Bitter 113

It was only after she had instructed Stan to lead the dwarf to her current position, that Britta realised she didn’t actually have a plan for getting the missing pages from the dwarf. She didn’t even know where they would be. In a pocket? Stuffed inside a boot?

“Where did the dwarf put the pages after he ripped them out of the book?” she asked the priest.

“He ate them,” said the priest.

“He ate them? Why didn’t you tell me that before?”

The priest shrugged. “You didn’t ask.”

As soon as she heard about the dwarf taking the pages, Britta had known it had to be the solution. Devs didn’t put things like that into a game without a reason. Whenever there was a monster that seemed too hard to kill, there would be a device or item you could use against it. Clearly, she had to get hold of the missing pages and then the priest would take care of the rest. Clearly.

But perhaps this had nothing to do with the devs. Stan didn’t recognise any of it from his previous run through. And how exactly were you supposed to retrieve the pages from inside a dwarf’s stomach?

It didn’t bear thinking about.

“It wouldn’t matter anyway,” said the priest.

“Why not?” said Britta.

“The altar’s broken.” He pointed at the large crack shearing the top of the altar in two. “The spell won’t work without a functioning altar, obviously.”

Obviously? How was it obvious? “We’ve got a crazy dwarf heading here right now. How are we supposed to stop him?”

“That was your idea! Don’t you have a plan?”

Britta wanted to shout back at him, blame him for summoning a psychotic, unkillable dwarf, but he had a point. She had made assumptions and recklessly set things into motion without having any idea what she was going to do once the dwarf arrived.

She’d been under pressure and made a snap decision. The wrong one.

The map showed Stan getting closer. He wasn’t taking the most direct route, probably because of the dwarf or maybe he was avoiding traps. He would still be here in a couple of minutes.

Even if the dwarf was some kind of bug thrown out by the game because of its strange relationship with her character, this was still a game. She could use her abilities and items in a way real life wouldn’t allow. There was bound to be a way to use them to defeat the dwarf.If only she had better abilities and items.

“You’re a shaman, aren’t you? Don’t you have any spells we could use on the dwarf?”

The priest didn’t look too pleased to have the onus put on him. “My spells are for the benefit of kobold wellbeing.”

“Don’t you think it’ll help kobold wellbeing to kill the dwarf?”

“Yes, I’m sure it would. But improving the dwarf’s health and defences isn’t really going to do that, is it?”

His spells were buffs and heals. Good for supporting others, not so good for dealing damage.

“Tell me what spells you have,” said Britta. The priest hesitated. “Look, this is an emergency. I wouldn’t ask otherwise.”

“The Great Blessing, Skin of Oak, Silpling’s Might, Toxin Defender, Water Purification, Fungus Detection and Eternal Healing.”

That was a lot of spells and none of them sounded particularly useful in this situation. She checked the map. Stan had gone off to the opposite end to where he was before for some reason.

“How long will it take you to cast your spells on me?”

“Which one?” asked the priest.

“All of them.”

“Are you mad? You can’t—”

“Just do it. We don’t have much time.”

“She’s going to fight the dwarf,” said Sidney, his voice filled with awe.

That was one option, although her idea had been to get whatever advantage she could and make a run for it.

“That’s right,” said Britta. “Now buff me.”

“Okay,” said the priest, “but don’t blame me if you get Charmer’s Fandango.”

What kind of dumb name was that? “What’s Charmer’s Fandango?”

It was too late. The kobold priest was in some kind of trance, his eyelids fluttering as he sang a strange incantation.

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