387 Sun Devils
The Tali Estate was nothing like Nix had imagined. It was a gray stone structure that spanned what would normally be four or five city blocks. Inside the compound were several courtyards.
/Qi Family: Nix: Why have a courtyard when it's so damn cold? Do they come out here to freeze together?
/Qi Family: Cora: Bonfires Nix, it's a nightly thing here in Fraya'Selene.
Nix shook his head slightly but placated the young ranger with a smile. "Takes all sorts. I prefer Haven."
/Qi Family: Sasi: I like Haven too. Can I come live in your house?
/Qi Family: Nix: We don't have any rats.
/Qi Family: Sasi: None? Not even one? Never mind.
Cora led them up a half flight of stairs that stopped at the largest set of house doors Nix had ever seen. To his surprise, it glowed and then opened when Cora touched it. The doors opened into a large entryway at the base of a grand staircase. The warmth of the room was a welcome surprise.
/Qi Family: Nix: The doors are enchanted?
/Qi Family: Cora: Yes. The two of you have been cleared by Morai Sai Tali.
/Qi Family: Nix: Oh. Is Grand Elder Sai here?
/Qi Family: Cora: No. You will be received by Surai Yaven Tali. She is the older sister of Del.
As if on cue, a tall woman moved at the top of the stairs. She wore a modest blue dress, her white hair was cut very short. Her blue eyes seemed intelligent, they were several shades darker than the Ain'Dhassi norm.
Cora bowed her head. "Greetings Surai Yaven, may I present Guild Leader Nix from the Inferno guild and the Speaker Sasi Qi from the House of Tempest."
Nix had expected someone who resembled Del, but Yaven was completely different. "Well met, Surai Yaven."
The woman's warm smile made Nix doubt her Ain'Dhassi ancestry. "Please call me Yaven, Guild Leader Nix, and Honorable Speaker."
"Thank you. Just call me as Nix, please." Nix glanced at Sasi who managed to latch onto his hand without him noticing.
"I'm Sasi. Greetings from the House of Tempest."
Yaven flowed smoothly down the stairs, immediately Nix was reminded of Del and her troop of ghosts. "Sasi, would you mind if I bring Nix to visit Del by himself?"
Cora placed a hand on Sasi's shoulder. "I will show you around for a bit, then you can rejoin him before he speaks with Morana."
Sasi seemed reluctant to let go of Nix's hand. "Rabi will be mad at me if I don't protect Nix."
/Qi Family: Cora: His safety is guaranteed by the Tali family.
/Qi Family: Nix: It's fine. I'll call you if I need anything.
Sasi frowned and then handed Nix a black small rock.
Description: Summon Sasi Qi when you need her.
One time use.
Nix turned the dark rock over in his hand. "Where did you get this?"
Sasi favored him with a fanged smile. "Qi family makes. It's for emergencies only.
"Thank you, Sasi." Nix waited until Cora led the Tempest Speaker away before turning back toward Yaven. "Time is of the essence, I'm afraid I can't stay long."
"I understand, Nix. Follow me please." Cora walked back up the stairs and took a left down a long marble-tiled hall. "It happened about two weeks ago, since then Morana has been visiting her every day."
Cora opened set of double doors and stepped inside. The wave of heat that pushed against him was surprising.
"What happened two weeks ago?" The floor was covered with dozens of fur rugs. A fireplace was burning brightly along one wall.
Yavin pointed to a large egg that sat on a red plush cushion next to the fire. "Del started speaking."
"Speaking? From the dragon egg?" Nix walked towards egg, whoever decorated the room was fond of the color red.
"Touch the dragon egg, Nix."
Since Nix had carried the dragon egg before, he didn't hesitate to do so again.
[Who is there?] Del's soft voice seemed to flow into Nix.
"Del?" Nix spoke louder then he meant to. The surface of the egg was pleasantly warm.
[Finally, you have come to visit me.] Del's voice was tinged with humor. [Apparently, none of my family members know how to contact you.]
Her words made Nix smile. "Perhaps they think I'm a bad influence."
[Hmm... No doubt.]
Yaven placed her hand on the egg. "I'm here also Del. Nix is here for information, but I'm not sure what."
"I need to know about Sun Devils. Specifically, how to kill them." Nix thought it best not to name his target even though Cora mentioned there were plenty of Sun Devils among all the Dhassi races.
[Morana would know about that. When she was a vampire, she used several Sun Devils to handle things during the day.]
"I would stay if I could Del. Give me a quick rundown on how you are communicating."
[I began hearing voices a few weeks ago, when I started focusing on those voices they became louder.]
"That was me." Yaven interrupted, "I would come here every day and read to her. It eased my pain."
[Her voice was louder whenever she touched my egg. I'm sure she was leaning on it.]
Yaven nodded in agreement. "I would rest my back against it and read. A few days ago she started talking back."
"I see. Why is Morana involved?"
[Morana has several techniques that are helping me develop my mental energies.]
Nix considered her words. Morana had several strong charm attacks when she was a vampire. Did that mean someone with similar abilities could communicate with people encased in dragon eggs? "I am glad you are doing well Del, but circumstances dictate that I must complete my objective quickly."
[Okay. Could you step away for a moment Yaven?]
Yaven's eyes showed her surprise but she did as Del asked.
[Thank you for saving me Nix. When I said those words to you...]
"You thought they'd be your last words." Nix struggled to keep the amusement out of his voice. "So you take it back?"
[What? No, of course not. I just wouldn't have said it. I can't thank you enough.]
"Thanks isn't necessary between friends. I'll come see you once this mission is finished." Nix removed his hands from the eggs and stepped back. "May I see Morana now?"
"Of course." Yaven placed her hand on the dragon egg for a moment. "I'll be back later Del."
Comparably, the room Morana stayed in was much colder than Dels. The former Vampire Queen of the North sat comfortably behind a plain wood desk. Her long silver hair hung down her waist, unlike Yaven, she wore an ordinary white blouse with black pants. She stood and faced the door when Yaven entered with Nix and Sasi.
"Morana, you have guests. I believe you already know Nix, his companion is Sasi Qi, the Speaker for the House of Tempest."
"Nix." Morana frowned slightly at the sight of the Inferno leader, perhaps the reminder from her days as a vampire affected her mood.
Nix waited for her to greet Sasi, but when she didn't he pushed on ahead anyway. "I need information on Sun Devils. Recently one of them has hurt a member of Inferno. I wish to repay this action."
Unexpectedly Morana laughed. The sound was a blend of humor and the smallest tinge of crazy. "You wish to know how to kill a Sun Devil."
Nix didn't bother to deny it. "Yes."
Morana finally noticed Sasi, the former queen bowed her head slightly. "I apologize for my rudeness. Nix killed me once since then I find him somewhat unsettling."
Sasi's tail twitched slightly, her dark eyes darting from Morana to Nix. "Nix kills lots of people. Usually, they stay killed."
"Fire won't kill a Sun Devil, although if the flames are hot enough they can be injured. You'll need to find an Ice Mage. Freeze the heart and then shatter it." Morana spoke fast, beads of sweat formed on her forehead while she spoke. "Please Nix. If there's nothing else, I'll bid you goodbye."
Nix shook his head slightly. "Calm yourself Morana. I want to know about the strengths and weaknesses also."
Yaven watched without comment from the doorway. She had never seen Morana behave like this with anyone. "Just a few more questions. We are both in his debt."
Morana nodded and continued, her breathing seemed to grow heavier. "Dangerous melee fighters, enhanced speed, and agility. No mental magic to speak of but some of them are mages. Their powers peak at mid-day. Ideally facing them at night is best, but dawn and dusk aren't bad either."
An hour later, Cora left Sasi and Nix at the gating platform in Loki. She hugged both of them before waving. "I am available if you need help. Anytime or anywhere."
"Thanks, Cora." Nix waited until the young ranger ported out before contacting Pon.
[Whisper: Nix to Pon] Any luck?
[Whisper: Pon to Nix] Yes. Meet us on the southern tip of Inuit. There's a small peninsula there.
[Whisper: Nix to Pon] On our way.
A moment later, the thin mage appeared before them. She looked around for a moment, her pretty face showing confusion. "Is this Oasis?"
Nix nodded. "Can I get a ride?"
"My favorite thing!" Fey morphed into her silver drakon form. "Are you riding also, Sasi?"
Sasi nodded quickly. Although the demon hybrid was technically an Archon, Fey looked like a dragon to her, so any offer that involved riding met with an enthusiastic yes. "Can I sit in front?"