Sunday Serial: Wrathburnt Sands 11

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

It had been a quiet few days in Wrathburnt Sands. The months since the Expansion had been very busy for Milla in her new role as a quest giver so she appreciated the break. It gave her more time to go beachcombing with Ruffkin, her little dog, and chat with Pew whilst she strung the shells she had gathered into necklace charms to give out as quest rewards to those Visitors who returned from the pyramid dungeon to claim one.
Pew – or more correctly Firecaster Pewpowerpwnsyou – was, she supposed, her boyfriend. At least he seemed to think he was and Milla was not entirely unhappy with the idea, even if there were times she wanted to shake him. But the other residents of Wrathburnt Sands made no secret of their feelings.
“He’s not a proper ryeshor. He’s not even a Local.”
“He don’t belong here.”
“Folk like him drag trouble with them. They’re cursed with it.”
“You be careful young’un, he’s a Visitor. He’ll only break your heart.”
Those last words were still ringing in Milla’s head as she walked along the beach in the morning sun, Ruffkin bounding ahead of her. One Eye Rye had said that yesterday, when she went to buy some fish for Ruffkin from his shop by the pier. He was her truest friend amongst the villagers. He even liked Pew. She knew he did because he sold Pew provisions from his shop at a discount those times when Pew was down on his luck and One Eye never did that for any other Visitor.
“Visitors never stay for long,” One Eye added, “and they always have other lives.”
“Not Pew,” she had told him stoutly, “He promised me he’s maining on his ryeshor toon and has stopped playing all his other alts.”
One Eye’s snout wrinkled at that.
“I start to worry about you, young’un. You’re even talking like a Visitor now – ‘toons’, ‘alts’ and whatever the bluesky and ocean that all means.”
Milla shrugged and had left quickly after that. The truth was she didn’t entirely know what any of it meant. But Pew had said it with such fervour that she knew it was something that mattered to him for her to know. She understood at least that it was his way of saying he wasn’t going to go away like the other Visitors always did. That made Milla happy as when she tried to imagine not having Pew around, life began to feel very flat and empty.
Walking along the beach in the early morning, she paused to pick up a shell. The pendant she always wore around her neck, swung forward, glowing with its hidden magic. She tucked it away in her simple tunic and was disturbed by voices on the pier. She couldn’t see them as the pier was above her, but she knew from what they were saying that it was Visitors.
“I hate this fragging fishing quest. Must have done it a million times.”
“You and me both, bud. You remember when we were in Epic Legends with that crazy guy, what was he called? The one who loved crafting and spent all his time harvesting?”
“You mean Buffalott?”
“That’s the one. I heard his wife left him for their guild leader in the end. She always just wanted to raid. Best MT on the server she was too.”
“Yeah? I thought that was Aggrowhore?”
“Just because We Rulz is the top raiding guild, doesn’t mean they have the best MT.”
“S’ppose. Anyway, I’m done fishing, have to go turn it in and then I can do the pyramid questline.”
Milla sighed and made an effort to keep the frills on her crest from flattening. Not for the first time she wished she didn’t have to be a quest giver. Life had been so much simpler before she became one.

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

Return to Wrathburnt Sands was first published in Rise and Rescue Volume 2: Protect and Recover.

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