A Friend, A Confession, And Some Winter Clothing

by Parupiro
“Ugh, not this time either, huh.” A man sighs as he stares at his messy desk filled with item shards and onyx crystals.
“This is impossible! How could I, the great Natra-sama, possibly blunder ten times while doing something as simple as item crafting? There must be a problem with the shards, or the recipe, or err… my chair”.
“In any case, I’ve used up all the $ANIMA I’ve saved up. I need to replenish my war chest before I continue my epic tale.”
“Looks like it’s time to visit an old friend of mine for some support,” Natra says while leaving the room.
“Hey! What’s up? It’s rare to see you here at this time of the day.” A tall man asks while wearing traditional Japanese clothing and a white bandana on his head.
“There is nothing wrong with going to see my friend, my partner, my soulmate!” Natra replies while making weird poses at each description.
“Cut that out, Natra. People will get the wrong idea again. So what brings you here?”
“It turns out that my quest to create the Neptunian Wool of Blazing Fervor, the ultimate gear that will allow me to survive the upcoming cold war, has hit a roadblock. Therefore, I am here to ask my loyal compatriot, Mugi, to aid me in this time of need,” Natra exclaims while striking weird poses again and ultimately ends in him kneeling and holding his friend’s hand like a marriage proposal.
The over-the-top favor may come off as weird to most people, but Mugi has known Natra since they were kids. He already knows about his odd quirks. “Yes, yes, I will accompany you to karaoke tonight,” Mugi sighs in defeat.
“I knew I could count on you, my eternal friend!” Natra says with a tiny teardrop in his eye.
“Now stand up quickly before people give us weird looks. By the way, how many times did you try already?”
“Hmph! The great Natra-sama always succeeds in any task he sets out for— it's just that the position of my desk and chair is throwing off my game!”
“Oh, I heard that you can go pray to the mythical wonders of Anime Metaverse or wish upon a falling star to help with your crafting."
“I don’t need the help of deities or falling stars! I need to complete this quest on my own. This is my battle, my destiny!” Natra points to the distance. Chest puffing out and stars shining in his eyes.
“It's always so dramatic with you.” “Just you wait. When I get my war funds back, I will make the ultimate Neptunian Wool of Blazing Fervor!”
“Well, you better sing your heart out or you’ll not have enough $ANIMA for your quest.” Mugi laughs as they walk towards the city.
That night, after singing to the tunes of Sawano Hirayuki with Mugi, Natra went rushing home with a bunch of $ANIMA that they earned having FUN at karaoke.
“At last, my quest can continue!!” Natra shouts to the skies while running.
Upon reaching home, Natra quickly goes to his desk then opens up the player screen, and navigates to [Item Crafting].
[DING! FAILURE – your item has failed to craft]
“Dang it!” Natra punches the nearby wall.
“Calm down, I got enough $ANIMA to do another 10 tries, we still got 9 more to go."
The sun is up and blazing. Natra knows that today is the best day to make his dream come true. He stands up and takes a deep breath.
“Ganbaru beam!” he shouts while pointing at the crafting ingredients.
“Okay, time to get started. All the ingredients are ready, and we still have sufficient $ANIMA. Onyx is not needed because this is item crafting and not upgrades. So I’ll set that aside for now.”
He navigates to the item crafting menu again and then-
[DING! ERROR – your item has failed to craft]
[Two items shards have been destroyed]
“DAAAAAAMN IT! I poured my heart and soul into that, and I got an error of all things!?”
“Calm down, calm down. I still got extra shards in case we got an error. I still have enough, even if one or two more shards break the next time. Now that it has come down to this, it is time for me to use my ultimate weapon. They say the third time is also the charm. I will stake my trump card on this bet.“ After calming himself down, Natra opens the item crafting menu again, but before pressing the craft button, he chants:
Oh $ANIMA which holds the power of the Stars.
Manifest your power before me
I, Natra, command you under our contract!
[DING! MAGNIFICENT ERROR—your item has failed to craft]
[DING! All Item Shards have been destroyed!]
“What!? What did I do wrong?” Natra scratches his head, “All my item shards are gone? I spent many days farming those shards from different activities. How could the great Natra-sama achieve something worse than failure? I still have some $ANIMA, but because all the shards got destroyed, I can no longer continue. DAMN IT!”
Natra stomps as his face plummets to his now spacious desk. He turns his head slowly to look at a picture of two boys laughing beside a snowman, hanging in the corner of his room.
“I have failed you, my partner” A small teardrop traces down from his right eye.
Natra’s customized doorbell rings. But he doesn’t have the willpower to answer the door. To Natra’s surprise, the door squeaks open. He runs toward his desk and tries to find anything that he can use to protect himself.
“How did the door open? Is that a thief?” Natra panics and ultimately grabs a sandal as his main weapon.
[DING! Weapon Acquired – Sandal]
[Sandal – Atk+1]
Natra’s mind has no time to process the untimely pop-ups that appeared on his screen.
“Hey, Natra! I’ve come to check up on yo—”
A sandal hits Mugi’s face as he enters Natra’s room.
“Oh it's just you! You scared me for a moment there.”
“Naaaatra? How dare you throw a sandal at your best friend’s face?” Mugi clenches his fists.
“SORRY!” Natra drops in a dogeza, apologizing numerous times to Mugi. “Lately, the glorious name of Natra-sama has attracted countless assassins to my door.”
“TO-NI-KA-KU!, how is your quest for the Neptunian thing you were boasting about the whole day,” Mugi asks while pinning Natra’s head, keeping him down in a dogeza.
“Hmph, the great Natra-sama decided to do it on another day,” Natra says while turning his head away.
“So, you failed again huh... how bad was it? Failure or Error?”
“Ugh,” Natra groans, not wanting to admit his defeat.
“Looking at your empty desk, I’d say that you had an Error and couldn’t go on because you had no more shards.”
Natra pretends not to hear Mugi and continues to look away.
“I figured this would be the case and don’t prepare for the worst-case scenario. Luckily for you, I brought some item shards right here for you to use. "
“Really? Don’t you dare lie to me! How do you even know which shards I need?” Natra says as he starts dancing and spinning around the room like a ballerina.
“You kept telling me about it while we were singing, so naturally I know the recipe,” Mugi says as he places the ingredients at Natra’s desk.
“Wohoo! Now let's get back to our glorious quest! By the way, Mugi, do you want to do this with me?” Natra asks with a blush.
“Huh? Is that even possible?”
“I don’t know, but the great Natra-sama will allow you to accompany him on this quest seeing as you are already here!” Natra opens up his item crafting window again. “Mugi, come press it with me.”
“Huh? I can’t see your screen, you know?”
“Don’t worry about it, just grab my hand and let me guide you.”
Mugi places his right hand on top of Natra’s.
Natra proceeds to open the item crafting menu again and looks for the recipe of Neptunian Wool of Blazing Fervor. He looks at Mugi one more time before he finally pushes the craft button.
[DING! SUCCESS – you have successfully crafted WINTER SOCKS]
[DING! MUTATION – Winter Socks has mutated into Socks: Proof of Friendship]
The resulting item was still regular winter socks made of wool, but it had a snowman logo etched into it.
“So that Neptunian thing you were making was socks all along?”
“Not just any sock! It’s the legendary Neptunian Wool of Blazing Fervor! We can’t make our snowman pet army without being properly equipped!” Natra says as he triumphantly dances around the room with both socks on hand.
“Proof of Friendship… I like the sound of that! And look, it has a similar snowman to the one we made back when we were kids too!” Natra grins as he puts his arm around Mugi’s shoulder.
“Now, we have another reason to make sure it becomes a reality.”
“Yeah, someday partner,” Natra says with a teary voice. Truly, some friendships are meant to last forever.