221 The Long Week
Nix whistled loudly and then quickly shut the door. Propped up against the wall was a thick wood plank for securing the treehouse, it slid easily into place when he barred the door. In the Loki Tree House, most of the first level was taken up by the kitchen. This version boasted a large entryway and a small room for coats to be hung up. One-half step down led to a living room, with six sofas set into an 'L' shaped pattern. Three large coffee tables and brick fireplace completed the room.
The ceiling looked to be nearly twenty feet in height. "Guess the quality of the home is dependent on the tree being used." Nix walked through an archway into a formal dining area. The long table was made from a dark redwood and lined with padded chairs that looked comfortable.
Nix nodded happily. "I need to bring this Tree to Haven. This could be a Guildhall." On the other side of the formal dining area was the kitchen. It had every amenity you could ask for. Dual copper sinks large enough to put any size pot in. An island that could comfortably seat a half dozen people and enough counter space on either side of the stove to prep meals.
A quick walk through the rest of the first level showcased four bedrooms, each with private baths and a large area that Nix could only identify as a socializing room. A full railing leading up to the next level proved too much for Nix's sudden lack of motivation.
Nix pushed one of the comfortable armchairs to the nearest table and took a seat. "My crafting is only 242/500. I should be able to push that up quite a bit." He spent a few minutes figuring out a to-do list for the week.
Guild Uniforms (Formal)
Guild Cloaks (Camouflage)
12 Pillar Flag
Alliance Uniforms (Formal)
New Work Uniforms for Hyai.
Dresses for Shae.
Clothes for Froglegs
Deidra stepped into the receiving area of her courtyard a few minutes later. He had actually cursed her. She chuckled when she remembered his sour look. "Well... no one's done that for a while."
"Mistress!" Her Majordomo walked hurriedly toward her. "It's time."
"I know the time, Nomen." Her form warped and expanded until nothing remained of the beautiful woman that had been standing there earlier. The black dragon followed the human to a sizeable rusted grate set into stone at the edge of the courtyard. "Secure the perimeter and then leave."
The grate opened slowly, and Deidra descended the stone ramp. She stopped just inside the tunnel and waited until it closed behind her.
The walk down to the core of Solomon City was always the same. She required no torches or special teams to keep the tunnel clear. One blast of her fire was more than enough to keep it pristine and destroy any of the vermin that had wandered in since the last moon.
A few minutes later, she climbed onto the raised platform and waited. It was always painful, but her duty was something she did without question. A dozen sharpened barbs made from dragon teeth slowly moved toward her, each one was attached to a 3inch platinum tube.
She gritted her teeth when they punched into her skin and slowly pushed toward her bones. Once they attached to the bone, the drills would burrow into her bone until they reached the marrow. Dragon marrow, the most valuable commodity in the Sky Kingdom, and the reason for Solomon City's continued existence as one of the Dragon Settlements. Eighteen dragons in the Sky Kingdom and eighteen dragons, it wasn't a coincidence. The marrow fed the spells that kept the cities in place.
Not many knew that the cities of the Sky Kingdom floated above a vast and dangerous world called Everspire. The dragons themselves had evolved from this world, the birth of 25 glorious cities marked their departure. Deidra was one of the younger dragons, already two more cities in the Sky Kingdom were preparing for their imminent return to Everspire. Those cities still had a few years, but their dragon masters were gathering strength for the inevitable chaos their return would bring.
She groaned slightly when her bones started to ache, a privilege she granted herself since she was alone. The procedure only lasted a few hours, but it would affect her for days afterward.
[80 Miles South of the Gladis Hub: 1900 hours]
Banzi cursed their luck. The group was attacked by three separate bands of Ashobel during the course of the day. The only other time he'd seen Colonial's version of the 'yeti' was the Great Faction Battle at Glory city. The Ashobel had charged the Fire Palace in an attempt to kill Nix. Their Great Chieftain was slain in single combat when he faced Nix.
Banzi thanked Hyai when she brought him a bowl of stew. From the start, the Inn Keeper managed to pull her own weight. She used a wide variety of fire attacks and didn't hesitate when things were up close and personal. "Miss your Inn yet?"
Hyai sat across from him, next to Wylie. "I miss it a bit, but it only feels like home when my friends are there."
Banzi nodded, after two days together, he understood that the tall redhead was a very private person. "We could've used Nix today."
Wylie laughed, but then covered her mouth quickly. "Sorry... he's grown so quickly, the rest of us need to catch up."
"Not just him. I was close to Alpha Team during the Cai'Song battle, all of them are strong." Banzi was actually happy about that fact. Wind was his best friend. If he was being honest, Wylie's skills would rate a bit higher than anyone in Zeta group.
Several of the Acolytes settled around them to eat their dinner. Cyan spoke quietly to the entire group. "Tomorrow marks our second dawn, while you rest tonight keep in mind that this would be the second straight night that Nix ran."
Hyai took a drink from her canteen and then passed it to Wylie. Although she was tired, she didn't mind sharing what she knew. "Exhaustion and exposure to cold were overwhelming. His water would run out tomorrow, but at this point, it wasn't water or his supplies that kept him moving forward."
Wylie smiled at the older woman's expression, although a private person by nature her attractive face was also very open. "Why do you think Nix brought Brahm's harem here?"
"I've never asked, but he has a talent for finding good people" Hyai was worried about the Acolytes when the mission started, but several of them were already dependable fighters.
A few minutes later, Wylie stood up and turned toward the tent she shared with Banzi. Her appointment as Ice Champion had come as a complete surprise. "Goodnight everyone."
Fajii parried Vooni's blade and then faked a kick at the inside of her leg. Instead of striking Vooni, her booted foot kicked up a cloud of sand.
The rock slammed into Vooni's back, knocking her forward. Anyone else would have been stunned but the dragon descendant took it in stride and used a hip toss to put Fajii on the ground when she followed up.
"Well done Fajii. Stringing together moves and using tricks is a great way to keep your opponent off balance."
Fajii looked up from her position on the training yard ground. It was a position she was growing used to. "Again Captain?"
Vooni liked the Aquarion, her mental toughness and quick thinking were commendable. "No, let's wrap it up for the day. Special surprise tomorrow, the Fire team you are joining has decided to help you catch up."
Fajii stood up and dusted herself off. "I look forward to it."
Vooni's hud popped up and Pon's old face stared at her. "You guys about finished?"
Vooni nodded. "We'll get cleaned up and meet you guys in an hour."