Lawrence looked at Luda with a smug smile when his hand touched the wall. He waited for amazement to fill the other’s eyes when the wall vanished and became a window into another realm, ringed with blue flames. But Luda’s face did not change; it did not light up with amazement and wonder, or shrink away in terror. They expressed only anticipation with a hint of confusion. He turned away from Luda and examined the wall, discovering that the only reason Luda was in shock and awe was that nothing had happened.
The wall did not magically transform into a wild portal; it just remained a wall.
Lawrence’s smile vanished. He pulled his hand away, then reached out and touched the wall again, putting more intent behind it. Again, nothing happened. Lawrence tried a third time, adding the verbal component of “open!” and let his hand linger against the wall, trying to will it to obey.
The wall did not comply.
‘Wow,’ Luda signed, quirking an eyebrow. ‘Amazing.’
Lawrence frowned and stepped back. He glared at the circles carved into the stone, confusion obvious on his face. He had teleported hundreds, if not thousands or times through this very wall and it had always been the same dramatic glowing handprint that expanded into a fire ringed doorway; but this time it did absolutely nothing.
“I- I don’t understand?” Lawrence raised his hand to the wall for one last attempt but nothing new happened; the wall remained a wall and Luda remained unimpressed. He moved his hand over his left breast and activated the game menu. Luda watched as Lawrence suddenly began swiping his hand through the air like he was wiping away imaginary cobwebs, as his eyes darted about like they were searching for invisible flies. Lawrence felt safe opening his game menu specifically because it was not visible to anyone but himself; also because he did so reflexively and did so without bothering to consider the possible outcome.
Lawrence swiped through several menus trying to find an error code for why he couldn’t interact with the portal. Another player had exited the basement just before he and Luda had gone down, so he knew the portal itself was functioning as recently as a minute ago. He found no notices of downtime in the forum, no travel limitations for the area, and no reports for glitches or bugs.
With the usual suspects out of the way, Lawrence glanced back toward Luda, who was dragging their fingers over the stone wall in the corner. Lawrence considered them for a moment, then opened his party menu. When he gave Luda the medallion, he had taken the liberty of adding them to his party as well. From that moment on until he disbanded the group, they would share experience points and rewards, plus they would receive a bonus to gold and experience acquisition. However, while there were bonuses to joining a group, there were also a few faults.
“Shit,” Lawrence finally said as he looked at Luda’s name on the party list. A red ‘INVALID’ was posted beside them. “You don’t have the HUB unlocked. I can’t teleport us there.”