For the next few minutes, Grayson fielded a barrage of different questions.
“Is there a way for us to go home.”
“Not right now. But that’s not to say there’s isn’t a way that hasn’t been found yet. You may be the one who discovers it.”
“You said there were others before us. Where are they? Can we talk to them?”
“They’ve all moved on, mostly to one of the big cities. If you meet one of them, I’m sure they’ll be happy to talk to you.”
“Is this a game?”
“No. I assure you this is not a game.”
“Can we die?”
“If we die, can we come back to life.”
Grayson pulled a face. “Well, there are healers who can treat severe injuries, but once you’re dead, you’re dead, as far as I know.”
“Are you sure this isn’t a game?”
“I’m very sure.”
“Does magic exist here?”
“Yes.” This sent a buzz around the room as people got excited. “But it’s very rare, and people who can actually put it to good use are even rarer. Most blow off their own hands the first time they try it.”
“What about dragons? Do they exist?”
“I’ve never seen one myself, but there are those who claim to have encountered them.”
“This is definitely a game, isn’t it?”
Grayson put his hand on his hips and looked directly at me. “For the last time, this isn’t a game. Please stop asking that.”
After that, most of the questions got the same sort of answers. I don’t know. You’ll have to figure that out for yourself. I’m not sure. Until they petered out and we sat there staring at him.
“Is that it?” said Grayson. “All right, then. Next thing we need to do is get you some clothes. You can’t walk around looking like that!”
Grayson bent down and dragged out the boxes next to the desk. There were four of them and they were each overflowing with shirts and trousers.
“These aren’t particularly stylish, but they will do until you can buy something more to your liking. Take whatever fits, it’s all free.”
People started walking over to have a rummage. I noticed another couple of boxes by the wall which had footwear in them. While a crowd formed around the clothes, I made for the shoes. The walk to town had been a painful one and finding a pair of shoe that fit seemed much more important than a matching top and bottom ensemble.
Maurice peered over my shoulder as I tried to find something that looked sturdy. They were all old and used, mostly sandals and cloth slippers, but I dug out a pair of strappy boots that covered my foot and ankle. Not the the most comfortable, but they didn’t fall off. Maurice had his head almost in the box before he found sandals that fit, although they had one clasp broken.
By the time we got to have a look in the clothing boxes, the only things left looked more like rags. The others had put on their new gear, and none of it looked ready for the catwalk. The material was coarse and everything leaned towards baggy.
The shirt I decided on was more a sack with holes for head and ams. It had a slash across the stomach with red-brown stains around it. The bottom of the trousers hung around my calves and the waist was many sizes too big. But the material was thick and some string would sort out the waist. Until then I’d have to hold it up with my hands. Looking at the stuff in the boxes, I got the impression these had all come from our predecessors who had met with sticky ends. Pretty much everyone’s clothes had rips and stains. I tried not to think about it.
Maurice’s Batman onesie was better than the gear in the boxes so he didn’t bother taking anything, but while I was trying on stuff, he went over to speak to Grayson. After a brief discussion, Grayson opened a drawer in his desk and pulled out a handful of spectacles which Maurice tried until a pair seemed to work for him. They had thick black frames and some kind of wrapping on the middle bit where they were obviously broken.
Less than a day and Maurice had already levelled up from nerd to dork. If there was an uber-geek achievement to be won, he was well on his way to claiming it.