I am a huge fan of the anime Log Horizon. I have binged all three seasons multiple times and I’m even reading the light novels. From the diverse characters to the incredible world building in this story, I just love it. So, I decided to write my own fan fiction of my favorite anime, bringing an American cowboy to Akiba. Here is part 1 of A Tale of Log Horizon-The Gunslinger.
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The simple buzz of an alarm roused Henrietta out of her slumber. She brushed her honey-colored hair out of her face, stretched out her arms, and yawned. She opened her light brown eyes and stared out her window to see the sun peeking over the horizon. Another day in Akiba on the Crescent Islands of Yamato in the world of Elder Tales.
More than a year ago, 70,000 Japanese players of the MMORPG Elder Tales found themselves in another world, a world that resembled the same one in the game they played for years. It was a day known as the Apocalypse. Since then, the players adjusted to their new life and their new world, searching for a way home while living life inside their favorite video game.
Henrietta was no exception. As second-in-command and treasurer for the Crescent Moon Alliance, she adjusted to her new life in Akiba. She spends most of her time acting as administrator, assisting her guildmaster and best friend, Marielle, in the daily operation of the guild. It’s a far reach from her real-life job as an accountant, even a stretch from her in-game class as a bard.
Henrietta put on her glasses as she sat up in bed. She swung her feet over the side, flexing her toes before she put them on the cold wood floor. She walked over to the window and pushed it open, taking a deep breath of fresh air as the sun warmed her face. With a bit of effort, Henrietta opened her heads-up display, which was still like the game in this strange world. She went through the menu by tapping buttons in the air until she found her saved voice messages. There was only one saved message in there. Henrietta tapped the voice message and listened to the replay.
“Hey darlin’ . . . Sorry I missed your call. The time difference between America and Japan puts us both in a bad spot, but we’ll be together soon, I promise. My job here is almost done. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know I’ll be coming through the fairy ring as soon as the server comes online with the Novasphere Pioneer update. I got the timing down for the jump, so me and my friend Major will be coming to Akiba. He wants to meet up with his little sister in-game, so I offered to help him out. I’ll meet you at the White Tree-like we planned. See you there . . . Love you!”
As the message ended, Henrietta paused for a moment, wondering if she should just go ahead and delete it. It crossed her mind every morning, but she just couldn’t bring herself to do it. It was all she had left of him . . . his voice.
As much as she wanted to put it behind her and move on with her life, she couldn’t bring herself to delete it. Henrietta thought about finding someone else to fill that hole in her heart, someone like Shiroe, but she knew he had others vying for his affection. Even time spent with her adorable little Akatsuki couldn’t take away her pain.
She closed her screen, pushed up her glasses, and pulled her hair back into a bun. “Time to get my day started,” Henrietta said to herself.
Like any other city, Akiba was full of shops, restaurants, taverns, and homes. It was known as an adventurer’s town, with more than 30,000 calling it home. The city was under the supervision of the Round Table Conference, a group of guild masters working to bring peace and stability to the town.
The big difference in Akiba was the diversity of its residents. In the game, the People of Land were considered non-player characters or NPCs. Now, they were the people of this strange new world. The Adventurers, as they were known to the People of the Land, were the online players who found themselves transported to this world of Elder Tales. Adventurers’ primary job was hunting monsters surrounding Akiba, protecting both the city and the people, and gathering ingredients and supplies to survive in this world.
The more experienced players, level 90 or higher, usually helped train the younger, more inexperienced players in their guilds. Naotsugu was no exception.
As a guardian, one of the three warrior classes, he was considered a front-line defender in any party. He looked massive in his full plate armor, with a broad sword and large kite shield slung over his back. In the Log Horizon guild, Naotsugu was also the primary trainer for the young adventurers. In a year, these youngsters increased their level to well over 60, quite an impressive feat. Today, he took four of his junior members out to the western hunting grounds.
Touya, a samurai, walked with his twin sister Minori, a shrine maiden. These two were tutored under Shiroe, the Log Horizon guildmaster, and jumped at the chance to join. Although they were only middle-schoolers in the real world, they’ve grown exponentially in this new world.
Accompanying them were Isuzu, a bard, and Rundelhaus Kode or Rudy, a sorcerer. Isuzu, like Touya and Minori, was from the real world. As the daughter of a rock star, becoming a bard was easy for her. On the other hand, Rudy was one of the People of the Land. He aspired to be an adventurer, and a near-death experience gave him that chance thanks to guildmaster Shiroe and his friends.
“So, what’s the plan for today’s training, sensei?” Touya asked. “Giant Triffids or Briar Weasels?”
“An adventurer never plans for what confronts them but prepares for any possibility!” Naotsugu said, spinning his words of wisdom as eloquently as possible.
“Will we be the only ones out here, or will we be working with other hunting parties?” Isuzu queried, trying to assess the situation herself.
“Don’t worry your little head, Miss Isuzu. I’m here to protect you from any danger!” Rudy announced, fluffing his blonde hair while flashing a smile.
“Now Rudy, there’s only room for one star in Log Horizon, and that’s me . . . You’re star-struck galaxy idol, Tetora!” Tetora shouted as she popped out from inside Naotsugu’s armor and laid across his shoulder, hitching a ride. As usual, her antics annoyed the guardian to no end.
“Get off me, you little freak!”
“Oh, come on, Naotsugu! If you like, I’ll show you my panties to take your mind off things,” she said as she bent over and wiggled her behind at him.
“No, thank you, you little skank!” The two continued to argue while the junior members looked on, confused as they shook their heads in disbelief of the senior member’s actions.
“Why do they always act like this?” Minori wondered as she slapped her neck as if a bug bit her.
“Beats me. I think Big Bro . . . I mean, Big Sis Tetora enjoys teasing sensei!” Touya stated.
“Enjoys it? I rather think she excels at it,” Rudy added.
“I find it just slows down our training sessions. What do you think, Minori?” Isuzu asked her friend, but Minori was not there. She collapsed on the ground, unconscious. “Minori!”
“Master Naotsugu!” Touya shouted, getting his leader’s attention to his sister’s dilemma.
“What the? Minori!” Naotsugu rushed over to her as Tetora jumped off him to render aid. As a cleric, her primary job was healing the injured members of a party.
“What happened?” Tetora queried.
“I don’t know! We were just standing here, talking about the two of you arguing, and she just collapsed.”
Touya’s explanation didn’t account for Minori falling unconscious, as Naotsugu looked around to see if anything or anyone was out there. “Look at this!” Isuzu said, getting Naotsugu’s attention. She pulled out a small dart from the side of her neck.
“What is that?” Rudy pondered. “A dart? But from where?”
“Everybody, keep your guard up,” Naotsugu ordered. “We’re not alone.” The group formed a defensive circle around their fallen friend. “Tetora, can you tell what they drugged her with?”
“No, but I can try to cure her of its effects,” she replied, taking out her Zankyou Jewel Rod to cast her spell. “Vitality Aura!” The magic cured anyone suffering from the effects of poison or drugs. Still, for some reason, it wasn’t working on Minori.
“I don’t understand; it should be working!” Tetora worried. “Did someone make a drug-resistant to magic?”
“There’s nothing like that in the game,” Touya exclaimed.
“You keep forgetting, Touya, this is no longer a game for us,” Naotsugu observed.
“But why would someone need a drug that’s resistant to magic?” Isuzu asked. Naotsugu thought for a second before he and Tetora locked their gaze and spoke simultaneously.
Plant Hwyaden was a guild operating out of Minami, one of the five major cities for adventurers in Yamato. The guild controlled the entire city and had the political backing of the nobility from the Westlande Empire. They have been trying to wage war with the Freedom Cities of Eastal, aligned with Akiba and the Round Table Conference. Their leader, Nureha, also had a strange fixation on Shiroe and the junior members of Log Horizon.
“We need to get out of here, now!” Naotsugu ordered, but before he could pick up Minori, the sound of heavy footsteps echoed through the forest. Without warning, two giant stone golems broke through the brush. The stone monsters were more than sixty feet tall and level 70, well above the capabilities of this small group.
“Stone Golems! What are they doing here?” Isuzu screamed, a trickle of fear echoing in her voice.
“There’s not supposed to be monsters that powerful in this zone,” Rudy added, trying to hold back his own trepidations.
“What do we do, Master Naotsugu?” Touya asked, concerned about his friends and his sister lying there helpless. Naotsugu didn’t know what to do, but he had to protect his charges. It was his duty as a guardian.
From their perch in the trees above, the two members of Plant Hwyaden watched as their plan unfolded to sheer perfection. They laughed at the incompetence of the adventurers that they easily trapped.
“The sleep toxin worked perfectly,” the assassin said, still gripping his blowpipe that delivered the dart on target. “This will definitely raise us up in the eyes of Princess Nureha!”
“Or earn us the wrath of Indix for failing to complete the mission,” the summoner crouching next to him countered. His spell summoned the two stone golems, causing the distraction. “Once the golem takes them out, we can pick up the girl and head back to Minami.”
“Thunderation, I’ve seen some underhanded bushwhacking in my day, but you two take the cake,” said a voice from above, surprising the two adventurers. They looked up to see a man dressed like a western cowboy—complete with a cowboy hat, boots, and a long coat with a thin cigar clenched between his teeth—aiming two revolvers at them. His rough beard and steel blue eyes showed his anger and firm determination. “Lightning Chamber!” he shouted as he fired his one six-shooter. The bullet impacted the assassin, encasing him in a lighting cage, shocking him repeatedly until he died, dispersing his anima and returning him to the cathedral in Minami.
The cowboy drop kicked the summoner hard as he reached for his wand, forcing him out of the tree and down to the ground. Their sudden appearance caught everyone’s attention, especially Naotsugu, who recognized the cowboy immediately. “Gideon? Is that you?”
Gideon looked over and smiled at the sight of his friend. “Well, looky here! I travel across an ocean and two continents to find my number four favorite guardian with his hair in the butter. How you doing, Naotsugu?”
“Number four! I thought I was number three!” Naotsugu shouted, insulted by his decline in his friend’s eyes.
“Well, you left the game for a while, partner, so things change,” Gideon responded. “But we can talk about that after we deal with these golems.” He aimed his other revolver at the golems. “Tempus Rewind!” he shouted before firing at the golems. His spell created a clock that moved in reverse, causing the golems to move back in time to where they came from.
“That should give us about a minute . . . Major, keep this yellow belly under wraps until we finish off those golems,” Gideon ordered. From behind the tree, a bear dressed in armor stepped up. He was part of the Bearclaw Clan, one of the unique races on the North America server. Major went over and sat down on the summoner. His massive weight caused the wayward adventurer to gasp for air as he struggled beneath him.
“Doc, why don’t you see what you can do for the little lady,” Gideon asked his other companion. He pulled out his medicine bag and began examining Minori. Doc was a native Inuit and a medicine man, the same class as a shrine priest or Kannagi on the Japan server, but with additional skills as an apothecary and an alchemist.
“Master Naotsugu, do you know this man?” Touya asked.
“I sure do; that’s Gideon Hawkmoon, the sorcerer gunslinger from America,” he replied. The junior members had never heard of him before, but Tetora did.
“THE Gideon Hawkmoon? Are you kidding me? Naotsugu, are you telling me your friends with him?”
“Well, yeah, he was an unofficial member of the Debauchery Tea Party,” he explained. “Gideon traveled a lot for work, so whenever he was in Japan, he’d join up and fill in if we needed someone for a quest.”
The Debauchery Tea Party was a group of notorious players, not a guild, who banded together to take on the most challenging quests in Elder Tales. Their exploits were legendary, even after they disbanded. Naotsugu and Shiroe were two of their members. Though not officially part of the party, Gideon joined in whenever he could.
“But I mean, you, how could you of all people know the number one PvP in all of Elder Tales?” Tetora squealed.
Gideon walked up before Naotsugu could answer, and the two exchanged a fist bump. “Long time no see, hoss! It’s good to see you!” Naotsugu exclaimed.
“Same here, partner! It’s been too long!” Gideon shot back, but before they could continue their conversation, Tetora stepped in front of Naotsugu, looking starry-eyed at Gideon.
“Oh my God, I can’t believe I’m meeting THE Gideon Hawkmoon! I’ve followed your every move on the MMO blogs! You’re a legend! I’m Tetora, your star-studded galaxy idol, and your biggest fan!” she shouted, ecstatic at the sight of someone she idolized. She suddenly shifted her attention to his six-shooters. “Oh wow! Are those it? The Guns of Archimedes—Merlin and Morgana—the only magic items designed by a player for in-game use? Can I see them? Can I? Please! Please!”
Gideon just tipped his hat up and looked down at Tetora. “Little lady, I would love to indulge your requests, but perhaps we can deal with the golems first, okay?” Just as he said that the golems burst through the brush, just like they did before Gideon hit them with the time rewind spell.
“Naotsugu, do you mind if I lead this party?”
“You got it, pal . . . Everyone, follow Gideon’s instructions! He’s calling the shots!”
“Are you sure about this, Master Naotsugu?” Rudy asked, unsure of this garish American cowboy that just appeared out of nowhere.
“Gideon was one of Shiroe’s protégés. I’d even say he was right up there with Rieze and Misa of D.D.D.” To hear such high praise of Gideon’s skills as a strategist impressed the junior members of Log Horizon.
“Aw shucks, Naotsugu, you’re gonna make me blush,” Gideon joked. “Alright then, let’s get a wiggle on!” He cocked his six-shooters and started giving orders to the group.
“Naotsugu, you and samurai boy get their attention! Don’t attack until I tell you; just defend!” With those orders, Naotsugu and Touya moved up to block the golems from any further advance.”
“Anchor Howl!” Naotsugu shouted, using his skill as a guardian to draw one golem to him.
“Samurai Challenge!” Touya yelled, following suit with his own unique skill to attract the other.
“Blondie, cast a Frigid Wave spell at the golems, but aim at their feet, not their bodies!” Gideon ordered, which confused Rudy.
“But that will affect Master Naotsugu and Touya, plus it will have little effect on the golems!”
“Trust me, tenderfoot, and keep repeating it once the cooldown ends!” Gideon continued. Rudy didn’t understand, but he did as he was told, sending a wave of freezing air across the ground. “Curlicue, do you know the Lament of the Sorrowful Man?”
Isuzu thought for a moment, trying to remember all her bard support spells. “Yes, but I’ve never used it before!”
“There’s a first time for everything, darling. Cast that then follow up with the Anthem of the Affectionate Mother on Naotsugu and the samurai!” Isuzu sang out her support magic, filling the air with her songs. “Pinky, you too! Cast all your healing spells at them!”
“The name’s Tetora!” she argued.
“I’ll learn names later, darling. Just do it before they freeze to death!” Gideon snapped back as he watched the combination of magic spells work on the golems. The cold from Rudy’s Frigid Wave spell, combined with Isuzu’s lament, weakened the golems just the right spot—their knees.
“Naotsugu, samurai boy, strike where I shoot!” Gideon shouted before firing off his spell. “Thunderbolt Crash!” He squeezed the triggers, firing a ball of thunder and lightning at their knees. The explosion caused massive cracks in the stone, perfect targets for the two warriors to hit.
Their swords struck true as the golems broke away at the knees before falling backward and crashing to the ground. The sound echoed through the trees as the golems lay helpless. Gideon smiled, pleased with this party’s smooth teamwork, but they weren’t done yet.
“Blondie, hit the one on the right with an Orb of Lava, right at the head!” Gideon commanded. Rudy liked the way he was thinking.
“Now you’re talking my style!” he gleefully responded. Gideon took aim at the left while Rudy aimed his wizard’s cane at the right.
“Orb of Lava!” the two sorcerers chanted, firing off a smoldering ball of lava at each of the golems. The impact finished off the remaining hit points for the monsters as anima, gold, and other rewards exploded all over the ground. When that happened, everyone let out a resounding cheer, high fives, and fist bumps all around.
Gideon holstered his weapons as he suddenly found himself surrounded by the party, looking at him in awe. They all introduced themselves and started bombarding him with questions. “That was amazing, Mister Hawkmoon! I never thought of using that lament before today!” Isuzu crooned.
“Please, call me Gideon, and, well, I have an appreciation for the talents of bards, Miss Isuzu, so I study their skills thoroughly,” he explained. “The lament is a cursed song that weakens an enemy’s defense. Usually, it affects the monster as a whole, but I found that if you focus your attacks on one area, the debuff will increase in that one spot. That’s why I had Rudy focus his Frigid Wave spell on the legs. It made them easy targets.”
“Easy for you to say, I’m the one with frostbite on my toes,” Naotsugu complained.
“Oh, Naotsugu, you want me to warm them up for you?” Tetora cooed, elbowing and winking at him.
“Still, that was so awesome!” Touya added. “I can see why you’re on par with Master Shiroe!”
“I am nowhere near the talents of Shiroe . . . Wait, Master Shiroe? You all know him too?”
“Why yes, he’s our guildmaster!” Rudy professed.
Gideon was shocked when he heard Shiroe not only joined a guild, but he formed one too. “Well, ain’t that peachy,” he said. “I have been looking for ‘the villain behind glasses’ since I got to this side of the ocean. Fortune does favor the bold.”
“What do you need Shiroe for?” asked a bewildered Naotsugu.
“It’s a long story, Naotsugu old buddy, one I can tell you over a couple of cold ones. For now, let’s see how Doc is doing with your shrine maiden friend and get some answers from that varmint!”
The party walked over to them as the medicine man helped Minori sit up. “Minori!” Touya shouted as he rushed to his sister’s side. The shrine maiden rubbed her head as if coming out of a fog, but when she finally opened her eyes, she saw the worry wash away from everybody’s face.
“Are you okay?” Isuzu asked.
“A bit of a headache, but I’m okay. Sorry to have worried everyone.”
“Don’t fret about it, little lady. I knew you were in good hands with Doc!” Gideon replied.
“Doc?” she said, looking up at the Inuit medicine man.
“His real name is Inuksuk, but I just call him Doc because he’s the best doctor an adventurer could ask for in their party.”
“Your praise is unnecessary, Gideon Hawkmoon. You saved my life on Akutan. I am simply fulfilling a debt of honor I owe you,” Doc said, his words spoken clear and concise, enunciating every syllable. “The young lady will need further rest to recover. They hit her with a powerful drug that inhibited the flow of magic. I’ve never seen anything like it before.”
“Like I said, Doc, you are a miracle worker,” Gideon started to say before turning his attention to the summoner still held down under the weight of Major. “Now, let’s see what this varmint has to say!”
Gideon, Naotsugu, and Tetora walked over as the summoner glared up at them, unable to move and barely able to breathe. “Help him up, Major. We want to have a word with this gentleman.” Major stood up and pulled the helpless man to his feet. He took a big breath of air, grateful not to have the massive weight of the bear on his chest. However, that bear was now standing behind him, towering over his small form.
Gideon and the others stared down at him with eyes piercing him with their anger. “The way I see it, you have two choices, partner,” Gideon began. “We can send you to the cathedral all at once or one piece at a time; mind you now, Major here is hungry, and biting off extremities is one of his favorite pastimes.”
The summoner looked up as the giant bear licked his lips, not that he would really eat the helpless man, but as an intimidation tactic, it worked. “Okay, okay, I’ll tell you what I know!” he screamed. “We were sent out to test this new drug and see if it works on capturing adventurers.”
“Why would you want to capture adventurers?” Tetora queried.
“I don’t know; they don’t tell me these things. Lady Indix had Jered Gan develop it, and we were just supposed to field test it and bring back captives for further study.”
“Indix? Don’t tell me that Calamity Jane is somehow involved in this!” Gideon exclaimed. “What’s going on, Naotsugu?”
“That’s another long story, pal, one that definitely requires heavy drinking!”
“Oh, we’re gonna have a party tonight!” Tetora shouted, but Naotsugu was curious why the Plant Hwyaden members picked them to test their drugs on.
“You just happened to pick Minori, someone who had a run-in with Nureha, as your target, huh? That’s a little convenient if you ask me!” Naotsugu accused, getting right in the scared summoner’s face.
“Well, there was a rumor that Princess Nureha had a thing for these kids in the Log Horizon guild, so I thought it might win us some points with her!” he confessed.
“Well, as my grandpappy used to say, you are a ten-cent man with a dog that won’t hunt!” Gideon retorted. He motioned his head for the Major to step aside as the summoner looked relieved for a moment. Gideon drew his revolver and pointed it at him. “When you see Indix, make sure you tell her that Gideon Hawkmoon says howdy! Close Burst!” He squeezed the trigger, igniting his spell that killed the summoner, sending his anima back to the cathedral.
Gideon holstered his weapon and let out an audible sigh. “I am fit to be tied, Naotsugu!” he said. “If that catty-cornered sage hen is involved in this, I want in on the action!”
“Catty-cornered sage hen?” Tetora rebutted, confused at Gideon’s western slang.
“He means Indix,” Naotsugu explained. “Let’s get back to Akiba and talk to Shiroe. He’ll know what to do.”
Hearing the name of Akiba caught the attention of both Gideon and Major. “Akiba? We made it to Akiba! You see, Major, I told you I’d get you here!”
“Tell me, do you know a little girl, a druid named Serara?” Major asked in excitement. His voice was gruff and tense, what you might expect from a Bearclaw, but when he talked about Serara, it went up a few octaves. Hearing the name of their close friend in the Crescent Moon Alliance caught the attention of the junior members of Log Horizon.
“Wait, Serara? You know her?” Minori asked.
“She’s my little sister!” he exclaimed, which left a shocked look on everybody’s face. Major could see their confusion and decided to explain. “Well, what I mean is I consider her my little sister. We grew up next door to each other. We were both only children with no siblings, so she called me her big brother, and I thought of her as my little sister.
“I’ve been in the United States as a foreign exchange student at an American University,” he continued. “We were able to keep in touch playing Elder Tales. When the Apocalypse happened, I was afraid she would be stuck in this world, lost and alone.”
“Major and I did a few quests together, so I offered to help him get to Yamato since I was heading here anyway,” Gideon added.
“Well, you don’t have to worry about Serara. She’s been doing great as part of the Crescent Moon Alliance,” Touya told Major, but now Gideon acted out, surprised to hear that name.
“Crescent Moon Alliance? Is Henrietta there? You know, a pretty honey blonde with light brown eyes and sway when she walks? Infatuated with all things cute and adorable?” Gideon’s description of Henrietta caught everyone off guard but definitely set off alarm bells to Tetora, alerting her of some potential juicy gossip.
“A sway, really? And how well do you know Henrietta, hmmm?” she asked with a wink.
Gideon turned beet red, realizing he said something somewhat awkward, and decided to cut things short. “Well, uh, you see, she and I, we, uh, that is . . .”
“Why don’t we start toward Akiba, and we can fill you in along the way!” Major interrupted, helping save his friend from any further embarrassment.
“Yeah, we can get everyone to meet us at the gate and surprise them!” Touya interjected. Everyone agreed and started using the telepathic link, something all adventurers have, to set up the big surprise for Serara and Henrietta.
On the walk to Akiba, Gideon filled them in on what happened to them. Both he and Major hopped through a fairy ring on the day of the Apocalypse, hoping to jump over to the Japan server as soon as the new expansion pack loaded. Unfortunately, they ended up in the Aleutian Islands instead, finding themselves trapped in their avatars in this new world. Add to their dilemma, their individual heads-up display was frozen and inaccessible. They couldn’t view their friend’s list, the telepathic, link, or maps; and, if they were to die, they’d return to the cathedral in the last major city they were in . . . South Angel (Los Angeles in the real world). The two men decided to move on and island-hop over the Aleutians, cross the Bering Sea into Russia, then down the coast to China, into Korea, and across the sea to the Crescent Islands of Yamato.
Naotsugu couldn’t believe what these two went through to get to Akiba. “That’s incredible, dude, and it took you more than a year to get here?”
“Well, we had to do everything within our power not to get killed, so we avoided major encounters with monsters or conflicts with other players. Thankfully, Doc kept us healthy and ready to fight.”
“Yeah, but that didn’t stop players from trying to take away your number one PvP rank?” Major added.
“PvP? What’s that?” Rudy asked.
“Player versus Player, Rudy,” Major explained. “Gideon is the top-ranked player in head-to-head matches against other adventurers, and that paints a target on his back.” That news impressed the junior members even more as the cowboy’s reputation preceded him.
“And knowing you, Gideon, you were never one to back down from a challenge,” Naotsugu chided.
“Now you know me better than that, Naotsugu,” Gideon bragged. “I mean, I ain’t one to slap on too much mustard, but there were some plumb locos out there, itchin’ for a fight. I had to teach them who’s aces high wherever I go.”
“I swear your speaking to us, but I don’t understand a single word you just said,” Tetora commented.
“He said he didn’t mean to brag, but these crazy players wanted to fight him, and he had to teach them who’s number one,” Major interpreted. “It took me a few months to get his ‘John Wayne’ vernacular down.”
“Hey now, Major, I told you before, don’t take the great name of John Wayne in vain,” Gideon admonished him. “You will speak of him in reverence and awe.”
“John who?” Minori asked, causing everyone to break out in laughter.
Shiroe waited at the main gate into Akiba with other members of Log Horizon and the Crescent Moon Alliance. The small group stood just inside the entrance on the bridge leading across the river and into the city. He leaned on his staff and pushed up his glasses, patiently waiting for the party to return. Their message of urgency was short and unclear.
“Does anyone know what’s going on?” he grumbled.
“No, milord and neither Naotsugu nor Tetora were very forthcoming with information, just that we all had to be here,” Akatsuki replied. With her long purple hair pulled up in a ponytail, the assassin stood there defiant with her arms crossed. “Knowing Naotsugu, he probably found a treasure trove of panties, the pervert.”
“I’m sure ‘Naotsguchi’ would not have wasted our time on such frivolities, meow,” Chief Nyanta said in rebuttal. The swashbuckler and resident master chef of Log Horizon, a nearly six-foot-tall felinoid cat, towered over the diminutive ninja, peering down at her with one eye open.
“It’s strange that they asked just for the five of us to be here. I wonder what could be wrong?” Serara added. The little druid, with her fluffy red hair, pulled back held tightly onto her oak staff, worried if someone might be injured.
“I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about, Serara. They probably have a big surprise for us!” Marielle said, always the optimist in strange situations. The green-haired elf cleric and guildmaster of the Crescent Moon Alliance always tried to have a positive outlook on things, even during the Apocalypse. “What do you think, Henrietta?”
“Well, whatever it is, I hope they hurry it along. I’ve got a lot of work to do!” Henrietta articulated as she adjusted her glasses. She was an accountant by trade, both in the real world and in the game as her sub-class. Her strict, hard-working, and knowledgeable reputation earned her the respect of everyone in the guilds.
“I see them coming!” Serara shouted.
“Is that a cowboy with them?” Akatsuki questioned. “And a bear?”
“A cowboy?” Henrietta announced, gazing out across the bridge.
“A bear?” Serara replied, and when she saw him, the little girl realized who it was! “Big brother Major!” she shouted, taking off across the bridge.
“Serara!” the burly guardian screamed, running up to her. The two met on the middle of the bridge, and Major lifted his little sister into the air hugging her tight. The two were crying uncontrollably, filled with joy over their reunion. The junior members of Log Horizon surrounded them, cheering them on at the tearful reunion.
“Is that Serara’s brother? Really? A bear?” Marielle asked.
“I don’t see the family resemblance,” Shiroe answered when he suddenly realized who the cowboy was. “Wait . . . Is that, Gideon? Gideon Hawkmoon?”
“I believe it is none other,” Chief Nyanta exclaimed. Before anyone could say anything else, Henrietta ran out toward Gideon. The gunslinger walked ahead from the party, tossed his cigar away, and took off his hat before strolling up to Henrietta. The two of them stood there, gazing into each other’s eyes as if they wanted to thoroughly capture the moment.
“Gideon, is it you? Is it really you?” Henrietta asked, slowly reaching out to touch his face. He took her by the hand and pulled her in closer to him.
“Yeah, darlin’, it’s me! I told you I would get here. Sorry it took so long, Henrietta!” With that, Gideon wrapped his arms around her and kissed her. The two embraced a loving, passionate kiss that took everyone by surprise. At both ends of the bridge, the two groups stood awestruck at the sight of these two lovers kissing. They were even more surprised when Gideon released her, and Henrietta reached out and slapped him across the face. “Ow, what in tarnation was that for?”
“That was for not calling or messaging me to even let me know that you were alive and in this world, you good-for-nothing cowpoke!”
“Now listen, honey, there were extenuating circumstances as to why I couldn’t use the telepathic link!”
“I don’t want to hear your excuses, honey; you took your good ole time getting here!”
“Ah, come on now, listen to reason, Umeko!”
“Don’t call me that name, Jedidiah!”
“Now, you stop that, Henrietta. Only my mee-maw calls me Jedidiah!”
As the argument rallied on, everyone continued to wonder what was happening before their eyes. Two people, who some had known for years, were somehow intertwined, yet no one knew about it. Even as Naotsugu and the others walked past the arguing couple, they thought the same thing.
“Is everyone else as confused as I am?” Shiroe asked.
“I am completely lost, my lord,” Akatsuki replied.
“Yeah, I can’t make heads or tails of it either,” Naotsugu answered. “Chief?”
“I’m afraid I must refrain from comment until this little soiree is completed.”
“You know something, don’t you?” Akatsuki implied. Chief just gave her a sideward glance with a hint of a smile on his face.
“A gentleman never gossips about the private matters between a couple, especially when it comes to matters of the heart.”
“Yeah, you know something . . .”
“Marielle, did Henrietta ever mention Gideon to you?” Naotsugu queried.
“No, never . . . I mean, Henrietta took me to a cowboy-themed restaurant once. Does that count?”
Naotsugu chuckled at Marielle’s confused demeanor. “No, I don’t think so!” Finally, the argument subsided as the two embraced each other again, with Henrietta crying in Gideon’s arms. He comforted her as Gideon calmly reassured Henrietta that everything would be alright.
“I’m here, darlin’, and I’m here to stay!” he whispered. “I’m never going to leave you again, I promise. I love you, Henrietta.” With that, Henrietta wiped the tears from her eyes and gave him a peck on the lips until she realized that they had an audience. The assembled groups from Log Horizon and the Crescent Moon Alliance stared at the two in curious awe.
Henrietta straightened up her dress while Gideon put his hat back on before she took him by the arm and led him over to her friends. “Everyone, I’d like to introduce you to Gideon Hawkmoon,” she started to say, pausing before she finished her sentence, “my husband.”
Their eyes went wide, and mouths agape as shock ran through everyone, all except for Chief Nyanta. “Ah yeah,” he muttered as if it was something he knew all along.
Marielle, however, was quite taken aback, rushing up to her best friend. “What do you mean, your husband? When were you married? Why didn’t you tell me about him?” she screamed.
Henrietta kept her composure, adjusting her glasses. “It was right before the Apocalypse, but everything happened so fast. I was going to tell you, but I thought Gideon didn’t make it through to this world, so I didn’t feel the need to share it. We had other things to worry about.”
“What other things? This is me, Henrietta, your best friend since high school. How could you keep something like that from me?”
“I’m afraid that was my fault, Miss Marielle,” Gideon stepped in, hoping to save Henrietta from the ramblings of her best friend. “We didn’t mean to bushwhack you like this, but . . .”
“You stay out of this, you . . . you . . . cowboy!” Marielle shouted, wagging her finger in his face.
“Gideon, dear, why don’t you go say hello to the others while I talk with Marielle,” Henrietta suggested. Gideon tipped his hat to the ladies and walked over to the others while the two friends argued.
“Hey there, Shiroe . . . excuse me, guildmaster Shiroe. How you doing, partner?” Gideon greeted his friend with a fist bump.
“You don’t need to be so formal with me, Gideon. It’s good to see you too!” Shiroe replied.
“And how’s my number two swashbuckler, Chief Nyanta? You look as dapper as ever!”
“Meow, same to Gideon. It’s good to see you made it to Akiba!” Upon hearing Chief Nyanta’s rating threw Naotsugu for a loop.
“Wait a minute, how come he’s number two, but I dropped to number four?” he complained.
“I told you, Naotsugu, you left the game. Chief earned his spot with me.” Hearing the rating system confused Akatsuki.
“My lord, what is this rating he’s talking about?”
“Gideon rates his top ten players by class on a sliding scale,” Shiroe explained. “It’s pretty prestigious to get onto his top ten list.”
“And where do you rank?” the curious Akatsuki asked, but before Shiroe could answer, Gideon interrupted.
“Oh, my man Shiroe has a special category all to himself,” Gideon replied. “He is, without a doubt, the number one strategist in all of Elder Tales.” Shiroe blushed at the compliment Gideon gave him. He never thought of himself as anything special, even though everyone in Akiba did. Once he collected himself, Shiroe realized that he never adequately introduced Gideon.
“Oh, you two haven’t met,” Shiroe muttered. “Gideon, this is Akatsuki, our ninja!” Akatsuki gave a nod and a slight bow.
“It’s an honor to meet you, Master Gideon. I am Akatsuki, Master Shiroe’s shinobi and personal bodyguard,” she stated, straight and firmly, before changing her tone. “So, you and Henrietta, hmm? And how did you two meet?”
“Yeah, and why didn’t you ever mention her before?” Naotsugu interjected.
“Come on, you know the rules of MMORPGs . . . You keep your personal life and your gaming life separate,” Gideon explained. “I mean, would you like me to tell them about the time we went to the Atamai Onsen in Shizuoka, you know, when those girls . . .”
Before he could say another word, Naotsugu put his hand across Gideon’s mouth to effectively shut him up. “Okay, okay, I get it! Point taken, we don’t have to talk about that!”
“Oh, I want to hear about it!” Shiroe crowed with a sinister grin.
“Meow, so would I!” Nyanta concurred.
“You still haven’t answered my question,” Akatsuki added.
“Well, why don’t we take this discussion off the streets and somewhere private where Henrietta and I can explain things. Plus, I need to see if Shiroe can help Major and me with our little problem,” Gideon ascertained. “What do you say, Miss Marielle?”
Marielle stopped fighting with Henrietta when she realized that Gideon was right. Perhaps this would be better done in private. “Fine!” she said, storming up to Gideon and sticking her finger in his face. “But this isn’t over, mister, not by a longshot! Let’s go, Naotsugu!” Marielle grabbed the wayward guardian by the hand, dragging him away.
“Now wait a minute, Marielle. Why are you picking on me?”
“Because you’re the only one I can beat on without getting hurt, now move it!” she screamed as Naotsugu tried to calm her down while she took it out on her guardian boyfriend.
“She’ll calm down,” Henrietta assured Gideon. “It’s my fault, really. I should have told her about us, but I wasn’t sure what happened to you during the Apocalypse. I didn’t want Marielle or anyone else to be constantly worrying about me.”
Akatsuki could see that this was something Henrietta had been holding inside since the day she met her more than a year ago. She went over and placed a comforting hand on her arm. “It’s okay, Henrietta. You can’t blame yourself for not wanting to burden others with your problems.”
Out of nowhere, Henrietta grabbed Akatsuki around the head. She hugged her tight, rubbing her like a favorite doll or stuffed animal. “Oh, my little Akatsuki, you always know what to say to make me feel better! I could just hug you and squeeze you all over for that!”
While she continued to assault the little ninja, Gideon leaned into Shiroe. “I see Henrietta still has a thing for cute and adorable chickabiddies.” Shiroe just laughed and nodded his head as the rest of them headed into Akiba toward the Log Horizon guildhall.
* * *
I hope you enjoyed this! Please message me in the comments below about the story. Stay tuned for A Tale of Log Horizon-The Gunslinger (Part 2) next week.