Bitter 49

“No,” said the Wise One. “There are no shortcuts in magic, as there are no shortcuts in life. Not if you want to do things properly.”

Britta could have argued the point, but that would only make things take longer. She wanted to get this over with. Or at least find out what ‘this’ was.

“Okay. What do I do first?”

The Wise One nodded sagely and closed her eyes. “First, you must choose your path.” She raised her hand and a light glowed around them, like the two of them were under a spotlight. When it dimmed there were two buttons in front of Britta. One had ‘Quest’ written on it and the other had a dollar sign.

She moved her hand to hover over the Quest button. A screen opened.

The Quest to Enlightenment. If you are ready to take your magic to the next level…

Blah, blah, blah. There was a lot more text, and even at a glance Britta could tell it was mainly waffle. She moved her hand over the other button.

Use Dragon Crystals to attain Enlightenment and take your magic to the next level.

“What are Dragon Crystals?” said Britta.

Another screen opened in front of her covering the first screen.

Dragon Crystals can be bought from the New World store. 5 Crystals for $2.99. 10 Crystals for $4.99. 50 Crystals for $14.99.

How was this not a shortcut? She could use real money to skip the quest and level up her spells. She wondered if Dad had put his credit card details into the game and whether she would have access to them. Probably not, but she was tempted to find out. She didn’t know what the quest involved, but it was bound to be as tedious as possible to encourage people to spend money to avoid it.

She pressed the cash button just to see. It wasn’t like it would authorise the purchase immediately, there were probably numerous steps to go through.

The button turned red and another screen appeared. There were screens all over the place now.

This option is currently disabled.

Britta got rid of all the screens. Thinking about it, there really wasn’t any point spending money when the game wasn’t even officially open yet. They’d want people to actually go through the content, no matter how tedious, to test it properly.

She pressed the first button and there was a completely unnecessary Ting!

“You have chosen well, my daughter,” said the Wise One. Britta suspected she would have said that no matter what. “Now you must begin your journey to find the Great Gnome in the Sky.”

So her quest was to meet her god? That didn’t sound to bad. Who wouldn’t want to meet God and ask him a few questions, like “Why?” and “Really?” and “WTF?”

“It will not be an easy journey…”

It was the pontificating Britta couldn’t stand. Where was the skip button? She waited as the Wise One went on and on about the journey ahead of her. Finally the speech came to an end.

“Are you ready to take the next step?”

Britta wasn’t sure what the Wise One was referring to, she’d tuned out and missed most of the details, but she nodded anyway.

“This way,” said the Wise One and led her into a tunnel.

They didn’t walk very far before the came out in a huge cavern. They were on a ledge and the cavern floor dropped into a chasm that seemed bottomless.

“You must go down there,” said the Wise One.

Britta nervously peered over the edge. A howling wind blew into her face and sent her hair flying around.

“The Great Gnome in the Sky lives down there?” Britta was pretty sure the sky was in the opposite direction.

“Yes. Not everything is as it seems. Magic, like life…”

Britta really wasn’t in the mood for another lecture. She took a breath and jumped off the ledge.

It didn’t feel like the last time when she jumped down the shaft. This time she seemed to be falling a lot quicker, which was worrying. But not as worrying as the voice behind her calling out, “You’re supposed to climb down, not jump.”

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