Some Choices Are Crystal Clear

by: Ruff
“I don’t know why we’re back here in the mines, man! Remind me what exactly we're looking for?” Cristy begrudgingly swung down her pickaxe into the mineral node.
“Chill, we’ll find one soon,” Jaime said, sitting down while catching his breath.
“I can’t believe you’re making a girl do manual labor. When you said you’d take me somewhere dim for excavation, I was not expecting literal excavation!”
“Hahaha! Got you there, didn’t I? But you did say you needed to upgrade your gear, right? Gotta make you earn your keep, can’t be mooching off me for items anymore,” said Jaime as he stood up.
He menacingly lifted the pickaxe above his head. With a loud shout, he brought it down with tremendous force, pulverizing the node instantly. A glowing purple crystal shone from the scattered pieces of venarite littered across the ground. Jaime picked them up as he walked toward the weird crystal with a grin creeping across his face. “I’ve been looking for this sucker for almost an hour. I finally found you.”
“Yeah yeah, now everyone knows how strong you are, show-off,” Cristy begrudgingly said as she slowly whittled down the node in front of her. “So, did you find what we’re looking for?”
”This is one of them, yeah.”
Cristy narrowed her eyes. “So we’re not done yet? Aaaaaghh! I swear I’m gonna—”
In the middle of the node lay an unusually dark and glossy stone. The stone itself was black, with white bands curving around the perimeter, making a ripple effect.
Cristy paused her efforts, crouching to inspect what she uncovered. “Is this the onyx crystal you were talking about? This looks prettier than how you described it.” She traced a finger across the white bands.
“So you were listening to my educational rants,” Jaime said. “I knew you had it in you.”
“Shut up. I’m still upset you made me mine. You could’ve at least told me where we were going so I could be mentally prepared. I’m wearing such a cutesy outfit, and now it’s all dirty and sweaty.”
“Don’t be so pessimistic, it’s about the full package experience,” he said, conveniently ignoring her dagger-like stare. “Let’s go now. We got what we came for.”
They walked out of the Excavation site, coming to the small shop at the entrance. Jamie pulled out the venarites he got from mining and dropped two full bags onto the shopkeeper's table. “Can we have these traded for Onyx Crystals? Oh, and do you also have any more of these voi—”
“Wait, so we could’ve just traded the venarites we got to trade for these crystals?” Her jaw felt ready to fall to the ground. “Gaaaah, I can’t believe you!
As if to pour salt into her wounds, he added, “We can also trade them for $ANIMA. Tons of easier ways, really.”
Cristy looked down at her muddied and fraying clothes that could’ve been through a world war. She stormed out in a huff.
“Wait!” Jaime swiped the Onyx crystals and hurried to catch up. “Look, I’m sorry, but you did want to know how these were farmed, right?
“But you could’ve at least told me, man!”
“Wasn’t it at least worth the excitement to get one from mining instead of just buying it?
She mulled over his words. “In hindsight…I suppose it was worth a try. My arms felt like dropping off though.”
“See?” Jaime spread his arms, as though bestowing a divine revelation. “At least the fulfillment—”
“I’m still mad at you,” she said with a pout.
“And, I promise to make it up tomorrow!”
Cristy cracked her knuckles. “I swear if you make me mine again…”
“No, no! Just meet me back in town, right side of the plaza. Bring your favorite gear!”
The next day, they met up at the agreed location. Various shops for weapon and item sales or upgrades lined the pathway. Curiously, the developers had added a medieval flair to this side of the plaza.
“So,” Cristy said. “Just to be sure, we’re not here to do road repairs right?”
“We are unfortunately done with the fun mining part,” Jaime said, earning a playful kick from her.
“NOOOOO!” a cry rang through the air. They spun around to the sound’s source. A man tumbled out of the shop, before collapsing onto his knees. A young woman rushed over to him. “Calm down, we can work something out!” she said.
“It’s too late now, Marie.” He flopped onto his back, lying on the pavement without the slightest care in the world. “My disappointment is immeasurable and my day is ruined.”
Cristy turned to Jaime. “Where exactly are you taking me and are we going to end up like them?.”
“Oh, it’s nothing! They’re being melodramatic.” He flashed her a wide comforting smile that did not comfort her in the least.
“We will have to sell our house soon! And let’s sell the kids while we’re at it!” the man cried out.
“Jamie, I'm getting some serious sussy vibes.”
“Just trust me.” He flashed her a thumbs up.
“If anything goes wrong, I’m coming after you with a flaming chainsaw.”
“Cristy, you worry far too much.” He pushed her towards the exact shop that the man had tumbled out of.
They entered the well-furnished shop that had rows of full-body gear in display cases.
Since Jamie had said to take her favorite gear, Cristy brought in her rare, exclusive Witch Robe that she won from an event. Jaime brought a pair of enchanted undergarments with an exquisite design.
Jamie slid up to the NPC shopkeeper. “Can we have these enchanted?”
The old man glanced at the two pieces of gear. “With pleasure. But do note that these have a chance to fail and cause your items to either degrade, lose bonuses or—”
“Ya ya ya I agree,” Jamie said. A pop-up screen appeared before him and he tapped yes, causing it to blink away. In the two seconds that she saw the screen, Cristy saw an awful lot of fine print at the bottom.
“Wait wait wait wait! I DID NOT AGREE TO THIS!” She shook his shoulders.
Alas, it was too late.
Cristy watched in horror as their items, the Onyx, and a huge amount of mysterious purple crystals called “Void Crystals” vanished from their shared inventory. She finally understood what it was like to have a boyfriend that threw their life savings into a shitcoin trade with a hundred and twenty-five times leverage without looking at the price charts.
The next moment, a green-colored screen popped out in front of them.
[SUCCESS! Item(s) 1 Witch Robe has been successfully enchanted!]
She saw a list of attributes that had significantly increased. The Witchrobe now had a faint brilliance, a sheen of blue aura that emanated from it. Its design had grown more elaborate. With her heart beating in anticipation, she equipped the robe.
A quiet surge of power swept over her. She twirled and hopped around. Her body felt lighter, as though gravity had loosened its grasp on her. “This feels amazing.”
“Liking that stat buff? You look even better in those new robes,” he eyed her up and down.
Another green menu popped up, and Jamie’s exquisite underwear had gotten an upgrade. “This is my favorite underwear, and now it's even more awesome,” he said as they walked out.
The man was still lying on the pavement, voicing his monologue about the meaning of life to passersby. Some sympathetic people were helping the young woman to drag his body to the side of the pavement.
Cristy nudged Jamie. “Did you know that my item had a chance to break?”
“Of course.”
“So why were you so confident? You’d know how upset I’d be if these broke, right?”
“Of course, I know,” he repeated.
“Why are you so chill about it?” She surreptitiously pointed at the couple. “That,” she said, “could have been us!”
Jaime wrapped an arm around her shoulder and showed her the remaining purple crystal in his inventory.
“See these void crystals? Enchantments have a risk attached,” he said. “If you have enough of these, you’d reduce the chances of enchantment failure or even breaking your items completely.”
“Jamie! You’re smarter than you look,” she said, patting him on the back.
“I’m simply that awesome,” he replied, missing her thinly veiled barb. “That man likely overinvested in buying onyx crystals and overlooked the idea that his attempts would fail. Rule one of a gamble is risk management.”
He grew silent for a moment, rubbing his chin in thought. He glanced at the man from the corner of his eyes. The man was staring up at the sky, murmuring something incomprehensible.
“Jamie?” She peered up at him.
“Brings back memories of when I went all-in on a shitcoin at max leverage,” he sighed. “It was maxed pain.” Hands in his pockets, he walked towards the man with his inventory page still open.
“Hey there man whose disappointment-is-immeasurable-and-day-is-ruined, you need some help?” Jamie said. “I think Hans was your name?”
“Go away,” Hans said.
“Even if I have some spare equipment I’m thinking of donating?” Jamie said, a twinkle in his eyes.
“Please,” the woman said, stepping up to him. “We spent a long time acquiring that equipment…Hans didn’t think it would fail so badly.” She slumped her shoulders.
“It’s alright,” Jamie said, “I know how that feels. It happens that I’ve got some pretty nifty equipment that I no longer use, and I think they’re better off with you two.” He flashed them his inventory screen. “And might as well take these Void Crystals. Can’t believe you guys cheaped out on them…rookie mistake honestly.”
Hans saw his inventory and sat up with a gasp. “You’d give those to us? But why? You gain nothing from this.”
“I’m just passing it on.” Jamie glanced back at Cristy, who watched him from a distance. “It’s just that…someone I love once helped me out of a bad place. She taught me that it takes zero ETH to be kind.’’
Very true, indeed.