Bitter 99

Britta spent another half hour browsing the listings on the Auction House. She could have quite easily spent the whole day comparing prices and figuring out the best items to buy and sell. It was like a separate mini-game, like playing the stock market, only you wouldn’t lose your house.

It was clear she was well behind the other players when it came to sussing how to take advantage of the game mechanics. People had been playing the game for months—anything she could think of, someone else would have already have thought of. What she needed to do was go back to the website and see what people said on the forums.

If there was one thing gamers loved to do more than figure out how to take advantage of a game’s mechanics, it was to boast about it to other gamers. If there was an ideal strat or easy-to-profit-from item, someone would have posted about it, detailing exactly how to abuse it.

It didn’t matter that everyone and their dog-like pet would already be farming the hell out of any successful method of making money, right now she needed to make some quick cash and get geared. Everyone had better armour and weapons than her.

She didn’t have anything worth selling other than a very common hat and the gryphon feather. The feather, she wanted to hold onto until she knew what it did. There had to be some cool use for it. The hat and variations very similar to it were plentiful and cheap, pages and pages of them sitting unsold, but Britta decided to post it anyway just to figure out how to do it.

The screen in the booth had a ‘Sell’ button which took her to another screen where she could pick items from her own inventory. She could choose what price she wished to sell for, setting a minimum if she wished and a buyout for a quick sale. It was all very straightforward and as soon as she posted it, she checked her inventory and the hat was no longer there. She gave it the full seven days to be sold and would pay a ten percent fee if someone did buy it, but she was sure no one would.

If it passed the deadline without bidders, it would be returned to her, presumably by the same magical method. What if she had no room in her inventory? What if she used the Auction House to store items? She could set a ridiculous price no one would pay and let the item sit there, not taking up the limited space in her imaginary backpack.

She left the Auction House feeling confident she understood the basics, but needing more information on how to bend the rules. But first, she needed to gather items to sell. And then, eventually, buy something.

She had browsed for equipment suitable for her class, but there hadn’t been a single one. Either no one had found any illusionist-specific item, or they were holding onto them.

According to the clock in the corner of her screen, she had been in the game for over an hour. It was Saturday morning and Mum and Dad would be up by now, so she had to get a move on.

The Post Office was crowded with the usual fake queues. Britta got in line and waited to see what Dad had sent her. Right now, pen and paper would have been ideal for her to write down a to-do list.

“Hi there,” said the young man behind the counter. He didn’t look as worried as last time she’d seen him.

“Hello, Dennis. How’s your mother?” said Britta.

There was a flicker of something uncertain behind his eyes. “She’s fine... thank you. You know Mother?”

“Wonderful woman,” said Britta. “You take good care of her, now.”

Dennis looked confused, which Britta liked. She preferred it when NPCs didn’t act like robots.

“I… I will. You have a parcel, I think.”

“Yes,” said Britta. “Do you want to get it?”

The clerk snapped back into work mode and rushed off. Britta looked around the walls while she waited. There were the same faded posters everywhere and one new one. It looked like a recruitment poster for the army, with a military figure pointing at her.

Oswald Owlface wants you! Epic dungeons are now open!

So Oswald wasn’t Dad after all. He was some NPC trying to get players involved in a dungeon raid of some kind. She had yet to try the dungeons. She probably wasn’t ready to try an epic dungeon, whatever that was, but Diana had mentioned a beginner’s dungeon that was nearby. Maybe that was where she could pick up some loot.

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