256 Shadow Rage
"What do you think Uta?" Nix stood in front of the instructor treehouse at the VoTech Institute on Loki. He had spent the morning giving Uta a tour of the facility.
"It's great Nix." Uta had immediately said yes when Nix asked him to teach the next VoTech class. Uta's special class was tank oriented class called Shadow Rage.
The Shadow Rage class was especially good at aggro control and offered wide flexibility with both weapons and armor.
Nix spotted Raine and Delyn actively sparring with some of the Wrath students from the 12 Pillars. "I'll introduce you to the outgoing instructors."
Uta smiled pleasantly when he mentioned the Xai Clan members. "Delyn! You old bastard!"
Delyn Xai, the Wrath master of his clan looked up at the words, his weathered face immediately broke into a broad smile. "Uta! I thought you'd been eaten by demons!"
Uta shook his head vigorously. "I guess I don't taste good, they keep spitting me out."
The Fir'Dhassi trainer shook Uta's small hand before calling his apprentice over. Raine was wearing her standard brown leather armor and held a familiar-looking long blade in one hand.
"Uncle Uta?" Raine matched her master's smile and bowed low.
Uta stared up at the Wrath Apprentice who stood more than a foot taller than him. "Why are you so tall now?"
"Hmm... Because I'm not eight anymore." She glanced from Uta to Nix and then quickly put the pieces together. "The Sasi family is instructing the next group?"
Uta nodded solemnly. "A personal favor for our brother Nix."
Nix left them there to catch up and sat on one of the large rocks to do some crafting. Leva was constantly sending him Nether rat corpses so he could continue to develop better versions of the Rat King. In two months he was able to increase his Taxidermy skill to 300. This resulted in a Rat King at the Revenant Level. Unlike lower-level dolls, the revenant would recharge his life force while not in use.
/Inferno: Pon: You should think of a better name. Nixi isn't a proper name for an Aquarion girl.
/Inferno: Tyrant: Sorry. Yuna won't budge on this.
The week had started off with the birth of a healthy Aquarion girl. All of Inferno celebrated the occasion. The event seemed to set off a chain reaction as the other two pregnant Aquarion women also gave birth on successive days. Spring seemed to have arrived for the Inferno Guild.
/Inferno: Nix: Quit complaining old man. Your jealousy seems petty.
In Haven, the crops and livestock that had been carefully nurtured for months finally started to bear fruit. Six mares from Nix's ranch had dropped foals and the first shipment of Semmi's Golden Draft was a huge hit with all three of the Inns favored by Inferno.
/Inferno: Shae: Nix, you should come back. Looks like Nightmare is about to drop her foal also.
[Disclaimer: Foal dropping refers only to the normal birth of horses and has nothing to do with dropping animals.]
/Inferno: Nix: Really? On my way.
Nix jogged toward the Loki gate, not commenting when he ran past Bali who was balancing on the shoulders of Rocky, the Rock Golem belonging to Ronnie.
"Nix!" A familiar voice called his name when he exited the Gemini Temple a few minutes later. A slender Fire Mage held a staff nearly as tall as she was. "I'm on the top floor, you'll have to come to visit me!"
Nix smiled and looked toward Inferno's Dragon Fir Tree. Nearly a hundred meters in diameter and four thousand feet in height, finally it had stopped growing. Semmi had used an acorn to give Inferno a Guild Hall in Haven. Shortly after that, Ronnie had begged for an acorn and created an apartment for herself directly above the top floor of the guild.. The trend continued as Inferno members stacked the builds into Haven's first skyscraper. A single stair going up connected the vast number of apartments that were suddenly being occupied. This was made worse by Fey showing up with an entire Flight of Drakes.
"How many floors in all?" Fey's long silver hair had been trimmed at her waist and she was slowly developing better coordination in her human form.
"More than a hundred so far." Once the tree had achieved a certain size, the living accommodations became sprawling one level apartments rather than the three-level one he'd known in Dragonvale. The Guildhall was the only three-level building in the tree; it boasted seating for all its members, a massive dining area as well as TOC on the third level (Tactical Operation Center). Nix often used it as his Breach Commander's HQ.
The Drakes had flown to the top of the tree and started building from there downward. There was still a long gap between the residences of the highest Inferno member and the lowest drake. "You'll come right?"
Nix nodded. "Of course. I wouldn't miss it."
The Inferno Guild Leader walked toward his stables, muttering under his breath the entire time. "You clowns realize that the tree is on my land? I should charge the whole lot of you rent... damn squatters."
Three months ago, Sharl, Donri and returned from the Cabal with a silver box. Inferno's reward for finishing the Fallen Cities Quest was an Oasis World Seed. The officers from Inferno had no idea what to do with it. Haven was already massive in size and mostly uninhabited, doubling the space seemed wasteful. A second option was to use it in the Sea-World, however, Nix's first seed world was already big enough for the few people who still lived there.
"Why did you walk Nix?" Shae was waiting for him, Nansu and Chael were standing close by holding hands. "You could have flown, or opened a gate directly here."
"Forgot," Nix admitted. He nodded at the couple that was staring into the stables. Progress had been made between them, but they were taking it slow.
He stepped into the stable and stroked Nightmare's sleek head. "Take your time, no pressure," he stroked her head fondly. Shae had asked countless times over the past few months if she could have the demon horse. Although the beautiful salamander did her best, Nix wouldn't budge.
"I'm going to name her Moonlight if it is female." Shae was standing on the bottom rail of the stable, her head could barely see over the top. "Do you like that Nix?"
Nix nodded. Fajii and Hyai had already claimed foals from Nix's herd, neither of them had any interest in Nightmare or her foal. Begrudgingly, he had given it to Shae. "It's very nice."
"How many horses do you have in all Nix?" Shae was popping peppers in her mouth while Nix kept Nightmare calm.
"Sixty-three with this addition, if it comes today." Nix could feel Nightmare's heat beneath his hand starting to rise suddenly. "Shit... hand me that pitchfork!"
Nix started forking out the loose hay he had put in that morning. He finished the job quickly, just before Nightmare burst into orange flames. "Holy shit!"
The demon horse stomped her front feet and whinnied loudly. The sound of hoofbeats racing toward them drowned out whatever words Shae was saying.
Nix stepped into the flames, doing his best to absorb enough to stop his stable from catching fire. The birthing was similar to the rest of the ones that week. The only difference was that this foal was born in fire.
She landed on the ground, her impossibly long legs shaking while they pushed her body upwards. Her hoofs looked like scaled dragon feet, the intricate scales stopped at her abdomen were sleek black fur took over. Her bright red eyes brimmed with intelligence, within seconds she was standing on her feet. Her own flames were yellow and flickered when Nix touched them.
"Pretty, pretty!!" Shae squeezed between the rails and knelt next to the foal, she watched in fascination when it began to feed. "Amazing... I can have her, right Nix?"
Nix couldn't help but laugh at the Salamander's hopeful expression. "Yes Shae, she's all yours."
"How long will it take for her to grow up?" Shae knew nothing about horses and had never touched one until Nix brought them to Haven.
Nix shook his head. "There's no telling. Normally horse gestation is between 11 and 12 months. Nightmare took 3 months."
Shae continued to stroke the foals sleek back. "Gestation?"
"Time from conception to birth. If she maintains a similar pace, the normal two-year wait to ride her might be shrunk down to six months."
Shae nodded. "I won't rush her. She needs to grow strong first."
[Whisper Beta to Nix] I need your help Nix, urgent business.
[Whisper Nix to Beta] Okay. When and where?
[Whisper Beta to Nix] The fish farm where you buried the vampire. I'm already there.
[Whisper Nix to Beta] On my way.
Nix pulled Shae to her feet and gave her a quick kiss. "I have some urgent business. Could you look after things here until I get back?"
Shae started to nod before glancing up at him. "Want some backup?"
"I'll let you know if I do." Nix opened a breach and exited disappeared from sight a moment later.
Nix let flash run as soon as they left Isla'Fairbal. He could have opened a breach directly to the meeting place but something felt wrong about it. He spotted her waiting next to the old well where he originally buried Kedric. A second person was with her, even from the distance the scraggly gray hair could only mean one person, his swordmaster Chiba.
He pulled up a few meters away and was about to dismount when a feeling of wrongness surfaced. Nix smiled pleasantly at the two friends and waited.
The water witch smiled sweetly at Nix before turning toward the other two women, the smile froze in place.
"Get down so we can talk Nix." Chiba's appearance changed slightly. Her clothes lacked the 'slept-in' look and her eyes were clear instead of bloodshot.
"Right..." Nix dismounted on the far side of his horse, the barest whisper of metal warned him of the attack.
/Inferno: Ducky: Run Nix.
Ducky has helped Chiba recall her childhood.
Ducky has helped Beta recall her childhood.
[Create Breach: Nether: Chyanama]
Chiba has broken her bewitchment.
Beta has broken her bewitchment.
Nix raised a hand and one delicate-looking strand shot out and wrapped around Ducky. He stepped into the breach and yanked Ducky with him.
Ducky and Nix stumbled through the breach into a darkened city street. Immediately alarms started sounding off as Nether creatures swarmed around them in a black mist.
"HOLD!" Leva's voice ordered her guards to stop. "They are allies."
Nix nodded and opened his hud, quickly he removed all of Chiba's access privileges.
You have removed Chiba from the Inferno Guild.
/Inferno: Semmi: Nix? What's going on?
/Inferno: Nix: Not sure yet, until further notice consider Chiba and Beta dangerous.
The old woman cursed the younger one. "You said it would work."
Beta shook her head. "He sensed something, then he brought that f*cking companion. Head to Haven..."
"I've been removed from the Guild." Chiba cursed loudly. "Let's return."