Bitter 121

The shade appeared, inky black and vaguely humanoid. It hung in the air in front of her saying nothing. She had a million questions to ask it, but knew she wouldn’t get any answers. It would probably just run away again. Better to keep the questions in check and get some help.

“Can you stand on this pressure pad?” Polite, don’t be pushy, kid gloves. “Please?”

The shade drifted slowly to the right until it was hovering over the pad. It sank a little bit into the ground. Click.

The platform emerged from the cliff edge, again. It stretched out across the divide, smoothly and with hardly any sound. If she listened carefully, she thought she could hear some distant rattling and rumbling beneath her, but it was hard to be sure. Maybe it worked by magic, maybe it was cogs and gears. Or maybe the bridge was just programmed to appear and the devs hadn’t bothered coming up with a reason.

She considered jumping on the bridge before it reached the other end so she wouldn’t even have to walk, she’d be carried across, but she felt nervous getting on while it was moving.

“I want you to stay on the pad, don’t move until I tell you, okay?”

“Understood,” said the shade in its whispery soft voice.

She checked her mana at the bottom of her vision. The shade cost mana as long as it remained active but there was well over half according to the gauge, so she had plenty of time.

The bridge reached the other side with a firm click. It looked solid. It also looked thin and slippery.

“Don’t move.”


She wasn’t sure she could trust the shade. It had a mind of its own and was apt to go off when the mood took it. But even if it vanished while she was halfway across, it wasn’t like the bridge would disappear, leaving her hanging in mid-air like a cartoon character. She’d seen how slowly it retracted; she would just be carried back to this side.

Still, it was scary stepping onto the polished stone. There was no rail and the darkness below was never ending. She edged out and gingerly made her way over as quickly as she dared. The dwarf hadn’t howled in a while, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t closing in.

For a second she imagined how cool it would be to get the dwarf to follow her, and when it reached the halfway point on the bridge, get the shade to step away and the dwarf would fall to its doom. But she knew that would only retract the bridge and take the dwarf back. It was a nice little fantasy, though.

The idea of the dwarf turning up did make her think of one thing, though. “If anyone comes, go into stealth mode and stay where you are,” she shouted over her shoulder.

“Understood,” said the shade.

It was scary and nerve-wracking, but she got to the other side without issue. She walked onto the far ledge and let out a loud sigh of relief. The door she’d seen from the other side was the only thing here. It was big and square, a bit like the door to a bank vault, which she hoped was a good sign. If this was a unique dungeon with unique treasures, maybe she’d finally get some decent gear.

There was no handle or keyhole. Not even a doorbell. Getting inside was probably another puzzle. Hopefully, it was as easy as the last one. Of course, she could always try knocking first.

There was a howl. It came from close by.

Britta turned around and saw the dwarf appear through a tunnel on the other side. It was on the far left of the platform. She couldn’t see the shade. It had probably gone into stealth mode as ordered. The bridge was still in place, so the shade had to be, too.

“Now,” shouted Britta. “Move.”

There was a click and the bridge detached from her side. It slowly withdrew.

The dwarf stopped, watching the bridge with glowing red eyes. Then it started walking towards it, like it planned to cross as far as the bridge would allow and then jump the rest of the way. Were dwarves known for their jumping ability? Even if they weren’t, you could never be sure what a game designer might come up with.

The dwarf stopped at the edge, apparently thinking better of its idea. Then it moved to the side. The bridge stopped retreating. Then it began moving forwards again. The dwarf was on the pressure plate.

Britta was only slightly worried. What would he do once the bridge reached her? He’d have to get off the plate, and then what? The bridge would head back again.

It felt like an eternity as she waited. Finally the bridge clicked into place. The dwarf remained where he was. Then he jumped.

It was only a little hop into the air, but when he landed, there was another click. He stepped off the pressure plate and the bridge didn’t move. It stayed fixed in place.

Hmm, thought Britta. She’d learned something very interesting. Perhaps she’d be able to use that knowledge in her next life. The dwarf began crossing.

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