Bitter 61

The ground rushed to meet her, and it was in a real hurry. Unlike levitating and flying, this sensation was something altogether less thrilling. It was terrifying. Her stomach rose inside her, making her whole body feel like it was trying to turn itself inside out. Her mind went blank. Everything shivered, and not from the cold air blasting her as she fell.

Britta pulled her thoughts away from the sheer terror and forced herself to think about bubbles. Lovely, floaty bubbles.

The Great Gnome had said the levitation spell was only temporary, but it hadn’t been all that long since he’d given her the ability, and it was her only hope of not creating a small, gnome-shaped crater in the rapidly closing surface.

She suddenly found herself wondering if this was an entire planet. Was it round? It could easily be flat, just for the novelty.

She shook her head. Bubbles, bubbles, bubbles.

She felt herself slow. The air around her was only lightly lifting her hair, her clothes were no longer flapping around like washing on a line. The ground was still a fair distance but it no longer seemed committed to smashing her in the face.

It was hard to control her descent. She didn’t want to start floating back up and she hadn’t been taught how to float down. Being distracted by the animals running around below her helped. She would notice a horse with a horn (a unicorn?) and drop a couple of metres before she could reestablish floaty thoughts. In jumps and starts, she jerkily approached land.

And then the levitation spell was over. She felt it leave her body, like taking off a coat. There had been something around she hadn’t really noticed, until it was taken away. She resumed falling.

She was maybe at the height of a two storey house when she lost the spell. That was still quite high up. There was nothing to break her fall except a grassy meadow. If she had thought about it, she would have manoeuvred herself over a large haystack, but she’d been too busy blowing bubbles in her mind.

The ground smacked her hard. It was painful, but it didn’t kill her. She slowly rose, spitting out dirt and grass. Her entire body tingled. She checked her health bar. There was only a sliver left, and it was flashing. It looked like it was still going down.

Britta opened her inventory and took out a red vial. She drank it and her HP went back up. It wasn’t even half full, but she could breathe easier, the pain was gone and she was no longer shaking. Hooray for imaginary medicine.

She brushed the mud and grass stains off her clothes and looked around. The animals were making a lot of noise, probably asking each other if they’d seen the crazy flying gnome. Britta headed towards the ranch house which was on the other side of a dusty road.

No one seemed to be about, and the road stretched out in both directions through empty fields.

Britta made her way across the road and past the corral of animals. Now that she was close up, she could see them more clearly, and get a much better idea of just how weird they were. The horses had short, stubby legs. The one she thought might have been a unicorn turned out to be a deer with a missing antler. The strangest was a large pig with a ridge on its back like it had grown its own saddle.

There were at least a dozen of them and none of them looked like what Britta had hoped for. They were all broken or damaged in some way. Which made sense. If they were going to give you a mount for free, they wouldn’t want to give you a good one. You’d never buy one yourself if they did that.

The animals snorted and sniffed at her. She stuck her hand through the fence and then quickly yanked it back as a llama with no neck snapped at her.

The other problem was that they were all too big. She wouldn’t even be able to get on without a ladder.

“You there,” called out a woman’s voice. “What you doin’?”

Britta turned and walked towards the woman coming out of the ranch house. She took the token out of her inventory as she approached. “Hello. I think I’m supposed to give you this.”

The woman had something in her hand. She’d been carrying it down by her side so Britta hadn’t seen it at first. It was a pitchfork. The woman raised it and then pointed it at Britta. Then she charged.

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