The line to the coin merchant was incredibly long, just like before. A big part of me didn’t even want to deal with it.
Why not log off and try again tomorrow?
I felt tired in away that didn’t feel rooted in the this world. Felt like I was so tired in the physical word that it was affecting me here.
But something propelled me forward. It was in part the fact that I wanted to see Alex again, sure. This was her game, and there was something…
Playing this game felt like talking to her. And even if she wasn’t around these days — even if she’d been lost and we didn’t know how she could be found — I still believed she’d come out of hiding. And when she did, she’d see how much love I’d put into the game. How much time. How I’d played it and tried my best and really achieved something here.
That sort of passion drove me, and it wasn’t the sort of passion that let you just log off and go to bed too easily.
Plus there was the fact that the game was fun. It’s always hard to walk away from fun.
Despite all that, I didn’t want to wait in line for the coin merchant. My HP Bar was dangerously low, too, so I figured I’d buy a healing potion to get that sorted out. Then, hopefully, maybe the line wouldn’t be as long.
I walked down the cobblestone path, past merchants yelling about this or that product. Eventually I found a potion merchant. The awning on her stand said in big white letters, “Potions.”
Her skin was odd, crystalline. When I approached, she smiled. There was a horror to her smile, since the pearly white of her teeth contrasted so starkly with the dark blue planes that lined her face.
“Hi,” I said, once I’d gotten close.
“You haven’t seen many elves before?”
She was right. I hadn’t seen any elves around here. Her ears were a bit pointed, too.
“It’s easy enough to see, by your reaction,” the elf told me. “We weren’t always like this, you know.”
“I didn’t know.”
“We had flesh, the same as so many creatures who inhabit this world. But after the Magical Meltdown… This world broke, and the fractures of that break changed us. They still haven’t explained it. Why our flesh couldn’t handle the break. How the composition of the air changed in a way that made our faces mutate. How not even in the clean air inside the Throne Kingdom’s walls allow our skin to soften.”
I took a deep breath, then sighed. There was something truly insane about talking with an NPC. In normal human conversation, people didn’t lay themselves to bare so openly and easily.
Sometimes talking to an NPC was like talking to a monologist. They shared everything to a complete stranger, for no regard to what the stranger might want, whether the stranger gives a shit about their meaningless lives.
“Okay,” I said. I didn’t want to be a jackass, but really. What else was there to say? “I got hurt pretty bad by some of the monsters out there. What sort of healing potions do you have?”
“We’ve got a pretty wide variety,” she said. She pointed at the shelves behind her, which were lined with all sorts of glass vials. Each vial was filled with liquid. It was a kaleidoscopic display, every color on display.
“How badly were you hurt?” she asked.
“You want 100% regen?”
“90%. You guys have something for that?”
“90% healing? Sure.” She took one of the green vials off the shelf, handing it to me.
“How do I pay you?”
“You really are new,” the elf said. “A lot of the PCs are right now, so don’t feel too bad. It’s an automatic transaction. You pick up money automatically when you fight monsters.”
The green vial had a cork on top. I tugged against the cork, struggling to get the thing open. Nearly spilled some of the liquid, but managed to balance the vial just in time. I put it up to my nose.
Stuff smelled awful.
Probably because the of the face I was making, the elf said, “It’s not supposed to smell good, it’s supposed to make you heal.”
I tipped the vial back, letting the liquid pour into my mouth.
The stuff tasted even worse than it stank, like a foul mix of cold medicine and expired meat.
I kept pouring it down, because I knew if I put the vial down, I probably wasn’t going to bring it back up again.
Finally, when the deluge of awful taste stopped, i took the vial away from my lips.
My HP Bar was at 99%. I stuck my finger in the vial, scooping up a drop of the potion that I’d missed. Placed the drop on my tongue.
That brought the HP Bar to 100%.
The aftertaste was even more terrible than the original taste had been. I stuck my tongue out for a second, shivering.
“You want another one for the road?”
“Dunno if I can afford it.”
“Check your ARMOR AND WEAPONS menu.”
I went to the game menu and checked out armor and weapons. Sure enough, in the corner of the screen, it said I had, “308 currency.”
“How much does a 90% vial cost?” I asked the elf.
“I’ll take it.”
The elf handed over the potion, and my currency automatically wired over to her, leaving me one potion richer and with 208 currency left.
I went back to the coin merchant and found that his line was even a little bigger than it’d been before.
Jack-asses, all of them. I waited in the long line. When I got to the coin merchant, he confirmed that my mission had been completed.
You’ve reached Level 5!
A nice bonus, and one that brought with it either a new Ability Point or a new Skill. I figured I’d check that out once determining whether the coin merchant would give me a new quest.
Of course, I had that question before I knew the new quest the coin merchant wanted to give me.
He told me I had to go back and kill the monster that resided on The Volcano of Dreams.
Her name was Jhaness.