Bitter 179

It all happened very quickly. Britta had only meant to keep Derik from getting hurt. The dwarf had seen the spellbook, the source of its anguish, and tried to grab it, possibly to eat a few more pages. As far as she could tell, the dwarf wasn’t big on thinking things through.

In her desire to pull Derik out of harm’s way, she had overlooked how close to the edge of the platform they were, and how eager Derik was to stay out of the dwarf’s grasp. He pushed as Britta pulled and they both fell backwards.

Britta was surprisingly calm with the outcome. She had tried to face the dwarf directly, knowing the chances of success were slim. Still, she had made progress. The dwarf was interested in being sent back to where it came from. That was useful information for next time.

But maybe she wouldn’t have to wait for next time.

She still had one more card to play. She had the spell Eternal Healing which she hadn’t used yet.

If it worked like she believed, she could survive this fall and carry on. But carry on to do what? She didn’t have a clear idea of how to use all the information she had gathered so far.

The sensible thing to do was probably to not use the spell yet. Immunity from death was no small thing and there was bound to be a better use for it at some point. Die now, try again. But that wasn’t what she wanted to do. She didn’t want to keep dying and inching her way forward. She wanted to get it right first time.

The air was rushing around her as she fell, staring up at the glow from the platform. Derik was holding one of her arms with both hands, his eyes shut tight. If he was making any noise, she couldn’t hear it above the roar of the wind in her ears.

She tried to turn to see how far it was to the ground but Derik hanging on to her made it impossible. It was too dark to see anyway, so she’d also have to create some light. The whole thing was very complicated. The spell only lasted three seconds so she had to time it right.

“Ahh, no!” screamed Derik. He let go of her and covered his face with his hands.

She took this as a signal that they were about to hit. Derik’s eyes were more sensitive than hers so he had probably seen the end of their journey rapidly approaching.

Obrigado,” said Britta.

Her health bar at the bottom of her vision suddenly began decreasing. It zoomed down to the lowest possible amount, and then stopped. She had 1 HP.

Britta didn’t understand. The spell’s description had been:

Eternal Healing. Survive Death with 1 HP. Cast: Obrigado

She had assumed that meant if she died, she would be resurrected with one hit point. A precarious situation but worth it if she could avoid death. Apparently, she had assumed wrong. A message appeared when she cast the spell.

If you stay alive for three seconds, you will be returned to full health.

It took her about three seconds to read it. Her health went all the way back to where it had been a moment ago, and then disappeared altogether. She was in the white room.

Full health wasn’t enough to save her. Last time she’d fallen into the chasm, she’d been at full health and had died instantly. This time, too, she had been at full health, and then at 1HP, and then at full health. That hadn’t helped either.

Thinking about it, a spell that stopped you from dying was incredibly powerful. And giving a spell like that, if it existed, to a low level kobold shaman would have been unlikely.

Whereas, a spell that healed you at the cost of making you vulnerable to being one-hitted for three seconds, was more balanced. If you happened to be about to die anyway, reducing your health wouldn’t make a difference. If you were somewhere in the middle, you’d have to be careful.

She should have realised. Especially when Derik didn’t use it himself. It was his spell. He would know how it worked. She should have asked him.

It also made sense that unlike the other spells he had cast on her, this one required the recipient to activate it themselves. Otherwise, you could cast it on an enemy, reduce their health to one, and then kill them. You’d only have three seconds to do it in, but you’d have got them down to practically nothing even if they were a tank. That would be completely broken.

And now she was dead. Again. And rightly so.

The truth was, she had been unprepared. Just because she had access to part of the game no one else had, didn’t mean she would get special powers and privileges. She still had to figure out a way to survive and overcome the problems she was presented with. Even with the ability to respawn, it wouldn’t do her any good if she kept making the same mistakes.

She hadn’t levelled up. She had crappy equipment and items. She hadn’t tried to improve her skills and spells. Illusionists could levitate. If she’d had that spell, she wouldn’t have died, she would have floated down safely.

The dwarf had appeared in the lowest level dungeon. Things would only get harder from here and her approach wasn’t going to cut it. She couldn’t just go in blind and hope for the best.

She logged out of the game and opened her eyes. She was lying on her bed. Twenty-four hours before she could go back in and try again. But she wouldn’t be heading to the mines this time. There was no point.

She had to train. She had to improve. She had to get good.

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