vigilant.

 

When the HP bar at the edge of his vision becomes empty, he would be the one who’d die. Shin had come this far while knowing this.

 

Shin was here in order to clear【THE NEW GATE】, which had turned into a death game.

 

There was no one fighting alongside him, but there were a lot of people who’d supported him.
The equipment that he had on were mainly procured by himself, and the items that he had received from people turned out to be pretty ineffective in a boss fight. Despite all that, he was determined to fulfill the hopes that all of his nakama had entrusted him with.

 

There was that young girl who cried from wanting to see her family so badly. There was that young man who had become lost after losing his elder brother. There was that man who struggled on in the face of adversity, refusing to give up. And there was that girl who always ran back to offer help to people who needed it.
Everyone had struggled, given up, then risen again to challenge and fight the world. Sadly, some of them had eventually disappeared.

 

They were imprisoned for a whole year. Shin didn’t know if it was long or short.

 

At this moment, only one word filled his chest.

 

“Win!”

 

Just that alone.

 

He had to defeat Origin and help release from this death game all those people who had supported him and pushed his back.

 

For that very reason,

 

“I will have you hand over your head!!”

 

As Origin turned and glared at him, Shin readied his sword again.

 

“Oooooohhhhhhhhh!!”

 

With a piercing scream and a slicing attack he managed to sever one of Origin’s wings at the base.

 

Sword-Type Martial Skill【Hazan [Mountain Crusher]】.

 

It was a karatake wari from the joudan stance (T/N: Imagine slashing down from above.)

 

Living up to its name, it was a move that boasted an extraordinary 2.5 times the damage against opponents larger than the user.

 

With its wing cut off, the accumulated damage to Origin finally brought it to its knees. Thankfully, this prevented a counterattack while Shin was recovering from the momentary freeze caused by the use of the huge skill.

 

Origin’s armor was by now broken and cracked in numerous places.

 

It wasn’t only the single wing that was cut off; its left arm was also cut off, and the tip of its golden horn was also gone. 

 

“Haa, haa, suuuuuuu haaaaaaaaa...........”

 

Shin calmed his ragged breathing.
Using【Hazan】one more time would be enough to finish the fight. However, the cooldown time for that skill was long. Among all available skills, Hazan probably was the highest, or at least second highest, in terms of cooldown time. Therefore, it can’t be used anymore in this fight.

 

(Well, in the first place, this wasn’t an enemy against which he could just spam large attacks against. No need to get all worked up from not being able to use one skill.)

 

【Hazan】wasn’t the only high damage skill. When quality is not enough, one merely has to make it up with quantity.

 

“Let’s not get hasty, alright?”

 

Origin’s HP bar had been shaved down to a tiny sliver, but it was not completely empty yet. It would be beyond pathetic if he lost at the very end from being careless.

 

Origin looked over at Shin. Although everything was supposed to be mere pixels, Shin could palpably feel the fighting spirit in its eyes.

 

Immediately afterwards, Shin heard a robotic female voice.

――【Seizon Honnou [Survival Instinct]】 Activated: Attack Power and Speed Increased
――【Ougon no Hadou [Golden Wave]】 Activated: HP, Damaged Parts and Equipment Steadily Recovering

 

The automatic skill【Analyze X】had activated to tell Shin about the skills that Origin was now using.
(T/N: Shin has the Analyze skill at level 10, the max level. ‘X’ here is for 10.)

 

At the same time, Origin’s HP bar began to refill itself in increments. A golden light shone from the stump of its left hand and wing and those parts started to regenerate.

 

If left alone, it would most likely return to its former status.
Of course, there was no way that Shin would allow it to do so.

 

At the same time he got the notification from Analyze X, he activated【Shukuchi】and closed in on Origin, who was still on its knees.

 

"■■■■■■――!!"

 

In response to Shin’s movement, Origin roared and swept his spear across in a mowing attack.
The wind made a “GOU!!” sound as the spear cut through the air and sped towards Shin.

 

Shin activated the Sword-Type Martial Skill【Shiraha Nagashi [Drawn Sword Diversion]】and the Unarmed-Type Martial Skill【Hagane Hajiki [Steel Repel]】.
Lowering his center of gravity, while receiving and stopping the spear with his katana through 【Shiraha Nagashi】, he slid the spear off the edge of his blade by diverting the direction of the attack. On top of that,【Hagane Hajiki】helped reduce the damage taken and also reflected some of the damage back.
Sparks flew as the spear slid on top of the katana with terrifying force. Even though it was not a direct hit, Shin’s body almost flew away along with the spear’s momentum, but he managed to endure it with the help of his skills and his taijutsu.
However, with the higher damage from Origin using【Seizon Honnou】, Shin was unable to nullify all of the damage from the attack. His HP went down a bit.

 

“Fu!”

 

The moment the blade left the spear, Shin rose up from his lowered stance and added that momentum to the spear.
Due to that, the speed of the spear went beyond Origin’s expectations, causing it to overreach and lose its posture.

 

Shin then instantly activated the Sword-Type Martial Skill【Gekkou Zanmai [Moonlight Beheading Dance]】. A silvery light like moonlight wrapped around his black katana, turning it into a silver blade. The blade also momentarily grew to around 2m in length.

 

“Seeehhhyaaaaaa!!”

 

The silver blade slashed into Origin’s now defenseless torso.

 

First strike!

 

Second strike!

 

Third strike!

 

The blade of light flew so fast that it left afterimages, carving paths of light in the air. The first three slashes dealt enough damage to cancel out all the HP that Origin had regained from【Ougon no Hadou】.

 

Fourth strike!

 

Fifth strike!

 

Sixth strike!

 

Seventh strike!

 

Eighth strike!

 

Ninth strike!

 

Tenth strike!

 

The series of ten slashes brought down Origin’s HP in quick succession.

 

After that, the light from the blade disappeared, indicating that the skill was finished.

 

【Gekkou Zanmai】was a skill of ten consecutive slashes with boosted attack speed and range. Attack speed was 1.3 times, and range was doubled. Although the damage from a single strike was not that high, the increased range and number of strikes combined together added up to much more damage than a simple power-up attack.

 

Although it couldn’t be compared to a【Hazan】dealt with Shin’s STR and weapon’s attack power, it was not far off.

 

Indeed, the intense attacks from【Gekkou Zanmai】’s ten-strike combination left only about 2mm in Origin’s HP bar.

 

“I will finish you off!!”

 

Shin ran onto Origin’s body as it collapsed from the damage of【Gekkou Zanmai】. Although Origin’s HP bar was still recovering even now, Shin judged that he would make it in time.

 

Perhaps as a final act of defiance, Origin let go of the spear in its right hand and let loose a backfist. Shin jumped over the fist, and adopted a joudan stance in midair.

Their eyes met. This was the very moment when Origin would be finished off, but still there was no anger in its eyes. Instead, Shin felt that Origin was at peace with itself.

 

With that said, though, even if there was no animosity in its eyes, the blade that swung down did not deviate nor slow down at all.

 

The heart that had decided to win would not budge.

 

“This is the end!”

 

With those words, Shin swung down his black blade towards Origin’s forehead.


Volume 1 Chapter 1 Part 3

 

After that, aside from the Gifts, Shin also thoroughly went through his skills and magics, and even activated a few for verification. Fortunately, there wasn’t anything nearby which would have been problematic if destroyed, so he was able to freely test the power of his skills and magic to some degree.

 

After creating many large craters around himself, he learned two main things: that the paralysis penalty and cooldown times for Martial Skills were both gone, and that it was now possible to directly control the strength of his magic.

 

Although it was natural to have paralysis penalty and cooldown times when it was still a game, it wouldn’t make sense to still have those around in reality so it was a great help that they were gone. With that said, though, he realized that it wasn’t possible to keep on endlessly spamming those Martial Skills whenever he wanted.

 

The flip side of the game characteristics being gone was that now his tendons could get torn, his joints could get dislocated, and he can generally get injured. Well, if this was reality, then it makes sense. At any rate, Shin was no longer inside the game world. If he took an enemy’s attack, it would no longer be a matter of merely having his HP bar go down. If he didn’t think carefully about how to move, it could be possible that he wouldn’t know how to when he really needed to.

 

Shin reminded himself once again that this was no longer a game.

 

He used to confuse the real world with the game world, but now he was confusing the game world with the real world. While thinking such thoughts, Shin mused on when it was that he had started to think of the virtual world of THE NEW GATE as a second reality.
“Then perhaps I should think of this place as a third reality?” thought Shin with a wry smile.
It took quite a while for the second reality (game world) to start feeling real, but he was adapting much faster to the third reality. As though the exhaustion from a short while ago was a lie, he was surprised at how easily he was now moving about.

 

“Well then, it’s about time to get moving.”

 

So saying, Shin took out a bookmark from his inventory. He lifted this normal-looking bookmark above.

 

“Go home!”

 

When Shin chanted this, light immediately gathered around the bookmark into roughly the shape and size of a baseball. It then changed into the shape of a falcon.
 

The falcon made of light floated in the air a set distance away from Shin’s head, pointing in a specific direction.

 

What Shin had used was an item called【Guide】, which would guide the user to a previously registered location. It was usually used to mark the locations of safe spots on hunting fields, but a few players like Shin used it to mark their home instead.

 

Shin didn’t know where he was due to not being able to call up the map. Then he saw【Guide】on his items list, and since the only location that he’d registered was Home, he decided to go check that out first.

 

Incidentally, the light being in the shape of a falcon was merely due to Shin’s preference. Players could freely alter the shape of the light from this item.

 

“Here I come, my home!”

 

Shin started to run in the direction of his house. When he was selecting the destination, the item had indicated that it was about 67 kemels away. 1 kemel is around the same distance as 1 km, which means that his house was about 67 km away.

 

It would have taken quite a while to walk that distance for a normal person, but Shin’s stamina and leg strength was on a different level completely beyond the norm. Even while sauntering he could cover ground quite quickly.
His running speed, though, could go up to 70 km/h. Moreover, he was not riding a vehicle, so he was able to travel through any terrain, be it dense forest, scraggy underbrush, or wasteland littered with rocks.

 

“Yaaaaahhhoooooo~~!!”

 

It felt so good to run into the wind with all abandon that he also shouted at the top of his lungs. It felt like all of the murky gloomy feelings that had accumulated in his chest ever since he woke up would be cleansed and dispelled. He was in a bit of a runner’s high.
Although he didn’t know how long his stamina would last, it didn’t really feel like it was going down much at all, so he just kept on running without stopping for any rest.

 

Along the way, he saw Tetra Grizzlies (four-armed bears), Twin-Head Snakes (snakes with two heads), and Flame Boars (boars with a fire-like mane). As a further test of his own strength, he picked fights with every single mob he encountered. The levels of the bears, snakes, and boars were respectively 87, 68, and 79.
There was no mistaking their levels because he got that information from【Analyze X】. (T/N: Analyze level 10, not Analyze ‘x’.)

 

They were all monsters with fixed attack patterns that beginners farmed often. At Shin’s level, he could easily handle all of them barehanded, but he felt a slight chill when he glimpsed the monsters’ spontaneity and willingness to do whatever it took to survive.

 

He then thought to himself that it wasn’t good to waste time fighting with these monsters, so he decided to focus on only running.

 

He continued running over meadows, leaping over rocks, and dashing through forests for about an hour. When he found a huge castle wall in front and drew closer, the falcon of light started to flicker, indicating that he was getting close to his destination.

 

He slowed down, then came to a complete stop. The falcon was pointing in a direction that was slightly off from the castle walls. Apparently, it was somewhere in the forest spread out in front of the castle walls. Shin was pretty sure that there were no cities with a wall anywhere near where his home was, though.

 

“When did that get built?”

 

He muttered with a sigh while looking at the castle walls.
The walls were about as high as a six-story building. It appeared to have been made of cut stone, and exuded a dignified atmosphere.

 

He wasn’t sure if the scratches and splinter parts were from monsters or war.

 

Shin had fought in many large scale wars inside the game, so he had a lot of experience with castle sieges as well. He determined that this castle would be hard to breach, sensing that enchantments like monster repellent, fortification, and magic resistance had been cast on it. And they were all close to upper class in strength.

 

From his current position, Shin couldn’t see any gates, so he didn’t think that it was a town behind the walls, but he couldn’t be sure until he actually went over it. However, it didn’t make sense to have walls around an empty wasteland, so he decided to check it out later.

 

For now, he had no business with the wall, so he turned his gaze back to the forest, and resumed walking in the direction that the falcon was pointing to.

 

After walking about 100 mels, he suddenly found himself in a clearing with markedly different vegetation. The trees that he had passed so far were generally 30 to 40 cemels in width, but this area was enclosed by gigantic trees that were more than 1 mel in width.
(T/N: mel = meter and cemel = centimeter)

 

In the middle of the clearing stood a building that matched perfectly with his memory.

 

Its appearance was that of a single house built from stone and wood. Inside the game, it had served as both a shop and his house.
The entrance of the shop side had the noren out and a large sign on top that read『Yorozuya Tsuki no Hokora』.
(T/N: Noren is the cloth hung at head level in front of the door of Japanese restaurants. There is no English equivalent word. Also, Yorozuya means ‘general merchant,’ and Tsuki no Hokora roughly translates to Shrine of the Moon, but as I said I’ll leave Japanese names in Japanese.)

 

“The appearance hasn’t really changed much, huh.”

 

Without a doubt, it looked exactly like it did before the decisive battle against Origin. Shin felt a sense of reassurance from seeing his home still safe and sound.

 

When Shin had run the shop inside the game,『Yorozuya Tsuki no Hokora』had dealt with a large range of goods, ranging from weapons to equips to items. Generally, he was selling drops that he had picked up around in fields or dungeons and things that he had made himself when he felt like it.

 

The places that Shin visited were mostly fields or dungeons where high level monsters roamed so he frequently got his hands on rare items or materials, which he would then sell in his shop. Tsuki no Hokora was a well-hidden shop that had gained quite a reputation among high level players. The things that he sold, being what they were, usually came with a pretty hefty price, so high level players made up the majority of his customer base.

 

While reminiscing about his thriving business (in truth, it was only rarely that busy), Shin flipped the noren and opened the door. He entered the shop while wondering what had become of the store with only goods lined up and an empty counter.

 

Inside the shop were a number of men and women wearing formal armor with cloaks. A few of them noticed Shin coming in, and two of them came towards him.

 

“Apologies, but we’re a bit busy right now. Would you mind coming again later?”

 

The one who said this was a blond young man wearing splendidly decorated armor. He was roughly the same height as Shin, but he obviously had been training regularly, seeing how thick his arms and legs were.

 

“What’s happening here?”
“We told you to get out!”

 

When he tried to ask about the situation, he was roughly ordered out by the brown haired young man who’d come over together with the blond one. He was also wearing heavily decorated armor. He was a head taller than Shin and had a well-proportioned, firmly built body.

 

“I also have things I need to get done by today.”
“Shut up. A lowly adventurer like you doesn’t have the right to talk back!”
“Oi, stop it, Iran!”

 

Iran was probably the name of the brown haired young man. Judging that speaking formally would be wasted on him, Shin protested in casual speech.

 

Seeing that Shin had no intention of backing off, Iran decided to push him out with brute force. Aiming to send Shin flying, Iran thrust his palms at Shin’s solar plexus. When Shin failed to react, Iran smirked.

 

“Uoh!”

 

However, when his hand touched Shin, not only did Shin not budge, the reaction force from his own push was reflected back at him, causing him to lose his balance and fall on his butt. When the armor collided with the floor, a disproportionately loud sound echoed around the room. Everyone around turned to look at the two of them.
Iran was on the floor, unable to understand what had just happened, while Shin just stood there and looked innocent.

 

“Ku, you bastard—!”
“What are you guys making a ruckus about!”
“... tch!!”

 

In a frenzy, Iran reached for his sword. At the same time, a loud voice rang from inside the shop, causing Iran to immediately shrink in on himself.
Thinking that things were going to get troublesome, Shin sighed in his mind.

 

The crowd spontaneously parted, revealing a man with a great figure with blond hair and blue eyes who was also wearing unnecessarily decorated armor. He glared at the two of them.
Unlike a moment ago, Iran remained very quiet.
Seeing the man part the crowd, Shin muttered, “Are you Moses?” while feeling like he couldn’t care less.

 

“Didn’t I say to not let anyone enter?”
“My deepest apologies, Loost-sama!”

 

Iran bowed down without a moment’s delay. Seeing how he was acting, Shin guessed that this Loost person must be of a pretty high status.
Without sparing even a glance for the Iran who was now prostrating himself, Loost came towards Shin. His eyes were totally looking down on Shin.

 

(Uwah, another annoying person is coming over here.)

 

Not knowing what Shin was thinking, Loost clunked over with heavy steps and stopped in front of Shin.

 

“...............”
“?”
“Oi! What are you doing, standing in Loost-sama’s way without even naming yourself!!”

 

Maintaining his silence, Loost suddenly tilted his head at Shin, prompting Iran to raise his voice in anger. Apparently, Loost had been staring at Shin this whole time waiting for him to introduce himself.

 

“Ah, please excuse me. I’m Shin, a wanderer.”

 

It would be just lead to more trouble if he acted all cocky and got on the bad side of someone important enough to merit a -sama after his name, so Shin also bowed while naming himself. He knew from experience that this kind of person would generally overlook quite a lot as long as you acted subservient, even if it was just going through the forms.

 

“Hmph, it appears that you don’t know etiquette. Well, that’s fine, wanderers must not have a very thorough education.”

 

Loost nodded arrogantly at Shin’s lowered head. Shin was not bothered at all and noted that these kinds of tactics worked in this world too.

 

“Our business is finished. We’re leaving.”

 

So saying, Loost immediately started walking straight ahead. Noticing this, Shin quickly scooted to the left.
The blond young man and a few others who saw Shin’s movement narrowed their eyes.

 

“Tch.”

 

It was Iran who had clicked his tongue while walking past. Everyone else who had been in the store quickly exited after Loost. Before they knew it, including the blond young man there were only three people left.

 

“Iran shouldn’t have done what he did. Allow me to apologize on his behalf.”

 

The one who said this was the blond young man. The two other people also had an apologetic expression on their faces.

 

“Don’t worry about it. It’s not like he actually did anything much.”
“We are thankful that you would take it this way. My name is Aldi. It’s Aldi Sheil. If you ever have any need of the Knights Order, please come visit me.”
“I’m Shin. If I ever have the opportunity to do so, I will take you up on that offer.”

 

Shin answered while extending his right hand in response to the right hand that Aldi was offering.
It appears that the group just now were knights. Shin thought that they had rather big attitudes for being knights, but seeing Aldi and the other two Shin decided that not all of them were so.

 

As Aldi left the shop, briefly nodded to Shin before also leaving. Those two were probably Aldi’s subordinates.

 

After all of the knights left, the store now felt very spacious. Shin saw the shelves and the products on the shelves that he couldn’t see before.

 

(The weapons are mainly bronze or iron, silver at best. The equips are mostly made of leather. The items are mostly low rank potions and ether, and there are a few pills for curing debuffs. There are no raw materials being sold.)
(T/N: Potions are for HP recovery and ethers are for MP recovery.)

Shin was despondent after seeing how low level all of the goods were, especially in comparison to when he had been running the store. Almost everything here were things for beginners to use.

 

(It doesn’t look like the shop is doing any better than when I was running it...)

 

Shin became worried about the state the shop was in.

 

“What have you been muttering about for all this time?”
“Eh?”

 

Having been suddenly talked to, Shin’s lackluster response slipped out automatically. It appears that he had been unconsciously muttering his thoughts out loud. Turning towards the direction of the voice, Shin found himself staring into a pair of golden eyes with golden pupils.

 

Shin saw a young, black haired, golden eyed elf girl behind the counter. He was pretty sure that she was an elf due to the sharp ears sticking out from her silky, glossy black hair.
Although most elves were beautiful, her beauty was such that if ten people saw her, undoubtedly all ten would have been charmed. She was roughly a head shorter than Shin at 160 cemels. Her skin was a healthy white, her figure was slender and well-proportioned, and her chest very much made its own existence known.
She looked 17 or 18 at first glance, but since elves were long-lived, it was hard to tell their real age from their appearance. Even though she looked so young, it was a real possibility that she was actually several hundred years old, so he made a mental note to be aware of that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Ahh, I was just checking out the goods on display.”
“Is that so? I kind of feel like the look in your eyes is a bit sharp considering.”
“I had no such intentions, though.”
“Well, that’s fine. The nuisances are gone, so feel free to look around as much as you want.”

 

So saying, the elf girl grabbed a chair from behind the counter and sat on it.

 

“By ‘nuisances’ you mean the guys just now?”
“They come by all the time to bug me about when Master is going to come back. There’s a limit to how annoying one can be!”

 

It appears that they come really frequently. Shin could feel how fed up the girl was from her tone.

 

“That sounds really rough. Ah, I haven’t introduced myself yet. I’m Shin. As you can see, I’m a wanderer.”

“Even bothering to introduce yourself to an ordinary salesclerk, you must be a really a very serious person. Tiera Lucent is my name. Just ‘Tiera’ is fine. I’m apprenticing under the Acting Owner and working as the salesclerk here at the same time. If you bring any good items or raw materials here we’d be happy to buy it from you.”
“Ahhh, I’ll look forward to it. By the way, having the knights come over so often to look for her, is your Master that incredible of a person?”
“What are you saying? Even children nowadays know the Acting Owner of Tsuki no Hokora, Schnee Raizar.”
“Ahhh, she’s that famous, huh. Wait a second, ‘Acting’?”
“She herself insists on that title. She claims that the real owner is still out there.”
“So there’s someone above even someone that famous, huh ...”

 

Shin felt a bit reassured in regards to the management of the shop after hearing that there was someone even higher up than such a famous person. For some reason, though, that Acting Owner’s name seemed to tug at something in his memory.

 

“Schnee Raizar ... Schnee Raizar ... Schnee ... Schnee RaizaaAAAHHHH!?!?”
“Wh-what! What happened?!”

 

Tiera jumped at Shin’s sudden shout. Standing up so suddenly made the chair fall over and hit the ground with a “gashan!” sound.

 

“I’m sorry, it’s just that I got a bit of a shock.”

 

Shin apologized after the sound of the chair brought him back to his senses. He had felt like the name was a bit familiar, but of course it should! In the game, he had left the care of the shop to one of the support characters that he had created. That character’s name was Schnee Raizar.

 

“I’m sorry for bothering you but may I confirm some things with you about your Master?”
“Su-Sure! I’ll answer any questions within the limit of what I know.”

 

Tiera drew back slightly as Shin’s face adopted a menacing look. However, Shin was busy feeling surprised at Tiera’s unexpected cooperation and therefore failed to notice Tiera’s body language.

 

“This Schnee Raizar person belongs to the High Elf race, has silver hair that reaches all the way down to her waist, very pale blue eyes, a height of 166 cemels, and an excellent figure on top of all that?”

“Indeed all of that is true, but ... wait, what? Are you one of Master’s fans?”

 

By now Tiera had pulled back from Shin to a relatively significant distance, but as expected, he remained unaware.

 

“I see, so that’s how it is. I mean, we did know each other from before (since I was the Store Owner and she was working under me).”
“You’re one of Master’s acquaintances? Is that really true?”
“Well, I’m not sure if she still remembers me or not though.”

 

Perhaps due to the look that she had seen on his face earlier, Tiera was now looking at Shin with lots of doubt in her eyes.
For his part, Shin also understood that it would be hard to believe someone who suddenly visited and declared himself a close acquaintance of the owner of the store. There was a real possibility that Schnee had forgotten about him, which would leave him the only person who knew that he was the real Owner. Therefore, he decided to cover up his outburst by changing the topic of the conversation.

 

“By the way, where is Schnee right now? Judging from the conversation so far, it seems that she’s been away for quite a while?”
“I’m sorry, but I can’t tell you that. If I didn’t tell the Knights Order then there’s no way that I would tell you, right?”
“....... you have a point.”

 

Shin wasn’t clear on the hierarchy of this world yet, but from what he’d seen just now with Aldi, he understood that the knights were somewhere pretty high on the ladder. Realizing that wanderers as a group didn’t have a lot of credibility, Shin dropped his shoulders.

 

“Well at least if you want to leave a message for her, I can help convey it to her. More like, half of my job is to bring messages to her anyways.”
“Half of your ... how many messages do you even get?”
“They’re mostly from governments or upper echelons of the guilds. Though I say ‘messages,’ they’re actually usually requests. It’s supposed to be a secret that different countries come to seek her but by now it’s more like an open secret.”
“How do I put it ... your Master is pretty amazing, huh?”

 

Shin thought, “What kind of person has Schnee become such that even countries would come asking for her?”

 

“She rarely accepts those requests, though. So, what shall it be? Would you like to leave a message for her?”
“Let’s see, I guess I’ll leave one for now.”
“The message referral is 10 bronze coins, 1000 Juls.”
“Oh, you charge for this? Umm, wait, sorry, what’s a ‘Jul’?”

 

Shin tilted his head in confusion at the mention of this monetary denomination that he’d never heard of before. Back in THE NEW GATE, the currency had been Geyls.

 

“Are you seriously asking me that? How can you travel without knowing the currencies?”
“It’s not my fault that the currency is now different from what we were using before!”
“Different from before? It’s been more than 400 years since we started using this currency. May I have a look?”

 

400 years. Shin froze at hearing that. He suddenly felt like he’d become Urashima Tarou.

 

“This is what I have ...”

 

Shin took out 1 Geyl from his inventory and put it on the counter. Geyls were gold coins roughly 3 cemels in diameter embossed with the image of an eight-winged dragon holding a girl in its arms.

 

“..... Hey, just now, where did you pull this out of?”

 

Tiera’s eyes were as wide as saucers from seeing Shin pull the coin out from what looked to her like thin air.

 

“Even if you ask me ‘where’ ... I just took it out from my inventory.”
“Inven ... tory ...”

 

It appears that Tiera was even more shocked at hearing that word than when she saw Shin pull out the coin.

 

“Tiera?”
“Ah, eh, what?”
“Nothing, it’s just that you look really shocked right now. Is something the matter?”
“Don’t ‘is something the matter’ me! Anyone would be shocked if they heard you had an inventory!”
“? Why is that?”
“You ...”

 

Tiera exhaled heavily and dropped her shoulders. Shin had no idea why Tiera was so surprised.

 

“In this day and age, the only people who can access their inventory are the elders among the royalty of long-lived races like High Lords, High Elves, and High Pixies. In the first place, the rest of us don’t even have an inventory. But when you just randomly show up here and use it in front of me like it’s nothing, of course I’d be shocked. You’re not going to tell me now that you actually are royalty, right?”
“Yea, nope. I’m definitely not royalty.”

 

It was Shin’s turn to be surprised. It hadn’t even crossed his mind that the inventory that had been so natural for players was now only usable by such a select group of important individuals.
By the way, the ‘High’ in front of race names indicates someone of that race who has reincarnated at least 10 times. There are fundamentally 7 races in THE NEW GATE: Human, Beast, Dragnil, Dwarf, Elf, Lord, and Pixie. Humans are humans, Beasts are beast people, Dragnils are dragon people, Lords are demon people, and Pixies are fairies.
(T/N: About the reincarnation, think Ragnarok Online. It’s not being revived after dying, it’s restarting your character again after reaching max level.You start off with higher stats and it takes longer to level up.)

 

“I thought it was pretty natural to use it.”
“There’s nothing ‘natural’ about using it. Speaking of which, what’s your race? You look human but there are so many different magical powers mixed up inside of you that I can’t really tell. Are you elf? Lord? Dragnil? Some other race?”
“I’m not so sure either. For now I guess I’m a high human.”

 

Shin was pretty sure that that was his race, as his Character window said so too. High humans are a race with amplified resistance to debuffs and magical attacks. As a race whose focus is on balance, high humans have the lowest attribute points, so nobody ever actually chose this class.

 

According to the backstory of THE NEW GATE, humans were the last species to come into being. By then, the atmosphere was full of magic. Having absorbed a lot of that magic, humans gained a higher resistance to magical attacks and debuffs. If that was all, then humans would have been a really good anti-magic race. However, the story continues and says that this resistance is using up so much of their energy that they are unable to fully develop any other powers.

 

This setting clinched the bottom place of the list of races for humans. One way to fight as a human character was to further enhance magical resistance and then rush up to enemy mages, but if the other side also had a non-human melee fighter then you’d still lose. Human mages could not match up with elves or pixies in terms of MP and INT, and would lose in a straight up magical dogfight against even Lords, which was a race that also focused on balance.
In the end, the only ways to play a human character was to be a bandit relying heavily on curses or a hunter.

 

(Well, they were all pros for me, though.)

 

Shin liked this race precisely because it required so much more effort to build his character up. Obviously, the number of people who thought the same way were an extreme minority.

 

“High ... human ... ?”
“Nn? Yes, that’s what I said.”

 

Shin was suddenly flooded with memories of the stigma against humans and how he sent flying everyone who mocked him. Tiera replied in a daze.
What Tiera said next struck Shin dumbfounded.

 

“The race of high humans ... is extinct ...”
“Ahh, extinct ... wait, EXTINCT?!”

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