Eight

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"Left! Roll left!"

"I've got it, I've got it!"

Five seconds later, staring up at the briar-and-circuitry-covered crotch of a Dark Faerunner, Wayne had to admit she did not got it.

It'd been a long, long day.

"I'll res you, just gimmie a sec." Sigmund's voice came through the computer's speakers, accompanied by the sharp clash of swinging axes. On her screen, the Faerunner's gloating over Wayne's lifeless corpse was interrupted by the arrival of Sigmund. Or, well, his avatar, at any rate.

Hack, slash, whirl. Wayne followed the motions, writ large in bright HD. A standard chain, followed by a Cleave on the follow-up. The Faerunner pulled back, lights dancing down its arms and in a whirling arc on the ground, pulling together the beginnings of its Blackstatic attack.

Wayne hated that attack. That attack was why Wayne was currently lying on the ground, yelling, "Dodge! Dodge!" into her mike.

Blackstatic wasn't a one-hit, but it could be close. Getting stuck in it would knock Sigmund on his perky blonde ass, taking off a good third of his health and leaving him with a paralysis effect that would make further dodging almost impossible. That was what had happened to Wayne, one of those, followed by two stacks of the Faerunner's follow-up, Bad Dreams. That one bled health. Together with the static, they were why every Dark Assiah player hated traveling the rose-thorn and steel tangle that was Tiferet.

Above her, Sigmund gave one final twirl, leaping upward with a roar and landing straight on the Faerunner's head. The thing screamed, clawing at its face as gouts of thick, black blood began to leak from its limbs, gradually fading into bright blue geometric code that sucked its artificial life right out of the withered husk of its body.

A body that, when it hit the ground, was little more than a badly carved doll of burnt wood and rusting wire.

"I hate those things." Wayne huffed, watching Sigmund crouch over her, hands waving in the air, summoning together the gold-lit code that would jolt Wayne back to life.

"Aw, they're not so bad."

"Well, not to you. You've got interrupts. And a shield." Sig was a Protectorate, a tank class. He didn't go down easy, despite his tiny frame.

Wayne would be lying to say that didn't bother her a bit. The fact that Sigmund always made his avatars into the sort of pale, blonde waif-fu girls that would make Joss Whedon cry.

Then again, Wayne was playing a four-foot anthropomorphic cat with pink fur, so maybe she shouldn't judge.

Thirty seconds for the res, and they were off again, Wayne trying to stay behind Sigmund's tiny, ax-wielding frame. They'd been playing DA all night, just the two of them, Em off on a date with some guy she'd met playing Dota2. Em was the Cybermage, the healer, and her absence meant no big boss fights for just the two of them. So they were out grinding in the PvE, mining Briarwood and Faestones for their Keep instead. Wayne wanted new crafting tables; Em said they needed to upgrade the ballistas before the next shadowsiege came through. This way, they could gather stuff for both.

Even if it did mean dealing with the Faerunners.

Another pack of two loomed ahead, this time standing right on top of a tangle of thorny wood, just right for mining. Sigmund targeted the guy on the left, then leaped in, ax raised, the gold light of his shield flickering to life. Wayne gave him a second, then followed, vanishing in a cloud of darkness, reappearing behind the Faerunner with a pistol shot to the face and a dagger to the heart.

The second Faerunner shouted as it picked up the aggro, turning on Wayne. Sigmund hit it with a slam of his shield, sending it tumbling in a cascade of golden sparks. Meanwhile, the first one started giving off the telltale crackle of Blackstatic.

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