Bitter 217

“First,” said the Great Gnome, “allow me to mark the quest complete.” He closed his eyes for a moment and Britta’s hand started to pulse.

She looked down at it and was surprised to see the whole hand glowing red. She turned over her palm and instead of having just one message, she had a handful.

There were so many, she wasn’t sure what she was supposed to press, they overlapped so much. It probably didn’t matter, she decided, and pressed her palm with her forefinger.

Message boxes began filling up her view and at the same time small fireworks went off to indicate she had reached Level 4.

“Congratulations, you have reached Level 4,” said an emotionless voice in stark contrast to the flashing and glittering light show bursting out of her hand.

The message boxes obscured her view. They offered her various options and new spells, but it was too much all at once. Not only in terms of making decisions, but also just being able to see where she was and what was happening around her. It was like she’d been given a bunch of presents, but had to climb into the box to get them.

She read the ones on top but there seemed to be an endless supply.

<Choose one of the following Stage 2 illusionist spells: Invisibility, Hypnosis, Teleport>

<You have a parcel waiting at the Post Office>

<Skill tree is now unlocked>

<New Passive activated>

<All Stage 1 spells have been upgraded>

<Glamor has been upgraded to Glamorous>

<Mirror has been upgraded to Magic Mirror>

<Fireball has been upgraded to Greater Fireball>

<Shadow Guardian has been upgraded to Shadow Agent>

<You have +1 skill points>

<You have a parcel waiting at the Post Office>

Some of them seemed to be repeating themselves, and others just told her the same thing in a different way. It was too much to process in one go.

As fast as she could, she slapped at the air around her and closed the messages. They would still be in her inbox, but she would much rather consider them one at a time. With her view unobstructed again, it even became easier to breathe.

She turned her attention back to the gnome. “I’m Level 4.”

“My heartiest congratulations. It’s a great achievement.”

Britta was pretty sure most players would have reached this point within their first few days of playing. Her journey to four had been slow and often aimless. And Level 5 was the much bigger milestone. How long would it take her to reach that? Hopefully her new spells and abilities would speed up the process.

“Thank you,” she said. “Is there anything I should know about… anything?”

There was a small chance that gnome would reveal something to do with the game, the whole Nigel thing, Freddy’s death or whatever the point of all this was.  A hint telling her where to go next would be nice.

“No,” said the Great Gnome. “You seem to be doing very well.” He said it like a grandparent trying to offer general encouragement. “You handled the Thirty-Six Chambers without using physical violence or even much magic. I was expecting maybe some thinking outside the box—heh heh, apologies for the little pun—but I didn’t expect you to eschew the use of your abilities altogether. Very impressive.”

Britta couldn’t think of a single point in the challenge when one of her spells would have come in handy. It wasn’t that she had decided to prove she didn’t need magic to beat the chambers, she just hadn’t been able to think of a way to put them to good use. Perhaps she needed to better understand what her spells could do.

She opened her status screen. If she went through it one step at a time, she would at least have a better idea of her new abilities. Hopefully things would be easier now she had access to more powerful spells. And she had an extra skill point to put in one of her attributes. She was sure she wasn’t making the most of them, either.

“Take your time choosing which Stage 2 spell to take. It will define your subclass.”

“What’s a subclass?” she said, hearing the term for the first time. No one had mentioned subclasses to her. She’d even gone through the boring tutorial. Twice.

“Ah,” said the Great Gnome, “I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise.”

She closed her mouth tightly and wondered how much XP she’d get for killing a god.

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