Sugary Days 8
Translation of Sword Art Online ME 18, Sword Art Online Sugary Days 8.
“Thirty solidite ingots, twenty acutite ingots… ten aged teak logs, along with eight greatrock dragon tendons, and eight legendary bear fats. Here are all of the materials you specified.”
Upon stacking up the materialized items one after another in an empty corner of the atelier, Mahokl, the wood crafter, jumped back in surprise with her petite frame and sighed.
“Whew~ To think you could gather it all in just half a day…”
Her swirly glasses fell to the tip of her nose as her surprisingly adorable eyes peeked out, but I chose to neglect that and simply shrugged my shoulders.
“That said, the legendary bear fats are the only ones we collected on our own, with the rest ordered from a merchant we know… —Ah, j-just to confirm, but there wasn’t some rule like «no buying them», was there?”
“There wasn’t, naturally. Establishing good relationships with capable merchants reflects a player’s ability, too, after all.”
Agil’s cocky look surfaced in my mind in that moment she said so, but I scrubbed that away and kept the conversation going.
“I see, that’s good to hear. Then, as promised, tell us what these materials are…”
I got that far before Asuna tugged on my coat from behind, interjecting from my left.
“Hold on, Kirito-kun, who and what manipulated your memories? What Mahokl-san offered for the material items wasn’t their use, but…”
“Yes, yes, here it is.”
Opening a window as she spoke, the wood craft materialized a huge table beside the nearby wall and rapped its thick surface. The repairs on my memories finally completed upon seeing that.
“Ah… aah, right. You were going to let us have ninety percent off that table, weren’t you?”
“And the rocking chair, made to order.”
I nodded in confirmation and Asuna took several small steps towards the table before sliding both hands over the intricate wood grain on its top with heart marks glowing in her eyes.
“…No matter how many times I see, this is such a lovely table… This was made from a single walnut log, wasn’t it?”
“Oh my, you’re well acquainted, Asuna-san.”
Pushing up her swirly glasses, Mahokl grinned.
“That’s correct, it’s one of Aincrad’s five precious types of wood, so to speak.”
“Five? So there are four others?”
Mahokl thrust out her right hand covered in that sturdy leather glove at my question and bent her fingers with each tree name she recited.
“Of course there are. Walnut, mahogany, teak, ebony, rosewood; those would be the so-called S-ranked timber. There are other aromatic trees at S rank too, but those are exclusively for small articles, not furniture.”
“Oooh… there’s a lot to the world of woodcraft, too, huh?”
I took it in, impressed, and Asuna added on with a haughty look for some reason.
“Those materials are S rank, but that’s not all to it. You won’t find a log of this size unless it’s from some of the oldest trees among the walnuts which are already rare enough. …Did you cut it yourself, Mahokl-san?”
“Nope, as you may expect, I don’t have the skill slots to afford that.”
“Aah, that’s true… to cut down large trees…”
I cut off Asuna’s words with a snap of my fingers.
“Oh, I know that. There’s that the power enhancement mod for cutting trees on the two-handed axe skill, right?”
“I see you’re knowledgeable as always when it comes to combat-related topics.”
Despite the exasperated face Asuna had on as she interjected, I filed it away as a compliment.
Despite its erratic performance as a weapon and lack of popularity as a main skill, the two-handed axe skill enjoyed a low-key following among players aiming to become both warriors and merchants. The reason lay in how it increased not just your proficiency in combat but in harvesting trees as well (its poor effectiveness aside), and how rare timber fetched quite a price.
“In that case, you mean… the board for this huge table was harvested by some master class axeman…?”
I rubbed the splendid, thick tabletop as I muttered and Mahokl spoke in a slightly modulated tone.
“Yes… it was. It was before I moved to this atelier that…”
However, the mysterious wood crafter shut her mouth there and the rapped the table.
“Well, it’s in the past. …Now, let us get to business. Asuna-san, how would you like the rocking chair?”
With its minutiae decided upon by Asuna, from its color, shape, to even comfort, Mahokl showed her prowess and gave shape to it in an instant.
Upon paying by cash the total of eighty thousand cor—or nearly a hundred thousand, which would still be an absurd bargain, when also factoring in the eighteen thousand cor paid to Agil for the material items—for the completed rocking chair and the table, off by ninety percent, Asuna and I parted from the atelier after thanking her over and over again. We teleported from the third floor’s main town, Zumfut, frequented by few players as always despite it approaching dinnertime, to the twenty-second floor’s, Coral, populated by even fewer.
We purchased ingredients for dinner from the village’s NPC shops and returned to our lakeside home, at which Asuna immediately cleared away the table we just bought yesterday and materialized the table crafted from a single rare log by Mahokl.
Though the superdreadnought-class table seemed somewhat too large, likely able to seat four along each length and one along each width, for us dining alone, Asuna seemed unbothered. Seeing her blissfully setting down chairs facing each other on both ends and arranging the candlesticks and placemats, I started wondering if she was from a family with tables of that class in the real world… though it did no good fretting over that now.
“Look, it fits the living room perfectly! It can seat plenty, let’s call some guests over and have a party next time!”
Asuna spoke while beaming, having finished her arrangements, and I could not hide a smile when I answered.
“That’s true. Guess we’ll have to call Mahokl over, then, since she made it.”
“And the axe user who harvested the log too. …Now then, let’s have some food.”
Our meal turned out comfy thanks to the table’s flawless stability and pleasant warmth despite my initial apprehension over its size, and I assisted Asuna with the clean up before we headed out onto the porch.
The sun had set without our notice, and the lake before our eyes gleamed blue under the moonlight from the circumference. The wind on this late-autumn night was chilly on the skin and I could not help but shiver slightly, prompting Asuna to stick closer.
“…Come to think of it, where should we place the rocking chair we had made?”
I asked, with that popping into my mind, and the young bride spoke somewhat falteringly.
“Hmm… I thought this porch would be nice with the sun shining in the afternoon, but it would be pleasant in front of the fireplace at night too, wouldn’t it?”
“Haha, it would. Then how about we get another one made and have both?”
“Huh, would that be okay?”
“Ten thousand cor or so is just a bit of a hunt, after all.”
Asuna tilted her head slightly at my reply.
“Nn, honestly, I don’t think she would turn a profit if that chair went for ten thousand cor. Though not quite at the level of S-ranked timber, it is made from high-quality maple… she likely took part of its cost off along with the table as thanks for that errand quest.”
“I-I see… Then, I guess we’ll have to pick that quest up again.”
“Hey, Mahokl-san isn’t an NPC, you know?”
Sticking a finger onto my back, she laid her head on my shoulder.
“……Still, I must say I don’t quite understand…”
I nodded in agreement to her murmur.
“Yeah, I know, right? What did Mahokl have us gather those materials for…?”
“Wouldn’t it be to build something?”
“I-I know that much. The issue lies in how that something is probably the ballista…”
“…Listen, in the first place, what exactly is the ballista? I know you did say it’s some stationary, gigantic crossbow, Kirito-kun.”
I twirled my right hand, drawing lines in midair, and wondered where I should begin. However, a particularly cold wind brushed against my neck before I could speak and I let out a huge sneeze.
Giggling, Asuna tugged on my left arm as she spoke.
“Let’s talk more inside.”
Lighting a fire in the fireplace installed on the west wall of the living room and setting the precious rocking chair before it, Asuna indicated towards the chair with a “nn” just as I thought she was about to sit in it.
“Eh… you don’t mind if I take a seat first?”
“O-Okay, I’ll go ahead…”
Reaching out towards the armrest, faintly lit by the fireplace, I cautiously sat down. As I put my weight down, it split with a snap—naturally, nothing of that sort happened and the cushioning leather seat gently enveloped me as the backrest quivered comfortably atop its exquisitely curved legs. In addition, I could smell a whiff of sweet maple syrup, perhaps due to the material used.
“Ooh… it does feel a bit big, but this coziness is just…”
I started on my thoughts, but Asuna interrupted with a “nn~~” purr as she got atop me. Squirming into place, she shifted my arms and legs before settling into the most comfy position for her and a “nnn~~~~” resonated from her throat once more.
“……I see, so it fits just right when we both sit in it…”
Nodding with a “nn” at me, slowly digesting that thought, she then went “nn” in a questioning tone. Realizing that was a request for the topic from earlier, I cleared my throat before resuming the explanation.
“Ermm, ballistas were first used in Ancient Greece or Rome, they’re a siege weapon designed by enlarging the crossbow. There’s the term ballistic curve in English even now, and that’s what the term is derived from.”
“Huh… If it’s a bow, it fires arrows?”
I returned a partial nod to the question that put an end to her purrs.
“Well, basically. I think it’s closer to the size of a spear than an arrow, though… aside from that, they seemed to have shot rocks, metal balls, or firebombs too.”
Curling about atop me and looking up towards the ceiling, Asuna spoke in a somewhat solemn tone.
“—But don’t you think it would be a contradiction?”
“Huh? Of what?”
“That. —The «Forfeiture».”
My upper body sprang up before my thinking could catch up and softly lifted Asuna ten centimeters before we fell back.
Magic was technically not the only loss as a consequence of the Forfeiture. The production means and technologies for long-ranged projectiles—or bows in other words—were lost for eternity as well. As such, Aincrad lacked skills like Bowcraft or Archery. Or so I had believed to this day—
“…True, ballistas can be considered a sort of bow… Then the means of reproducing or using them should’ve been lost during the Forfeiture too. But Mahokl definitely said she found a skill composition for ballista creation and even ended up hiding her whole atelier for it…”
“Not to mention how she requested for us to gather those materials likely for a ballista. I doubt Mahokl-san was lying when those materials were enough to discount a seven hundred thousand cor table down to seventy thousand.”
I nodded at what Asuna pointed out. Her every motion swept across me, tempting my two hands to act, but I urged my mind to remain on the topic instead.
“…Then let’s say for now that the ballista was unaffected by the «Forfeiture», and can be produced as well as utilized. Why would Mahokl have us gather its materials, then…? Judging from what she said at first, it did sound like she went into hiding because she didn’t want to make the ballista…”
Asuna kept her silence for some time even after I spoke.
She was probably giving it her all, thinking through it earnestly; she had the habit of brushing the ends of her right fingers against the tip of her slender chin at those times. Her glossy lips would tremble faintly each time and add to my wicked thoughts meter yet again.
However, Asuna fortunately opened her mouth before my restraints broke.
“……This is nothing more than a hunch… but I feel that the person who harvested the log for that table is connected to Mahokl’s request this time… no, perhaps even to why she moved her atelier to Zumfut. To be comfortable with taking requests for harvesting and processing such rare lumber, she must have been a regular customer… or even more; they may have been some sort of duo…”
The huge table planted in the middle of the living room entered my eyes when I traced Asuna’s line of sight which turned towards the side as she spoke. Supposedly made from a single walnut log, the bark on its sides retained its protrusions, bringing to mind the great tree that once stood toweringly somewhere in Aincrad.
“…Well, that two-handed axe wielder must have had some skill to harvest one that massive… Not even the clearing group has that many master-class axemen……”
My words unnaturally faded out there.
The close-up of a certain player’s face popped into my mind.
As though the image got transmitted from my mind, Asuna reverted to mewling out an “……unn”. Exchanging glances as our faces almost met, we murmured out a phrase with one voice.
“”Don’t tell me…””
Losing the staring contest we had as we urged each other to go first, I shaped that confounding speculation into words.
“……Don’t tell me Mahokl’s old partner is that rip-off axe merchant… it’s not him, is it……?”
“An axe merchant would be one who deals in axes, Kirito-kun.”
“Then, let’s just call him a merchant axe… no, but still, seriously……?”
“Nn~ come to think of it, Agil-san did seem bothered over what sort of recipe those ingots or dragon tendons were for when we ordered them… Even if he didn’t know they were for a ballista, he might have noticed something was up.”
I moaned for a bit, sticking my hands behind my head. I plunked down an image of that skinhead giant beside one of that spiral glasses girl in my mind, but the sense of mismatch was palpable.
However, the same could be said about me, a stray beater, and Asuna, the clearing group’s idol. Putting the sense of mismatch aside, I pondered where and what they could have had connected over. —That said.
“……Actually, you know, I’m not sure why Agil got serious as a merchant…”
“Eh, wasn’t it that, Kirito-kun? Back then, when you pushed the «Vendor’s Carpet» on Agil-san.”
“Aah, well, that may have started it all… but Agil remained mainly as an axe warrior for some time even after getting the carpet, and it felt like he opened the roadside stall as an effective way of disposing of items. —I ended up keeping my distance from Agil after all that happened afterward back then…”
My body stiffened up for a moment as painful memories sprang up through my own words, and as though fully aware of that, Asuna shifted her face from atop my chest towards my face.
The silence between us continued as our cheeks touched. My pain melted away against her cool, soft skin.
I took a deep breath before whispering.
Showing a faint smile and touching our lips together for an instant, Asuna then slid herself back down. Curling my hand behind her back, I set the rocking chair into a slow swing as I resumed my thoughts.
“It does seem something major happened that made Agil go from a bona fide member of the clearing group, until the twentieth floor or so, to a proper merchant with a storefront on Algade’s main street. …Maybe we’re thinking too much, linking it to Mahokl’s ballista recipe…”
Asuna replied with her adorable purrs while on top of me.
“…Even though he showed interest in the list of materials we ordered, Agil-san didn’t know they were for a ballista, so the possibility that Mahokl-san actually made a ballista with him long ago, leading to some incident… can be eliminated, I believe.”
“True… In the first place, if the actual ballista had the range and firepower of a cannon, Agil’s not the type to hide it from the clearing group, right?”
“He wouldn’t. In that case…… hmm, this is as far as we can go on pure guesses……”
Asuna let loose all of her strength along with a breath. I hugged her avatar, tangible and warm yet far from heavy, tight into my arms as I muttered.
“We can go straight up to Agil and ask…”
Asuna immediately shook her head within my arms.
“W-We can’t. If Mahokl-san is hiding out of her own volition, even if it’s to someone like Agil-san, we shouldn’t be exposing her name as easily as that.”
—That said, Argo the information dealer tracked down Mahokl’s atelier in a single night on our request, so anyone with the will would find her easily enough, be it Agil or whoever else.
In that case, sticking our heads in any further would only invite trouble, but tossing the consequences aside since we had already gotten a table and rocking chair for cheap out of it… was not such a clear-cut decision to take. As one from the clearing group, I wanted to confirm if the ballista truly existed, and Mahokl’s intention for those materials gathered did bother me.
“……All we can do is to ask those who may already know of the situation, huh.”
I shot a grin towards the blinking Asuna.
“You’ll know when we meet.”
Sunny, 27th October, 10 AM.
The man popping out from the teleport gate at Coral Village raised a bottle of sake, probably a present, upon catching sight of me.
“Yoo—oo, I’m here~”
“Yo. Sorry about calling you here out of the blue.”
“Don’t be, what’s something like that between us…?”
The visitor—Klein, a katana wielder who led the clearing guild «Fuurinkazan»—got that far before his words stopped dead upon seeing Asuna who stepped out from behind me.
“Good afternoon, Klein-san.”
Stiffening up all at once, he quickly slid to my side before slinging his arm around my neck and dragging me several meters away.
“O… oi, Kiritard, what the heck is this!? Why are you with that Asuna-san from that KoB while on your R&R break!?”
“Aah… erm, that’s, well…”
It was then, when I stumbled over my words, lost at how to get the situation across.
Stepping around, and in before us, was Asuna who spoke with a bright smile.
“My apologies for the late notice, Klein-san. Kirito-kun and I got married three days ago.”
Klein froze up for a good five seconds.
The scream roared through the teleport gate plaza.
(to be continued)
Kunori here, thank you very much for buying “SAO: ME18”.
“I’ll definitely put out a book that could be said to be one next time…”; I continued writing these, which end up so short as always, even with that thought in mind, and before I knew it, here we are at the 18th Material Edition. With the “Sugary Days” series that started in “ME10” reaching its 8th chapter, too, I suppose everyone must be fretting over “just when will this end…?”, but it should end in just another two chapters… Maybe! Or so I think! No, wait, maybe three…
It was all about Kirito and Asuna being lovey-dovey at the start… that’s the concept for the chapters, but it looks like they got caught up in something sometime, somewhere, so it’ll probably finish off with some battle at the end. At any rate, I hope for your kind support until everything wraps up! I sure hope to publish a compilation when it’s all over…
- Translation – Tap
- Editing – ZeHaffen