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Ｆｕｌｌ－ｗｉｄｔｈ text marks words written in the Latin/Western alphabet in the original text. Italic font marks Engrish (English written in katakana) where it's important to point out that the characters aren't using actual j.a.panese in the instance. I use furigana (ruby text) in the following cases: 1) the original text used it and the furigana is not identical to the base text; 2) to make it clear that the original text was in j.a.panese (i.e., because of puns or because j.a.panese words are the topic of the conversation/are used to explain English words and their meaning). Furigana works as follows: #What the term/phrase means#(How you're supposed to read the term/phrase).
Any feedback is appreciated. No, seriously, if you spot some errors, please let me know. I didn't have anyone to edit this story, so I could have easily overlooked some mistakes.
"A chanto skill……?"
Unable to comprehend the words that came from Asuna as she sat in front of me, I tilted my head.
"Umm, is that a non-system skill that helps you do things #properly#(chanto), or, um, something like that……?"
At that moment, the girl directed a speechless smile, tinged with pity, towards me.
"Well, you are indeed not doing things properly, Kirito-kun. It's only been three days since you started staying at this inn room and look what's become of it so quickly."
When I looked around the room upon hearing her remark, I had to agree that it certainly couldn't be called tidy. There were all kinds of weapons and pieces of armour lying everywhere on the floor, tons of different materials and accessories cluttering the bed, as well as numerous potions, food, and other consumables taking up the entire table.
"U-uh, this is all because I started organising my storage yesterday; that doesn't mean my room is always like……"
With a cough, I opened up my window and threw all the containers on the table into it for starters. Gazing at my action, Asuna asked a logical question.
"Can't you just organise your storage by sorting the items through your window; you'd only need to decide whether to sell or dispose of the unnecessary items then? Why exactly do you need to materialise each item one by one?"
"Well, you see, you can't really tell what exactly quite a lot of the stuff is from just the item name and their description…… Like this one, for example."
The item I picked up from the table while answering her question was a small bottle filled with a orangish-red liquid. Its hue was similar to that of a healing potion, but the name that was displayed upon tapping the item was——
"……《Ｂｌｕｓｈ Ｃｉｄｅｒ》. And its description says…… 《Sweet and tasty》. What is this thing?"
"'Who knows?' …… Aren't you the one who bought or picked it up somewhere."
"While I did buy or pick it up somewhere, I don't really know where that 《somewhere》 was……"
"That's because you waste your money everywhere!"
While Asuna complained like a mother, I handed the small bottle to her.
"Oh well, seeing as it's a #cider#(saidā), I guess it's some sweet and fizzy drink, as the description implies. And you do look thirsty, so here you go."
"Hey, don't make me test it for poison. And, for starters, the sweet and fizzy soft drink that you're thinking of is basically only called #cider#(saidā) in j.a.pan and Korea."
Admiring her usual well of knowledge, I asked a follow-up question.
"In that case, what's #cider#(saidā) like outside j.a.pan and Korea?"
"An alcoholic beverage made from apples, or apple juice itself. It's called #cider#(shīdoru) even in j.a.pan; both names are spelled as ｃｉｄｅｒ."
"Oh! Then how is j.a.panese #cider#(saidā) called in America?"
"Soda pop, I guess."
"I see. Though, in that case, I wonder which of the #cider#(saidā) we have here……"
The bottle in Asuna's hands had a vividly red liquid, thus it seemed like the apple type of cider, but SAO is a game developed in j.a.pan, thus it could just as well be the soda type. Where did I buy that thing, I wonder…… eh, or maybe it was a monster drop…… as I racked my brain…
"……Well, we can just find out through a taste test."
With these words, the visitor pulled out the cork with a pop and moved the bottle closer to her mouth, thus I hurriedly leaned forward.
"He-hey hey, don't actually drink it. What if it's actually pois-"
The moment I was about to finish my word, the bottle was shoved inside my mouth with such speed that I couldn't even catch sight of it, just as I pursed my lips in order to p.r.o.nounce the "s" sound in my word. As I reflexively bent backwards, the liquid from the bottle flooded my mouth.
"Mghghgh……! …… Mgh?"
At first, I was about spit out the liquid due to being shocked by the irritation of the carbonic acid, but then the invigorating sweet and sourness, as well as the mellow fragrance, a.s.sailed my taste buds, causing me to finish drinking the entirety of the bottle's content while still holding it in my mouth. I then pulled out the now empty bottle from my mouth and exhaled, before saying the following.
"It was the apple type. Though I didn't really feel any alcohol, so I guess it was apple #cider#(saidā)……"
"Oh, so how was the flavour?"
"It was tasty; especially since it didn't come with any bad status. I kinda want to drink a large bootful(1) of it."
"O-oh…… In that case, I should have taste-tested it myself as wel-……"
This time, Asuna was the one who stopped mid-sentence; after repeatedly blinking several times——
'Pfff', she burst out. Since she continued laughing so hard that she had to hold her stomach, I looked around my surroundings and myself, though I couldn't spot any changes in particular.
"W-what the heck is going on."
When I asked this question, Asuna took out a hand mirror from the pile of stuff on the bed and tossed it to me, rather than giving me an answer.
As for why a guy with no interest in fashion at all would have a mirror, it's because a mirror is a handy tool for checking what's beyond a corner in a dungeon, or for using it to reflect light at enemies. The hand mirror I received as a present from Kayaba Akihiko on the day the death game began was, unfortunately, broken to pieces when I dropped it out of shock of seeing Klein's and my own IRL faces; this little gem is a far higher grade mirror made from crystal.
When I looked into the mirror nervously, I saw—— that my face had been dyed in such a vivid ruby-red that I even winced a bit.
"Uwah, wh-wh-what the heck is this!?"
"Ahahaha…… I kind of guessed that this would happen."
As Asuna was having a blast from the situation as always, I spitefully asked.
"Well, the word 'blush' means 'getting red in the face', after all. I would have told you what that word meant too, if you had just asked."
Although I subconsciously let out a grr, this situation was brought about by my lack of English proficiency. 'If only Aincrad had some English textbooks, I'd study from them every night……', while thinking about stuff that I'd probably forget about the next day, I looked at the mirror and saw that, luckily, the ruby colour of my face had slowly begun to fade.
Heaving a deep sigh of relief, I began searching my memories to recall how we ended up with this conversation in the first place. If I recall correctly, Asuna had said that I didn't do things #properly#(chanto), and that was brought up because——
"Oh, right right, that chanto skill. In the end, what is that thing?"
"Huh? Oh, you're talking about that."
Having stared fixedly at one more bottle of Blush Cider that remained on the table, Asuna raised her head as she said the following.
"It's not the j.a.panese word 《#properly#(chanto)》, but rather the English word 《#Chant#(chanto)》. It's a Chant skill."
"Grr…… More English…… Though, I wonder, did such a skill exist in the beta test……"
"Ah, so it's probably like that one. Like your 《Martial Arts》 skill, Kirito-kun……"
"What, an Extra Skill!?"
Subconsciously, I half-rose to my feet.
Today was the third of January, 2023. With the New Year's mood already dissipated on the frontmost lines, Asuna and I had been working through Aincrad's 6th Floor as well, when I figured it was time for a break at our inn…… just then, my temporary partner said, "I need to talk with you for a bit", and entered my room just as I was in the midst of organising my storage.
However, if the topic of the conversation was related to extra skills, even I wasn't reluctant to hear it out. On the contrary, I was very much interested in the topic. After all, it's nearly been two months since SAO's official service began, yet only two Extra Skills are known at this point: the 《Martial Arts》 skill that you can get on the 2nd Floor, and the 《Meditation》 skill with dubious use that was discovered during the beta period. Thus, the past few days I was thinking that it would be nice to find some new skill already.
"……So, what is that 'chant' thingie?"
When I asked this question while remaining in my imaginary chair pose, Asuna gave me a complacent smile for some reason.
"It means 《#song#(uta)》 or 《#sing#(utau)》."
"S-sooong? ……How is that different from the English words song and sing……?"
"To be precise, it refers to 《sacred songs》 and 《chanting》 in the Catholic Church. Like Gregorian Chants or Byzantine Chants."
Those sounded like words that I've never heard of, but since it seemed like asking about them would result in another digression, I just nodded and returned to the topic.
"……So, that means that the Extra Skill is, that is to say, a skill for singing songs?"
"That seems to be the case. System-wise, the skill's name is rendered as 《#吟唱#(ginshou)》 in j.a.panese. How's about it, Kirito-kun, wanna try getting that skill for yourself?"
Letting out the third grr of the day, I sat back down on my chair.
It's the long-standing ambition of numerous gamers to seek out 《hidden skills》 ; naturally, I do very much enjoy doing so myself as well, but I can't quite even imagine a skill for singing songs in the first place.
"……Um, but what's stopping you from just singing songs without it? There were even plenty of guys singing in a chorus after drinking alcohol in the New Year's Eve party……"
"Ah, looks like I didn't explain it clearly enough. To be precise, it appears to be a skill that triggers buffs as a result of cheering people on with songs."
Now I could very much accept it. That is to say, it's probably a skill equivalent to the abilities of a 《bard》 in other games. However, when I imagined the skill being put to use, I had a strange and unnerving feeling about it. After all, SAO is the world's first VRMMO-RPG, so if you wanted to use song buff, that meant……"
"……Ehm, so that is to say, the Chant skill requires singing an actual song on the battlefield…… is that right? Does it have some special songs? Or is anything ＯＫ as long as it's a song……?"
"Ugh…… huh, I wonder……"
Perhaps even Asuna hadn't actually considered the practical details before as she answered with a complicated expression.
"Even I have only heard talks about it on the level of rumours from Liten, after all……"
"Oh, so that means that #the Aincrad Liberation Squad#(ALS) was the one who found the skill quest then? In that case, that sounds quite credible."
"If you're so interested in it, how about we investigate it together?"
As she proposed the idea so promptly, I barely managed to close my mouth in time before I ended up going with the flow and saying "sure". Based on my experience so far, I had a premonition that I'd be the one forced to take up the skill; however, if I, a person known as the 《Rogue Beater》 or 《Blackie》 by the Clearer Group, were to abruptly start singing during a boss fight, it could result in a great disaster with everyone in the raid group bursting out in laughter, despite getting some buffs out of it.
"Ah, ehhm, umm……"
How can I avoid such a disaster while still investigating that Extra Skill?, I thought desperately, before deciding to say the following in the end.
"I-I'm not reluctant to do some research on the skill, but I think I'd rather hear your songs, Asuna, instead of getting the skill myself. That way, I'd be more fired up on the battlefield too."
Just go with it!, just as I hoped she would accept my excuse——
"Wha…………Hey, w-what's with that all of a sudden."
Since Asuna muttered this while lying face down, I belatedly realised that I had said something inappropriate as I peeked at the fencer's face.
At that moment, her usually Forest Elf-like white skin seemed to suddenly turn red, or maybe that was my imagination…………
"Ah, n-no, this isn't what you think!"
Having noticed my glance, Asuna cried out while pressing down her cheeks with her hands, before grabbing the second bottle of 《Blush Cider》 that was on the table, quickly pulling out its cork, and gulping down its content.
"Ah, I was so thirsty. This thing really is tasty, I'd like to drink full-plate-armourful of it."
As she said this, her face became as red as a ripe tomato, just like my face had been mere moments ago.
Hesitating whether I should pa.s.s her the hand mirror while bursting out in laughter, or refrain from doing so, I thought, 'Even with her face dyed in bright red like this, a beauty is still a beauty'.