Sunday Serial: Wrathburnt Sands 18

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

A few minutes later they were stepping off the boat onto a stone dock which fronted onto a settlement that looked a lot more substantial than Wrathburnt Sands. There were people everywhere, all races, Locals and Visitors. Locals, noticeable by the slightly bored, long suffering expressions and rather plain outfits that most wore. Visitors, marked out like brilliantly coloured butterflies, clad in glamorous outfits with swirling runes and sparkles. Most boasting weaponry which seemed so powerful that their wielders might slice and dice the very air with them.
Milla felt overwhelmed and held back, gripping onto Pew’s hand like a lifeline as Glory vanished into the throng. Pew frowned at her reluctance.
“Are you alright? You look a bit ill.”
“I… I…” She struggled for words to explain how she felt both crushed in by so many people and buildings, and at the same time vulnerable and exposed as if too far out in the open.
“It’s not some odd after effect of you zoning is it?”
She shook her head.
“I just need to sit down a minute.”
A short time later she was sitting in a dockside tavern with a solicitous Pew and feeling a bit better.
“I never thought there would be so many people in one place.”
“Yeah? Well Liberation is a game hub and a starter city so it tends to get a bit busy.”
A bit?
Milla just nodded and wondered if she should have listened to One Eye and stayed at home after all.
“Look. We won’t be here long. Glory is finding out the fastest way to get to Lustrous Lake and soon as she gets back we’ll be on our way. You think you can manage?”
She nodded again. She’d have to manage. This was a venture. So she drank the odd tasting ale and tried to give Pew a reassuring smile.
Glory dropped into an empty seat opposite them and picked up a tankard of ale, swilling most of it down before setting it back on the table. “Good news. They seem to have extended the airship run out over Seersucker Swamp to the griblins quest camp. That’s just a short run to Lustrous Lake. We can be there pretty quick. But you’ve still not told me what we’re doing when we get there.”
“Air ship?” Milla tried to put the two words together in her head in any way that made sense – and failed.
Glory gave her an odd look.
“It’s only been in the game since the first update in vanilla, flies across all the original lands – you know like a dirigible thing? Very steampunk.”
“OMG. Do you remember the flame-fest when they did it?” Pew laughed at the memory. “Half the player base complained it was pressing the ‘easy mode’ button on transport and half were up in arms because it was a fracking air ship and that wasn’t purist fantasy enough for them.”
“And the other half hated on it for being too slow still, even though it more than halved the time it used to take.”
“Oh yeah and another half thought it was too much to have to do an access quest to use it, so they ditched that with the first expansion…”
“…which meant half the players were back to complaining about lowering the amount of significant content or some such BS.”
Milla decided it wasn’t going to help matters if she pointed out that five halves didn’t make a whole, and as that was the only aspect of the entire conversation she felt qualified to comment on, she said nothing.
“So are we ready to go then?” Pew asked.
“Well that depends. Will this take long? I need to log over to my main to do the dailies and then I’ve got to raid later.”
Pew was frowning and Milla wondered what Glory meant.
“I don’t know if it’ll take long or not. But it’s a bit more important than doing dailies.”
The elf looked doubtful and sucked in her cheeks.
“I’m not so sure. But I can always use a catch-up on them.”
“So we’re ready?”
Glory shrugged and then nodded. “I guess.”
“Good. Let’s go.”

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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