Sunday Serial: Wrathburnt Sands 5

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

Milla left him muttering to himself nervously and marched up to the drakkonettes.
“You shall not pass,” one said. He hawked and spat then looked a bit surprised as if the action were new and unfamiliar to him. “What the…?”
His companion looked across at him strangely.
“You feeling alright there, dear?”
The first drakkonette blinked a bit then nodded a few times.
“Right as rain my hunny-bunny.” He stiffened his spine and glared down at Milla again. “You shall not pass!”
“I have to. My dog, Ruffkin, he’s inside and I’ve got to rescue him. Isn’t there some way we could come to an agreement? Like…” She tried hard to think of other such agreements she knew of in and around Wrathburn Sands. “Like I bring you ten locks from sandylion manes, or ten landshark tails, or ten vials of dog spit, or…”
The drakkonette pulled a face.
“What would we do with any of those?”
“I – I don’t know,” Milla stuttered. “It’s what some of the people around the village ask Visitors to bring them so I thought…”
“It’s alright, dear,” the other drakkonette said. “We don’t need any of that kind of thing, but I’d love a pot of fruit tea, if you could manage it. Then we might be able to look the other way for a moment.”
“And a couple of flyberry cookies would be good to go with that,” the first one put in. “It’s hard to notice people going through the gate when you’re dunking a cookie.” One of his eyes dropped shut in a wink.
Milla wondered where she might get those then remembered seeing a pile of some kind of cookies in One Eyes’s store and she could brew up a fruit tea on her hearth at home. She opened her mouth to tell them that was fine when a loud yodelling cry came from right behind her.
“Leeeeeroy Jenkins!”
Pew was charging towards them, robes tangling around his legs, staff in one hand with its shimmer extending before him like some kind of magical shield, and a dagger in the other.
It was over so fast Milla barely had time to yelp, she squeezed her eyes shut and heard a loud thump and a groan. When she opened them again, the drakkonettes were standing back in their guarding pose and the noble Firecaster Pewpowerpwnsyou lay in a crumpled heap of shimmering robes at their feet.
“Is he…?”
“He’s a Visitor,” the first drakkonette said contemptuously. “I’ve seen it all the time when we were up at Terraraptor Gorge. Charge in. Blat. Blat. Faceplant. Give them a few moments they go away and then they come back a bit later on and do it all over again.”
The other drakkonette made a maternal clucking sound. “Don’t you worry about him, dear. Just go and fetch us the tea and cookies and he’ll be right as rain when you get back, I promise you.”
Feeling a little uneasy but not really able to see any other course of action open to her, Milla headed back to the village and the provisions shop.
“Flyberry cookies?” One Eye grunted. “I have the very thing. Good you’re not a Visitor though, young’un. If you were I’d have to be asking you to harvest me some flyberries before I could be letting you take these.”
“But there are no flyberry bushes around here.”
“Well no. It means the Visitor has to head out to the Mirage Oasis where they grow and find some there.”
“But that’s on the other side of the Many Miles Mountains. It would take them ages. And that just for some cookies?”
One Eye nodded. “Aye. That’s the thing with Visitors, they do stuff no one in their right mind would bother with normally.” He wrapped the cookies for her and held them out. “Here you go. Good luck on your venture. Hope you find Ruffkin.”

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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