377 The Firsts
Sharl sat comfortably near the bed, keeping an eye on Nix, who was inhabiting one of his Nether rats somewhere in the city. Floyd was tailing the twins while Milat and Sori were exploring Under-Seryndefi. It was her idea to stand watch over Nix; she felt he was too vulnerable while using puppets.
"I hope you appreciate this." Sharl smiled at the closed eyes of the Inferno guild leader. "You should be thankful I'm not Ronnie. There's no telling what she would do in this situation."
She replayed the message that Nix had sent to all the officers. Her experience with Shank and the twins was limited; she was confident that all three of them would recognize her. When she was the guild leader of the Daybreakers, her image was always on the forums. Finding the chair uncomfortable, she sat next to him on the bed.
The Nether rat escaped for the fifth time in as many minutes; Nix cursed himself for using the primary food of snakes as his primary scout. Even in human form, the moment he was within a few meters of one of the Serpent Clan, they immediately changed and gave chase. "Who knew Nether rats were such a delicacy?"
Nix crept through a small water pipe that was left half-full by several ruptures. There was no warning whatsoever, two bright green orbs blinked open directly in front of him, and he was swallowed whole.
Instinctively he twisted his head, thinking he might gnaw at the insides of the snake that bit him. However, the muscles of the creature's throat squeezed around him to the point where he could barely move. "Fuck... Now what?"
Although completely immobilized, Nix was aware that the snake was moving very quickly. Not an expert on snake behavior, he didn't know that usually, they would find somewhere to rest after a meal.
Time passed, Nix had no way of knowing how fast, several times he was tempted to let the snake have the puppet, but in the end, it represented a large investment on his part and he wasn't willing to part with it.
Nix felt the movement of his carrier stop suddenly; the pressure on him increased for a moment, and he found himself spat out in what could only be described as disgusting bile. His first instinct was to flee, but the long term constriction on his puppet body made its limbs feel lethargic.
[Don't run Nix. You aren't in any danger.]
Nix blinked the slime out of his rat-eyes, his tiny black paws rubbing at his face. After a few seconds, his captor came into view. A long white snake with green eyes that glowed brilliantly watched him from a few feet away. "You say that name like your acquainted with that person. Who are you?"
"I am Mari'Djinn, the Second." The snake's voice held a hint of amusement, the tone of it reminded him of Ducky's voice when she was charming someone. "You will lose the most important battle in history if you don't come with me."
Nix continued to rub his stinging eyes while he listened. "Lead on."
"The Firsts require your presence; there is much to be done before you confront Khione."
Nix straightened out his long whiskers. "Who is Khione?"
"It's difficult to converse with you." The snake-eyes moved closer; verticle lids blinked lazily at him.
"Pon, the Rat King, will follow you." Nix reached out a rat paw and patted the snakes snow-white snout. An instant later, he sat upright in bed, jostling the sleeping Sharl who was leaning against him.
Sharl blinked against the light and offered him a smile. "Where's your puppet?"
"That lousy snake ate me." Nix cursed loudly and swung his feet over the bed. He noticed that Sharl was wearing the flannel pajamas that he made her months earlier. "I can make you some new ones."
Sharl shook her head. "I can't part with these; they are too comfortable. The rest of the group isn't back yet."
[You have been summoned by Mari'Djinn the Second. Do you accept the summons?]
Nix read the message twice before it sank in. "Tracing me through a puppet shouldn't be possible. Call everyone back, Sharl, going to take a quick trip."
Sharl nodded and opened her hud. "Where are... Nix? Shit!"
/Viper: Sharl: Everyone back to the room. Nix just disappeared.
Sharl looked at the guild roster; he was listed as unavailable. "The hell did you do now?"
Mid-West Everspire: The Fire Lion Clan
Jala kicked the serving woman when she evaded his attempt to grab her ass. "You f*cking bitch! Do you think your only job is to serve food?"
The hulking brute was shirtless; scars crisscrossed his heavily muscled chest. His big hand grabbed her by one arm and squeezed, a vicious leer forming on his face when she cried out.
"Release her at once, Jala." A slim, middle-aged man stood in the doorway of the tent, his apparent distaste for the bigger man was written on his face.
"Father..." Jala flung the girl across the tent like she was weightless. Jala's face was broad and flat, his square jaw bronzed from countless hours in the sun. He bowed low to hide his sneering expression. "The woman always spills food on me; I swear she does it on purpose."
"You'll address me as Clan Leader, or I'll remove your black tongue." The older man moved across the tent, one hand caressing the hilt of his sword. He sat in an overly large wooden chair that sat near the back wall of the tent.
"My apologies, Clan Leader." Jala backed away from the man, suppressing the raw fear that his father's presence caused.
Clan Leader Omen of the Fire Lion Clan studied his disappointing prodigy for a moment before speaking. "I saw one of your scouts riding up. Where have they been for the past few days?"
Jala glanced at the doorway. He had left directions for his raiding party to report here when they returned. "I sent them into the mountains, Clan Leader. They are finishing off the Krayven Clan."
Omen laughed at his son's words. "A man is only as strong as his enemy, and my oldest son raids the weakest clan."
Jala's brown face darkened, he was saved from further embarrassment by the tent flap opening up.
Scout Invak stood at the door and bowed deeply. "Greetings, Clan Leader."
Omen removed his ceremonial headdress and pushed his fingers through his short black hair. "Invak, right? Why are you reporting? Where is Goli?"
"Goli has been slain Clan Leader." Invak didn't dare look at Jala, even though technically he was one of his raiders.
Omen's dark eyes stared at the scout. "You acted as the scribe?"
Invak nodded quickly. "Yes, Clan Leader."
Omen's cold voice filled the tent; the younger generation would post often post a scribe far to the rear when they raided. The scribes' job was to rush back to the Clan and report on the successes of the raid. They almost always lied or embellished the events. "Save the oral report for later, given me the written account."
Invak nodded and placed the rolled-up parchment in the Clan Leaders' hands. He didn't dare make eye contact as he backed away slowly and resumed his post near the tent's entrance.
Omen read the scroll, his eyes occasionally looking up at the scout. "Twenty-five clan members and horses sent into the Krayven Clan Lands. All twenty-five of our people were slain."
"What?" Jala's tanned face darkened. "We lost everyone? Did another Clan ambush us?"
"No, Jala," Invak answered quickly, suddenly relieved that the Clan Leader was present for the report. "The Krayven Clan has a new totem, fire-based defense, and jump-attacks."
Omen's laughter filled the tent. "Failure? Against the Krayven Clan? What is a jump-attack?"
"Clan Leader, orange wings sprout out of their backs, and they cover distances of 20 meters or so." Invak wanted to make sure he gave the full report; his intent was to leave for a few days until Jala found someone to vent his rage on. "Our attack was overconfident, and they routed us within a few minutes."
"Invak! You cowardly bastard..." Jala strode toward the scout, ax in hand. "You should have joined the fight if you as..." The words never finished, a silver sword emerged outward through the front of his throat, it retracted quickly, and the large man fell to the ground.
"I should never have put you in a leadership position." Omen stared at the corpse for a few seconds before it disappeared. "This will be the last time you are revived at the Totem of the Fire Lion."
Jala has been removed from the Fire Lion Clan.
Scout Invak stood at the door; he kept his face carefully expressionless. "Orders, Sir?"
Omen wiped his blade and returned it to the scabbard. "Join the Blood group under Rasta."
Invak nodded and retreated from the tent with his head down. He ran across the compound, his face finally breaking out in a cold sweat. He and Jala would be the only survivors. You only revived at the Totem if you were slain on Clan Lands. The Krayven Clan had been run out of the heritage lands years ago.
Personal Messaging and Guild Chat have been temporarily disabled.
Nix stood calmly in front of the group. He had been expecting humans, but he was wrong. In a half-circle directly in front of him were six animals; the snake that ate him, a black bear, a turtle, a wolf, a scorpion, and a lion.
"Welcome, Nix" Mari'Djinn, the white snake spoke quietly, her tone showing amusement.
"Where's my Rat King?" Nix frowned at her before taking a moment to study each of them, except for the snake, they were all enormous. "You're Titans?"
The big black bear in the middle nodded its humongous head; Nix guessed he would be double the size of Mortimus if it stood up. "We are the first Titans. I am Tautius."