Bitter 63

Riding a goat was not a comfortable experience. Donald had a bouncy way of running that pounded Britta’s backside and chafed her thighs. If she sat up, her head shook so hard she felt like her teeth would fall out.

She tried to slow the goat down, but there were no controls and no instructions. When she pulled on the rope, the goat just ignored it. She called out orders, they were also ignored. There was probably a trick to riding a goat, unfortunately the trick seemed to be to let the goat do what it wanted.

They ran through the ranch with the other animals showing mild interest as they shot past, and made it to the road. They were headed back to town, which was fine, but it would have been nice to have at least some say in where they were going.

Suddenly, they veered off the road. Britta held on tight as they thrashed through the tall, straw-like grass. It whipped at her, making her close her eyes.

The goat stopped by patch of nettles. It was a sharp, sudden stop that nearly sent Britta tumbling over the goat’s horns, but she was determined not to fall off, especially not into nettles. She had no doubt someone had intentionally programmed the goat to do just that. Hilarious.

The goat didn’t seem to care what she did. It was too busy eating the nettles.

Britta slid off its back and rubbed the insides of her sore thighs. She really needed a saddle. Preferably one with a cushion. A seatbelt wouldn’t hurt, either. As she brushed herself, a single, yellow feather floated to the ground. It was very large and must have come from the gryphon. There was no gryphon around now—she looked around to check—so she assumed it must have been stuck in her clothing and just came loose now. Was it worth anything?

She put it in her inventory and made a mental note to sell it at the auction house, if she ever got there. She looked at the goat and wondered how much she would get for it. The goat looked up like it knew what she was thinking.

“Identify.” She touched the goat gently on the back.

A status screen, more basic than hers, appeared.

Interesting, the goat could fight apparently. It wasn't very smart, had a terrible personality, but high wisdom. Britta wasn't really sure what that meant, in goat-terms. And what did 'Enr' stand for?

“I don’t suppose you can speak, can you?” It would be much easier if she could just talk to it, come to an arrangement. The goat didn’t say anything.

Goats, of course, can’t talk. Not in the real world. But this wasn’t the real world and you never know until you ask.

“If you slow down a bit and let me steer from now on, I’ll get you something nice to eat when we get back to town.” The goat continued to nibble on the weeds, but there was a slight glance in her direction. “Some proper goat food.” She had no idea what proper goat food was. Didn’t they just eat everything? “How about some nice juicy carrots?”

The goat’s head came up. It looked at her, like it was considering her offer. Then it turned to face the road. Was it waiting for her to get on?

She might have been imagining it, but it did feel like they’d made a deal. Britta climbed back on board. The goat started moving again, but at a more leisurely pace. When they reached the road, it stopped. Britta realised it was waiting for her to choose which way to go.

She gave the rope a slight tug to the left and they set off. This was much better. Her only problem now would be when they got back to town and she had to tell the goat she didn’t actually have any money, and that the promised carrot would have to wait. That wouldn’t go down well. He seemed the sort of goat to get upset easily. She’d have to think of something before then. Perhaps he’d like a nice hat to munch on? She still had one left. Her imaginary grandfather wouldn’t mind.

They trotted along the dusty road with the sun shining and birds flying overhead. They were probably vultures waiting for her to drop dead.

Things hadn’t exactly gone according to plan, but she’d made it to the end of her first quest at least. Well, technically, she’d failed her first quest, but that hadn’t been her fault. She could see why the game hadn’t been opened to the public yet. It was far from a polished product. But it was still surprisingly enjoyable to wander around a different world.

She checked the clock at the bottom of her vision. Still hours before Mum and Dad got back. She’d ride back to town and then call it a day. Perhaps when the game was fixed, she’d try it again.

Ahead of her there was something in the road. Multiple somethings. As she got closer, she saw it was a group of men on horseback spread out to block her way. They had bandanas tied over their faces. Bandits.

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