The Citadel (Mirror World #2)@Alexey Osadchuk

Chapter One

"So you've made up your mind, then?" surprisingly, Weigner accepted the news of my relocation casually. "Some place you've chosen, I tell you."

I shrugged. "You could say that. You know very well I can't help it."

"You can't. It may sound self-contradictory but this isn't all fun and games. We all have our own problems — and objectives."

"I can't tell you how I hate to go."

I'd told him the truth. I hated changes. For the previous nine days I'd been enjoying some semblance of big city life. I'd met some decent people. Admittedly, I'd also struck up some useful relationships with city NPCs. But as Weigner had rightly said, this wasn't all fun and games. I might appear to be playing but this was my life, however virtual.

"I've only just met you but I think I'll be missing you," his voice rang with regret. "Doryl, too... We've just been gossiping about you, he he."

I smiled. "Likewise."

"There aren't so many people here you can just sit and talk with. Everybody's in a hurry! Sure it's a game, they've paid a fortune for their accounts. Never mind. No good getting too emotional. Let's move on to the business."

I was grateful to him for not asking any unwanted questions. I was sure he could guess the true reason behind mу relocation. Players of my caliber didn't just rent a place in Mellenville only to move to one of Mirror World's most dangerous locations. He knew that better than anybody else.

"So," Weigner went on. "You think you're gonna keep busting your backside for Lady Mel?"

"Exactly. I'm perfectly happy with her. You know it."

He chuckled. "I'm only asking for the record. Obliged to. We have several scenarios to offer in case of such a development: for instance, when a player has leveled up so much that we have no suitable mines to offer him anymore."

It took all of my composure not to betray myself. The thing was, I'd made a decision to keep my Master level under wraps. Emeralds offered decent earnings and a semblance of stability — if you disregarded the need to relocate, of course. What was the point in switching to a new resource? It might pay more but it wasn't going to solve my problem. I had a funny feeling it might even make my situation worse.

My current priority was to get a loan. Then again, if you think about it... I might gain quite a bit by revealing my identity. I could sign up with a powerful clan like these Steel Shirts. Their locations were well protected. They offered raids to some resource-rich instances. But how sure was I that I could profit from their riches, if at all? No, I wasn't greedy or anything, I just didn't trust anyone anymore. How sure was I they'd want to hear about my problem, let alone see it the way I did? Most likely, they'd simply want to cash in on my weak position. First they'd lure me in and then I could kiss my freedom goodbye. Oh no, thank you very much.

"I understand this isn't your case yet," Weigner continued, unaware of my inner struggle. "But listen to my advice. You need to start weighing up all your potential options. With your perseverance, I wouldn't be surprised if you made Master in the next six or seven months. And this, as you can well imagine, is a totally different ball game," he raised an authoritative finger.

I smiled, struggling to look normal. "Thanks for the tip. The trick is not to bust a gut in the process."

He grinned. "Don't chicken out! If you play your cards well, you'll outlive us all. What was I talking about... yes, so there're several potential scenarios. The best one for you, I think, would be a regular transfer. You signed the trial contract, didn't you? The two-week trial period hasn't elapsed yet. Now listen up. Seeing as Lady Mel has some emerald fields in the vicinity of the Maragar Citadel, what if we simply transfer you there? In theory, you won't even have to report to their bosses. Just go straight to the mine and pull stones to your heart's content. Still, it would be a good idea to pop in at the office and say hello."

This was another proof of the validity of my suspicions and fears. Even this man who was almost a friend was trying to capitalize on me.

If the truth were known, I couldn't blame him. He didn't want to lose an Experienced