When the main cave came into view I turned and grinned at Merchant Meeks but froze when I saw everyone wearing party hats and eating cake. A baked pastry scent permeated the air.
I know I'd been in the space between death for least a day while reading the history book, but I remembered only being gone briefly before dying. Certainly not enough time to hold a party.
“Um. How long have I been gone?”
Phenic coughed. “Why, you’ve been gone a whole month. We all thought you were dead.”
The blood drained from my face and I stumbled. “But I thought time froze while I was dead.”
“Time moves in mysterious ways down here,” he said. “Haven't you ever heard the stories of the Fae? People leaving with a creature only to return home and find that a hundred years have passed.”
“Oh no! Oh no, no, no!” I looked at Engra who had paused with a fork full of fluffy white cake halfway to her lips. “You’re still alive!”
She cleared her throat.
“I'm so sorry. Did you get in very much trouble for not having the honey?”
Phenic’s sick grin made my stomach churn. “Oh, she’s alive thanks to Korren.”
Her eyebrows rose.
“I am so sorry. Is there anything I can do to make it up to you?”
“Calm down and have some cake, miss,” Meeks said.
“But it’s been a month!”
“No, it hasn't. It’s only been five minutes. Phenic is pullin’ yer leg.”
“Oh!” Korren said. “This was all your elaborate joke? I wondered why you rushed to get us hats and cake for your birthday.”
“Phenic! Why would you do that to me? Also, happy birthday.”
“Thank you, my dear. And I did it because it’s funny. Don’t I deserve some humor on my centennial?”
It didn’t make a lot of sense to me but he wasn’t human so I let it go.
“Sweetpea! Do you have my honey?” Engra said, setting her cake down on Meek’s desk.
“I have three samples for you.” I handed them over. “And two waxes for you, Phenic.”
I received my two death saving crystals.
Since I was there I upgraded my other items too, receiving an upgraded weapon and more durability.
In my head, my stats appeared something like this:
Battle Miner Kelly Knight
Ore Worth: 50
Death Saving Crystals: 10
Weapon Charge: 0/15
Weapon Damage: 2
I walked over to the glowing 6 on the floor.
“You’re sure you don’t want any cake?” Phenic asked.
“You know, this body doesn’t get hungry anymore, and as good as the cake looks, I’ve heard stories about how if you eat anything under the hill you’ll never be able to go home.”
“That is a bunch of propaganda, miss,” Meeks said.
“Thank you anyways, but I need to finish getting Engra’s Honey. I was really scared when I thought I’d missed my deadline.”
They waved and I dropped into the mine.