Sunday Serial: Wrathburnt Sands 6

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

Having made the fruit tea in a small pot on her own hearth, Milla poured it into a pottery bottle and put a stopper in the top. Then armed with cookies and tea she headed back to do battle negotiating with the drakkonettes to enter the pyramid.
They had been right about Visitors.
Pew was hiding behind a clump of palm trees, peering nervously around the trunks at the drakkonettes. He spun round staff held high as she approached then relaxed again, looking very relieved.
“I thought they must have kil… um kidnapped you. I was close to reporting the quest as bugged.”
Milla resisted the urge to point out it was not she who had been killed. “If you wait here I’ll talk to the guards and then we can go in.”
“But…”
Milla fixed him with the most menacing glare she could muster. The same glare One Eye always managed when she tried to slip an extra fish to Ruffkin without him noticing. Only as she had two eyes she was pretty sure her glare would be twice as menacing.
Pew’s crest flattened and he swallowed hard. “Yes. Fine. I’ll wait here then.”
The drakkonettes were delighted with what she gave them.
“That’s so kind of you, dear,” the maternal one said and puffed a small smokey breath. “So much nicer than the ten raw terraraptor eggs we used to get in the Gorge, don’t you think Gordon?”
The other drakkonette had taken the stopper from the pottery bottle and inhaled the steam with his eyes closed. “Much. And why did we have to have a jar of water from Rancid Pond?”
“It was horrible, wasn’t it?”
“Picnic, Abigail?”
The two leaned their polearms against the gate posts and wandered off claw in claw.
Pleased with a job well done, Milla hurried back to where she had left Pew and was disturbed to find him talking to a very odd looking ryeshor. The stranger had a purple flush to his skin with orange tinted scales and a crest that seemed much too spikey and much too green. He was wearing a sparkling chainmail tunic, belted with a rune-woven sash, a gleaming peacock and phoenix feathered cloak, and sandals that seemed to have black wings sprouting from the ankles.
“It has to be a shareable quest. Stop messing me around you ratstab!”
“I’d share if I could, but there’s no way to do it.”
The stranger saw Milla approaching before Pew and started shouting at her as she walked towards them.
“Hail Milla! Hello Milla! Greeting Lady Milla!” He stamped his foot. “Why won’t you answer me? Fraggin en-pee-cee.”
She stopped, wrinkling her snout. She was not sure what she was being called but she was pretty sure it was some kind of insult.
“Who is this?” she asked Pew, but even before he answered she knew what he would say.
“It’s String. He made a ryeshor alt and spent a load of gold on the auction market to twink it. I can’t believe he did that.”
The String ryeshor convulsed in a peculiar way and then hawked and spat.
“Well look at that? Even the lizards can do it.” He wiped his mouth with the back of one hand and leered at Milla. “So, sexy lizard lady, you gonna share your sweet, sweet quest with me?”
Milla took a step back. The thought of having anything to do with this rude and ugly man made her feel ill.
“If you want to help me find Ruffkin you need to be able to do something useful.” She gestured to the other ryeshor. “At least he can do something useful, can’t you Pew?”
There was no answer.
“Pew?”
He continued staring into the distance as if she wasn’t there – or he wasn’t.
“He’s ninjad,” String said then hawked and spat twice in quick succession.He grinned as if immensely pleased with himself.
“Ninjad?” Milla found her snout wrinkling in confusion.
“Back now.” Pew stretched and grinned at her. “Had to take a fast afk for a bio before we go into the dungeon. We’d better get moving or the mobs on the gate might reset.”

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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