Bitter 59

The gryphon was a very impressive creature, but it was also hugely annoying. The bird had lied to her and cheated her out of an egg that could have been useful (although probably wasn’t). Fighting monsters was bad enough, she didn’t feel it was fair to have them swindle you as well.

Something poked Britta. She looked down to see Nigel’s finger pressed against her arm. It was glowing.

The glow spread slowly until it covered the whole arm, and then faded away.

“Is that it?” said Britta. “I don’t feel any lighter.”

“You need to think about floating.”

“Can’t you do it?”

“If you were a rock, I could, but a thinking person has their own idea of how heavy they are. You have to lighten up.” He smiled. She didn’t think he was making fun of her, but she couldn’t be sure.

Britta tried to imagine herself lifting off the ground. Nothing happened. She tensed her body and rose up on tiptoe. Still nothing. She grunted in frustration.

“Think floaty thoughts,” suggested Nigel.

Britta thought of bubbles rising into the air. The ground moved away from her. She was so surprised she let out a yelp and fell back down. Fortunately, she hadn’t risen very far, but it had felt a bit jarring thumping back to earth. If she fell from higher up, it would do quite a lot of damage.

“You have to stay focused,” said Nigel. “You better hurry, it won’t last very long.”

She craned her neck and looked at the hole she had to rise through. If she lost focus way up there, or if the spell ran out, it would be instant death. No big deal. She had died before. Her hands felt clammy.

She thought of bubbles again and rose into the air, her hands against the pillar to steady herself. She moved towards the opening.

“And please don’t mention this to anyone,” Nigel called after her.

It was strange how much he sounded like a concerned employee worried about losing his job. Maybe he was worried they would reprogram him. Was that like death for an NPC?

Britta found she could think random things while maintaining her image of floating bubbles. Thoughts like, “Oh my God, I’m flying.”

It wasn’t quite what she had expected, no rush of air or change in gravity. It was more like she was standing still and the world was moving away from her.

As she reached the top of the pillar, she pushed away from it so she wouldn’t be caught by any of the protruding branches. As she floated away, she was able to see into the nest which had been made out of various sized sticks interlaced together. It was about the size of a rowing boat. A clutch of large eggs the size of beach balls sat in the middle. There were five of them, and one smaller, red one.

She waved her arms about. Floating up was easy enough, but how to move in any other direction wasn’t clear. She swam forward until she was over the rim of the nest and let go of the bubbles. She landed in the nest and caught her foot in the mesh of twigs.

Once she’d extricated herself, she gingerly moved towards the eggs. Taking back the one that belonged to her felt like justice. That was her plan. But then she thought about how she had been wronged and a better idea occurred to her. She picked up one of the gryphon eggs. It was big but quite light. If she could get it to fit in her inventory, she was taking it.

Maybe she would raise her own gryphon (with better manners) or maybe she would sell it. Or she could just make herself a giant omelette. Either way, it was hers now. She felt quite pleased with herself and fully justified.

A shadow fell on her. She looked up as four taloned feet descended.

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