The small building filled up relatively quickly. Nix stared at the list in front of him, he only had three people who worked for him. "Which one of you is Laird?"
A middle-aged man with salt and pepper hair raised his hand. "That would be me, sir."
"You are tasked with running the Quarry? Why is it currently closed?
"On account of the spiders. Large man-sized spiders that attack the workers. We had to close it three months ago after two workers were killed."
"Three months?" Nix glanced at his budget sheet. Scarlett had been providing the funds for this place since the settlement was first built. "Where're my six hundred credits?"
Laird stared at him for a moment, his face showing confusion. "Six hundred credits?"
"You haven't worked in three months, yet you were paid two hundred credits per month. Should I pay you for doing nothing?"
Laird's face turned red. "What could I do? Am I supposed to fight spiders?"
"If you want, your other option would be to report it to the person who was paying you. Did you do that?" Nix paused for a moment before continuing. "Your new wage is one hundred credits per month until you pay back the amount you owe."
Nix glanced down at his sheet again. "Captain Mora?"
"Here sir." A broad-shouldered young man with a shaved head stood up. He wore leather armor and had a short sword belted around his waist.
"You've been paid 150 credits per month, additionally you have another 100 credits that pay for two town guards. What have you been using this money for?"
"There are no walls or gates here sir. We patrol the town regularly."
"Patrol the town?" Nix glanced around the room, everyone was avoiding eye contact. "Clear out my guardhouse; your services are no longer required."
The Captain stared at him, then at the huge wolf sitting nearby. It was obvious he wanted to say something, but instead, he stomped out and slammed the door behind him.
"Who is Tinsleton?"
A young woman stood up, she looked to be around twenty. "Me sir, everyone calls me Tintin."
Tintin was listed as a gatherer. She led a team of pickers through the area and supplied the town with herbs, wild fruit, and nuts. She was only paid 50 credits a month. "I want to see a list of everything you've picked this month."
"Right away, sir."
Nix stood up and faced the crowded room. "This town's a mess. The first order of business, I'll clear the Quarry tonight. Laird, I expect you to open the Quarry first thing in the morning."
Laird nodded. "First light sir."
Nix noticed three faces at the front door, peering through the glass. He waved for them to come in. It was hard seeing the three Trams without smiling. "You guys deliver my fish?"
The closest Tram nodded. "Yes, sir."
Nix pretended to look down at his sheet. "No first names? Really?"
The same Tram spoke again. "We're orphans sir, our parents died when we was young. If we had names no one remembers them now."
"Part of my duties is the welfare of the citizens. Pick a name for yourself and I'll make it official." Nix waited while they whispered among each other.
After a few moments, the closest one spoke. "Theo."
Nix nodded. "Theo Tram. Got it."
The smallest of the three raised his hand. "Ginger."
"Ginger?" Nix studied him for a moment, he didn't want to embarrass the boy. "Fine, Ginger Tram."
"Mik! I'll be Mik!" The last one spoke up, it was obvious that he was feeling the pressure.
Nix nodded and wrote it down. "Okay, Mik. The three of you will stay in the guardhouse from now on. Report to my house at noon tomorrow."
Nix waited until they left before turning back to the rest of the room. "Quarry will be open tomorrow. We'll build a town wall and a gate as soon as we get enough rock."
A woman from the back of the room raised her hand.
"I'm Hopi. My family runs the Oberton farm. We are constantly under attack by all manner of creatures that have taken up refuge in the area. I've made a list." She made her way through the crowd and handed Nix the list.
Nix read the list, he didn't recognize anything on it. "Khants, Bezos and Fire-Lyres?"
The woman could have been Hyai's sister. She had the same earthy warmth. "Yes, sir. These pests have been harassing the farmers in the area constantly."
"After I clear the Quarry, I'll look into this."
Two hours later, Nix and Una were walking toward the Quarry.
Una pranced ahead of him, her nose held high in the air as she inhaled the late-afternoon air. "Ginger Tram is a female by the way. You seemed confused."
Nix's face widened in a smile. "That's a girl? No wonder... Hey Una, you know what any of those pests are?"
"I believe Khants are Khannon Ants. They're like normal ants if normal ants were the size of a large pig."
"You head back to the house. I'm going to the Quarry."
Nix shook his head. "Got a bit of frustration to vent. Gonna flame that place until it glows."
Una stopped at the trail that led to Nix's house. "Why hire the Trams?"
"Sunburned, lots of callouses and covered with scars. They're hard workers and very young. Those are two things we need here."
Nix entered the Quarry a few minutes later, more than anything he wanted a mount. Walking around on foot was too slow. He would see them tomorrow; Fey, Ducky, Shae, and Morti. It hadn't been long, but he missed them.
He drew Wrath and pushed flames into it, the white blade cut through the air. He didn't bother with stealth. Nix could see that webbing covered just about everything. He targeted the area closest to him.
[Tides of Flame]
High pitched screeches sounded out and little balls of flame tried to scurry away, their webbing instantly incinerated.
[Meteor Shower: Gemini Flame]
Nix spent the next hour cleaning out the surface of the quarry, he bathed every square inch of the rocks in flame.
He rested for a few minutes while letting his mana build back up. The Quarry was now much warmer than it was when he arrived. The rocks weren't glowing but they were giving off a lot of heat.
Satisfied with the result, Nix walked toward the cavern where the big mining pit was located. He swung his white blade from side to side while he casually strolled along. His mood was already improving.
Over the next hour, Nix worked his way to the bottom of the Quarry. He scorched every nest and left no spider living. Three large spiders presented the last of the arachnids. They went down without much of a fight.
A Phase Spider has attempted to influence you. You've resisted charm.
Nix turned in a complete circle, looking for a heat signature. "Clever."
[Balefire Burst: Gemini Flame]
Nix aimed at a flat stone wall when the flames struck it incinerated and a high pitched screeching noise caused him to step back.
You have resisted stun.
A wall of webbing had been built across a hidden entrance, rocks and dirt had been used to camouflage it. "Some sort of smart spider?" Nix raised his sword and walked down the path. A trail of black ichor glowed brightly under his thermal vision, the path steepened and slanted downward. The temperature of the air started to drop, the familiar sound and smell of the sea filled his senses. A sudden turn and the tunnel ended in a small cavern that was partially submerged in water.
"The hell..." Nix found the Phase spider, two white spiders were already tearing it to pieces, black blood spilled onto the rocks as they consumed him alive.
Nix held up both hands and sent a half dozen strands of emerald flames stabbing into the white spiders. Their high pitched screams of terror made his head ring, they dragged him back into the water.
Immediately Nix let go of his strands, only to find webbing had attached to his feet.
Nix's feet were yanked from under him, he took a deep breath before he was pulled under the water.
The water spiders pulled him a long shaft that led out of the cavern and into the weeded floor of the open sea. Nix swallowed a mouthful of sea-water and managed to drop his sword hilt.
A flash of green announced the arrival of his ally.
A Water Spider has been stunned.
A Water Spider has been stunned.
[Aura Ignition: Gemini Flames]
Nix burned free of the webbing and then flamed out before donning his Aquatic gear. "You f*ckers..."
Soup latched onto two of the closest spider's legs and wrenched them off with a twist of her head.
Nix summoned the other Spider who was desperately trying to escape.
[Flame Throw: Gemini Flame]
Nix grabbed onto one of the bony legs with one hand and baptized it in flames with the other. Its mandibles snapped at him, he responded by punching it in the face.
[Lance: Fury Flame]
Nix stabbed the fury flames through the head of the Water Spider, causing her to screech pitifully.
A Water Spider has been slain.
Soup finished off the other spider and rejoined Nix while he searched for Wrath. He found the hilt after a few minutes and headed back toward the underwater entrance to the cavern. "Why are Water Spiders in our Quarry Soup? Soup?"
Nix turned to find that Soup stopped following him and had moved away a few meters. "Something wrong Soup?"
Suddenly she darted away, her massive body cutting through the ocean depths in a straight line. Without hesitating, Nix followed in her wake.