C.W. is awesome but she doesn't make transport any easier. So I saved up 1000 gold and bought me a horse. His name is Daft Wooley, and like Comedy Wolf, he lives up to his name.
Actually, let me back up a bit. Daft Wooley is my second horse. My first horse never had a name; I never had him long enough to develop a personality. He expired the first time I took him out riding.
See, I'd been playing for about 20 hours, and I'd begun to accumulate an intolerable amount of garbage in my backpack. Mostly souvenirs. I'd been trying to keep the weight down - by going on eating binges, or mixing 50 potions at one go in order to use up my reagents, and selling off every weapon I found except for my trusty hammer - but the pile of stuff kept growing anyway. Pretty soon I had to resort to leaving items behind, instead of customarily stripping corpses and cupboards bare everywhere I went.
What I needed was property. But the cheapest house I could find cost 5000 gold, and I'd already sold so many things that the shopkeepers in town had no money left to barter with, except for the blacksmith and the fancypants mage up in the castle. I could keep collecting weapons and armor to sell, but every worthwhile piece of armor was so heavy that by picking up just one, I would become overburdened and have to walk in tiny little steps across the open landscape until I got to the blacksmith. After one round of that, I decided it was a pain in the ass.
That's where the horse came in. When you're riding a horse, it doesn't matter how overburdened you are; the horse can still gallop right along. So, once I was up in the saddle, first thing I did was go racing out to find a big pile of loot.
I'd been riding for about five minutes when I was set upon by a pair of ugly bandits with knives. To fight I had to dismount, which I did, and after crushing the highwaymen and stripping them to their filthy underwear, I went walking ahead to see if there were any more, perhaps hiding in that suspicious looking stand of trees spread out in the shade of that huge boulder. Along the way I saw a dark shadow stream across the landscape ahead of me, and I looked up to see a winged figure swooping overhead. There was a dragon in the area. It wheeled around a few more times, then flew straight away to the east and vanished. What a curious omen.
Feeling a bit nervous, I continued my walk, and as soon as I drew near the trees an enormous cat leapt out from beneath them and nearly scratched my arms off.
I was quick with the hammer and the cat went down, but the fracas terrified my horse, who went galloping back down the hill for about half a mile, then got distracted and went drinking from a nearby pond. Seeing him safe, I decided to investigate the cat's lair. Beneath the trees I found a heap of butchered animal corpses, a scattering of pelts, and a mangled tent with the corpse of a hunter in it, surrounded by camping supplies. Apparently a hunter set up camp right in the middle of a tiger's den, and had a nasty surprise when the tiger got home. I love these little in-game crime scenes.
I grabbed the few things that had resale value, then fetched my horse, and continued up the mountainside. There was no path, but I could see on the map that I was heading towards a creepy old monastery, which was bound to be brimming with loot. I could rush in, kill everything, grab an armload of plate mail and helmets and broadswords, and be back at the shops before teatime. I could almost see the monastery from here, in fact. Just need to get over the top of that ridge...
And that's when the shadow passed over me. The dragon was back. It circled once, then dropped down in front of me on the other side of the ridge and blew fire into my face, nearly roasting my horse on the spot. I dismounted and the poor creature bolted up the slope, into the shade of an overhang.
The fight was thrilling. When I finally took the dragon out, it fell off the edge of a cliff. I knew I had to go down there and loot the corpse, but I also knew that a dragon hide would seriously overburden me, so what I needed to do was get my horse as close as possible.
I ran up the slope, jumped in the saddle, and with visions of dragon loot dancing in my head, I galloped merrily over the edge of the cliff.
And that's how I lost the first horse.
I did eventually make enough money to purchase a house, partially by collecting loot, but partially by robbing the fortress next to the castle, and partially by stealing all the books in the mage's library and then selling them back to him. The deeper you get into the arcane arts, the more absent-minded you get, apparently.
So now I had a place to dump all my shiny things!
Including my collection of baking supplies!
Daft Wooley must be some fancy new breed, because when I took him out for a first ride, his behavior was very different.
We went west, in search of a stolen artifact, on a winding path through a rocky mountain pass. Wooley set a furious pace, leaving all pursuers in the dust, and in a less than half an hour we were way up in the hills on the other side of the valley. We passed by an outpost, and a pack of unscrupulous mercenaries flicked arrows at us from the parapet. I wasn't going to tolerate that.
Me and Wooley swung around on the trail and went dashing up into the trees, following the wall of the outpost, and pretty soon we found a gap where the stones had weathered away. I dismounted, and a pair of rough looking men stumbled out of the gap and swung broadswords at me. I backed up the hillside, bashing them in turn with the hammer, and leading them away from my horse so he wouldn't get spooked.
But Daft Wooley must be some kind of bloodthisty warhorse. Instead of turning tail back down the slope, he blew a terrifying shreik and reared up behind the nearest marauder, then buried one plate-sized hoof in the back of the hapless man's skull. The man went down like a boat anchor, chainmail rattling, sword piercing the snow.
The other man took a hammer blow across the shield that was just too much, and he went sideways and hit the wall. I figured the battle was over at this point, but Daft Wooley shrieked again, danced in a half-circle, and then charged through the gap, into the fort. Was he bolting now? Who knows. I took my time picking over the gear on the two corpses, then followed after Wooley.
Where was that horse? I heard a man yelling, and the clatter of hooves, but I couldn't triangulate the sound. I strolled all around the courtyard, boots crunching in the snow, and eventually decided that Wooley must have dashed out the front entrance, towards the trail. I passed through the arch, still listening for my horse, and suddenly an arrow clanged painfully off the back of my helmet.
There was a man up there, over the arch, on the parapet, trying to ruin my day. I couldn't retaliate. I didn't even own a bow, and the only arrows I had in my possession were there because I'd been shot with them, then pulled them out of my hide and hadn't bothered to throw them away.
I knew I needed to go sprinting back into the fort and find a way up onto the wall, but before I could pick a direction, Daft Wooley came charging out of the tower on the left side of the parapet, reared up again, and dropped both hooves on the man's shoulder, pitching him sideways into the open air. Halfway to the ground he became intimate friends with a tree branch, and made the rest of the journey as a tangled corpse.
I looted the body, then stood and looked up at my horse, who was now standing impassively on the archway above me, apparently enjoying a pleasant breeze and not inclined to move. It took almost five minutes of searching for me to find the eroded staircase that Daft Wooley must have climbed in order to get on the parapet.
That's Daft Wooley!
We eventually found the artifact, and took a different route back to the castle. Along the way we passed a bandit who demanded tribute. 100 gold was a lot for nothing, and I refused - but I would have refused a anyway on general principle. I'm not earning money so I can avoid trouble, after all. I'm getting into trouble so I can earn money!
The bandit got all aggro and leapt for me with a dagger in one hand, so I tumbled out of the saddle and readied my hammer, but before I could even swing it, Daft Wooley had flattened the poor woman into the grit of the road, and appeared to be dancing on top of the body in a show of distaste. Then I realized it was because another bandit was firing arrows at him from the second floor of a farmhouse down the road. I didn't even bother to enter the farmhouse; I just looted the corpse in front of me and started walking, and sure enough, Wooley stormed into the building. I heard the swish of a few more arrows, a screech, then a horrified shout and a long series of splintery thuds. Then only the wind.
Wooley didn't have the sense to exit the barn, so I had to fetch him again. He's as nuts as Comedy Wolf, but at least he's consistent.