Bitter 25

There was an assortment of small objects in the box. She pulled them out one by one.

Three small bottles, one red, one blue, one pink. A wooden disc the size of her hand. A hat of some kind—it was quite stiff and looked uncomfortable. And an egg. Not the kind you have for breakfast, this one was mottled red and yellow and barely fit in both hands. Someone had decided to send her a bunch of junk, it seemed.

“Oh, never mind,” said the boy. “No legendary items this time, but you never know what you’ll get in a New World gift box. Only two ninety-nine U.S. dollars, one ninety-nine in euros. All major credit cards accepted!”

She realised what it was. This freebie was to get her to buy more of these boxes for the small chance she might get some amazing in-game item. Gambling, basically.

So much for immersion. Not exactly staying within game lore to mention real world currencies and credit cards. No doubt there would be plenty of people who would shell out vast amounts to win a flashy mount like the tiger she had seen earlier. She wondered if Dad had bought any of these.

The boy was still grinning at her, arching his eyebrows suggestively. “You can buy a New World gift box at any post office in any town.”

“I’d rather eat broken glass,” said Britta.

“Excellent! We’ll see you next time.” There was no sarcasm, no change in his gormless expression. He looked over her head. “Next please!”

Britta turned around. There was a whole line of people waiting behind her.  She was about to step off the platform when a thought occurred to her. “Is there somewhere I can sell stuff?”

“Yes!” said the boy brightly. “You can buy and sell items at the auction house.”

That was right, the elf at the guild had mentioned it. The items themselves didn’t look like much but even a few pennies would be helpful at this point. And the box looked sturdy, perhaps she could find a use for it.

She left the post office and sat down on the steps outside. People were going in and out, but they weren’t real people and were too busy pretending to be on important business to notice her. She rummaged around in the box.

The bottle of blue liquid was the smallest, about the size of a bottle of nail varnish. There was nothing written on it. There had to be a way to identify what it was.

“Identify,” said Britta on a whim. There was a sudden change in the world around her, or at least in the way she was perceiving it. The colours drained out of everything except for the bottle in her hand. It still looked the same but now it had a tag over it that said ‘Mana Potion.’

She touched the tag and a screen opened.

Restores up to 10 MP.

Britta looked at the blue bar at the bottom of her vision. The blue had returned to about a quarter of what it had been. At this rate, it would take a few hours to get back to full. Her total amount of MP was thirty, so an extra ten would mean she could cast a couple of spells in a pinch. Someone who used their magic a lot would need a big supply of these potions. They probably sold them somewhere. There was no way the only way to get them was by buying a gift box. That would be outrageous.

She took out the red bottle. It was only slightly larger than the blue one. “Identify.”

The tag said ‘Health Potion’.

Restores up to 10 HP.

Her health was only twelve, so this would give her near full healing, assuming she wasn’t killed in one hit.

The pink bottle was not only the biggest but also the fanciest. The bottle was like for some exotic perfume. The gloop inside looked like children’s cough medicine. The tag said ‘Dye.’

Fuchsia dye, lasts for 30 days.

Temporary dye. You could use it to change the colour of your outfit and if you liked it, then you’d have to buy some more. Such a scam. At least she might get some money for it in the auction house. Maybe bright pink was a rare colour and worth thousands. Unlikely.

The hat looked like it might fit her. The tag said ‘Leather helmet.’

Poorly made hat that provides minimal protection.

Great. It didn’t even look nice, more like a soup bowl made out of carpet. She tried it on. It slipped off. She tried again but it was like trying to push two magnets together. She checked the tag again. She scrolled down and found more text.

Not usable by your class.

Another one for the auction house. She picked up the wooden disc next. It has a picture of a horse on it. The tag said ‘Mount Token.’ Promising…

The Quest for a Mount. Would you like to accept this quest?

She pressed the Yes button. She wouldn’t mind riding around on a horse instead of trudging through waist-high mud. Well, a pony might be better considering her size.

This quest is available at Level 3.

What was the point of even giving it to her if she couldn’t accept it? She threw it back in the box. It bounced off the egg. Britta quickly grabbed the egg, afraid she might have broken it. There was no sign of any damage. No crack.

The tag over it was empty. Just blank white. Britta tapped it.

Unable to identify.

Mystery egg. Was she supposed to cook it? Sit on it until it hatched? There could be a baby dragon inside, or a phoenix. Or more likely a cute pointless thing that looked nice but did nothing. Whatever it was, she suspected it would be a way for A.P.E. to make money.

What she needed was a bag to carry all this stuff in. The box was too awkward and she didn’t have any pockets.

“Inventory,” she said on the off chance it was like other games where you could store stuff in a magic bag.

Her status screen opened on a blank page divided into six segments. She picked up the egg and tried to place it on the screen, expecting her hand to go right through it. To her surprise, the egg jumped out of her hand and turned into a picture in one of the segments.

She had room for six items. At the bottom of the page was a button that said ‘Purchase more slots.’

Of course. Well, she wouldn’t need much space. She put the disc, hat and three bottles in each of the empty spaces. That took up all the available slots, leaving her with just the box. She realised her mistake.

She took everything back out—she just had to reach for it and it jumped into her hand—and put them all in the box. Then she put the box in one slot. She didn’t know how much she would get for those items in the auction house, but the box was worth its weight in gold.

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