"She'll get over it." Nix was near the southern edge of Shae's elemental world. The Salamander was telling him about an argument that his companions had been involved in. It started with Fey dousing Morti with flames and ended with Morti using a huge paw to slap some common sense into the drake.
"Fey just lay there moaning all morning, finally I had to run her out." Shae's long red hair was in a braid that hung down passed her round bottom. She was wearing her favorite red dress, sitting in the tall grass while Nix cleared out a small garden plot. "What are you planting?"
"Bhut Jolokia," Nix fished one out of his bag and handed it to her. The one he handed her was red and dried perfectly. "Give it a taste."
Shae eyed the pepper, first bringing it up to her nose to smell it. Apparently she found the scent pleasing, her next action was to pop the entire thing in her mouth and chew vigorously.
Nix watched her, he liked spicy foods, but even the smallest sliver of ghost peppers was too much for him.
Shae chewed slowly, the look on her face turning slowly from curiosity to shock and then joy. "What are these? Do you have more? How long do they take to grow?"
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Nix laughed at her excitement. He handed her the small bag that Nansu had picked up for him. "Not sure how long their growth cycle is, but I'll plant as many as I can."
Shae grabbed the bag and stashed it away before she jumped on the hoe Nix had sat down and started tearing up the ground. "We're going to need a bigger plot Nix. Way, way bigger!"
"Take it easy Shae... Those aren't candy."
Shae popped another one in her mouth and continued to swing the hoe. She had obviously never used one before, but after watching Nix all morning she had a decent idea. "Don't worry Nix, I'll prepare a proper patch, just make sure there are enough seeds."
An hour later Nix sat on the rear deck of his houseboat, it had been designated as the meeting place for those going on the Pinnacle raid. Pon, Wind, Sharl, Chael, Nez, Banzi, Milat, Tess, Sila, and Nix were all taking part. The raid was limited to 10 people. Sila had recently become a Scorched Earth Mage and Nix had invited her so she could learn her new path. She chose Crowd Control.
/Inferno: Nix: Let's see... Nez, Sharl, Milat and Chael, you're with me. Tess, Sila, Wind and Banzi, you're with Pon.
Sharl wasn't even pretending to listen, the Naga egg had hatched two weeks earlier and she spent a good portion of her time bonding with him. She had named him Floyd, Nix had been tempted to tease her but Ronnie stepped in and told her the name belonged to their grandfather who had long since passed. The Naga had jet-black hair that stuck straight up, he was nearly waist tall already and growing daily. He didn't have eyes like the Lamia, from the waist up he could pass for any young boy. At the waist, however, he turned into a light brown snake, five feet of tail followed him around. Oddly enough the end of his tail was split into two separate tails, not even Shae was aware of what that meant.
/Inferno: Pon: Guess we're the 'A' team since you are stuck with Nix.
/Inferno: Nix: Guess we'll see. I am curious to see if Fire-Nado does anything for your "dieing right away" habit.
/Inferno: Pon: Ignore him, we're the group to watch.
/Inferno: Nix: We'll move out in ten minutes, meet on the docks.
Nix gated to the dock area and entered his shop, he waved Nova over and deposited a few boxes on the counter. "Here's the latest. We doing anything with the second floor yet?"
Nova shook her head, "mostly empty sir."
"Let's designate the second floor as 'combat-oriented gear. I'll start putting out more product."
/Inferno: Ronnie: Salamander has been suspiciously quiet. They don't want to fight anymore?
/Inferno: Semmi: I'm guessing they are laying low. First, they lost the Faction Event. Then their mid-tier officers were executed by Jenzi.
/Inferno: Ronnie: Shank and the twins were executed?
/Inferno: Sharl: It's embarrassing how uninformed you are.
/Inferno: Ronnie: Keep bullying me and I'll sink that garbage scow you call a ship.
/Inferno: Nix: Don't be mean to Captain Ronnie.
By the time Nix walked out of his shop a few minutes later, the rest of the raid was already gathered. The Onion group had long since left, their mission to explore the Mystery Map had started at dawn.
Fajii stopped by to buff the team with Flaming Rock Wall and Scorched Earth Shield before they left. She was busy organizing Lamia Acolytes and was helping Nansu catalog sea-herbs. Eron, the black fox lay comfortably across her shoulders.
/Inferno: Nix: Thanks Fajii. Join hands, please.
He waited until everyone was ready then he activated Deep Blue and chose the fourth slot. Mina had labeled Pinnacle.
The platform they appeared on was a water zone, just off the entrance to Pinnacle. Nix summoned Ducky and moved off the platform.
/Inferno: Nix: Milat and Wind, go scout out the zone for us. I'll send Ducky with you.
Ducky changed into her human form and followed the two scouts as they stealthed. Nix would often see her using her human form while in the Sea-World. Her ability to hold it was increasing.
[Milat has been slain]
[Wind has been slain]
/Inferno: Pon: Shit...
/Inferno: Nix: Report!
/Inferno: Wind: We were scouting the perimeter of Pinnacle, there is only one path going in and two coming out. A huge bubble has formed over the entire area, there aren't any pumps though, something else is keeping the water at bay.
/Inferno: Milat: Our stealth broke when we entered the Courtyard, there is definitely something very powerful in the area.
/Inferno: Nix: Recover and I'll pick you back up at the docks.
Nix gated back to Glory Island and picked up Wind and Milat, Fajii rebuffed them before sending them on their way once again.
/Inferno: Nix: Okay, Pinnacle take two. We'll all enter the air-zone together and then prep for trouble.
Nix stayed close to the ground as he swam away from the platform, it only took a few minutes before they approached the air-zone. It reminded him of the stadiums he used to watch baseball in as a kid, only it was many times larger and completely transparent.
The group moved through the bubble in pairs. Pon had pointed out that there may be security measures that are tripped if several people come through at once. After they entered they waited for any possible alarms, there didn't seem to be any.
Mortimer appeared a moment later. Nix had previously briefed him not roar to announce his arrival this time.
"Are you kidding me?" Their scouts hadn't described Pinnacle in much detail. "This is a habitat."
There were several trees visible, although they were a kind that Nix hadn't seen before, slightly violet in color. A lush, spongy blueish moss covered the ground and a sweet flowery smell hung in the air. In the distance, a walled area surrounded two large building, one looked like some sort of fort and the other a temple.
"Morty... Sorry to ask this, but can I ride you?" Nix scratched the bear's huge head when it bumped into him.
"You want to? I'm really fast you know, faster than a horse even." Mortimer lay down on the moss so Nix could climb up.
/Inferno: Nix: I think we've been doing this all wrong. I'm going to walk in and see what's up.
/Inferno: Wind: Bad idea Nix,
/Inferno: Nix: No... a bad idea is starting a fire in a doorway before realizing you're stuck in the room.
/Inferno: Wind: You did that? How'd you get out?
/Inferno: Nix: Jumped out the window, three stories. Wait here.
He didn't add that he broke his leg in two places and so ended the fire rampage of Phoenix Phire.
"Just head right toward the big building Morti."
"Okay boss... Want me to swat things?"
"No, we are going to be cautious."
The rest of the raid watched as Nix and Mortimer rode all the way to the entrance. Nix rode crossed-legged on the bear's back, it was much too wide to ride like a horse.
They had just arrived at the gate when a group of white-robed guards appeared. Their heads were wrapped carefully in the same white material of their robes. They were all nearly the same height and size, each of them wore a recurve bow across their backs.
"You are trespassing in the Air City of Pinnacle, under the protection of Nemesis Rhylia Thundercloud."
/Inferno: Nix: Oh shit... An Air Nemesis is here.
Nix cleared his throat and pulled out his Champions Medallion. "My mistress, the Fire Nemesis Shae Balefire sends her greetings to Nemesis Rhylia and has sent me here to challenge the Pinnacle Temple Champion."