Bitter 65

Britta lunged forward and wrapped her arms around Donald’s neck. There was a strange, red glow around the goat’s body. She considered jumping off, but they were moving too fast for her to land safely, she decided. Not that staying on board was going to be any safer.

The horses nervously side-stepped and whinnied, and the men on them looked confused. How exactly do you stop a charging goat?

“Hey, cut that out!” shouted the man in the middle.

The cat had his sword out and nudged his horse forward. The creature was unwilling to take on the crazy goat and shook its head, planting its feet firmly where they were. The cat raised the sword as Donald closed the distance, ready to strike, but the horse had other ideas. It suddenly reared up as Donald reached it.

Britta thought they’d run right under its raised belly, but then Donald jumped, ramming his horns into the horse.

The horse squealed and reared even higher, twisting its body awkwardly. The cat stayed mounted for a few seconds, sword circling wildly like a flamboyant call to arms, and then he tipped backwards, rolling out of the saddle.

Donald was on him like a flash. Britta had an excellent view as Donald repeatedly slammed his horns into the prone cat. The glow around Donald seemed to get brighter. The cat had his furry hands up to ward off the attack, but they did him little good.

As Britta watched, little numbers appeared like sparks flying off the cat’s body. 2, 3, 3, 2… until the cat lay motionless. There hadn’t been any blood, which was a relief to Britta, but the relentless onslaught had been harrowing to observe.

By her estimations, it had only taken ten points of damage to kill the catman. That was even less than she had. These bandits were very low level and easy to kill, which shouldn’t really have been surprising. This was the lowest level quest there was.

The other two bandits hadn’t tried to help their comrade. Instead, they pulled their horse’s back and retreated from the fight. Were they all show?

“I suggest you get out of here before my devil-goat decides to do the same to you.” She had no idea what a devil-goat was, but it sounded impressive. The two remaining bandits exchanged looks and then turned their horses around and fled.

“Good job, Donald.” She patted his neck. Perhaps a goat wasn’t such a bad choice for a mount. If he was willing to fight, she might even be able to stay alive out here. She checked her status screen. Her experience bar had remained the same. She didn’t get any XP for Donald’s kill, which was a shame. Did he get it, then?

“Identify.” She touched the goat with her hand.

There was no change in level and she couldn’t see an XP bar, but she did see a red cooldown box next to the ‘Enr’ stat. One hour. Donald had been pretty mad, did Enr stand for enrage? It made sense.

“Good job, Donald.” Donald ignored her and nibbled on a tuft of yellow grass. The cat’s horse snorted.

It was standing a few metres away, eyeing the goat warily. If she could get it back to town, she could probably sell it. The saddle alone would fetch a decent price, she was sure. Then there was the cat and whatever items he had. There was the sword he’d dropped but he looked like he had more on him.

She would strip the cat of everything, down to clothes and boots, put it all on the horse and then lead the horse back to town. All of it could be sold and she’d finally have some money. There might even be a bounty on this one—but it would be a nightmare trying to take the body back with her. Unless she could stick the body in her inventory. No, that would be dumb.

The question was, did she have time to sell everything and then spend the money? The spending part was what she was looking forward to. The idea of going shopping and buying proper gear sent a rush of excitement through her. She could afford real clothes and weapons and who knew what else.

She slid off the goat’s back and checked the time on her screen. Half past nine. It was cutting it close, but—

Everything went black. She realised her eyes were closed. She opened them.

“What are you doing in there, Britta?” said Dad, peering down at her.

“Are you alright?” said Mum. “You look very sweaty.”

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