Sunday Serial: Wrathburnt Sands 4

Because life can be interesting when you are a character in a video game…

“Hail One Eye Rye!” the Visitor declaimed. “Pray show me your wares, merchant.”
“Oh-Em-Gee, Pew. Don’t tell me you bought the fragging lizard DLC?”
A short dwarven Visitor had pushed his way into the shop, his armour glinting by its own light. The hilt of his sword was a huge fist gripping a gigantic gem.
The ryeshor Visitor shrugged in a most un-ryeshor way. “Yeah. What of it? I want to be the first to unlock the achievements for them.”
“Ha! Like ugliest toon on the server maybe?” The dwarf hawked and spat, then laughed as if that was the most hilarious thing ever. “You see that Pew? These new toon actions are killer.” He hawked and spat a couple more times.
Milla could see One Eye was getting angsty so she grabbed Pewpowerpwnsyou by the arm and pulled him quickly from the shop. He seemed a bit surprised but didn’t resist and to Milla’s immense relief the dwarf followed them out still hawking and spitting. Then he stopped and jumped up and down on the spot a few times.
“They still don’t have one for teabagging though.”
“You’re gross, String.” Pew’s snout wrinkled.
“At your service,” the dwarven Visitor agreed. “But what the frag are you doing here anyway? The new expac is waiting it’s got five new l33t dungeons and this place is just a borefest of old lore backstory. Not even any new quests.”
“There is if you’re a lizard. A whole new quest chain with epic quality rewards.”
The dwarf pulled a face. “Didn’t see anything about that on the forums.”
“Check the discord, numbnuts.”
Milla knew it was rude to interrupt, but she was not hearing anything that seemed important enough to delay the search for Ruffkin. She stepped between the two Visitors.
“Excuse me, but…”
“Figures. They’d be looking to scrape money out of people they just stung for fifty bucks on the expac. What better way to do it? The ratstabs.”
Milla raised her voice.
“I said, excuse me, but my dog is in danger. I’m sure your discussion can wait until after he is safe again.”
Pewpowerpwnsyou stepped back and bowed from the waist.
“Forgive me, fair Milla. My staff is yours to command.”
The dwarf hawked and spat. “What she saying?”
“Oh, you lamer. You don’t even have ryeshor language skills? What a n00b. Peedle off and go play on newbie island, String, it’s about your skill level.”
“I got a better idea,” the dwarf said. “I’m going to alt a ryeshor.”
“What? No. String…”
But the dwarven Visitor had already gone leaving a faint shimmer in the air where he had been standing.
“Oh frag it.” Pew’s crest had fallen so its ridges drooped in pure misery.
“Is that… Is that something bad?” Milla asked. “I mean, it sounds bad: ‘alt a ryeshor’. Maybe we should warn the others.”
Pew’s crest was still down but now he was staring at her with wide eyes.
“How did you..? You can’t…” He broke off and shook his head “No. it’s nothing to worry about. Just String being String. He’s just a PITA.”
“Then please, can we just go find Ruffkin? He must be terrified wherever he is.”
“Sure. I mean…” He cleared his throat and returned to his affected style of speech. ”Forsooth Lady Milla. We will go forth and redeem your noble hound from his cthonic captivity.”
Milla sighed.
“Well, you’re the one with the location spell, so you’ll have to lead the way. Now, please stop talking to me like that and let’s get going.”
“If it is your will fair lady, we will depart post haste and…”
Milla screwed up her snout, spun on her heel and strode away towards the pyramid.

Pew caught up with her by the path to the outer gate. It was open, but guarded by two drakkonettes. They both wore gleaming black breastplates decorated with crossed keys and each was armed with a bladed polearms, decorated with inlays of the same cross-key design. They held their polearms so the shafts extended to block the space where the gate should be, barring passage just as effectively.
As far as Milla had ever heard drakkonettes never came further south than the Wailing Hollows, so seeing two standing guard on this pyramid made no sense. Drakkonettes were not completely unlike ryeshor – apart from having huge leathery wings, no tail, massive jaws, tusks and being almost half as tall again as a fully grown ryeshor. They were also known to be ferocious and these two were not looking friendly. Still, if Ruffkin was on the other side of that gate…
Pew caught her arm and pulled her back.
“You know the aggro range on those?”
Milla blinked. “The..what?”
Pew puffed out his cheeks and shook his head.
“Nevermind. This is really weird. Look, those mobs are a linked encounter. I could burn one of them easy, but two, without heals…”
Milla was beginning to think that the Visitor was something of a coward. If she hadn’t needed his location spell she would have been very tempted to leave him there and go on herself. After all, who said only Visitors could go on ventures? She was on one now, for sure.
“I could talk to them,” she suggested. “They look a bit bored, maybe they’d let us through if we find some entertainment for them?”
“You mean like this is some kind of weird sub-quest? We’re not supposed to fight them?” Pew lifted his hands as if trying to push the world away. “Oh frack, I wish I’d got in on the beta of this or someone had at least put up a walkthrough on the wiki.”

We will return to Wrathburnt Sands by E.M. Swift-Hook next Sunday.

Wrathburnt Sands was first published in Rise and Rescue: A GameLit Anthology.

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