"Hey, Nix! Can I get my belt back?" Rabi was happily riding on Morti's back, seated between his older siblings Uta and Sasi.
Nix removed the altered buckle from his inventory and reassembled the belt while he walked. "It might be better if I just replaced it."
Rabi shook his head vigorously while slipping it back on. "This is my new lucky belt!"
Morti waddled down the road, his shoulder brushing against Ducky while he walked. She had one hand resting against him. "We need to get a bigger door on the Guild Hall so that I can fit."
Ducky nodded without saying anything, even if the door were bigger, the room itself would hardly contain him.
A tall girl stood alone on the steps, waiting patiently for the group to arrive. She held her hair in one hand to keep it from dragging on the ground; in the other, she gripped a Mages staff.
Morti stopped when he saw her, his big nose huffing several times in her direction. "Do I know you?"
The young girl looked to be about sixteen, with her pale complexion and silver hair she could have easily passed for Wylie's younger sister. She stared at the ground when the group turned their focus on her. "Afraid not."
Morti moved closer and stopped to let the Qi family dismount. With his nose raised in the air, he huffed at her again, causing strands of her silver hair to fly in all directions.
"Morti! You're messing up my hair." She shook her small fist at him and took a step backward, her feet tangled in her long white robe, causing her to stumble.
"Careful," Nix stepped forward and caught her by the arm before she fell. He patted her head gently. "Take your time Fey. It's not easy learning to walk on two legs."
Fey nodded and favored him with a smile. "Welcome back." She carefully stepped to one side and let the group walk inside.
Ducky grabbed the white-robed mage by the hand and squeezed slightly. "You look beautiful, Fey. I'll help you inside."
Morti flopped on the ground with a sad moan. "I knew it was you."
Fey shook her head while letting Ducky bring her inside. "Didn't."
Morti groaned loudly and placed a paw over his eyes. "Did so."
When they walked in the Guild Hall, Deidra was reading the intel that the Qi family had brought back from the Nether. Her perfect brow was furrowed while she read. After finishing, she finally looked up and noticed that everyone had arrived. "Welcome back."
Elan Mtui was seated between his mother and Nix; he took a moment to shake the Inferno Guild Leader's hand.
Nix glanced around the room; all of his officers were present along with a few guests. "I'm interested in learning what went on here while I was deployed to the Nether." He felt a hand on his shoulder and turned slightly to see Shae standing comfortably behind him.
[Whisper Shae to Nix] They aren't our enemies, but be wary anyways.
[Whisper Nix to Shae] I will.
Nix leaned back in his chair, trying not to notice that Shae was caressing the back of his neck with her fingertips. "I'll start then. Breach Commander Mtui asked me to accompany the Qi family on an incursion mission into the Nether. After meeting up with them, we entered the Dark Temple through an Octagon Gate."
Mtui was looking at the briefing Uta has sent to him. "How bad was the trap?"
Sasi answered for the Qi family. "All Class and Archon abilities were disabled. Our inventories couldn't be accessed, all of our gear was confiscated, and we were locked in cells."
Pon snorted from across the table. "Doesn't sound that bad. How'd you get out?"
Sasi turned her dark eyes toward the old mage. "With a belt buckle, some straw, and a few dead rats."
Uta nodded in agreement. "Taxidermy, I believe it was."
Nix continued, "we escaped our cell and overpowered the guards to get our gear back."
From there, Uta took over the narrative. "We sent Ducky to scout the position of the Dark Bishop and gather Intel. During her absence, we discovered a Chancellor in the library. We eliminated him and proceeded to the rendezvous point where Ducky was waiting with the Fallen Chancellor."
"Leva was there?" Deidra noted that the brief only mentioned the death of two Chancellors, not that Leva had been one of them. "What was she doing there?"
"Ducky bewitched her and brought her back. After gathering Intel from Leva, the Chancellor took her own life." Uta was expecting the room to grow quiet; it had been an impressive display of strength.
Deidra focused on the Water Witch for a moment; she was carefully braiding the Drakon's hair and not paying attention to the meeting. "This is when you met up with Inferno and joined hands to kill the Dark Bishop?"
Uta nodded and smiled at the Inferno members seated around the table. "I've never seen a more impressive group."
Nix stood and allowed Shae to have his chair. He brought up a giant holo-map of the Izzin Area. "Two deployments were going on while Alpha Team was heading into the Nether." He motioned for Sharl to take over.
"I was in charge of the Izzin deployment." Sharl studied the map for a moment before she continued. "This was the same encroachment from a few weeks ago. The patch on the breach is holding, but they were attacking it from our side."
Mtui brought up a second holo that showed the actual patch in the tunnel. "Those patches can only be broken from our side. This was an attempt by them to reopen the passage for a fullscale assault."
Nix changed the holo-map to show Isla'Fairbal. "The second incursion took place east of Isla'Fairbal."
Banzi zoomed in on the destroyed Fish Farm. "Do you recognize this place, Nix? A Demon named Belchi claimed to have inserted a demon heart into a vampire named Kedric."
Nix looked at the image on the holo. They dug a foot or so into the ground, nowhere near deep enough to find the corpse they were looking for. "So Kedric was a spy for the Nether? That's a surprise. I killed him and destroyed his heart; he won't be giving them any information."
Deidra glanced at her son and nodded. Breach Commander Mtui stood up immediately. "I will be taking all non-Inferno members back to Solomon City. Our part in this operation is complete."
Uta and his siblings stood up and bowed toward Deidra. "Well done Inferno, the Qi Family hopes to work with you again in the future."
[Whisper Sasi to Nix] My family would like to talk with you at length. Please visit us at the House of Tempest next time you are in Solomon City.
[Whisper Nix to Sasi] I will, thank you for the invitation.
Deidra waited until everyone left before she started speaking. "Since you fought so hard, I wanted to tell you the reason behind this offensive, although a few pieces are missing."
Nix wanted to ask questions right away but decided it was better to wait. "Please do."
"The plans we recovered show that the Nether was planning on taking Solomon City. They devised a scheme to deal with me and neutralize our three Breach Commanders."
Semmi already had a hundred questions, but she focused on one that might get answered. "Why would they want Solomon City?"
"There are eighteen cities in the Sky Kingdom; they are held in the air above a continent that is considered very hazardous. In the beginning, when the Sky Kingdom was formed, we didn't have access to the lower planes, and our resources were extremely limited."
"You battled other cities for resources." Semmi put it together quickly. "What happens once a city lost resources to the point where it couldn't function?"
"There were once twenty-five cities, seven of them perished before we developed planar travel. After that, we abolished the 'Challenge' laws and united to defend the four planes."
[Whisper Nix to Semmi] I want you to stop asking questions Sem, she's answering in partial truths, and we don't know the consequences of learning too much.
[Whisper Semmi to Nix] Understood.
"Barbaric." Semmi shook her head slightly and settled back in her chair.
Deidra nodded in agreement. "Those things happened before my time as the leader of Solomon City. Although all dragons can now access the planes through breaches, until Nix's arrival, there were only three Breach Commanders, and they were all Dragonspawn."
"I understand." Jun Li was on the team at Everspire; she knew that Deidra was telling half-truths. "They planned to take Solomon City and use it to attack the other cites. This was probably months in the making and the arrival of a new Breach Commander..."
"Meant they had to quickly deal with him before the assault on Solomon could happen."
Deidra finished the sentence and then accessed her Breach Commander Menu.
/Breach Commander Deidra: You have been victorious in a long night of battles. All participants are awarded five levels. Jun Li and Nix are awarded seven levels. I want to thank all of Inferno and the 12 Pillar Alliance for their prowess in making this mission a success.
Pon shook his head in disgust. "They were after someone who was sitting in one of their cells the whole time, that's f*ckin ironic."
Deidra left a few minutes later. Jun Li dismissed the Alliance after thanking them for their hard work. Vooni, Chiba, and Fajii returned to Solomon City.
/Inferno: Semmi: Damn... We deserve a party after all that.
/Inferno: Nix: Party at Haven tomorrow afternoon, everyone get some proper rest.
Nix grabbed Ronnie before she gated out and handed her the books he took from the Dark Temple.
[Whisper Nix to Ronnie] Treat these as sensitive, no one but you can access them. I want to know what they say.
[Whisper Ronnie to Nix] I'm on it.
Nix opened a Breach to Haven, just outside of the Gemini Temple. "Going to run a quick errand."
Hyai and Shae glanced at each other but didn't say anything.
"This is will only take a few minutes, I promise."
"Are you hungry? I'll cook the three of us something," Hyai offered.
"Yes, thank you. I won't be too long." Nix waited until they were walking back to the ranch house before continuing.
[Create Breach: Dark Temple]
Nix stepped through the breach and immediately activated his stealth package. He was in the hallway where Leva, the Fallen Chancellor, had died. He already knew where they would take the corpses of the Chancellor and the Bishop.
By the time Nix arrived at the Chapel, the altar was already a mass of flames. The body of the Dark Bishop was burning brightly in the dim room. The same worshippers were swaying back and forth while they chanted. There was a second corpse wrapped in black cloth on a table next to the far wall. The Bishop was his first choice, but he'd settle for Leva.
He grabbed the body with both hands and then opened a Breach directly in front of him. He was already through the breach before anyone had noticed.
It took a few minutes of work with his flame strands to dig up the limbless torso of Kedric. The vampire opened and closed his mouth grotesquely.
"Did you miss me?" Nix cut open his chest and removed the heart.
[You hold the heart of a Greater Demon in your hand. There is a Greater Demon corpse in close proximity to you, transferring the heart to this body will make them your minion.]
A few minutes later, Nix burned the remains of Kedric along with the heart he pulled from Leva. The former Chancellor lay on the ground, unmoving. Nix knelt beside her and rebuttoned her shirt. When you placed a demon heart inside a corpse, it resealed automatically. Beta had told him what to do. First, you needed a demon heart that had resided inside of a vampire. Secondly, you needed to activate them with your blood.
He bit into his thumb, and they pried the mouth of the corpse open to let a few drops enter.
[Do you wish to activate a Demon Minion?]
Leva stood up slowly and faced him before kneeling on both knees. "Master."
Nix nodded in satisfaction. "What do you remember from your existence as the Fallen Chancellor?"
"Is it possible to restore you to the Dark Temple?"
"I was not a resident of the Temple Master. I was there at the request of Bishop Bayoni."
"Towards what end?"
"The destruction of Solomon City."
"You're a Chancellor. That means you can open and close Breaches."
"No more calling me Master, address me directly as Nix. There's no need to bow or kneel to me. You are my minion, but I want you to act like we are regular acquaintances."
"Of course, Nix."
"Return to the Dark Temple and attempt to resume your normal duties, if that is possible, then do it."
"I understand, Nix. What if it isn't possible?"
"Then return here and contact me." Nix considered his options. "You will not complete any Chancellor operations without first getting my permission."
"I will do as you say, Nix."
Nix walked around her slowly. Chancellor Leva looked the same. "Return now and follow your orders. I will contact you tomorrow."
"I understand." Leva opened up a breach and stepped through.