The gray filled my vision. I dug my fingers into my hair, dislodging my tiara and slumped to the ground. The metal band clanged and spun down like a coin.
“Considering what you were up against and what you used for your weapons you did okay for your first try, Miss Knight.”
“It doesn’t feel like it. I mean, she has 6 weapons and I only reached the third. On top of all of that, I made a dumb bet with Phenic!”
Seeing as he didn’t know I explained the bet to him.
He frowned. “That sounds like an imbalanced wager.”
“Right? What kind of a person does that make me? Letting these clothes go to that sharp tooth fairy who won't even be able to wear them?”
The corner of his lips turned up. “I don’t think you know what the clothes represent.”
“They were a gift for getting 10 nests instead of only 8. And they look good on me.”
Mr. Black sat down next to me and picked up my tiara. He handed it back. I shoved it on my head.
“Do you remember nothing of the etiquette book?”
“I remember everything about challenges and implying questions.”
“Re-read the part about giving and receiving gifts.”
A sense of dread hit me like a sledgehammer and I immediately took out the thin blue book.
My eyes darted over the words. I realized I wasn’t actually reading them and started over.
With each word, I read my horror morphed into a sharp stomachache.
I snapped the book closed and sucked in a tempered breath.
“If I lose these clothes to Phenic it will mean that I’ve thrown away my friendship with Engra. If I throw away my friendship with Engra I won’t receive more armor upgrades. If, however, I win the bet with Phenic, Engra will be so tickled that I won with her gift on the line she might give me another gift in return.”
I sighed. “I wish I could take it back.”
“But by doing so it would be considered worse than losing. Engra probably wouldn’t talk to you again.”
“Ugh! Why are people so complicated?”
He didn’t say anything, he didn’t have to.
I let out a deep depressing sigh. “I’m ready to go back.”
“Are you sure?”
He never asked things like that. “What? Is my book ready? Does it, like, have an awesome spell I can use against Korren?”
“Not quite yet. And I’m pretty sure if the book had any spells like that Charcoal would have removed them.”
I sneered at her name.
“What I wanted to ask is if you feel like you used everything in your arsenal to defeat Korren.”
I thought about it for a second. When I realized what I didn’t use I tapped my forehead with the edge of my palm. Like an idiot.
“No. I didn’t use my weapon recharge cubes! I didn’t use any of my spells! And I didn’t use my environment effectively like Korren did.”
“There is no excuse for trying to hold back on using your items, anymore, not when you can collect more and not when Nenvari is a floor below this.”
A chill ran down my spine as it hit me. This was the last battle before Nenvari. He was right I couldn’t keep sandbagging. I couldn’t keep making dumb mistakes.
“Also, do you really think you could you have even used your spells in that situation?”
“Now that I think about it, trying to use my weapon from afar like I did with the jadinfray wouldn’t work because Korren would see what I was doing and act against me.”
“Also, you’ve never used your crystals or cubes."
“I’ve been saving them for Nenvari. But I guess I don't need to do that anymore. " I thought about the yellow cubes for a second. "They're in my inventory but, unlike the crystals, they don’t ask to be used.”
“I’m guessing they need to be out of your inventory.”
“But if that’s the case how do I carry them with me?”
“That is a question you need to answer for yourself. Fortunately, you’ll have all of your time on the way back down to figure it out.”