113 King Brahmi
"Okay... I did not see this coming." The door opened up to the most luxurious room Nix had ever seen. Silk covered walks, exotic furs lining the gold tile floors; sofas, chairs, and cushions of all shapes and sizes were set up throughout the room. The smell of lilac and rose petals tickled pleasantly at his senses.
Slowly they stood, women of all shapes, sizes, and colors. Each seemingly more beautiful than the next. A particularly lovely blonde threw herself at Chiba.
"Aunty Chiba!" She was wrapped in red silk and had white flowers braided into her hair. She hugged the swordmaster tight. "I was so worried about you."
/Inferno: Pon: Nope... not buying it.
/Inferno: Wind: Completely impossible.
/Inferno: Chael: No way they are related.
Nix didn't bother to count, there were a lot of them. "Explain please."
Chiba turned to face him, pulling the blonde with her. "This is Mari, my sister's child, you probably already guessed. The resemblance is uncanny."
"I'll let that go for a bit. Why am I here?" Nix knew there were at least a dozen guards dead, and the Southern Wing of the palace was in flames.
Chiba frowned, the expression making her look even more like an old man. "It's Brahmi. You had to guess he wouldn't be happy with losing a country right?"
Nix sighed heavily, "war?"
Chiba shook her head. "Nothing so grand or honorable. His army has been dismantled. A smaller and more reasonable 'governor's mansion is being constructed away from the capital."
Pon whistled softly, "it's like they are pushing him to do something rash."
Chiba nodded, giving Pon a wink. "This Palace was to belong to one of the new Princes of the Central Kingdom."
"So Brahmi has decided to torch it?" Nix shrugged, "I don't care if he burns this place. Let's get them out and head home."
Chiba's old eye's glittered dangerously, though her face was remarkably calm. "He has ordered that his harem stay."
[Whisper: Nix to Chiba] Why is your niece part of the King's Harem?
[Whisper: Chiba to Nix] Sadly, she has my looks, but not my skills or brains.
[Whisper: Nix to Chiba] So this was the answer? An old man's plaything?
[Whisper: Chiba to Nix] Relax. Who knew you were so uptight? The old fool leans in a different direction. Every one of these girls are virgins.
Nix smiled at Chiba's Niece, "We'll do this the hard way then."
"Forget about fighting apprentice. My backup isn't here, and you four aren't good enough."
Chael had been trying not to stare at the women, it was definitely a losing battle. "We aren't? Who's your backup?"
/Inferno: Nix: Why did you ask that?
Chiba smiled and leaned closer. "His name is Baiter... Have you seen him?"
Mari laughed, but quickly covered it up with a hand.
/Inferno: Nix: Shit... I think they are related.
Nix closed the door and glanced around the room. "We are on the second floor?"
Mari nodded, "the door you came in is the only entrance."
"What about porting out?" Nix frowned when Chiba immediately shook her head.
"Brahmi has a safeguard against thieves, you can't port out from anywhere on the grounds."
Pon pulled some of the silk coverings off the walls, the walls behind it were made from stone. "This place is just a pretty prison Nix."
Chiba nodded in agreement. "Normally they aren't confined to this room. Even though the army has been dismantled, he still has a few hundred of his Palace Guards."
/Inferno: Nix: Pull all that silk off the wall. Let's make sure we aren't missing something.
The four of them began pulling the silk off the walls while Chiba talked quietly with Mari.
"Over here Nix." Chael called from the far side of the room.
Nix stowed the huge pile of silks into his inventory, no use letting them go to waste. "What did you find?"
Chael slid a wall panel open. "Dumbwaiter."
"That leads to the kitchen, its way to small for a person." Mari had followed him, her voice sounded right behind his ear.
Nix didn't answer, he slammed both fists into the wood paneling and started tearing large pieces out. In a few moments, he had opened it up from the floor to the ceiling. He had broke the platform also, the only part left were the two ropes that made up the pulley system. "Should be large enough now. One of us at the top, the other at the bottom."
"Me! I have the most experience with this sort of thing." The old mage was sliding down the rope before anyone could react.
/Inferno: Chael: Did Pon volunteer?
/Inferno: Wind: He did.
Nix pulled his scout off to one side. "Go down first, find us a way out that doesn't include the palace guard."
Wind nodded and leaped into the hole.
After he was gone Nix faced the nervous beauties. "Just slide down the rope, I'll help you get in and Pon will be there at the bottom." Nix helped them through one at a time, while Pon caught them at the bottom. Within a few minutes, they were all crowded into the kitchen.
Nix and Chiba were the last two out.
"Gonna torch the place apprentice?"
Nix nodded, "I'll be down in a bit." He had taken all the silk from the walls, but the cushions and chairs were all flammable, better yet, they would make more smoke than fire.
A thick fountain of flames shot out of Nix's raised hand, he turned in a slow circle, bathing the room in flames. When satisfied it was enough, he walked casually through the flames and slid down the rope to the kitchen below.
/Inferno: Wind: No guards on this level yet. Head west from the kitchen, left at the first hall. There's a small chapel.
Nix nodded at Pon to take the lead.
Chiba waited with him. "Going to burn your way out of here?"
Nix nodded, "seems like the safest way. Ideally, these girls can all disappear and go back to their lives."
Chiba shook her head. "These are rare beauties Nix, if any of these girls are seen somewhere, Brahmi will immediately know."
"In that case... Just leave it to me." Nix motioned for her to leave. The serving dishes on the shelf caught his eye, "each one of these plates is probably 100k credits. What a waste."
Nix caught up with the group at the Chapel. Wind was waiting for them. He motioned to a dark stone staircase leading down.
"Don't tell me those are crypts?" Nix raised a hand, instantly it burst into flames. "Let's go. There's no sense in wasting tim..."
An explosion rocked the chapel, the mortared bricks that lined the outside wall burst inward showering them with stone shrapnel. Nix slammed into the far stone wall, catching Mari before she suffered the same fate. He collapsed to his knees, ears ringing.
It felt like minutes, the smell of smoke and the scent of charred flesh. A hand pulled him to his feet. Chiba's face was next to his a moment later. Her lips were moving but Nix couldn't hear anything.
"plan this. We have..." Nix squinted at her, trying to understand what she was saying. The blurred swordsman shook her head and then dragged him down the staircase. The heavy metal door closed behind them with a loud metallic clunk.
Several minutes later, the group stopped long enough to tend to the wounded. Nix had recovered his hearing and was using his hud to plan a route through the catacombs.
The sound of crying seemed eerily familiar, Nix's yellow eyes watched them in the dim room. "Who did we lose?"
Mari limped forward, her leg and arm on the right side were bandaged. "A Jhabi girl named Malisa. She was new, everyone called her Lisa."
Nix stared at the corpse. "This is my fault. I should have bought Tess."
Chael watched from one side, there was no trace of the easy-going marksman from a few minutes earlier. He watched as Nix wrapped her body in a long sheet of white silk. Not moving when he bathed her corpse in green flames until there was nothing but ashes.
[Summons: Rock Golem]
A huge golem appeared in their midst, its stone head nearly touching the ceiling.
The pointed ear blonde equipped his rifle. "No more deaths..."
[Scorched Earth Coating]
Chael's rifle throbbed with the combined power of Fire and Earth.
Nix walked toward the only visible passageway. "I'll take the lead, Chiba bring up the rear."
Chiba nodded. "Okay, Nix."
Several hours later the large group exited near the rocky eastern shore. The catacombs had connected with natural caves that eventually led them to the ocean. No one in the exhausted group felt like celebrating.
/Inferno: Pon: What now Nix?
/Inferno: Nix: You three head back. I'll catch up after I stash these women.
Chiba waited with Nix while his guildmates left. "What's your plan for my niece and her friends?"
"Better that you don't know." He lay a hand on her shoulder. "I never said thank you for dragging me out of there. Thank you, Master."
It was nearly dawn by the time the master swordsman found him. The ex-King had confiscated one of the better inns in town. She snuck in quietly, weaving passed the guards until she opened the door with the softest of clicks.
Chiba drew her sword silently and like a ghost appeared at the side of the King's bed. She stopped and stared in mild surprise. King Brahmi had already been relieved of his miserable existence. A thin cut had nearly removed his head. There was no blood, the wound had been instantly cauterized by intense heat. She smiled in the darkness. "A worthy apprentice."