Bitter 107

“How do you know it’s a banshee?” Britta asked the shade.

The shade didn’t answer. The dwarf tried to jump out of the pit but didn’t even get halfway up.

Britta wasn’t exactly sure what a banshee was. A ghost of some kind, as far as she could remember, but she might well be wrong. Or the game’s version of a banshee might be totally different to the normal definition. The question, though, was how could the shade tell?

“I thought you could just look around and report back.”

The shade still didn’t say anything. She wasn’t issuing orders and it wasn’t like it had a conversational mode, but it usually spoke back to her. Britta got the distinct impression it was pretending not to hear her.

“What else do you know about this dwarf? Come on, you must know something else. Why is he possessed by a banshee, and how can I unpossess him?”

The shade wasn’t looking at her. It didn’t really have a face but still, it was pointing its formless head area at the wall like there was something very interesting over there.

“You’re not supposed to be able to know this much, are you?”

“Identify,” said the shade.

“What?”

“I used identify.”

Britta looked down at the dwarf. “Identify.”

The dwarf’s outline glowed and a message appeared across her vision.

[Cannot identify at this level]

If she couldn’t use Identify on the dwarf at her level, her shade shouldn’t have been able to, either.

“Did you just lie to me?”

“Mana levels low,” said the shade. “Deactivating to conserve mana.” The shade faded away.

Britta checked her screen. She had more than half her mana sitting there. She noticed the time. Mum and Dad would definitely be up now. She should focus on getting out of the dungeon and then she could have a long conversation with her shadowy friend.

The dwarf, snarling and growling, was doing its best to claw its way out of the pit but had nothing to grab onto.

She hurried down the tunnel to the next chamber, which again had three more tunnels leading from it. She went east until she reached a wall with tunnels going north and south. She brought up her map again and could see the tunnels being filled in. The dungeon seemed to be built on a simple grid and not a particularly big one.

She also saw a blue marker moving on the other side of the map, filling in more tunnels as it went. Stan was moving up the far west side of the dungeon. At some point they’d probably meet up, assuming one of them didn’t die first. She could try to avoid him, but if she could see him on her map, then he could see her on his. He didn’t seem to be heading towards her, though.

The light in her palm indicating she had a message was flashing. She pressed it. The message was from Stan.

Turn on your group chat.

“Group chat on,” said Britta. “Hello?”

“Hey,” said Stan’s voice in her ear, slightly distorted like they were speaking on walkie-talkies. There was no reason for that other than the devs thinking it would sound cool. “You okay?”

“I’m fine.” Britta still wasn’t sure if she could trust him, but there wasn’t much he could do to her from the other side of the dungeon.

“What was that thing?”

“A dwarf,” said Britta. “A crazy one.” She didn’t mention the banshee because she didn’t want to say how she knew.

“A rabid dwarf? Never seen that before. How did you kill it?”

“I didn’t. I thought you did this dungeon before.” She tried not to sound too suspicious, but she did feel the urge to throw all sorts of accusations at him.

“I did, but there were no dwarves here. Kobolds got rid of them ages ago, supposedly. And have you seen any kobolds apart from the one we saw earlier? The place is supposed to be crawling with them.”

“No, I h—”

There was another howl, this one came through the group chat link. Another dwarf? The same one, escaped?

“I think there’s something here.” He sounded scared.

She could run across the map to help him, she knew exactly where he was.

“Okay, good luck. Group chat off.” Or she could take a page out of Dad’s book. Never waste an opportunity by getting sentimental. It’s just a game.

She hurried north, hoping she could find the exit while Stan kept the dwarf busy.

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