317 Spire Chasers
Nix dismounted and carefully made his way up the rocky incline to the top of the ridge. He had spent the past few hours searching Blacksmith Zane. Unfortunately, his hud map only helped him find the general area. A loud stomping followed by an enraged whinnying sound caused him to turn back to where he'd left Nightmare. After seeing nothing, he returned to his mount.
"Seriously... Are the noobs in Everspire stupid?" Nix shook his head in disbelief and started searching the bodies. It marked the second time in the past hour that someone had attempted to steal Nightmare, this time there were two corpses.
Nightmare pushed his back with her soft nose.
"It's a bit funny, though. I step away and leave you unattended. It's almost like I'm daring them." Nix chuckled and swung into the saddle. "I may have to get you more dragon blood."
Everspire Continental Announcement: The Provincial Council of Neva will appoint a new Prefect to oversee governing and diplomatic duties.
"Why announce that?" Nix decided that the best search option was to ride in large circles and hope to find the blacksmith. The landscape was a combination of rocky foothills and sporadic forests.
Finally, after another half hour of riding, the steady din of a hammer being used led him down a narrow gulley. At the end of the gulley was a small hut and an outdoor forge that had been built under a solid-looking shelter. Three players were in the yard watching the blacksmith work; they turned at the sound of Nightmare trotting up.
The Everspire expansion offered basic class choices for those players who chose to make a 125 level character. Unlike characters that came through the rift, these instant characters couldn't return to Colonial. They started with the same crappy gear, but their classes held the potential of being upgraded to a higher tier. The five basic classes were druid, ranger, cleric, warrior, and thief.
"Greetings, friend." A tall, athletic man with curly brown hair greeted Nix when he dismounted. He carried a bow in one hand, a sure sign that he was probably a ranger.
"Heya." Nix greeted them politely. "Waiting to see Zane?"
"Not sure, we thought we'd investigate since he's set up in the middle of nowhere." The ranger extended his hand. "I'm Lu Ban; this is Circa and Mollie."
"Nix." Circa was a slim man with short blond hair, for some reason he reminded Nix of Semmi. Mollie was a staff carrying druid with green hair and eyes; the combination made Nix stare. "I have a quest with Zane; I don't want to jump in front of you."
Lu Ban's eyes lit up. "Is it a shareable quest Nix?"
Nix shook his head. "Fraid not."
"No worries, then, go ahead and talk to him." Lu Ban stepped to one side, obviously intent on watching the interaction.
"Damn it." Molly pointed in the direction Nix had come from. "Spire Chasers."
Nix glanced down the trail. A half dozen players were walking casually toward them; they were already spread out and ready for trouble. They were hunting. "What's a Spire Chaser?"
Lu Ban notched an arrow while he spoke. "Their entire guild came here from another VR world. They all made new characters and have been robbing players for the past week."
"Robbing what? You guys all have crap gear." Nix stared at the group walking toward them, "they can't engage in pvp without a challenge being made, right? Or they'll be kill-on-sight."
"Let's return to our binding points, Lu." Circa carried a single dagger but was shirtless.
Lu Ban nodded. "You coming, Nix?"
"No. It took me all morning to find this guy."
Mollie lowered her voice slightly. "My return to bind hasn't reset yet. You guys go ahead."
Lu Ban cursed under his breath. "How long?"
"Half hour." Mollie was wearing a green shirt and brown leather pants; they were both common gear.
"Guess we'll fight them, Molls." Lu Ban offered her a smile. "We'll try to create an opening and then retreat."
Circa sighed heavily. "Time to fight then, we've been grouping all morning. That makes us friends in my book."
Nix watched the interaction with a smile on his face; he liked their loyalty. "I find the three of you impressive. I want to talk to these idiots. What could they possibly gain by stealing crap gear?"
Mollie gripped her staff tight. "They aren't known for diplomatic skills."
Nix smiled pleasantly. "Well... luckily, I am a renowned diplomat."
Circa frowned when the approaching group stopped ten meters away; he had his dagger held low in one hand. "Get on your horse and ride Nix. I don't know where you got that thing, but they will definitely take it."
Lu Ban nodded in agreement. "We'll delay them, Nix; it would be tragic to lose a mount to them."
"Which one of you own that mount?" A huge bald man with a shield and sword in his hands spoke. Unlike most of the people walking around, he had a full set of leather armor.
"That's my horse," Nix spoke calmly while he moved away from the trio. The armored man reminded him of Hyai's son-in-law if Bane had somehow turned into a complete dick.
"We're going to take him." The Bald man gestured for one of his men to take her.
Nix nodded in agreement. "Take good care of her, she's really friendly."
A slim man with a long black braid approached Nightmare, his greedy face locked in a wicked smile. "We'll get paid for this one, boss!"
Nightmare waited until he stepped within range and sprang at him. Her teeth sunk into his shoulder while one three-toed front foot raked its wicked claws across the man's stomach, spilling his entrails on the ground. The demon horse stomped him a few times for good measure and then backed away a few steps.
Both groups seemed to be frozen in place, Nightmare went back to grazing, her bloody muzzle staining the grass.
"Bastard! You knew that was going to happen!" The bald man's forehead was bulging with muscle and veins.
Nix shrugged helplessly. "She's never done that before; he must have spooked her."
"He'll respawn in town Zed, most likely he'll be thrown in the stocks for a few days." The only woman in the group spoke; she also was wearing a full set of leather armor. Two swords were visible, one over each shoulder.
The bald-headed Zed nodded. "You owe the Spire Chasers a debt now."
Nix noticed their armor was actually mid-tier, it was still crappy gear, but better than their victims. "Why steal from players in the starter zone? What could you gain from it?"
Zed scowled at him. "None of your f*cking business."
A flash of lightning and Nix appeared behind the woman who had spoken out. He pushed flames into Wrath.
Her head bounced away in a stream of blood while her body collapsed forward on the ground.
Sera Vi has been slain.
Because Sera Vi has 14 blood counters against her, your faction with Neva has increased by 14.
"Holy shit..." Zed looked decidedly pale.
Circa has landed a critical hit on Zed.
Nix punched Zed in the chest, knocking him to the ground.
Zed has been stunned.
Mollie has cast. [Thorned Vine]
A large patch of vines exploded upward out of the ground, wrapping around three of the Spire Chasers.
Pueblo has been bound in place.
Chakadai has been bound in place.
Fortran has been bound in place.
Lu Ban has scored a hit on Pueblo
Lu Ban has scored a hit on Pueblo.
Lu Ban has scored a critical hit on Pueblo.
Pueblo has been slain.
Mollie has cast Natures Fury.
Nix's attack rating has increased.
Circa's attack rating has increased.
Lu Ban's attack rating has increased.
[Hamstrung: Hilt Strike]
Combination Attempt successful.
Circa has crippled Chakadai.
Chakadai has been stunned.
Lu Ban has scored a critical hit on Chakadai.
Chakadai has been slain.
Fortran has resisted Thorned Vine.
Immediately Fortran stealthed and disappeared from view.
Nix's eyes changed from yellow to orange as his vision changed to thermal.
"Behind you, Mollie."
Fortran has attempted [Backstab]
Mollie uses the power of nature to reverse the attack.
Fortran has been slain.
It had only taken a few seconds, but Nix's new friends had managed nicely. The sound of footsteps running away drew all their attention.
Lu Ban shook his head at the sight of Zed fleeing. "Leave him; we don't need the trouble."
[Storm Rider: Thunderfist]
Combination Attempt Successful.
Nix appeared in front of the fleeing guild leader and punched him in the chest.
Zed has been stunned.
Nix dragged him back to the group by his feet and then dropped him there. "I bet you have more counters than all of your cronies combined."
Mollie let a laugh escape before covering her mouth. "Sorry."
Nix glanced at her. "What?"
Mollie couldn't hide her smile. "No one says, cronies."
"Huh?" Nix looked at the other two for confirmation.
Circa shook his head. "Nope."
Lu Ban shrugged helplessly. "Unless you're a grandpa."