Bitter 115

“Ah,” said Britta, “hello again. I just remembered, um, I didn’t ask your name.”

“My name?” said the priest, baffled but his suspicious expression softening. “You want to know my name?”

“Yes. We might never meet again and I wanted to know…” It was the only thing she could think of on the spot.


“Nice to meet you, Derik. I’m B.” She stuck out her hand and Derik shook it. “Okay, then. See you in the next life, maybe.” She gave him a thumbs up and turned around, cringing. She could have just ignored him and made a break for the exit, but she couldn’t handle that level of shame and embarrassment.

“Wait,” said Derik. Britta slowly turned back. “Take this.” He held out a ring.

Britta took it from him and looked at it. It was very light, made of wood, carved and polished, with a big square face.

“If you meet any other of our people, show them the ring and they’ll know I sent you.”

She’d had a similar experience with the woman at the ranch. She had given Britta a recipe and now there was this ring. A very useful ring. If she ran into any kobolds wandering around the mines, it would have been hard to avoid a fight, but now she had a get out of jail free card.

“Thanks. I just show it to them, do I?” In the back of her mind was the thought that maybe it was even a magic ring of some kind, even though that had to be too good to be true.

“Yes, they’ll recognise it. Good luck, B.”

“See you around, Derik.”

“Bye B,” squeaked Sidney from somewhere behind the priest’s robes.

“Bye.” Britta turned around and headed north. It was a very touching moment for her, to have the two kobolds wish her well and even offer her what little help they had. She felt quite protective of them.

Even though they were just digital creations in a computer, it was hard not to think of them as real people, and not in a demented way like those people who wrote to characters on TV shows like they actually existed. No, talking to Derik and Sidney was like talking to people in the real world. Which made it very hard to think of them as anything other than living, breathing beings who just happened to look like giant bipedal gerbils.

She reached the end of the tunnel. There was no way she could double back and go past those desperate, hopeful faces to get to the exit. She opened the map. She would have to find another route that avoided this tunnel.

They had also helpfully marked the traps for her, so she could go west and zigzag through a cluster of traps to a tunnel leading south that should bring her close to the shaft and the way out. She set off with a spring in her step.

If she had the ability to connect like this with every NPC in the game, there could be an endless amount of unique items she could get hold of. They might not be of the calibre of a legendary sword or magic cape, but it might help her to not get killed so easily.

Next time she tried this dungeon, she would have the ring with her and be able to get past any kobolds without fighting. She wondered if Derik and Sidney would remember her after the dungeon reset. Even if that was the normal procedure, it might not be that way with her. Big Freddy had remembered her, sort of, and that was after he died.

All very interesting and worthy of investigation, once she got out of here.

The traps, once she knew where they’d be, were easy to avoid. She stepped over tripwires and pressure pads and found herself in the tunnel going south within a few minutes. According to her map, Stan was still up in the northeast.

It seemed unlikely he would have ended up at the treasure vault by accident. He’d been here before, so chances were he knew it was up there. Perhaps he had intentionally led the dwarf there to force a fight between the dwarf and the kobolds holed up in there. That would be quite a smart idea. She wished him luck and broke into a run. Freedom was within reach.

She stopped. Rapid footsteps were approaching. She raised her ball of light to see who it was.

Two kobolds came running towards her. Britta breathed a sigh of relief and prepared to show the ring—better than a legendary sword in a situation like this. Then she saw the two red lights behind the kobolds. She recognised them. Dwarf eyes.

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