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As I entered my mine I decided not to kill myself just to speak with the reaper. It seemed wrong, even if suiciding wasn’t going to permanently kill me.

I flew down, passing obstacles at the fastest speed I could, only pausing to gather the items that crossed my path.

When I reached the third floor I dodged a birds nest and collected a copper bringing me up to 2325 coins.

Below me sat a sea of light boulders, and a few blocks below that I noticed a cave door. Without any chunks of copper on either side of the sea, the journey around it would be too expensive at 3 durability a square. There was one path through the light boulder mess and I took it.

Gripping my bow in both hands, I flew down 2, causing an avalanche of 1. I sidestepped. Several boulders sat directly above, waiting for their chance to murder. After preparing myself mentally, I jumped down, sidestepped eminent death and fell another 3.

The boulders cascaded after me. My heart raced. As soon as I passed into open space I backed away from their rumbling fall until I floated a single square from the jadinfray door.

I laughed and couldn’t stop. Air barely made it into my lungs before it escaped. Dread and recrimination pressed upon me. How could I have forgotten to activate Death Mind?

The spider tentacles crept out of the hole. My eyes watered. Both hands clutch the bow’s shaft in a position that, considering my air stealing laughter and the strong grip it had on my mind, made it impossible to reach my thumb down those last few inches.

The creature pulled itself to me and wrapped its arms around my head. I stared into its spiraling reverse-drill maw.

My view switched. I floated three blocks below the monster, safe. My body shuddered.

So, I learned not to grip my bow shaft with both hands. Go me!

With an angry jerk, the jadinfray disappeared back into its doorway.

I activated Death Mind and approached it again, this time from below.

As soon as I created a corridor in the vine jungle it burst forth. I dove back down the way I came then created a tunnel over and up to where the light avalanche had landed. As soon as the jadinfray reached the bottom of the well, I sidestepped. Several light boulders crashed into it.

I released my technique and took in a breath.

To the victor goes the spoils?

Shaking with adrenaline, I floated into the cave to see it filled by an enormous golden fork with embossed patterns in rose gold. It totally looked like something a sophisticated dragon would use.

With a shrug, I stepped into its square. When it entered my inventory I froze. It was listed as, “Cursed Fork of Etengradius.”

Great! Now I had a cursed object on me. Hopefully, it wasn’t something that would affect me unless I brought it out.

I exited the cave and traveled down a few more. An arrow appeared in my bow. I neared a box above a light boulder that rested atop a cliff. At the bottom of the chasm sat a TNT crate.

I shot my arrow at the box. It shattered and a second diamond key flew into my inventory. Only 2 more to go!

Because I could, I pushed the boulder off the cliff. I meant to stop at the cliff’s edge but slipped past it by one block. It shouldn’t have mattered since I was 4 away from the TNT.

When the light boulder hit the explosive a blast of heat hit me.

You are about to die. Want me to save you?

In my mind map, I saw that the light boulder somehow made the explosion larger, causing both ball and crate to disappear!

I grimaced. This was not going to be pleasant.

“No.”

Everything burned, and then it didn’t. At least it was fast.

The gray appeared before me along with the female reaper.

“Feel like continuing, Kelly?”

“What I feel like is asking you what happened to my book.”

“Why do you have to be so frustrating? Everyone else is perfectly fine answering a yes or no question.”

I crossed my arms and glared.

She rested her giant scythe across her shoulder like a fisherman would a pole.

I watched the silence drag on between us in the same way I would eye someone blowing a huge gum bubble, waiting for it to pop.

“Okay! Fine. I did it. I tore the pages from your book before I put it back in your inventory. Happy?”

“Give them back.”

“That’s no way to ask for something, Kelly.”

I ground my teeth, “Please?”

“No can do.”

“I said, ‘Please.’”

“And the Crown of Goraitheshselan says, ‘Hello.’ Well, not exactly that, but close enough.”

“I thought reapers were supposed to keep things even within the game?”

“This is keeping things even. Besides, it’s not like I took all of the spells you can learn. I did leave you a few. Sure they’re the weakest ones but if you get creative I’m positive you can...” She burst out laughing. “Okay, no. I can’t keep a straight face. They’re totally useless. I mean, what are you going to do? Light a vine on fire? And then what? You can’t do anything with it. Hah!”

I tightened my fist to prevent myself from smacking the person who was supposed to bring me back to life. “What’s your name, anyway?”

“Call me, Mrs. Charcoal, or just Charcoal.”

“What, you’re married?”

“That question’s a little personal, isn't it? I much prefer to talk about how even the spells I left you will be too difficult for you to learn.”

“What does that mean?”

“Well, you have to be smart to learn magic by yourself. Smart and imaginative. Which, you are not.” Her smile was predatory.

Fury tinged the gray world red. “I don’t care what you think. I’m going to learn that magic and I’m going to use it in useful ways!”

“Heh. Sure, Kelly. Prove it, if you dare.”

“Let’s go!”

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A note from DragonOfRochester

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story! You guys rock.

I have to admit that I'm having way too much fun writing Charcoal's character. To me she's like Princess Azula from Avatar: The Last Air Bender, with a hint of Harley Quinn style crazy and a large splash of Trophy Wife.

This chapter's procrastination is brought to you by Lucifer. The show, not the devil.

I wrote this chapter while listening to "Intro" as performed by The Xx.


About the author

DragonOfRochester

Bio: Rochester has a degree in Videogame Art and Design and 8 years of industry experience. She challenged herself to write a LitRPG with a nonstandard game type and post the result here.

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