Bitter 57

There was no way Britta would be able to climb up to the nest. She was intrigued by the idea of being able to levitate, but Level 5 seemed impossibly far away. Getting to Level 3 had been more luck than judgement, and she doubted things would get easier from here.

“What do I do with the egg once I get it?” she said, more out of curiosity than needing to know. This was a Level 10 quest and there was no way she would be able to complete it, even if she could levitate.

“Ha!” said the gryphon. “You keep your hands to yourself.”

Nigel pulled Britta away slightly. “Actually, it’s rather a sweet storyline. One of the eggs is missing and when you return it to its mother…” He lowered his voice to a whisper. “Well, I don’t want to ruin the surprise but she’s very grateful.”

An idea occurred to Britta. She opened her inventory and took out the box. She placed it on the ground and opened it. It was useful being able to store a box with things in it inside the inventory, but it was a pain when you needed to get an item out.

She found the mystery egg she’d received as a reward from her gift box and held it out to the gryphon.

“What’s that?” said the gryphon.

“You lost one of your eggs,” said Britta.

“No,” said the gryphon. “I haven’t lost any eggs. What kind of mother do you take me for?”

“Are you sure?” asked Britta. “How many eggs do you have?”

“I have five, thank you very much.”

“And how many did you lay?”

“That’s a very personal question,” said the gryphon. “But it was six.”

Britta waited but the gryphon didn’t seem to be bothered by the discrepancy.

“You laid six but you only have five…”

The gryphon looked at Britta, eyes slowly widening. She squawked and flapped her wings wildly. “Poachers! Poachers!” she called out like she’d only just realised, which she probably only just had when Britta finally managed to trigger the storyline.

“You can have this one.” Britta held out her hand again, hoping she could substitute this egg for the missing one.

The gryphon calmed down and folded her wings by her side. “That isn’t one of mine. It looks like a chicken egg.”

“It’s a bit big for a chicken egg,” said Britta.

“Depends on the size of the chicken,” said the gryphon. She had a point. In this world, chickens could be any size. “Or it could be a basilisk egg. Or a dragon egg. The only thing it isn’t is a gryphon egg.”

“You don’t know what kind of egg it is?” Even if she didn’t take it, it would be nice to have it at least identified.

“Just because I lay eggs doesn’t make me an egg expert. Not all eggs are the same.”

Britta felt like she was being called a racist.

“The quest requires me to give you an egg, doesn’t it? I’m giving you an egg.”

The gryphon stared at her, then at the offered egg. Something seemed to be going on inside the large, viciously beaked head. Then the head dipped forward and snatched the egg out of Britta’s hands, holding it between two sharp points at the end of her beak. For a second, Britta thought she was going to eat it.

The gryphon spread out her wings and with a slow flap, lifted off the ground. More slow, majestic flaps followed as she flew up to the nest.

If she had accepted the egg, would Britta receive Level 10 rewards? Technically, she had cheated, but that wasn’t her fault. If the programmers had made the game properly, she wouldn’t need to find an alternative way to do things.

For all she knew this was how she was supposed to incubate the mystery egg. And if the gryphon hatched the egg, what would come out?

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