005 – Whose Hand Does the Goddess of Victory Hold #1
After being expelled from the Student Council dormitory, I decided to first solve the issue of accommodation.
Food, clothing and shelter.
Everything is important, but in the nights of Ludens, finding a place to stay was the most crucial.
Fortunately, Ludens, crafted by merciful gods, had plenty of dormitory facilities for students.
While it might not matter for an ordinary resident of Ludens Island, as a student, I had the right to stay in a relatively better and cheaper dormitory.
“Dormitory? Victor, are you seriously asking me if you have a room in the regular student dormitory?”
Puhahaha – Laughter erupted here and there.
The dormitory management students for the regular students seemed to find the fact that I appeared before them to ask for a room quite amusing.
“Did everyone hear? Victor, who used to stand tall like an iron rod, is now lowering his head in front of us.”
“Correct that. I’ve never lowered my head.”
As I stared coldly, the fat student who had been mocking me a moment ago seemed taken aback.
“Well, that’s what they say. Words, you know. But unfortunately, there’s no room for you, Victor. None of us will give you a room.”
What? The dormitory is refusing?
I have to ask for the reason.
“Why is that?”
“Well, no one wants to share a room with you. Unlike the prestigious Student Council-exclusive dormitories, we have 4 people in 1 room. You understand, right? So, go away.”
A 4-people-in-1-room dormitory.
Scenes of the protagonist Luke living in the dormitory during the semester came to mind. Did the dormitory roommates change with each playthrough? But once roommates are decided, they stay together for over 4 years until graduation.
Because of that, there were people who would reset the game until they collected roommate characters they liked. It’s called a “Roommate Run”. It’s kind of like collecting desired neighbors in 「Animal Crossing」. I’ve tried the Roommate Run a few times myself, but it wasn’t particularly enjoyable.
Anyway, what’s important now is the story of the protagonist, Luke.
Luke, the protagonist, is a transfer student, and from the very first day he came for admission, he clashes with Victor, an executive member of the student council, and gets into a fight, earning himself a lot of penalty points. However, he manages to secure a room in the dormitory without being kicked out.
What emerges is the Student Council law.
“Residents of Ludens. Anyone can enjoy the freedom of residence. Dormitories are buildings constructed for the convenience and residence of students, and no one can refuse or prohibit this.”
“Well, what’s that supposed to mean?”
“It’s the content of Article 3, Clause 22 of the Student Council Law. Read it.”
I could see that the overweight student, whose face was greasy with oil, was very confused. Should I add a few more words?
“The reasons you guys are giving are very personal. There’s no reason I shouldn’t be allowed into the dormitory. I may have been demoted, but I’m still a student here. I have the right to enter the dormitory.”
“If you refuse, the executive members of the Student Council will come. If that happens, there might be several new positions for dormitory management work. You guys will be kicked out of good positions, so even your face fat might disappear.”
As I made my assertion, the dormitory management students started glancing at each other discreetly.
“What should we do? Is Victor right? Does such a clause exist?”
“I don’t know. But more than that, why is Victor being so strict when he’s no longer even an executive member? I thought he would be laid-back, but he’s no different from the past.”
“No, it’s worse than it was before. He was a little more reserved before. I almost feel like it was better back then!”
“…But don’t you think he looks a little handsome? What’s that ring on his left hand? I heard he broke up with Lady Arkwright, and I wonder if the rumors of another woman are true…”
“I can hear everything.”
When I caught their attention, they coughed awkwardly.
Soon, the one who had thumbed through the thick Student Council Law book spoke up, saying, “It’s really there. Article 3, Clause 22.” The general atmosphere seemed to settle down for the moment.
“Alright, fine. I’ll give you a room. It’s not that I’m afraid of you or anything, hmm, I’m just following the rules, so don’t misunderstand? Then pay the dormitory fee upfront.”
“2 million Rene for 6 months.”
Where on earth would I have that kind of money now?
Even this oily-looking management student seemed to have picked up on that.
“What’s this? You don’t have the money now? This is a dormitory rule. There are official terms as well. If it were some other guy, well, I might have shown flexibility and let you pay later. But you, who abide by the rules, wouldn’t stoop to such underhanded tricks, would you?”
He was right on the money.
‘Doesn’t matter. Just do it for me as well’, I wanted to say, but my stomach hurt terribly and I began to break out in a cold sweat, so I just couldn’t open my mouth.
Victor, who was usually poking holes in others to make them follow the rules, now found himself having to abide by the same rules. It was like a double-edged sword. Tricky, truly tricky. That’s why I can’t use shortcuts to earn money.
* * *
It was late at night, almost ten in the evening.
As I stepped out onto the street, I realized how chillingly cold the nights could be, even in the slowly approaching spring season. It’ll be even colder by dawn, I bet.
“I hope this key comes in handy.”
I jingled the key I had received from Enio.
I kind of wish it’s a key to a place Enio had arranged. However, even if it’s true, it’s pointless for me since I have no idea where that place might be.
For me, who doesn’t know where it is, even if it’s true, it’s useless right now.
If I had known, I should’ve asked more forcefully about what kind of key it is.
“I lost. Now I’m in troubled.”
Perhaps due to the crass words I uttered, my stomach ached.
It felt like Victor was scolding me with his voice in my head, saying, “Such words go against your own rules”. Still, it was probably for the best.
Victor, you jerk. If you were a bit more flexible, I wouldn’t have to be homeless today. You’re so stuck in your own rules, damn it.
What’s fortunate is that I, Ha Seung-ri, have a bit of experience with homelessness.
t might not be a story to boast about to someone, but I had gained some experience with sleeping and lying down anywhere.
Coincidentally, this is Ludens Academy.
I know a few quiet and secluded places within the academy.
First up is the old barn near the dormitory.
It’s used to collect junk “chaff”.
I unlocked the strangely shaped door and entered. A few students were already settled in.
Were there originally people here? No, they weren’t in the game.
This place was typically quiet and empty, without a single NPC.
This was originally a quiet place without a single NPC.
“What are you looking at? Can’t you leave? All the spots are taken here!”
They looked far too gruesome as students.
Are there a lot of people like me who can’t get into the dormitory and end up homeless?
There were cases where there were implicitly designated spaces for homeless people in reality, so it seems like Ludens is the same.
Afterward, I tried moving to different locations several times, but most of them were similar to the one I just left.
“Why are there so many homeless people?”
Ludens, an island with a population of 100,000.
Among them, there are roughly 30,000 students, so it’s not that strange to have homeless students. However, the number seemed higher than I had expected.
Why are there so many poor people?
It wasn’t even this bad in the original story.
“Can’t be helped.”
I decided to leave the densely populated areas filled with dormitories and buildings. I aimed for the outskirts.
It would’ve been fine to sleep out in the open, but there were too many prying eyes, so I gave up on that idea. Victor’s reputation is around -30, making the chances of a raid event quite high.
It’s best to head to a more secluded place.
Luckily, I knew just the place. It’s the post-ending life content area, the “Forest of Sins.”
Sleeping in a forest. I really didn’t want to if I could help it.
Why? Forests are full of mosquitoes. Lots of bugs too.
But it wasn’t the time to be picky, so I walked to the place I remembered.
“Come back another time.”
I went into the 24-hour convenience store nearby and rummaged through my pockets, only able to afford a bottle of water with my remaining Rene. It’s quite funny that my net worth is reduced to a single bottle of water. But there have been times when it was even worse than this.
“This looks somewhat useful.”
「Miscellaneous Pot: A pot. It seems like it could be used if cleaned thoroughly.」
I picked up another discarded pot from a heap of miscellaneous stuff. I used a bit of water to clean it thoroughly, making it quite usable.
“A pot can be used in various ways.”
It can be used as a cooking tool or as a weapon to fend off bugs during a raid, or even as a heat source. Boiling water in a pot can create warmth in its vicinity.
Are there any other useful items around?
As I searched around, I found myself in a forest on the outskirts, far from the students’ residences. This place was considered one where people didn’t venture due to rumors of ghosts in the main story.
That’s why it’s also one of the Seven Wonders of Ludens, but in reality, there are no ghosts, just animals like rabbits and squirrels.
In reality, there was no sign of popularity. There wasn’t even a footprint.
“This is exactly the same as the setting.”
As I entered the forest, I found a patch of grass that chased away bugs near the entrance. It looked just like maple leaves, so it was easy to identify in the game’s style.
“Is its performance the same too?”
If items for gathering in the game grow here just as they do in the game, they might be quite helpful.
Gathering herbs often, I moved deeper into the forest and found a relatively flat area to settle down.
“First, I need to start a fire.”
Naturally, I don’t have a lighter. However, Victor has a stamina of steel. If I rub dry twigs against some bushes, I should be able to start a fire.
Drawing from past experience, I know this will take a lot of rubbing. A whole lot of rubbing.
In the game, if you mashed a button repeatedly, a fire would eventually start, and after a few repetitions, a skill would activate based on probabilities.
Rub rub rub rub rub rub rub rub rub rub.
「Skill Acquired: 《Fire Starting》」
It actually worked. I gained a skill.
“I got it in one shot; luck’s on my side.”
Thinking that skill acquisition worked the same as in the game, I felt happy in this situation. Could I possibly acquire all the other skills this way too?
Does that mean I’ll be able to pay off my debt in no time?
As the fire blazed, warmth enveloped my body.
The flames emerged from the pitch-black darkness, making me feel quite at ease. Not forgetting about the bug-repelling grass, I tossed it into the fire.
The smell was pretty strong, making me grimace, but it was bearable.
“Good. Despite the situation, it feels like I’m on a journey.”
Staying here for a day doesn’t seem too bad.
In my usual life, I’ve never had the opportunity to travel due to my debt. But being in this place, I felt like I was on a journey for real.
After all, this isn’t the cold floor of a train station—it’s a world from a game.
Even though I’m homeless here, there’s more hope than in my original life.
“Even my stamina is better.”
With this kind of stamina, I could probably go a day without sleep. Having a healthy body is a great asset; it feels like I can do anything.
I was organizing my plans for the future when it happened.
The bushes shook.
I tilted my head, wondering if a rabbit or something was coming out. Can I eat rabbits? I mean, I know the game’s recipe for grilled rabbit.
Could I acquire cooking skills like I acquired the fire-starting skill?
I focused my attention on the shaking bushes. I picked up nearby stones, just in case. Then, I threw one with all my strength.
The flying stone hit something in the bushes. But the ensuing scream was too odd to be a rabbit’s cry.
Holding a burning twig, I hurriedly rushed over to the bushes and started rummaging through them. There, lying on the ground, was something strange. Wrapped in rags…
“Who are you, and why are you in this forest?”
“… I-I was going to say something, but all of a sudden you’re throwing rocks! Ouch, that hurt… I think I might have a headache…”
The person rubbed its forehead with its palm, like its head hurt.
Wearing a hood made from rags, the face was hidden. The soft voice made me think she might be a woman.
I didn’t know who she was, but I felt really sorry for hitting her with the stone I threw, thinking she was a rabbit. I mean, I couldn’t have imagined that there would be a person in this forest.
“I’m sorry. I thought you were a rabbit. I didn’t expect there would be anyone in this forest.”
“I’ve never seen anyone enter this forest either… Ah…! More importantly, you’re Victor!”
“You know me?”
I don’t know this guilt-ridden girl at all.
She wasn’t in the story either.
When I expressed my confusion, the unfamiliar female student exclaimed, “You don’t know me after everything you’ve done!?” She then angrily removed her hood, revealing her face.
And there, beneath her hood, was unruly pink hair. Her bangs were also untidy, covering her entire face and making me feel uncomfortable for seeing it.
More than the untidy hair, the pink color was what caught my attention.
Did someone have pink hair?
If I had seen hair like this in the game, I would have never forgotten it.
Then, suddenly, something came to my mind.
I had purchased the DLC that was released alongside D&A’s game remaster.
The DLC contained additional storylines, characters, and various content.
The cover art for the DLC featured a heroine with pink pigtails.
“Could it be…?”
The girl raised her hand enthusiastically. Thanks to her movement, her pink hair, grown messily, revealed her shining emerald eyes.
It was exactly like the illustration.
Even someone as deep into the game as me had never encountered this heroine before.
Even someone like me, who has played for over 24,000 hours, was facing a situation for the first time.
“I am Nike Mokemoke from the Leshgad Forest!”
Her name was Nike Mokemoke!