Nix spent a few minutes putting a message on Soup. Since he was somewhat geared, his plan was to investigate Nescari. He numbered the messages also.
1) No backpack arrived, but I'm sure you already know that.
2) I'm heading to a settlement called Nescari, I don't know much about it but I did help out one of their citizens last night.
3) Tell Dad I invented a new Tailoring technique. I used tuning forks as an enhancement, the queue slot maintains whatever state the object is in. Got some pretty cool sound effects from it. The queue is set up like this.
[Camouflage] [Red Fabric] [Brown Fabric] [Green Fabric] [Enhancement:Tuning Fork:Fire/Sound Imbibed] [Enhancement: Tuning Fork: Lightning Imbibed]
4) WARNING! Do not attempt any combination of sound vibration and lightning, it is insta-kill for the tailor.
5) I won't summon Soup again until tomorrow at 1100 hours unless I need her.
Nix stealthed and then headed east at a trot. Immediately he noticed the sound dampening effects, no matter how hard he stomped, there was only silence.
A well-worn game train wound its way eastward. The path through the heavily wooded Titania Forest was the easiest mode of travel. Even so, he wouldn't have dared without a proper weapon. Three separate times he had discovered the heat signatures of a giant predator that hid in the lower branches of the trees. Without a doubt, they were some large breed of cat. Nix made a note to himself not to sleep in trees anymore.
The howls started after a few hours, Nix had never been personally hunted by wolves but he understood that something was being hunted. He stayed on the trail but stayed alert, gradually the sounds of the hunt moved steadily south of his position.
Jaro had been correct, there was no missing Nescari. The heavily forested area descended into a valley that then funneled directly into the city. Nix stood at the edge of the forest line, studying the settlement below.
It's what Nix would call a pioneer town. The structures were nearly all made from wood, although the wall surrounding the town was made from stone. The buildings were large and spaced further apart than anywhere Nix had seen before. The streets were wide and straight enough so that he could see them easily. The town had obviously been engineered by someone who knew what they were doing. The settlement was dominated by a sturdy looking stone structure that could only be called a fortress.
Nix shook his head in wonder and started walking down the winding trail. "I bet the fortress is a fall-back point in case the walls are breached."
He dropped stealth shortly after leaving the treeline. Two guards stood in plain view facing the approaching road, when Nix moved within 50 meters of the front gate, one of them aimed a bow at him.
"Greetings Traveler. It is your privilege to be standing in front of the settlement of Nescari. What business do you have here today?" The guard's voice was deep and booming, he had obviously spoken the same words hundreds of times.
Nix didn't answer right away, the walls were much high than he would have guessed from the edge of the valley. Up close he would estimate their height somewhere between 35 and 40 feet. "I don't have any business here. I'm doing a bit of exploring, I ran into a Nescari citizen yesterday and he invited me to visit."
Nix was tempted to say Thor but he refrained. "Nix."
The guard shook his head. "Not your name, the person you referred to."
"Oh... Jaro. Sorry, I don't know his last name."
The portcullis that blocked entrants to the settlement slowly raised up, the guard in question walked to the edge of the wall. "Word had been sent to the Steward. You may enter."
Nix entered the town of Nescari. Again he was astounded at the size of everything, everyone he had seen was normal size so why did they super-size everything? An armed guard met him when he entered, he was a large man with a bald head and wide shoulders. Immediately Nix thought of Bane Ton, Hyai's son-in-law.
"I'm Tora. I'll have to escort you until we can verify your story, Mr. Nix." The man's tone was apologetic.
"That's very cautious. Is Nescari at war?"
"Not officially, sir."
"Just call me Nix. Can you point me to the market area?"
"Of course, I'll take you there." Tora led him down the main street for a few minutes before turning onto an extra-wide street that was aptly labeled Market Square.
"Why is everything so big here Tora?"
"We're Titans. We like everything big."
Nix stared at him for a moment. "Titan? This is a Titan town?"
Tora nodded. "Shouldn't you know that already Nix? Where are you from?"
"Colonial," Nix answered absentmindedly. Does that mean Jaro is a Titan?
An impressive shouting match stopped any further questions. Nix recognized Jaro right away, even though the clothes he was wearing were much fancier. He stood nose-to-nose with a short, stout looking man that was nearly as wide as he was tall.
"Listen, you stoop-shouldered, box-headed, amphibian dunce! For the last time, we don't have your f*cking ancestor in our prison." Jaro poked the man in the chest several times while he yelled.
"Don't go poking me, ya furry ass, shit-in-the-woods, Ursine! If it wasn't for Sossamon, this whole valley would be overrun by the Wolf clans."
Nix chuckled at the conversation, he leaned closer to Tora. "Who is Jaro talking to? And what is Sossamon?"
"That's Gillian, the Sossamon Steward." Tora's tan face showed that he was holding back his amusement. "Those two have never gotten along."
"Is Gillian a Titan also?" Nix felt odd asking, but he couldn't tell by looking at him.
Tora scoffed slightly. "Barely... He's a turtle."
"Turtle?" Nix's eyes widened slightly, his thoughts immediately moving toward the hunt he had taken Soup on. "Well... I don't have time to listen to these two argue all day."
He walked up to the arguing men and stepped between them without speaking. Both men stared at him in surprise. "You two done disturbing everyone? Shouldn't this be handled somewhere less public?"
"Who the f*ck are you?" Gillian's round face was beet-red. "I hit ya so hard your own mother wo..."
A fist struck out, slamming into Gillian's chest and sending him skidding across the square like a flat rock on a calm lake. Nix pursued him quickly before placing a foot on his chest. "It's bad manners to speak ill of the dead."
Gillian struggled to breathe for several seconds before finally looking up. "Your mum has passed on?"
Nix nodded. "She has."
Gillian sighed heavily. "My apologies sir, I take back my words spoken in anger."
"Apology accepted." Nix removed his foot and helped him to his feet. "Why do you think your ancestor is locked up here?"
"Sinai was old and ready to die. He wanted to take one last trip to visit his friend in Nescari." Gillian brushed off his clothes while he spoke.
Nix noticed that Gillian's eyes were the same color as Soups. "Can't you track him? Maybe a predator got him."
"No chance of that, he would have just changed. This was 50 years ago, before the curse." Gillian rubbed his chest. "You aren't a Titan. Why are you so strong?"