269 Ashobel Endangered conclusion
Floyd stepped away from the group and glanced around. "I can't switch from human to snake, I have to be in Naga form to do that."
Floyd instantly morphed into a Snakeman. From the waist up he looked the same, however, from there eight feet of snake took over. "I never use this in front of the Lamia Acolytes anymore. They can't handle it."
Chiba's face lit up at his words. "What's that mean?"
Floyd looked embarrassed, "the Naga form elicits a strong instinct in the Lamia."
Chiba's ugly face looked happy and she clapped her hands together. "They want to mate right?"
Nix ignored his Master's cackling. "Is that right Floyd?"
"Yes." Floyd changed into his snake form. He was as black as night, smooth silky scales covered a body that must have been 15 feet long.
/Inferno: Maye: Nix, there's a lot of odd-looking people in our shop today.
/Inferno: Nix: Define odd Grams.
/Inferno: Darsi: A few dozen Nether folk arrived this afternoon, most of them seem to head to your shop.
/Inferno: Nix: Everything okay Maye?
/Inferno: Maye: Yes. They aren't causing trouble, however they are buying a lot of stuff.
/Inferno: Nix: That's good.
/Inferno: Maye: Specifically they are purchasing anything that has your name on it.
/Inferno: Nix: Oh... Guess I'll have to make more stuff then.
[Whisper Nix to Bane] How's things the Provost office holding up? The demons causing problems?
[Whisper Bane to Nix] No. They cause quite a commotion wherever they go, but they aren't engaging in anything illegal.
[Whisper Nix to Bane] Would you send someone to check on Maye at my shop?
[Whisper Bane to Nix] I'll do it myself Nix, I was going to stop by the Kindled Spirit and see if Hyai was around.
/Inferno: Jun Li: I'm going to activate the World Seed at 1800 as we planned, everyone will have to stay at the Sea-World or someplace else tonight.
Nix nodded to himself. After discussing it at length, the Officers of Inferno had decided to use their World Seed award to increase the size of Haven, even though it was already enormous. The upgrade would take 18 hours.
It was nearly sundown when Floyd nudged Nix and pointed towards the town. "Somethings coming towards us.
Nix's eyes became a dark orange as his vision turned thermal.
Nix couldn't see anything towards the town, but then Tharaka wouldn't have any body-heat since he was a doll.
[Whisper Raka to Nix] Okay to unstealth in front of them?
[Whisper Nix to Raka] Will they be able to hear you?
[Whisper Raka to Nix] They'll just hear rat noise.
Nix turned to the group. "This is Raka, a Nether Rat that I picked up in the last fight. He's been scouting around, so bear with me while I get his report."
"Riker is dead, he was the minion of someone named Tipha. Tipha didn't show up at the prison but he sent someone name Gearpin to tie up the loose end."
"Damn." Nix shook his head in frustration. "All day wasted."
The rat hopped up on the rock and looked up at Nix. "No. Your companion followed Gearpin from the prison."
"Is that where Ducky went?" Nix smiled in appreciation. His companion loved to explore the planes. There weren't many things that could threaten her.
/Gemini: Nix: Stow your mounts, we're heading to my secret base.
/Gemini: Floyd: The one with Brahms harem?
/Gemini: Chiba: I get to see Mari?
/Gemini: Nix: Yep. Hold hands.
Nix activated Deep Blue and chose the Gladis Hub.
"AUNT CHIBA!" They had no sooner appeared on the platform when Mari flung herself at her aunt, hugging the old woman tight.
"Mari! You are looking good." Chiba stroked her hair for a moment, she always made an effort to be more normal in front of Mari.
An hour later the group was eating in the Gladis Hub's rather large dining facility. Seated with them was Shi the Ice Lord, Wylie her Champion and Cyan the High Priestess. Three very large Ice Furies watched the group eat.
Nix whistled and the nearest one approached them. "They've grown fast." A full-grown Ice Fury was the size of a horse, the pups he had brought back from Fraya'Selene were already the size of normal wolves.
Shi held out her hand and the one next to Nix came to her. "They are thriving here Nix. This one is called Dia Bella. Or Dia for short."
"Have you explored the IceCaps at all? There seems to be a rather large number of Ashobel pelts for sale." Nix brought up a small map of the area surrounding the Gladis Hub.
"The Ashobel are primarily nomadic, but they do regularly set up in the same places." Shi pointed to two separate locations on the map.
Nix frowned at the places she pointed out, it wasn't far from the Hub. "Have they bothered you at all?"
"They avoid us." Shi pushed an errant strand of long white hair behind one ear. "A few months ago we started getting a lot of traffic in the area, nothing within 50 miles of us but close enough so that we paid attention."
"Let me guess. A Caravan Master and his workers." Nix shook his head in bewilderment. The furs weren't worth enough to warrant the trip. There were plenty of other options that would make more money.
"Yes. We didn't approach them, but they hired Hunters." Shi couldn't keep the disgust out of her voice. "They set up traps and ambushes for the Ashobel, killing them by the thousands. Entire villages are being wiped out."
UP until now, Locas had been staring at the Ice Lord, unable to speak. "Perhaps there is something more valuable in the processing? We need to find a corpse and investigate."
Nix nodded in agreement. "It's possible."
Shi glanced at Cyan and nodded. "We found a wounded one and tried to help him. Unfortunately, there was nothing we could do. We buried it at Nix's Heart."
Cyan stood up abruptly, "I'll send some Acolytes to fetch it."
Nix shook his head. "Take me and my Nether Rat there. Everyone else can get some rest."
Surprisingly the Furies were hooked up to a sled by the time Nix exited the facility. Cyan offered him a seat in front of her while she drove the team. Their pink tongues lolled in happiness while they ran across the frozen tundra.
From a distance, they could see the heart-shaped piece of ice that pushed up out of the snow. Nix turned and glanced at Cyan with a wide grin. "Is that my heart?"
Cyan returned the smile. "Yes, but not because its made of ice but rather because of the enormous size of it."
Nix didn't comment, he knew without a doubt that he didn't deserve such compliments.
After using his flames to melt the ice, Nix was able to pull the Ashobel out of the snow. Raka immediately started investigating. Tomorrow night the Rat-doll would run out of time, Nix planned to spend the next few hours bringing his Taxidermy skills up.
"Somehow this is my fault Nix, although I don't understand how." Raka climbed out of the ice hole a few minutes later and sat down next to Nix.
"This Ashobel has been tainted with an Ice Artifact that doesn't exist anymore. It used to belong to me, but it was stolen a few hundred years ago."
Nix pursed his lips in thought. Who would steal from an Ice Dragon? "Taken by whom?"
"A Water Dragon named Neptiphago. Being a water creature, she was highly compatible with my Ice Artifact. This was close to the time when her city fell."
Nix cursed loudly as alarms started to go on in his head. "Neptiphago? That was the Dragon Master of Aquarius City. The indigenous people in Colonial were water creatures called Aquarions."
"And the primitive people here show long term exposure to the Heart of Ice."
Nix looked at the rat. "Heart of Ice?"
The tiny rat head nodded.