Bitter 17

The irony of asking for a handout after deciding not to rely on others didn’t pass Britta by. But sometimes you had to go down before you could go up, and at least it would be getting assistance on her own terms. She wouldn’t have to feel obligated to a cardboard box full of donated clothes.

The woman behind the counter looked down at Britta over the spectacles perched on her long thin nose. She was an elf, or at least that’s what Britta assumed. She had pointy ears which meant elf or Vulcan, as far as boys were concerned. She knew this only too well from her father’s predilections which contained both and in large amounts.

“Guild card?” said the elf in a squeaky voice. It was hard to tell how old she was, but she was certainly very beautiful. Britta imagined some nerd spending weeks designing her to look like the elf of his dreams. It was kind of pathetic, really.

Britta found it hard to peer over the counter at the elf who was in a booth with a small opening to interact through. There was a block of wood on the floor that Britta realised must be there for short people like herself. Adventurers came in all sizes, so accommodations were made.

She stepped onto the block and was able to get her head above the counter.

“I don’t have one. I don’t think I’m a member of the guild.” In the back of her head she'd assumed she'd automatically been made a member of the guild when she started the game, but that seemed unlikely now that she thought about it. “How do I join?”

The elf adjusted her glasses, which Britta was sure she didn’t need and only there to give her that librarian-look men seemed to like so much, and put a sheet of paper on the counter. “Fill that in.” She handed over a pencil.

The form had the same questions on it as the character creation screen. Name, race, class… Britta filled it in, but hesitated when she got to class. Did she really want people knowing she was an illusionist? Apart from them expecting her to do magic that didn’t blind everyone, knowing she was making illusions would make people less susceptible to being fooled by them.

It wasn’t that big a deal since she didn’t plan on playing the game beyond this weekend, but she still wanted to avoid making basic mistakes. Dying over and over wouldn’t be much fun.

“Can I leave this part blank? I don’t want people to know what class I am.”

The elf pursed her lips. “You have to fill in all sections. But you can make it private so only you and guild staff can see it. All information is treated as confidential.”

“How do I make it private?”

The elf reached out a hand and tapped the form with a long slender finger. Next to the space where she was supposed to put her class, there was a small box with the word ‘Private’. The strange thing was, she was sure it hadn’t been there a second ago.

“Check the box,” said the elf.

Britta finished filling in the form and passed it back to the elf who looked it over and then pulled out a small, laminated card.

“Welcome to the guild. You can use this at any of our branches. You are eligible for one free tea or coffee from the guild canteen per day.”

Britta picked up the shiny card. How had she made it so quickly and did they really have laminating machines in this pre-industrial society? No doubt there would be plenty more anachronisms to roll her eyes at as she travelled around.

The card also had a picture of her which looked like a photograph. They had cameras, too? Probably not. It was the first time Britta had seen her own face. She had seen what a gnome looked like when she had chosen it as her race, but seeing herself was quite a shock. She wouldn’t be winning any beauty pageants. No change there then. Mind you, perhaps by gnome standards she was a bit of a looker.

“You can take anything that fits from here,” said the elf as she placed a box on the counter. It was too big for Britta to see into and she had to tip it over. Inside were an assortment of clothes, shoes and hats. Like any collection of charity clothing, only the odd sizes were left. Fortunately, Britta was an odd size and she quickly found clothes that fit her perfectly. Soft suede trousers, a white shirt with stains she didn’t dare look too closely at, a black leather cropped jacket and boots.

She didn’t look much like a wizard, but it was a lot better than the rags she’d been given at the church.  And the clothes were scuffed up and broken in which would make her look less of a noob, she hoped.

“Thanks,” said Britta. “I don’t suppose you have any weapons I could have?”

“No,” said the elf, “you have to find your own weapons. Or buy them.”

Which brought up another matter. “How do I make money. As an adventurer, I mean. Do I look for treasure in dungeons or something?”

“You can do that. Simpler to claim a bounty.” She pointed at a wall which was covered in posters, many of them faded to the point of being almost blank.

Britta stared at them and realised they were wanted posters. They had pictures of various creatures with a reward underneath. Some of the amounts seemed quite large, but was she really the bounty hunter type? How was she supposed to bring them in? Or was she supposed to kill them? But then how would she carry the bodies? It all seemed beyond her abilities.

“Or you could get a job,” said the elf. “I hear McDonald’s is hiring.”

They had a Micky D here?

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