Sunday Serial: Wrathburnt Sands 20

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

Then the airship angled down and stopped abruptly. It had moored at a platform identical to the one where they had boarded. Back on solid ground again, even if it was only as solid as a path in the middle of a swamp could be, Milla breathed a sigh of relief. The other two were still going at it as they went down the steps from the platform behind her.
“…but the armour and defence rating won’t stack so you’re better off taking something to boost your dodge.”
“My agility bonus has maxed out my dodge to the hard cap. And you’re missing the benefit of having the extra HP.”
Milla cleared her throat loudly. “Fascinating as I’m sure all that is, where do we go now?”
Pew looked at her and then looked around as if unsure where they were.
“If we’re heading to Lustrous Lake we have to go through the griblin village,” Glory said, pointing to where the ramp up to the stilt-settlement was guarded by a skinny looking creature with a purple and green skin, clad only in a loincloth and holding what looked like a barbed fishing spear. “The lake’s just on the other side – on the edge of the swamp.”
But Milla was looking at Pew who had a stricken expression. “What’s the matter? Are you alright?”
“I’m KOS to the griblins,” he said in a strangled voice.
“Oh fracking frag!” Glory looked appalled “You’re not serious?”
“What does that mean?” Milla asked, feeling lost as she often was around Visitors.
“It means your boyfriend can’t go through the village without every fragging griblin attacking him on sight. But what I don’t get is how come you’ve not got the faction? Every toon on the server has griblin faction by your level.”
“I forgot I’d never done it on this toon. It was last expansion and I only started my ryeshor this expac.” He sounded so miserable that Milla wanted to hug him, but she felt a bit shy doing so in front of the sarcastic Glory.
“Then maybe we can sort that?” she suggested.
The other two looked at her as if she had turned into a swamp slug.
“Seriously?” Glory shook her head and laughed. “Do you have any idea how long it takes to grind up griblin faction? The devs put it in as a time sink for those who’d done everything else in game to fill in before the new expac came out. It takes days just to be allowed into the village and even then you can’t pass through without maxing faction and that’s another week of grind.”
Milla picked out the essential idea that Pew was not going to be able to walk through the village and wrinkled her snout in thought.
“So then let’s go around the village.” She gestured to the swamp.
“No!” The answer came in chorus.
“We can’t do that,” Pew explained. “There are wandering contested raid boss mobs in this part of the swamp and the whole place is set up so you can’t help but run into them. We’d never make it through.” His crest had deflated completely and he looked defeated. “I can’t even use an invis pot. The griblin guards’ll see through it.”
Milla stiffened her shoulders and heaved a sigh.
Which gave her an idea. The one advantage she had here was that she wasn’t 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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