Bitter 228

Talking to Lewis hadn’t made her feel any better. In fact, the sense of wonder she had about New World had been severely tarnished.

She was in a game. It was made up of ones and zeroes. It took skill and talent to shape them into something she was able to interact with, but that thing was fragile and could be broken. Or abused.

It wasn’t real, and she had to stop thinking of it as real life with bonus options. If she kept inching her way forward, afraid of what might happen if she took a misstep, she’d never get anywhere. It was like walking into a magnificent palace, and becoming fixated on the welcome mat.

Britta spent the afternoon focused on her lessons. She asked questions, made sure she had all the information she needed for homework assignments, and typed up a list of everything she needed to do by the weekend. She felt a lot better when she was sorting out things she had control over.

By the time she got home, she had come to a decision. She would take the Acrobat sub-class, use the teleport spell to leave the Gnome Village and carry on with the game.

It wasn’t the sub-class she would have ideally chosen, but she was sure it would still come in useful. Wasting time trying to get the right sub-class with the best quirks and the most impressive skills had only left her paralysed, which wasn’t a useful state to be in, especially when it was self-inflicted.

There was a chance Dr Reedy would find a way to get her out of the Gnome Village, but Britta strongly suspected that wouldn’t happen. More likely, she would ask around, get some feedback from the boys in the lab, or wherever they did their coding, and would eventually come back to her apologetic and empty-handed.

It was a bit of a pessimistic way to look at it, but hanging in there in the vain hope she might get a helping hand just when she needed it most would only lead to more paralysis.

Better to get on with it and enjoy the game as best she could with the amazing abilities she had access to. Being able to teleport would be mind-blowing. And great for getting out of trouble.

She would end up with a teleportation scroll she no longer needed, but perhaps she could sell it. Or give it to Stan so he could teleport out of prison.

The thought hit her like a bolt of lightning. Had she just figured out what she was supposed to do?

The idea was so thrilling, it made her not care if Dr Reedy found her a way out of the village, she should take the Acrobat sub-class anyway. The only thing stopping her from considering it game over was the thought that perhaps getting Stan out wasn’t in his best interest. If his body was too sick to keep going, leaving him in New World might be the better option. Although that didn’t necessarily mean he had to stay in prison.

It was impossible to know what would be best for him without the game explaining what it was up to. Which she highly doubted it would do. But it was nice to know she had a way to get him out. Assuming the scroll worked like she expected it to. Big assumption. The scroll could easily be limited to her personal use, and then she would be able to teleport by spell and scroll, giving her access to an entirely new sub-class: Redundant.

She lay on her bed considering these things, feeling pleased with herself for having come to a decision and for generally being on top of matters. She wasn’t really, it was all in her head so far, but she still enjoyed the illusion of it. She smiled to herself. She was an illusionist, after all. Soon to be an acrobatic one.

She hadn’t done any of the work she was supposed to have gotten out of the way. Daydreaming about hypothetical victories would neither help her schoolwork nor make her more effective in the game. She told herself to stop goofing off and get on with the homework she knew she should take care of.

So, of course, she reached for the helmet under her bed and put it on. One hour wouldn’t make that much of a difference, and her mind would be free of distraction. Just choose her sub-class, get back to town, and go to the post office where packages were waiting for her. That was it. Anything else could wait.

A bright light shone in her eyes when she opened them. She was on the strange little altar covered in vines. She sat up and the light went out.

The altar was in the valley at the bottom of the cliff she couldn’t climb out of. Dr Reedy hadn’t been able to switch her respawn point, clearly. Britta wasn’t surprised. She climbed off the altar and walked towards the tunnel leading to the Great Gnome’s throne room. There was no sign of the Great Gnome himself.

Her status screen looked the same as before. Stats waiting to be added. Sub-class waiting to be chosen. She stopped in the middle of the tunnel, a faint blue glow coming from either end. She opened up the skill tree. The temptation was to carefully go over everything, just to be sure she was making the right choice. She resisted and pressed the large circle with Acrobat written next to it.

Do you wish to select Acrobat as your sub-class?

Britta pressed the Yes button.

Sub-class bonus, Agility +5.

Britta stared at the screen, and then went back to the main page where her attributes were shown. Agility had gone from 5 to 10. That was a huge jump, equal to her Intelligence. She moved her arms about to see if she felt more agile. Everything seemed the same. What she needed was a way to test it.

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