Elemen took a few steps forward, the words of the Frozen Orb burning themselves into her mind. Behind her, Iona nocked another arrow.
The shrine was just beyond a copse of trees, but if there was anything that Elemen knew, it was that shrines were never left unguarded. What could it possibly be this time - Quill Rats? Dark Spearwomen? Or perhaps a legion of those nigh-irritating Carvers once again?
The sharp cry of a Carver gave it away. Carvers never hunted alone.
Iona fired an arrow just beyond Elemen's line of sight. That was the signal; the little devils were getting too close. Elemen strode from the trees, unleashing a storm of ice shards, and then a second. Where the first few Carvers - those who survived the two waves - had fled in terror, the remainder immediately rushed forth from their rocky burrows to assault the sorceress and her guard. Behind them, their accursed Shamans screamed orders even as they cast their foul resurrection spells.
Elemen strained to reach the shrine even as the Carvers gathered in a malevolent swarm. Dodging their weapons, she brushed the ancient, petrified wood and felt its energy surge through her body. The energies of the Frozen Orb once again gathered between her fingers, and as she turned to face her enemies...
...the power went out, and the computer rebooted.
And I was only just getting used to a nice third-level Frozen Orb spell.
After ScanDisk completed, I gave the game a test. Diablo II started up fine, but loading the Elemen file gave me one of the most ominous messages I had ever seen in a piece of software: "Cannot load game. File may be corrupted."
I tried it a second time, and then a third. Same message.
There went years of play. Elemen had managed to hit 'Dame' status, and I guess that it was going to take me longer to find out how far I could take her.
I had a backup, yes, but it was from way before the first time I had finished the game, and I was definitely not eager to face Diablo again. Especially with Elemen. Diablo eats sorceresses for dinner, after all.
Maybe it's time to start a new game. Diablo II's been nice and all, but it's obviously overstayed its welcome. Besides, I can probably return to Elemen's world once my appetite for new games has been sated.
That said, I'm definitely getting that power source. If you'll excuse me...
Elemen couldn't understand. One moment she was fighting Diablo's minions, the next...
She stood in total darkness. It was as though her slender form hung over the still void. There was absolutely nothing around her - no demons, no humans, nothing. She wasn't sure if there was even supposed to be a floor.
"Sean?" she called, expecting the echo that never came.
"Sean?" she asked, "Where are you?"
No one answered.
"Sean?" she asked again. "This isn't funny, Sean..."