Sunday Serial: Wrathburnt Sands 17

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

“Nice belt that.”
Milla looked round at Glory then down at the belt. It had a definite shimmer to it. Small motes of coloured mulit-coloured light danced around it, so close in as to seem part of the fabric itself. Her heart swelled with affection and gratitude, One Eye Rye had given her a magic item.
But there was no time to wonder what it might do, the boat had arrived and a couple of Visitors got off it, giving Milla odd looks as the three of them scrambled on. She held her head high and gripped Pew’s hand tightly as the ship pulled away from the dock almost immediately. It had to be a magical vessel as there was no crew and the sails seemed to manage themselves.
But the view as they slipped from the shore and out into the bay was incredible. For the first time Milla could see the whole of Wrathburnt Sands, from the far end of the beach, on one side to the palm trees that surrounded the pyramid on the other. She was so taken by the scene that she didn’t notice when they sailed over the Boundary only that in the next moment she was feeling very sick and the view had changed completely.
Above, clouds scudded across the sky, and sometimes darkened it. The land ahead of them was green and the sea more grey than blue. Almost completely green. So many trees and bushes and even the ground itself was covered in low growing grass and flowers. So very different from the familiar yellows and browns of home that she drew in a sharp breath of surprise and delight.
“You alright?” Pew was still gripping her hand and there was real anxiety on his face. He was worried for her. That made her feel warm inside and she found she was smiling back at him.
“I’m fine. But this place.” She gestured to the approaching coastline with a sweep of her free arm. “It’s amazing.”
Glory made a very unelven snorting noise. “Not so amazing when you have to spend day after day grinding here.”
“I like Barren Steppes,” Pew said. “It’s kind of like where I live.”
Milla blinked. “You live in Barren Steppes?”
“No. Of course not. I just meant…”
But whatever he just meant Milla didn’t find out as Glory was suddenly shouting and reaching for her bow.
“Incoming! Firedrakes! Don’t let them get close!”
Milla instinctively clutched at her pendant and looked up to see half-a-dozen dark shapes with leathery wings circling around the top of the mast. They looked much too small to be dangerous. Then one opened it’s oddly shaped beak and a massive gout of flame shot out, engulfing the rigging and setting it alight.
A moment later the flying creature shrieked and plummeted to the deck, pierced through by the shaft of an arrow. It vanished before it landed. The others swooped down to attack in a tight V formation. Milla found herself being pushed roughly behind the other two by Pew as Glory drew her sword.
“By the power of My Skull!” she yodeled, slashing at the nearest one and slicing into it. Pew had raised his hands and pushed them outwards, just as the drakes breathed their fire. It hit Pew’s invisible shield and barely any of the flames got through, enough to singe Glory’s eyebrows. But Pew’s shoulder’s were slumping with the effort of maintaining the shield
“Powerfeed me, Milla!”
Without really thinking, Milla grabbed her pendant and sent the magical energy it contained towards Pew. He straightened up almost immediately and keeping the invisible shield raised with one hand he threw out a series of small fireballs with the others.
A few moments later the last of the drakes had exploded into nothing and Glory was counting coins she had found somewhere. Pew wiped his brow.
“Where the frack did those firedrakes come from? I’ve never been attacked zoning here from WBS before.”
Glory looked up. “Oh yeah. Sorry about that. Just a class quest I’m on. I get randomly attacked now and then until I’ve finished.” She tipped the coins into her pouch and looked about as un-sorry as it was possible to be.
Pew drew a breath and Milla thought he might be about to say something very rude, but at the last moment he closed his jaw with an audible snap. She felt oddly proud of him and squeezed his hand to tell him so.

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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