Brittany stared in frustration at the rune-covered stone. Doug had been gone for hours, and her patience was waning. A suspicion that he had double-crossed her throbbed in the back of her mind. Was she really dying? Or was that just a ploy to convince her to stay behind so that he could get a jump start on the legendary quest to find the Tower of Babel?
Her eyebrows furrowed, and she made her decision. Pressing on her right temple, she accessed her HUD and pulled up the quest announcement screen again.
Buried within the legendary ruins of the Tower of Babel you will find an ancient portal to the Old World. Activate the portal, and you will receive a Legendary Class.
Do you wish to accept this quest?
Yes | No | Share
Briefly glancing over her shoulder in case Doug suddenly returned, she hit the Yes button. A swirling gust of wind rose from the ground and wrapped around her. In a blinding flash of light, she found herself standing back in the frozen tundra where they had located the stone artifact.
The cold hit her full force, and she immediately regretted her decision to go at it alone. She didn’t have the ability to conjure up fireballs like Doug, and her armor would provide no protection against the weather.
System alerts have detected that your armor is ill-suited for this climate. Your chance for survival is calculated at 0%. You have the option to select more suitable attire for this quest at a 50% discount.
Do you wish to access the Conquest eStore?
Yes | No
Brittany sighed in relief and pressed Yes. She didn’t like to spend RL money inside the game, but she had little choice. After scrolling through the store’s inventory for several minutes, she made her selection from the few sub-zero options. The new armor consisted of plate steel with an interior lined with thick leather and a fur hood. It was also enhanced with a spell of enchantment that maintained the internal temperature of the armor by using a minimal supply of Mana.
She was grateful for the 50% discount, but cringed as she confirmed the $749.98 purchase from her bank account.
What a rip-off! Who in their right mind would pay $1,500 for virtual armor?
The armor appeared before her, floating in mid-air.
Do you wish to don your new armor?
Don Armor | Add to Inventory
Shivering, she selected the obvious choice. Her breathing had become labored, and she was having difficulty staying focused. It was surprising to her how much the game was able to control her serotonin levels, even down to tricking her brain into thinking that she was freezing to death.
Her inadequate armor released from her virtual body and suspended in the air, leaving her momentarily naked. She was grateful to be alone considering the lack of privacy. Seconds later, the new armor snapped into place.
Do you wish to activate the Enchanted Temperature Regulator (ETR)?
This will tax 15 mana per hour of use.
Activate ETR | Skip
Shivering from her brief moment of nudity, she hit the Activate ETR button.
Your Mana has been depleted
The wash of warmth that suddenly overcame her was well worth the Mana spent. She sat in the snow for several minutes, allowing time for the throbbing pain in her head to cease. Considering she was now stuck in the game, it concerned her how real the game felt compared to RL. A series of disturbing thoughts loomed in her mind.
If I died in the game, what would happen? Would my heart stop?!
She felt herself hyperventilating.
I should have stayed in the cabin where it was safe.
Brittany took several calming breaths, and her police training kicked in.
Get a hold of yourself. It’s just a game.
Pushing herself back onto her feet, a new box popped up in her augmented vision. This one was a map showing her the path to the Tower of Babel, hidden just north of her location. From her surroundings, it hardly seemed like a path at all. Mounds of thick snow stretched toward the horizon in every direction. The trek would likely take longer than the hour of warmth she had just purchased with her remaining Mana.
I need to level up fast.
Setting her jaw, Brittany trudged forward in the snow.
Brittany had half expected to be attacked by an abominable snowman or some other mythical monster during the quest, but the frozen tundra was barren and lifeless. It was little wonder that no player had ever found the legendary Tower of Babel.
She had hoped to encounter at least a polar bear or something along the way because a single Easy Kill would have been sufficient XP to Level Up and restore her spent Mana. Instead, she felt the cold starting to creep in again despite the linings of leather and fur.
I’m going to die.
She couldn’t shake the thought as she began to shiver, however she had no other choice but to press onward.
According to her augmented map, the Tower was hidden somewhere beneath the massive mountain of snow looming in the distance. A dreadful thought occurred to her that she may need to dig it out of the snow.
I won’t survive if I have to do that!
But as she got closer, she began to suspect that the mountain was the tower. It seemed unfathomable considering its size.
Could it be?
A glimmer of hope flickered in the back of her mind. Suddenly a box popped up in her augmented vision, confirming her suspicions.
You have found the legendary Tower of Babel!
The tower is ancient and must gift some of its power!
+5 Strength +2 Intelligence | +2 Agility +5 Intelligence
+4 Willpower +3 Intelligence | +3 Stamina +4 Intelligence
Upon your choice you will receive:
An Elemental Magic Skill | +500 XP | +100 Bonus Mana
Brittany let out a huge sigh of relief and stared at the screen incredulously. The XP alone would give her the ability to Level Up and replenish her Mana, let alone another 100 Bonus Mana? She couldn’t wait to activate the Enchanted Temperature Regulator again.
Do you wish to accept this power?
Yes | No
That’s a no-brainer.
Brittany selected ‘Yes’.
Choose your Power:
+Strength +Intelligence | +Agility +Intelligence
+Willpower +Intelligence | +Stamina +Intelligence
A surge of sheer ecstasy washed over Brittany. Her hand hovered between the +Strength +Intelligence option or the +Agility +Intelligence option, unable to choose between the two.
At that moment, her augmented vision had a spasm. Then another. Eerie sheets of lightning suddenly erupted across the sky.
What’s going on?!
The selection box disappeared, and her entire vision turned to static, followed by a thick cloud of darkness again.