The Caverns, Floor 1, 5:00 p.m.

"Mmm, repeat that please."

I just did... Did you not hear me or were you just not listening?

"The exit is five floors up. The only way to get there is for the players outside to beat said five floors. Which means we're stuck here."

Did you hear that? Cause I'm not repeating it.

"I see."

That's all you have to say? No 'Are you kidding me?' Nothing? Just 'I see'?

"You don't look too worried."

A short tired sigh was all that he gave, in fact, that sigh was the only emotion I've seen the whole time I was explaining stuff to him.

"Saw this coming... Too predictable."

Yeah, whatever you say...

"They're back... Oh, and some others are with them." A few feet away across from us, Minatsu gaze afar at the small figures in the distance. "I count five."

Really five? So they did managed to find some guys. The question now is, did they reach them in time to tell them to start contacting anyone in their friends list? Hopefully the answer is a yes.

"I don't think it'd be any use of contacting anyone anyway. Who'd bother saving a bunch of nobodies?"

A big ray of sunshine, aren't you big guy?

"I told you. I have a friend who's hopefully doing her best to lead a guild. Just a couple of days, weeks maybe."

Another tired sigh.

"And where will the food come from?"

Shane Richards. An Assassin class with the speciality of looking at the downside of life. He showed up right after I was done deleting the message I worked so hard on. And when I say showed up, I meant he sort of appeared. Right behind Minatsu and I.

"Nice to see you." Was the first thing he had said before my heart skipped a beat. He was so close to me that he was basically breathing down my neck.

After dashing a few feet away from him and debating whether or not to file an assault charge, I asked him if he knew what personal space was. To which he responded with by plopping himself on the nearest piece of rubble and started staring off into the distance.

At that distance, I could get a closer look at his appearance. Though his black coat and hood made him off as a tad bit intimidating, his scrawny arms and face complete negates that. Black hair, brown eyes and a square face. I conclude that he was American. When asked his name, he muttered it before once again staring into nothing.

His username also threw me off. "Bestsniper2k25"

Like, what are you? MLG?

The figures finally came close enough to make them out. No one new as far as I can tell. Kazuto, Fujiyama, Tatsumi and the two they bought were just his friends. Shidou and Yuuji.

"We're back... woooo, I hate... running." Said Tatsumi, breathing heavily and with his hands on his knees.

"I felt like we didn't have to follow him..." Said Kazuto a moment after. He took one look at Shane and was curious, but didn't say anything else.

But seeing Shane, Yuuji and Shidou made a beeline for him, complete ignoring Minatsu and I in the process and began frantically asking questions.

-"Is it true?! Are we actually trapped here until the other players beat five floors?"

-"When did this happen?"

-"How come it only came here? Why couldn't it also tell us?"

-"How long do you think we're going to be stuck here?"

-"Can you stop staring off into the distance and pay attention to us!"

And a bunch more others that I couldn't care enough to listen to. Instead I decided to ask my own set of questions.

"So, did you contact anyone?" I asked Tatsumi, who was leaning onto a broken pillar for support.

He took awhile to answer, he kept on taking huge huffs and puffs, which gave me enough time to check on Kazuto and Fuyijuma. They seem fine, not to worn out, Minatsu is talking to them and they're responding. So why is this idiot gasping for air like he just ran a marathon while pregnant?

"We... Well, we didn't know anyone that could help so... wooo.. so no, didn't contact anyone."

The heck? Then you finding them was pointless. Now I can see why Kazuto was disappointed.

"Well... There was one..."

Suddenly, he stopped his heavy breathing, he got all serious all the sudden. Why?


Oh yeah, him, nearly forgot about him... Shit, you just had to bring him up now...

"Never heard of him, and in fact, nope, don't tell me, he's dead right? Shame, I feel for you, anyway, I need to go talk to Kazuto about something so uhhh, bye."

Best acting. Once I get out, I'm going to apply to be an actor. It's obviously in my blood.

Without giving him a chance to say anything, I turned back and instantly began heading towards Kazuto, leaving him probably confused. Sorry, I rather not think about Makoto now, especially since you three have a bone to pick with his killer, which is me.

"Well, did you message anyone?" I asked Kazuto.

He waited for Minatsu to stop talking before shifting his attention to me.

"What do you think?"

Guess that's a no then.

I shrug my shoulders as a response. After giving his answer, he turns to look at Shane who was still being bombarded with questions.

"That the leader? He acts and feels like a leader."

Minatsu too turns to look at him.

"He's kinda scary. His face looks like he wants to kill me."

Guess that's one way to describe him.

"Think so, he never established he was one, but judging by the interrogation he's getting, might be."

Suddenly the old man joined the conversation.

"Saw that fella before, back in the chamber. He didn't talk much."

"No one talked much, Dad. What are you saying?"

"Oh really? Didn't notice, hehehe..." He then began to rub the back of his head as he giggled.

"Seriously, pay attention more."

"I will. I will. If I don't, who will you have to rely on, am I right?"

"Really? I thought you were the one doing all the relying."

As they continued bickering, the smiles on their faces grew wider, it's clear that they enjoy each other's company. That's good then, thought they'd be like a father son combo in a movie. Ungrateful son and Kind-Hearted dad, glad to see that's not the case.

"Why can't you be like that with Dad?"

Oh, you bring that up now, Minatsu...

"Minatsu, is now the best time?"

"I'm just saying..."

Then he fell back into silence once again. I know he means well, trying to get me and his parents close. But we just don't mix, combine that with the fact that his solutions to getting us close mostly is just him having to go to the toilet as we eat dinner together, leaving the three of us to eat in silence.

Of course there were the occasional "How's school?" and "You hungry?" but even those did little in bringing us close. Like I said, we practically have nothing in common and can talk about. They just took me in because I had no other places to go. I remembered when the family held an entire discussion when my parents died, deciding who was going to take me in.

Of course, no one volunteered. Back then they threw around words that I didn't understand like 'Orphanage' 'Adoption'. Course, I knew what they meant now. But ultimately, it was decided that Minatsu's parents would take me in, probably much to their dismay.

So at the age of four, They packed my stuff and was sent off to leave with them. At the age of 4, even then I knew that my parents were never coming back, so it was lucky I met Kaori to help me through it. A year later, Minatsu was born. And boy did they love him. He was like a God to them, always being tended for.

They did let me carry him once, and looking at him, his chubby round smiling face, I couldn't help but feel envious of him. They don't smile like that with me before he was born, even now, their smile was only reserved for Minatsu. It was probably that that made me try not to get close to him. I thought of him as just my cousin, never once my brother.

When he got older, he realized that I was avoiding him and went questioning me about it. Of course, I just slammed the door in his face, telling him to buzz off. He never tried again, and since then, Minatsu learned to not get close to me, much to my relief. Still, there were times he tries, but they never work out. Partly do to me not acting in the way he expected me to.

Well that barrier between us has shattered into a million pieces now that we're stuck here together. Gotta make sure he doesn't die here, I at least owe his parents that much for letting me stay with them.

"Anyway, what do we do now?"

Woah, that was a long tangent I just did... "What did you say?" Kazuto?

"Even a deaf person could hear me from there, I said what do we do now?"

"How the heck should I know? Ask Shane."

Kazuto gave me a look that said "Really?" and began walking towards his location. As I turned I found that he shifted his position from sitting on a piece of rubble to sitting against a pillar. And Kazuto was confused by this, wondering where the heck he went, before turning to the side and realizing his location.

But seriously though... What do we do now?

10 minutes later

Okay, when I said what do we do now? I didn't mean actually physically doing anything, just formulating a plan of sorts. Not searching for people!

"Hey, at least we're doing something..."

"Easy for you to say, Kazuto. I actually was planning to find myself a nice comfortable piece of rock to sit on and take a long goddamn nap, not a search and rescue!"

Taking out another piece of blank paper from his inventory, he began drawing into it with the ink I generously gave him.

"Aren't you at least worried for them? Shane said they should be back by then but they never showed up."

We walked over a small hill and began entering a forest area, him keeping track of our location.

"They're just lost, they'll show up eventually, this place doesn't go on for infinity and beyond." I said, swiping away a bug that got too close.

Not only that, but how come Minatsu gets to stay behind with him? Who gives a shit if he's too young, he's my cousin! Not yours, Shane! "Why am I even taking orders from that idiot?"

He rubbed the back of his head before replying.

"Maybe because, he's the only person who knows what he's doing?"

"Yeah, great plan. Separate into groups, explore the area and gather back in 15 minutes. Look how well that turned out."

But he simply just rolled his eyes and walked in silence.

This forest area we entered led us deeper into it, surrounding us with more and more lush greenery and trees. Here, fireflies seemed to be more common, and had fruit-bearing trees which Kazuto duly noted. (Our other objective was too find places for food.) Even the moss growing here looks edible.

"If only my dad came, he loves the forest. But nope, he needs his rest. Game does rely on your physique in real life after all, and my dad certainly isn't the healthiest."

"This better not take too long or else I-"

I was interrupted by a loud whooshing sound and a gust of wind by my side, then a loud thud! shook the tree to my right. Immediately I turn around to find Kazuto with his arm stretched out in front of him.

"What did you do that nearly gave me a heart attack?" I sputtered out as fast as my lips will allow me.

He ran in front of me, towards the tree that shook and bent over to pick something up.

"Something for my dad for when we get back." He said, tossing the apple in his hand and catching it. The apple then disappeared into his inventory.

Oh my god, don't do that again. I could have died.

"It's great that you're such a filial son, but I'm letting you know now, if you toss a knife again without me knowing, I'll take it and shove it up in places that even hentai dares not go."

But he merely shrugged his shoulder and what followed after came "it was just a prank, bro."

"That meme is dead, stop that."

Then he giggled. He giggled! What nerve!

"Lighten up, Sora. Where's your sense of hum- huh?"

Something caught his eye as he bend over to look at his feet, but before he could react-


He collapsed onto the ground and began struggling, but before I could even register the scene in front of me, he was pulled deeper into the bushes off to the side.


"I'm coming! Hang on!"

Tch, of course this happens!

I began to chase after him, jumping over the bushes, dodging branches and leaves as the terrain grows steeper and stepper downhill.

Where the heck did he go? He's nowhere in sight, how did he get dragged off so far? And who or what dragged him off?


Of course I tripped over a rock! Of all the things!

The rock tripped me forwards and rather than just letting physics do the rest, I turned myself in such a way before I fall, so that I'd land on my ass and slide all the way down this slope to victory. We climbed uphill pretty high... Into a forest, I guess this is the other side of that hill, huh?

The slippery grassy slope continued on and on, with such friction that I'm surprised my ass didn't caught fire, until finally I slid over to flat land.

At once, I stood up and began rubbing my behind, even if this is virtual, the pain is still real.

Scanning my environment, I found myself surrounded by trees looming over me, a huge circular field of grass was what separated me from the trees all around me.

Where did he go?


I stood back up.

"Oi Kazuto! You better tell me you're alive! I ain't going to be the one to tell your dad!"

No answer.

I shouted and shouted until my voice went hoarse, but even then I continued. Having no idea where to go, no tracks left behind somehow... I was limited to just keep on shouting.

What do I do? What do I do? Go back and get help? I wasn't paying attention to the landmarks so I don't even know how I got here. Damn it! Only Kazuto knows the way back. No, I just have to retrace my steps, just retrace my steps... I'll go back and get help. I won't leave you be Kazuto. I'll get help.

I took one step back and then another until I finally turned over and started to sprint back.

"What the-"

But before I could take five steps, something grab hold of my leg in the air and pulled me back, tripping me onto the soft grass.

At once, I brought myself back up.

What was that? Was that the thing that took Kazuto?

I'm not taking any chances. I unsheathed my sword on my back and ignited it at once, I got into a stance, preparing for another surprise attack...

Waiting and waiting...

Rustling could be heard from deep into the trees.

Waiting and waiting...



A purple vine like... thing instantly lashed out from the darkness in front of me. I managed to dodge it by ducking but I know it's going to strike again...

Instinctively, I took a step backwards. I can't fight this thing... I barely was able to dodge that attack, I need help for this.


It lashed out again but this time I was too late to dodge and by the time I realized it, it had already wrapped itself around my sword arm.

"Oh shi- ahhh!"

I was launched off my feet, landing with a thud onto grass, dragging me forward, nearer to the darkness of the forest.

I pulled back with all my might, with the vine still coiled around my arm, I somehow managed to stab my sword into the ground and stuck it deep in there.

There, I begun my fight to pull back, gripping the sword as tightly as I could with both arms.

This isn't good, I need to do something, anything!

Slowly, I shifted all the weight onto my coiled arm and with the other, opened my inventory, searching for something, anything that could help.

At the same time, the vine continues to relentlessly pull back, overpowering me by the second, until finally-

"Found it."

I said that out loud, I selected for the item and instantly a dagger appeared in my hand.

"How do you like this you piece of shit!"

I swing down the dagger with all my might, and to my surprise, the dagger sliced through the vine like butter.

The longer half reeled back into the forest, leaving me free to get up and start running for my goddamn life.

As I was getting closer to the steep slope I came from, a loud lashing sound filled the air and before I knew it, the vine had already recovered and had coiled itself around my body.

Not good, not good!

Suddenly, another vine lashed out and grab hold of my legs and pulled, causing me to tumble onto the ground while the other remained to immobilize me.

Oh god, is this an enemy? A mini boss we accidentally encountered? Not like this... I am not going to die to a mini boss, especially not in here!

Footsteps, footsteps soon started being heard. Trudging across the grass.

Is this the boss?

"Looks like I win again, Sora. That makes 2 for me and 1 for you."

Wait... No... Not her.

But, oh yes, it is her, as much as I try to deny it. It's her again.

Her footsteps came closer and closer until she was finally in eyesight. And in her hands, though folded across her chest, two large whips can be seen. One slightly smaller as a part of it was coiled around me.

"Now that's just embarrassing. How'd you let me do that to you?"

This girl... This girl...

"Let me out and I'll tell you, you son of a bitc-mmmmmm!"

I was instantly silenced as she had placed a hand on my mouth.

"Shhhhh, profanity Sora, profanity, watch it."

How could I forget about her? Am I an idiot?! This is Shiori! How could I forget she was with Shane! I should have started question Shane about her when I had the chance! Now look at where I ended up. Good job Sora.

She gave a smile, getting on top of me in the process and slowly she took off her hand.

Oh god, not this again.

"Doesn't this scene seem familiar to you, Sora? I can easily remember it as if it just happened yesterday."

"How could I forget? That was the day did I not only realize you were a douchebag but also a psychopath!"

She licked her lips and slowly started shortening the distance between our faces.

"Ah yes, we were just like this. You were lying in bed and gracefully, kindly, I asked for your permission to join you."

"Then I told you to go fuc- arghhhhhhh!"

A sharp pain, one that shot across all my senses instantly appeared at my side.

"Oh yes, I stabbed you first, didn't I?"

She took the dagger that was on the ground out off my arm and stabbed it onto the grass. She then brought her face closer again, and flashed another smile.

"Then I asked you the question... Can I join your party?"

What is this? What's going on? When did she get so aggressive again? I thought she turned mild!

"Careful what you say here, Sora. After all, a woman can only take so much rejection before she-"

She cracked her whip at her side across the air, a loud snapped resonated and resounded around the area.

"snaps." She then gave a short giggle. The smile still on her face.

Oh god... I'm actually starting to fear for my life here... Why is she doing this?! My heart! What do I say? Screw it, just say it, say it! Your life is more important than the company you keep anyway!


"What's wrong, Sora? It's a simple question with just two answers. Yes-"

She brought her face closer again, but this time to the side. Bringing her face towards the right side of my face, her breathing can be heard louder and louder. Until finally, she let out a soft giggle and whispered.

"Or no?"

Author's note: Okay, when I said the next chapter would be out earlier... I didn't mean this early. I just simply forgotten to add one thing to the chapter and that was Shiori. So I thought 'Screw it, write a chapter right now.' and that's what I did. So you get a special treat, dear readers. Again, be sure to let me know what you think of this chapter and follow it if you enjoyed. Next chapter will be out next week, probably. Anyways, see ya then!