Bitter 105

A long, plaintive howl chased after Britta, which was better than the sound of running footsteps. Judging by how much strain the dwarf had been under just to keep the slab of rock raised, it would take at least a couple of minutes for him to free himself. Enough time for Britta to get away, she hoped.

The tunnel was very dark and her ball of light only illuminated a short distance ahead of her. She threw the ball to show the way but she’d never had much of a throwing arm (inherited from Dad) and the ball went more up than along.

It bounced off the roof of the tunnel and landed on the floor. She kicked it and sliced it off her toe, careening off the wall, bouncing from side to side.

The light jumped around the tunnel, showing no exits.

She kicked the ball again and this time it shot forward and disappeared, a soft glow coming from the left.

She ran into a square chamber similar to the one she’d left, with exits in each wall. She picked up the ball and held it in front of her, moving it around to see better. The tunnels all looked the same.

Stan had gone west, so if she did the same she might meet up with him. Was that a good idea? There was safety in numbers, and he had the bow, but could she trust him?

If she took the east tunnel, she might run into the kobold, but he had been small and scared, which was an attractive combination. She might even be able to talk to him and avoid fighting altogether. They could help each other escape from the dwarf.

Then again, the mine was supposed to be full of kobolds. That one might have been separated from his chums and hurrying to meet up with them. It would be a different story if she ran into a large group of kobolds on the warpath.

Or she could plough ahead, deeper into the dungeon. That was probably the least safe route to take. Kobolds weren’t the only creatures down here and there were bound to be more traps ahead. Running blindly down tunnels was not going to end well.

There was a loud crash behind her. The dwarf gaining its freedom? Would the dwarf come after her? She had to assume so. It would definitely try to kill her if it caught up.

The dwarf was her most immediate problem and one that seemed out of place in a beginner dungeon. She couldn’t shake the feeling it wasn’t supposed to be here. It just didn’t feel right. She also wondered how the kobolds had managed to chase the dwarves out of the mines if they were all like that.

The dwarf had seemed completely out of control. The red eyes, the foaming mouth, the howling… those weren’t dwarven traits. Dwarves were supposed to talk with Scottish accents (for some reason) and be obsessed with mining and singing.

Was it some kind of werewolf dwarf? It could be part of this dungeon’s quest, to cure the dwarf, but Stan would have known if that was the case. Unless he deliberately didn’t tell her.

There was another howl. Closer.

Britta made up her mind. If she was going to get killed by a weredwarf, she might as well check out as much of the dungeon as she could first. She ran into the north tunnel.

Stan had said he’d done this dungeon before but he’d been surprised by the scared kobold and the ‘monster’ chasing it. She knew her character made the game do weird things, so Stan’s reaction could have been genuine. Which also meant his knowledge of this dungeon wasn’t going to be of much use.

But that still didn’t explain why he panicked and ran into the west tunnel without thinking, setting off the trap. It was the kind of thing a noob would do. It was the kind of thing Britta would do.

Shouldn’t he have been more willing to fight? She was leaning more towards him being a troll, which meant he certainly wasn’t Dad in disguise. For all his annoying gamer tendencies, Dad would never abandon her like that.

Britta stopped. Stupid. She wasn’t thinking clearly. She cast Shadow Guardian and her shade appeared.

“Go down this tunnel and check for traps. Also, see what’s in the next chamber. Double speed.”

The shade turned around and floated away. And then stopped.

“What is it?” said Britta, checking her mana levels. The shade ate up a lot of magic, but she had plenty.

“Trap found,” whispered the shade.

“Where?” asked Britta.

“I’m standing on it,” said the shade.

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