Nix opened his eyes, squinting slightly in the dark room. Somehow it seemed wrong to leave a warm bed and a beautiful woman in the dimness of predawn, but he had important things to take care of. Shae looked up from her pillow just as he was putting his armor on.
Her long red hair was spread out on the white sheets beneath her. "I'll check on Fey this morning." Shae watched him get ready. Nix never got out of bed early unless it was important. "You'll be back today?"
Nix nodded, "going to send someone a message. I'll be in Isla'Fairbal if you need to find me suddenly. I may summon you if things go badly."
"Okay. Will you upgrade my armor like you did yours?" Shae sat up, the white sheets slid down her torso.
Nix stared for a moment. "I already did... Did you get more beautiful while I was sleeping?"
Shae laughed and nodded when he bent over for a kiss. "I did."
Nix walked toward the Gemini temple, the sky was turning orange just as the Gemini Temple came into view.
[Whisper: Nix to Del Tali] I don't really have time this week for a meeting. Inferno hopes to wrap up an important mission this week. However, I will put aside some time tomorrow if you are available."
[Whisper: Del Tali to Nix] You will? That would be great! Just let me know the time.
[Whisper: Nix to Del Tali] Someone named Kedric Red from Isla'Fairbal contacted me. Do you know this person?
[Whisper: Del Tali to Nix] Yes, he works for Morana. You should avoid him at all cost Nix.
[Whisper: Nix to Del Tali] He threatened me into a meeting, so of course I'm going.
[Whisper: Del Tali to Nix] I'll come with you Nix! I'll bring some help and we'll send them a message.
[Whisper: Nix to Del Tali] That's very generous, but I prefer to deal with these things myself. Can you describe this Kenric?
[Whisper: Del Tali to Nix] You can't miss him, he's bald and white as snow. Also, his eyes are red, a sign of the blood bond he shares with Morana.
[Whisper: Nix to Del Tali] So we're clear, that means he's a vampire right?
[Whisper: Del Tali to Nix] Yes. Very strong and very fast.
[Whisper: Nix to Del Tali] Weaknesses?
[Whisper: Del Tali to Nix] Fire, of course, their kind are scared to death of flames.
Nix laughed as he approached the Gemini portal. "Man did you f*ck with the wrong person. I suppose that's the benefit of not being well known in Oasis."
He took the Gemini portal directly to Isla'Fairbal and then immediately stealthed. A few meters from the platform was a large fountain, Nix took a seat and waited.
"Holy crap," Nix muttered under his breath at the large number of people wandering around in stealth so early in the morning. Instantly he thought of Beta, the envoy for Breach Commander Mtui. She used a bit of ice ability to mask her heat signature. He quietly wondered if he could do the same.
Isla'Fairbal should have been called a peninsula rather than an island, a scant five meters of rock connected it to the mainland of North Ain'Dhassi. It didn't take Nix long to see there was massive discord between the Ain'Dhassi of the North continent and those of the south. The conversations between the locals referred to it in some detail. With his curiosity piqued, Nix decided to ask the only Ain'Dhassi he trusted completely.
[Whisper: Nix to Cora Tali] Good morning Cora!
[Whisper: Cora Tali to Nix] Guild Leader Nix? Good morning!
[Whisper: Nix to Cora Tali] If you're not too busy, I'd like to ask you a few questions regarding Ain'Dhassi culture.
[Whisper: Cora Tali to Nix] I will answer any question that doesn't interfere with my loyalty vows.
[Whisper: Nix to Cora Tali] I'm on a mission in Isla'Fairbal. I can't help notice that that the locals bear some disdain for the Ain'Dhassi from the south.
[Whisper: Cora Tali to Nix] Yes, they certainly do. The Ain'Dhassi from the Northern Continent have been pulling away from us for several years. Eventually, we could part ways and become two entirely different people.
[Whisper: Nix to Cora Tali] I see. Are there any real physical differences?
[Whisper: Cora Tali to Nix] There are some. Northern Ain'Dhassi tend to have shorter ears and stockier builds. They also are drawn to a political culture of Isolationism.
[Whisper: Nix to Cora Tali] Thanks Cora, that clears things up nicely.
[Whisper: Cora Tali to Nix] Anytime Nix. I miss you guys.
[Whisper: Nix to Cora Tali] Same here, let's talk again later.
Nix continued to observe the platform and surrounding market square from his perch on the fountain. The city itself was completely different than Fraya'Selene. The Northern City was much warmer and most of the buildings were sleeker and higher. There were several three and four-story shops surrounding the market. The buildings were all built with redwood, left untreated in the elements, the city had an attractive reddish-brown coloring.
Three hours later Nix spotted a bald Ain'Dhassi leaving the platform. His thermal signature was much brighter than it should have been. He summoned a mount and immediately started riding, leaving Nix scurrying to keep up.
Kedric took a direct route towards the North Gate, Nix cursed silently at his lack of forethought. "Why didn't I bring Flash?"
Nix followed on foot as his target headed east. The bald Ain'Dhassi held his mount to a canter, which enabled his pursuit to stay in visual range. He stopped a few miles outside of town, at a small fish farm. Several ponds teeming with fish could be seen from a few meters away.
Nix's thermal vision told him that three people, including Kedric's too-bright image, were the only occupants of the house. Since they were in a separate room, Nix tested the door for noise and then stepped in quickly. He walked quietly toward the next room.
Three Ain'Dhassi men were sitting around a small table. Kedric seemed to trust both of the men. "There can't be any mistake Roz. Can you do a seamless switch?"
He spoke to a man that was completely swathed in bandages, not a single part of his skin was exposed except for his eyes. The man called Roz nodded his head slowly. "Understand that they'll be nothing left of her except a dried empty husk. Her memories, abilities, skills and looks will all be mine."
Kedric's red eyes bored into the man."And Nix won't be able to tell the difference?"
Ros shook his head. "No one will be able to differentiate me from the prior person."
Nix felt the bubbling of anger start to well up, he controlled his breathing and waited for more.
Kedric brought up a small hud and showed them an image of an attractive middle-aged woman with light red hair. "She often shops in the Parliament Courtyard. So the switch will need to be done in public."
Ros leaned closer and stared at the image. "She looks like she'll taste good. A beautiful foreign woman with lots of memories to feast on. I can't wait."
Kedric rubbed his hands together greedily. "Mistress Morana will be pleased. How long will you be able to maintain the disguise?"
Ros shrugged, "it differs from person to person. At least a month, maybe two. More than enough time."
"She's very close with Guild Leader Nix, they might even be lovers."
Ros nodded, "that won't be a problem for me. My inclinations sway to whichever gender I'm assuming."
Nix bit his lip to keep the sudden wave of nausea at bay. He felt a cold killing intent overcoming his rational thoughts.
Beta sat quietly, perched on the roof of the home while she listened to the conversation. The albino had found the remains of an Ain'Dhassi family stashed behind the house. Whatever they were, she could add ruthless to list. She followed Nix as soon as he appeared in Isla'Fairbal. She had planted a drop of her own blood on the armor she gifted him, it gave her the ability to keep tabs on him.
She ignored the men and watched Nix through the roof and ceiling of the house. His stealth was the best she'd ever heard of. Completely undetectable, if not for her own brand of thermal vision, he would have been impossible to track closely. Her curiosity was piqued, she wondered what he would do now that he discovered the plot against someone he cared about. Would he call the talented and mysterious Alpha Team? Perhaps he would follow them and take them when they parted ways.
Beta smiled and eased her daggers out. Strictly speaking, she wasn't supposed to interfere with Nix's life. That wasn't her assignment. Her pink eyes grew pensive, her assignment... The Great Houses all wanted the talented Salamander, but what was her Commander's interest? Mtui usually ignored even the other dragonspawn that came through Solomon City. She felt like she might be missing something important.