179 Ice Flames
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Nix found himself floating in the air, the temperature around him was beyond cold. He read the system messages that scrolled in front of him. "That sounds really bad."
Slowly he looked around, he was surrounded on all sides by Nefi's Ice Flame. "I'm trapped inside some sort of cube. It's hard to think clearly with these injuries."
He glanced down at his badly damaged body. "Guess there's no choice." He found himself able to move with just his will. Bracing against the pain, he moved toward the walls of the Ice Flame prison. A searing cold caused his body to blister, the cube echoed with the sound screaming.
You have died.
No death penalty is allowed.
No equipment damage is allowed.
A moment later Nix respawned in the center of the Cube, still in salamander form but his body was uninjured. "That's a good start."
Semmi looked upward, a large portion of the Ice Cavern ceiling had been blown away. The sudden change in the structure caused delayed collapses in many of the passageways. "How are we doing?"
Tully pulled out another of his crewmates from their ice prison. "That's eleven Semmi. There should be nine more."
The mood had turned somber a few minutes earlier when Pon had joined them and reported the death of Captain Yor. The passageway that the Fire Mage used to find them collapsed shortly after his arrival.
/Alpha Team: Fajii: Nix's info is grayed out and his status says unavailable.
/Alpha Team: Semmi: Let's stay on mission. Recover the crew of the Moon Goddess, then find a way out of these tunnels.
Eron healed the sailors as they were uncovered, the black fox seemingly unaffected by the missing Guild Leader. He stood quietly on Fajii's shoulder, his soothing voice reassuring everyone. "This is Nix we are talking about. He is worthy."
Pon nodded in agreement. "How about me? Am I worthy?"
Eron looked away from the old mage. "No."
Wind laughed at the look on Pon's face and continued digging through the ice. "How about me?"
Semmi smiled sweetly at the black fox, her own companion was part of his race.
Eron glanced at her before she could ask. "Not worthy."
The blond officer didn't let his words bother her, Eron was the primary reason they were able to pinpoint the sailors buried deep in the ice. She continued to chip away at the ice. "I feel like this Worthy and not Worthy scale is biased. How about you give us a fair benchmark so we know when we are getting close."
Eron stared at her for a moment, his black tail swishing from side to side. "Single-handedly fight off a dragon that's fifty levels higher than you and I will admit you are worthy."
Nix's laughter echoed within the cube. It was not a laugh full of mirth or joy, but one born of anger and crazed will. He looked down at his salamander body, both of his arms were burned off by the frigid Ice Flames.
He rammed it again, using his head and shoulder. An agonizing scream marked his passing.
You have died.
The Salamander respawned at the center of the cube and sighed in frustration. How many times had he died? Fifty? Or even a hundred?
"Maybe I should take a break. Or wait for help." Nix stared at his Ice Flame prison. "Prey waits."
He slammed into the walls again, this time not backing away he put all his strength into moving forward. One arm crystallized and shattered with the effort. He roared in anger, desperately trying to push his way through.
You have died.
[Your Resistance to Ice Flame has improved to 1]
/Fire: Nunzo: Captain?
Vooni and her recruits continued to watch the Ice Flame Cube. It had been more than three hours, no one had spoken in nearly half that time.
/Fire: Vooni: Nunzo, take the team back.
/Fire: Omak: We don't want to leave either Captain. You said it yourself, it's an infinity curse. Pon's just a 50 level Salamander.
"I know... perhaps in a bit, I will leave. I can't bring myself to go back at the moment." Vooni's voice was thick with emotion, "he didn't have a single reason to help us. Pon the Magnificent beat me fair and square."
Aja moved beside her trainer and took a seat on the frozen ground. "I don't mind waiting a bit longer. There's no time limit on thi..." Her voice trailed off, a portion of the cube seemed to be bulging outward.
The smallest bulge formed on the side of the cube, A moment later, emerald fingers pushed through the Ice Flame wall. An accompanying roar of anger resulted in the appearance of two hands gripping the flames and tearing them apart. The air vibrated with power as the wall warped out of shape.
/Fire: Vooni: SHIELDS UP!
An instant later the prison cube ruptured sending the power of a dragon death curse outward in all directions. The wave swept up the Archons and tossed them into the air like leaves. A small jagged crater was blasted into the ground where the cube had been, slowly a weary Emerald Salamander climbed up the side.
The fire team returned quickly on silver flamed wings. A myriad of different emotions crossed their faces when they spotted the Emerald Salamander, bathed in an aura of Ice Flames, Pon the Magnificent collapsed on his stomach with a loud groan.
[Awakened: Ice Flame]
[You have slain a Legendary Creature]
[Beast Slayer Title has been Updated: 4/6]
[You have been given the title of Dragon Slayer]
[Your Skills have been restored]
[Group, Guild and personal messaging have been restored]
[Your hidden class has been upgraded]
[New Guild Quest Options are available]
Guild Quest: Lift the Curse
Guild Quest: The Forgotten Race
Guild Quest: The Moon Goddess
Nix let the flames drop and he lay there panting on the ground. A moment later he felt himself picked up and hugged tightly. He resisted the urge to lick Captain Vooni's face when she pressed against him. "We here on a bonus mission? Can I have points for this?"
Vooni stroked his head a few times before sitting him down gently, she didn't trust herself to speak coherently so she just nodded.
Aja knelt and patted his head. "You awakened another flame?"
The Flame Knight stared at him, Nunzo's usually stoic face showed surprise. "You broke an Infinity Curse."
/Fire: Nix: Sure... Took a while though.
A half-hour later, Vooni and her group reluctantly left. Nix had told them that he had a personal mission deep in the caverns and that outside help would result in his failure. He waited until they were out sight before he dropped his Salamander form.
He walked slowly toward the corpse of Nefi.
[Do you wish to skin the Ice Dragon?]
Nix considered the question for a moment. "Yes."
[1 Large Ice Dragon Skin has been added to your inventory]
He breathed a sigh of relief and looted her corpse. "I'm just glad it was a dragon and not human skin."
You have received [Proof of Death]
You have received Ice Fang
You have received the Ice Dragon Robe.
You have received the Ice Crown.
/Alpha Team: Semmi: You okay there boss?
/Alpha Team: Nix: Sure, the dragon used some sort of binding spell on me when she died. It took me a while to break it.
/Alpha Team: Pon: She's dead?
/Alpha Team: Nix: Yep. Where you guys at?
Nix pulled out the item he removed from Yor's corpse during his fight with Nefi, it had changed with her death.
Sea Rune: Artifact
Elemental Storage 1/1
Contents: Ice Dragon Spirit
He quickly stowed it away. "What's with all the Ice loot?" His thoughts immediately drifted to Knight Commander Wylie, the Ice Temple Champion that he recommended. She took the position even though she was slightly undergeared. "Can't keep everything for myself, especially this Ice crap."
/Alpha Team: Fajii: We are near the entrance to the cavern. We have all the crew members of the Moon Goddess.
/Alpha Team: Nix: On my way.
Nix decided to risk a short flight and summoned Fey. She glided effortlessly over the frozen destruction, keeping low and stealthed.
"It's pretty here Nix, but too cold for us fire creatures."
"I agree." Nix patted her shoulder, "I'll make you some new gear that will enable us to ignore the Sky predators."
Fey banked towards the entrance and leveled off. "That would be nice, I want to fly here."
"Hey... Could you have a human form one day? Don't Drakes have that capacity?"
"Some Drakes do Nix. Sadly I do not."
Nix frowned. "Why?"
"Drakes are related distantly to Dragons. I do not have enough Dragon in me for that, even if I managed to advance to Nemesis."
"I see." Nix's thoughts slipped to Aja, the Drake Archon. Could Fey advance that far with a little help?
Fey landed neatly in front of the group and then dropped stealth. She nuzzled Nix with her snout when he dismounted. "Be careful Nix, I smell Dragons."
Nix kept his face expressionless. "Right. I'll see you back at Haven."
He quickly unsummoned Fey and turned just as Fajii wrapped him up in a hug. She kissed him a few times before releasing him. Eron took the opportunity to transfer to his shoulder.
Vy, Tully and Rollie walked toward him, they had hung back initially because of the Drake even though Semmi told them to expect it.
Nix eyed Vy's crab-like legs. "The curse wasn't lifted?"
Vy looked down at her legs, her face showing satisfaction. "What are you talking about? The melded Ice is gone, they are good as new Nix!"
Vy has given you [Heart Felt Thanks]
Vy has given you [Hand Drawn Blueprint]
/Alpha Team: Semmi: The curse wasn't the crab legs Nix, it was the Ice encasing them. This is how they are. Their race is called the Izzin. [Pronounced: Eye-Zin]
Nix bowed his head slightly. "Excuse my bad vision Vy, the fight with the Ice Dragon has me a bit disoriented.
Vy's eyes showed the relief she felt. "You killed her?"
Eron swished his tail at the group. "The conditions for being Worthy, have just been Upgraded."
An hour later they reunited with Morti and Ducky. Together they traveled to the entrance of the tunnel where the Ice Skiff had dropped them off the day before.
/Alpha Team: Semmi: What are we going to do with the crew?
/Alpha Team: Nix: We'll bring them to Loki. Then we'll discuss what they want to do.
/Alpha Team: Semmi: Take as many as you can and we'll start moving across the Lake. I don't want to leave them alone.
Nix nodded and took a few minutes and adjusted the Loki Command menu to change the portal permissions to allow the Izzin in. He picked out the max number that he could take and activated Deep Blue.
Tully decided to come with the first group, Nix pointed him to the front gate of Loki City.
"We'll be back with the rest of your people in a few hours. The town is empty for two more days, so make yourselves at home." Nix started to activated Deep Blue, but then stopped. "Gear yourselves up in the stores. Even though it been picked through, help yourselves to whatever you need."
Tully bowed deeply. "We are in your debt, Guild Leader Nix."
Nix waved him off and activated Deep Blue. "Just Nix is fine Tully."
Nix stepped onto the Fraya'Selene platform an instant later. He started towards the gate at a trot.
/Alpha Team: Nix: Back at Fraya. How are the Izzin holding up?
/Alpha Team: Semmi: Really good, they are surprisingly hardy for a group that's been frozen in Ice.
Nix decided to summon Fey again as soon as he cleared the gate. They kept low to the ground with Nix using his Thermal vision to scan the skies. In less than an hour, Nix rendezvoused with Semmi and her group.
/Alpha Team: Nix: I'll take Semmi, the Izzin, and our wolf pups with me.
/Alpha Team: Semmi: Vy wants to come back here in a few weeks once they've recovered. She said there is too much of their culture buried beneath the ice.
/Alpha Team: Nix: We can make that happen. The rest of you can gate directly back to Haven, we'll discuss the events of the last few days at the morning Officer meeting.
Nix thanked Morti and Ducky before unsummoning them. Then waited until Fajii, Pon and Wind gated out before activating Deep Blue.
A few minutes of walking saw the Izzin group reunited. They had gathered some tents and supplies from the empty shops and settled into the Market Square area.
/Alpha Team: Nix: Settle them in and see to their needs Sem.
/Alpha Team: Semmi: I'm going to hang out here. They are bound to have questions.
/Alpha Team: Nix: You are the best Sem.
Nix stepped onto the Gladis Hub Platform a short while later, the sounds of sparring carried across the courtyard. He was struggling to hold all six puppies in the small box, so instead, he set it down and turned them loose. "Incoming!"
The women in the square seemed to freeze in place. The wolves were divided into which way they wanted to run. Two raced toward Cyan, one happily found Wylie and the other three mauled Shi on her throne.
Nix laughed at the Ice Lord's expression when they climbed over each other to get on her lap.
Shi seemed to struggle for a moment until two of her Acolytes ran forward and nabbed the pups. The Ice Lord kept one in her grip, her young face smiling widely. "Nix! Where did you get these?"
He bowed slightly, "think of them as an advancement present." He didn't have to be told, these were Oasis Ice Wolf Furies, their potential as protectors were limitless in Colonial.
The Ice Lord stroked the wolf's soft fur while she studied it carefully. "Ice creatures, like nothing I've ever seen."
Nix nodded, "they were orphaned by me accidentally during a mission. Please take the responsibility of raising them for me."
Shi stared at him for a moment. They were priceless creatures but he made it sound like he would be in their debt. "I will accept this task Nix."
"Wylie, could you step forward please?" Nix watched as his Knight Commander made her way from the training mats. She held a wolf pup gently in her arms.
"How did the mission go Nix?" Wylie's beautiful face was blushed red, either from exertion or puppy happiness.
"A few items dropped that I would like to give you. Keep in mind that I am your commanding officer and that I order you to accept them."
Wylie looked like she wanted to flee. "Yes, sir!"
Nix handed her a box that contained Ice Fang and the Ice Dragon Robe. "You aren't to open these until after I've left."
Wylie nodded. "Yes, sir."
He handed the small box containing the ice crown to the surprised Shi. "I found something on my travels that I can't equip. Please make proper use of it."
She looked at the small box in her hands. "May I open it?"
Nix shook his head and turned back toward the platform. "I am expected elsewhere so I can't stay."
Shi followed him to the platform, still holding the small box and the wolf pup. "How should I thank you Nix?"
Nix stared at her, his manner turning serious. "Grow stronger, Ice Lord. The destruction of the Cai'Song artifact is coming and war might follow."
The redhead sat impatiently on the edge of her bed, her sharp ears listening for a step outside her door. Shae sighed heavily. "Where is he?"
A light knock interrupted her thoughts. She flung the door open and ushered the Emerald Salamander inside, she waited until he changed into human form before throwing herself at him. '
"Nix!" Shae gripped his face and rained kisses on him while kicking the door shut. She stopped after a moment, pushing him down on her bed. "You've changed again Nix."
Nix nodded and used one of her pillows to prop his head up. Shae's senses were incredibly acute.
"How come you don't seem to be straining much?" Shae placed a hand over his chest, his strength had spiked upward.
Nix shrugged and pulled her closer. "It's not bad at all, just a bit of general heaviness."
She placed her chin against his chest, staring into his yellow eyes. "How was your mission to Fraya'Selene?"
"It had a few bumps. Want to hear about it?"
Shae leaned over him and brushed her soft lips against his, her silky red hair tickling his neck. "Yes, but first things first."