Bitter 39

The fact he hadn’t stayed dead was in some ways a relief to Britta. If killing NPCs wasn’t permanent, then it wasn’t really killing. More like temporary removal. With blood.

“Come on, come on,” said Big Freddy in a sing song voice. “All your goodies are mine now.”

She knew she couldn’t beat him in a fair fight, and getting lucky again was hardly a reliable strategy. Maybe she could talk her way out of it. She noticed the blade glinting in his hand wasn’t the same as the one now in her belt. He’d come back but his dagger hadn’t?

The only thing she knew about the dagger was that it was cursed. And now it seemed there was only one of it. Did that make it special? Maybe even powerful? Maybe even worth something?

“What’s the curse on this?” She took the dagger from her belt and pointed it at him.

“Hey! Where’d you get that? That’s mine.”

“I got it off you last time I killed you,” said Britta. How would a computer-generated character respond to news of its own artificiality?

“I remember you. You’re the sneaky cheat who suckerpunched me. Well, Big Freddy don’t die so easy. You better give that back. You give it back right now, or I’m going to punch your head straight through your feet.”

Britta didn’t think that was possible, but she didn’t want to be proven wrong. Still, he seemed more concerned about the dagger than robbing her.  “But it’s cursed, isn’t it? Why do you want a cursed blade?” However this turned out, she'd managed to get into conversation mode, which meant the fighting was at least delayed.

“It’s not cursed, it’s special. It’s an heirloom. Everyone in the Garbolum Family has one. That one’s mine.” He sounded quite aggrieved by the loss. “Give it back. My Da will be mad if he finds out I lost it.” Now he sounded like an anxious kid.

“One minute.” Britta looked down at the dagger. “Identify.” The colours around her faded and the dagger stood out in her hand. The tag now said ‘Garbolum Family Dagger - cursed’. She pressed the tag and a screen opened, full of text. Either Freddy talking about it had changed something, or gaining a level had improved her skill.

Garbolum Family Dagger

A dagger that identifies the owner as a member of the Garbolum crime family. Awarded as a gift on becoming an official soldier of the family and used in special ceremonies. Carries a magic curse that makes the owner bald over time.

“It makes you bald?” Seemed like a stupid curse. It wouldn’t really have much effect on her, she couldn’t possibly get any more ugly.

“So?” said Freddy defensively, wiping a hand over his bare scalp. “Hair just gets in the way.” He had a large, smooth dome that suited his personality and his line of work.

“I’ll tell you what,” said Britta. “Why don’t we swap? You give me that knife you’ve got there, and you can have this back.” She turned the dagger around and offered him the handle.

It wasn’t a very good deal. He could just kill her and take the dagger for free.

“Uh, okay.” He tentatively held out the larger knife.

It could have been a trick, but Britta didn’t thinks so. He was just that dumb.

They both stretched out their hands and, in a quick grab, switched them. The knife was bigger but didn’t feel too bad in her hand. It was like a sword for her.

“Right,” said Big Freddy, “hand over that knife.” He waved the dagger menacingly at her.

He still planned to rob her, just with his own dagger. He would probably still win, even though he had the smaller weapon.

She looked at the bottom of her vision. Her mana had slightly risen. She raised her other hand and pointed her finger. There was a flash of light.

“Sneaky cheat! Sneak cheat!” roared Big Freddy as he stumbled around blindly.

Britta ran past him and out of the alley with her new, bigger, uncursed weapon. One way to get an upgrade.

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