Sunday Serial: Wrathburnt Sands 8

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

The key fitted and as Milla turned it the doors began to glide silently open. Inside it was dimly lit from…somewhere. There was no obvious source of light, but the room was illuminated. The three ryeshor walked in cautiously, looking around at the plain stone walls, each with a door in the middle. The door they had just entered by slid shut and suddenly the light dropped into shadowy darkness. Milla froze as something chittered and scuttled nearby. Beside her she felt rather than saw as Pew raised his staff. Then the tip glowed like a miniature sun. Milla just had time to register that the room seemed to be full of spiders before the other two ryeshor exploded into action beside her. String’s boar shot into the middle of the room and all the spiders attacked it. Moments later a rain of burning sparks fell from the air, and the smallest spiders disappeared. String sliced some spiders with his sword and then Pew snatched a ball of fire out of thin air and threw it at the remaining arachnids instantly incinerating them. Strangely, even though it had been in the middle of the conflagration, the boar was untouched. It tossed its head and made a grunting noise before trotting back to String.
Milla was still standing stock still, her mouth slightly open. She closed it as Pew and String quickly checked the doors.
“I think you two have done this before,” she said trying to sound as if this was something she was fine with, but to her own ears her voice sounded thin and reedy.
“Yup. Just a few hundred times.” Pew told her. “All the doors are locked which must mean…”
“It’s a ring event,” String finished for him, just as four large spiders appeared, one in each corner of the room.
Milla squeezed her eyes shut as sounds of exploding fireballs and squealing grunts from the boar echoed back from the walls. When she opened them again String was grinning and Pew was brushing a hand over his collapsed crest, looking tired.
“I’m low on manapower and the boss mob is going to spawn any moment.”
“Ooops sorry, brov. I blew mine on Pigsy here mid combat. It’s on a four minute cooldown.”
“Is that like…magical power?” Milla asked a sudden idea forming in her mind.
“Yeah. Exactly that. I can’t cast any more spells without it.”
Milla gripped the pendant she wore in one hand and reached the other one out towards Pew. A white glow surrounded him and his flattened crest slowly straightened. Then he grabbed her arm and spun her round behind him. A gigantic spider had appeared suddenly, just where she had been standing a moment before. She tried not to look at the crouching mass with its sharp pincers as Pew, String and Pigsy brought down fire and mayhem on it. Then Pew was pushing the hilt of his dagger into her hand.
“Free Pigsy!” he yelled over the roar of exploding spells, staff still pointing at the monstrous spider.
Free?
Milla looked around for the boar and for a moment couldn’t see him. Then she realised there was a cocoon of spider web writhing on the floor. Trying to ignore the hideous bulk of the spider which was rearing up on six of its legs to confront the two male ryeshor, she slipped under its body and cut as fast and carefully as she could. Pigsy wriggled free of the last restraining threads and shot back into the fray. But the spider had sprayed it’s webbing at Pew and whilst String and the boar kept it occupied, Milla had to slice through the sticky silk to free him. She turned back to see the spider rear up, glaring at her and rolling it’s spinners to cast a web at her, but even as it moved to release the engulfing strands, a final shot from Pew hit home and it collapsed in a heap.
The grating sound of the doors opening was drowned out by a victorious whoop from String.
“That is healer gear,” he crowed. “Mine, brov, all mine.”
Pew looked too exhausted to care and Milla wished she had more manapower to give him but the pendant had lost its brilliance.

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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