291 Missing Shell
"You should give her to me, Nix." Gil kept glancing over to where Soup was sunning herself. "You're not going to eat her, right?"
Nix grinned while he cut a 10-foot length off of the rope he purchased in Bachoni. "Guess that depends on how hungry I get."
Most of the camp had stopped by in the last few minutes; by all accounts, Soup was an impressive companion. Nix carefully tied the rope length into a makeshift harness and then stood up. "You coming Gil?"
Mortimus was talking with Jaro when Nix approached. Jaro's face was covered in bruises, but it didn't deter the big smile he was wearing.
Nix waited until Gil caught up before speaking. "I know where Sinai is. Unfortunately, he passed away some time ago."
Gil's face lit up. "We're gonna find GrandPa?"
"Yes, but he's no longer alive, Gil." Nix pulled out his otter aquatic. "Soup and I are going into the lake; if you're equipped for underwater action, then you are welcome to come along."
Gil nodded and stowed his armor before slipping into a green-colored aquatic suit. "I'm in."
Jaro shook his head slowly. "Where did you get that, Nix?"
"Made it," Nix admitted.
Underwater Gear that specializes
in speed and maneuverability.
Special Enhancement: Underwater
+ 300 to Swim Ability.
Mortimus stared at the aquatic suit. "Are those hard to make?"
Nix shrugged. "No, I made it from an otter that Soup killed."
"I'd like to take you back to Nescari when you finish, to meet Scarlett."
Nix didn't have to ask who Scarlett was; everyone else referred to her as the Clan Matriarch or Clan Leader. "
Gil and Nix walked along the banks of the river toward the lake; Soup swam happily alongside them.
"That was an excellent thing you did, Nix." Gil hadn't taken his eyes off Soup for more than a few seconds since she was summoned.
"Quit staring at my girl. No matter what, I'm keeping her." Nix laughed at Gil's expression.
"Damn it." Gil kicked up some sand in frustration. "Hey... How do you know Gramps is dead?"
"You'll see." Nix entered the shallows of the lake and latched onto Soup's shell.
Gil's suit worked the same way as his; an air bubble settled over his head, making it possible to talk and breathe. The three descended quickly into the depths, occasionally an otter would investigate them, but they didn't try to attack the group.
After a few minutes, they arrived in the area where Nix had spotted the dome. Initially, he had thought it was a human-made structure, but after learning that there were Turtle Titans, Nix realized it was a gigantic shell.
Gil nodded to himself when he saw the dome. He had a peculiar way of swimming that Nix couldn't imitate, but the Titan moved through the water effortlessly. He placed a hand on the outside of the dome. "Gray color... That fits since Grampa Sinai was black, his color would definitely fade after such a long time."
Nix followed him as he continued to inspect the shell. They found deep grooves cut into both shoulder areas.
Gil ran a finger through the scars on the shell. "This is Gramps, without a doubt. Some of his most famous battles left life-long scars."
[Sinai, the Conqueror Quest has been updated. Report your findings to Scarlett in Nescari.]
Over the next hour, they removed rocks and debris that had built up around and in the shell.
"We'll have to break it loose before we drag it." Nix had his back against a stone outcropping and was pushing the shell with both legs.
Gil nodded. "Let's flip it over right away; it will be easier to drag that way."
Nix slipped the harness over Soup and then secured the harness to one of the shoulders. "We'll have to help her get it moving, Gil."
It took nearly three hours to pull the shell into the shallows. When Nix broke the surface, he noticed that the Ground Pounders were already helping them. Mortimus disconnected Soup and was pulling the shell toward the shore.
Once it cleared the water, the real weight of the shell hit them, but with three dozen Titans assisting, they managed to pull it into the campsite.
"This river goes all the way to Nescari, although the trip is upstream," Mortimus spoke from inside the shell. "A few men on either side with ropes could stand on the banks and drag it without too much issue."
"That's a lot of work, and it would take a few days at least." Nix was examining a particularly deep puncture in the shell close to where the head would have been. "Grandpa Sinai must have liked to fight."
"He was very quarrelsome, for a turtle anyways." Gil was feeding Soup from a can of otter meat that Nix had given him. "How much bigger will she get?"
"Well, I would have guessed she'd stop between two and three meters."
Gil patted her shell. "She's already three meters, Nix."
"Right... I gave her some dragon blood, so I don't really know."
Mortimus's booming laugh sounded from inside the shell. "Is dragon blood so common where you're from that you give it to turtles?"
Nix shrugged without commenting but decided against telling them about the Dragon Fir tree in Haven. "Tell me about Menial. Not the rumors, he's not the son of Khione."
Mortimus stood in the doorway where one of Sinai's legs would have been. "He's not?"
Nix shook his head. "Khione has been imprisoned for quite some time, so I doubt they are related. Most likely, he's borrowing her reputation based on rumors that he started."
"He has a stronghold in Zintia; he holds some sort of power over the wolves of the land. They do his bidding and protect his fortress." Mortimus exited the shell and gestured for Jaro.
Jaro had been absent for a large portion of the day. He'd taken a team of Ground Pounders to scavenge the pelts from the wolves that were slain the day before. "Only about 85 useable pelts, Commander."
Mortimus nodded in satisfaction. "That enough to start, Nix?"
"Sure, with the ones I already have, that will last about an hour." Nix smiled at the expression on the War Leaders' face. "Two hundred thousand would be enough."
The War Leader exhaled loudly. "We can get that many. We've been killing them for years."
"Good. We'll kill Menial tomorrow then. Or maybe the day after."
Nonoa stretched her hands over her head and yawned while her assistants closed up the shop. The Spiritualist made her living finding lost objects, selling rare items, and on occasion reading fortunes.
"Thank you, Mida." Nonoa started eating from the tray that was placed in front of her.
"Is that all No?" Mida smiled at her older cousin. They both shared the same dark skin and delicate features. She had grown up with Nonoa, her family nickname was Nono, but when Mida went to work for her, she made her stop saying it.
"Yes. Please lock up for me." Nonoa waved to the three women and waited until she heard the door's lock click shut before she continued eating.
"I'm disappointed." A calm voice spoke from a dark corner.
Nonoa jumped slightly at the intrusion, her heart pounding in her chest. "We're closed, Miss."
Mina shook her head slightly and summoned her companion. She hadn't used the Sea-Devil lately since her Vilas had become so strong. "I hope you can help me."
Nonoa stared at the beast, obviously a sea creature from the webbing on the hands and feet. It had huge luminous eyes and rippled with muscle. "What can I help you with?"
"I've been watching you. Speak the truth. Are you a fraud?"
Nonoa nodded her head slowly. "Mostly, I make things up or use clues to mislead customers. I do have a bit of talent for locating people, but no one comes for that anymore."
"Relax. My companion here isn't a threat; he's your payment if you manage to help me." Mina took the seat closest to the Spiritualist.
"Payment?" Nonoa stared at the beast; despite her fear, she felt the tiniest bit of greed surface. With something like that protecting her, she'd never have to worry about security ever again.
"His name is Nix; he's a human that has been sent somewhere in Everspire. I must find him."
Nonoa nodded slowly. "I need to ask questions. Do you have anything that belongs to him?"
Mina took out a yellow swimsuit. "This is mine, but it is something he made for me."
Nonoa held the outfit in her hand. "He's a tailor? This is excellent work."
"Let's hurry, please."
"What's your relationship with him?"
"We are close friends."
Mina shook her head. "No, although someday we will have a beautiful daughter together."
Nonoa's dark eyes watched her carefully; the Aquarion's alien beauty made her unreadable. "Do you love him?"
Mina didn't answer right away; her pale eyes stared through the Spiritualist. "I suppose I do."
"Describe him to me."
"He's quite homely, maybe the ugliest man I've ever seen."
Nonoa took a drink from her tray to cover the grin. "Ugly isn't a good enough description."
"Normal height, a few inches taller than me." Mina closed her eyes and tried to remember everything. "Dark hair and tanned, but not too dark. He has magnificent yellow eyes that shine when he smiles. Broad shoulders, not overly muscular, but he's powerful. He brings misery and death to his enemies but is kind to children and his friends."
Nonoa listened as the Aquarion spoke for several minutes, each detail filled in a small portion. She held up a hand when it was enough. "I"m ready to try. No promises."
Mina nodded. "What do I do?"
Nonoa held the swimsuit in one and Mina's hand in the other. "I'm going to try and form an image of him; you can help me make adjustments."
The Spiritualist stared at the air between them and started manipulating the energy in the room. Over the course of a few minutes, the general outline of a man formed. "Let's start at the top, with his hair, focus your thoughts on him please."
Mina watched the hair appear. "Shorter, he keeps it short."
Nonoa made the adjustment.
"A few shades darker, and it's a bit thicker with a few waves." Mina waited while Nonoa made the change. "Perfect! That's Nix's hair."
The entire process took half the night, but by the time they were finished, Mina was happy with the image.
Nonoa wiped some of the sweat from her brow. "You sure? This man is not homely at all, quite the opposite, I would say."
"Positive, that's him."
Nonoa gripped Mina's hand tighter and focused on the swimsuit in her hand. The image between the two women shimmered slightly and then moved.
Mina gasped in surprise; Nix was walking next to a river. A huge man was speaking. Their conversation was somewhat muted.
"..... Nes.ari..." A single word that was only partially legible. The image wavered and then faded away.
Mina stood up abruptly, dropping the swimsuit and Nonoa's hand. "Do you know that word?"
Nonoa shook her head. "Let's look at my map."
A few minutes later, a large map had been unrolled over the table. Mina immediately used her hud to make an image of it. The two of them started reading the names of cities and provinces that might fit.
It was Nonoa that found it; she'd started on the Northern part of the map. "Nescari? Nescari!"
Mina smiled for the first time in days. "That's it. Where is this place?"
Nonoa studied the map. "Pretty far away. You have to cross Mid-Everspire and the Great Desert before you cross into Northern Everspire. Titania is a province at the Northern tip of that."
Mina stood up and ordered the Sea Devil to protect Nonoa. "Can you assume the bond I have with this creature?"
Nonoa nodded. "I'm a Spiritualist; as long as you are willing, I can assume the bond."