474 Dance and Abductions
Nix felt a hand grip his, turning slightly he smiled at the newcomer. "Wow... You look really nice." His father had made Raine a long blue dress that clung to her athletic form. It left her entire back exposed but was fairly modest in the front. Nix had no problem admitting that his dad was a better tailor than him, at least when it came to fashion.
Raine returned his smile while tightening her grip on his hand. Shae's advice to her was to keep ahold of him, there were a few members of Inferno who would sneak him away if given the opportunity. Although the Salamander hadn't named anyone, the Fir'Dhassi glanced toward the area where Ronnie was sitting. She had noticed very quickly that the three women in Nix's life kept tabs on the dark archer's location.
The mud-pit from the day before had been smoothed out and then tempered by flame until it shone like red marble. Although it took up a chunk of his pasture, Nix was tempted to leave it when the festivities were finished. It could very easily be turned into a guild gathering area with a few tables and benches.
/Inferno: Ducky: The band's here, we're done talking to them.
/Inferno: Jun Li: Okay, escort them to the dance floor.
Hyai knew several traveling musical troupes that could be brought in to entertain them, she had chosen one of her favorite ones and made the necessary arrangements. Aside from the smooth dance floor, there were three large tables where drinks and snacks had been set up. Several round tables and chairs were placed around the edges and a small stage that had been built for the band resided in the middle.
/Inferno: Semmi: I heard these guys perform at the Emerald Inn. All of them are players who specialize in music.
/Inferno: Nix: Music? Like crafting or lifestyle?
/Inferno: Semmi: It's one of the new non-combat occupations that was introduced with Everspire.
Semmi, Wind, Pon, and Beta joined spotted Nix across the dance floor. The small group sat at the nearest table and watched as people filtered in. The instruments for the band had been placed at the stage ahead of time.
Semmi whistled softly. "Holy crap." She gestured toward the dance floor entrance where Jun Li was entering. Junie had one hand placed casually on the white mane of the large lion next to her. "You make her dress?"
Nix nodded. His dad wouldn't have made something so daring. Red velvet and cut low in front, a long slit on the sides showcased Junie's long legs. She requested privately that he make her something sexy. The Inferno Vice Commander spoke casually with her small group that included Chiba, Elan Mtui, and her date. "I did, it wouldn't look nearly that good on anyone else."
"Agreed." Semmi waved at her friend but decided to give her some space.
Pon didn't comment, his sharp eyes casually observing everyone as the tables started to fill up. Ronnie and Floyd walked in, they were accompanied by Bali, Gil, Sharl, and someone he didn't know. "Whose that clown with Sharl?"
Wind glanced toward the Inferno tank, although neither he nor Pon was interested in Sharl, they could both agree that she was outrageously sexy. "Never seen him before. Nix?"
Nix smiled slightly, instantly recognizing the animator. "His name is Wally. He's an animator from Free Trader City."
"Puppet guy like you?" Pon grabbed a pitcher of beer from the center of his table and started filling up their mugs.
"Better than me. His shop is right next to the R \u0026 B Pawnshop. Ronnie probably fixed him up with Sharl."
Pon frowned. "He looks odd. I don't like him."
Wind nodded in agreement. "Me neither."
The music started a few minutes later, Beta was the first to stand up and pull Wind towards the dance floor. She was wearing a short, sleek black dress that ended quite a few inches above the knee.
"I think he looks nice." Semmi rained on their hate parade and pulled Pon to his feet. "Let's go!"
Nix sighed heavily when the last couple from his table left. He stood and moved behind Raine's chair. "Shall we?"
The dance floor was dark, lit only by a few lights around the bandstand. The couple moved slowly with the music, gradually spreading out on the spacious floor.
Raine swayed gently with the music, her arms linked around her partner's neck while her chin rested on his shoulder. "I like it here. I wasn't sure what to expect when Fajii brought me to Haven."
Nix didn't comment. The Scorched Earth Mage had definitely changed the mission parameters he'd given her. Instead of running off the Fir'Dhassi Clan leader, Raine had been invited into the Inferno Guild. As someone who was always honest with himself, he found that it really didn't bother him.
Raine leaned back slightly so that she could see his face, even in the near darkness, his yellow eyes seemed to catch the light. She paused for a moment and then kissed him, her lips lingering against his for several seconds before she broke it off. In the darkness, her deep blush went unseen. "Will you take me on the next quest?"
[Whisper: Bev to Nix] Making out on the dance floor? Are you back in high school?
Nix spun his partner around slowly, his eyes quickly finding his older sister. Donri, the former Seneschal, was accompanying her. Bev danced stiffly, her natural shyness making it difficult for her to relax around people she didn't know well.
[Whisper: Nix to Bev] Congrats Froglegs, the lifetime wallflower is finally on the dancefloor.
[Whisper: Bev to Nix] Don't make me beat you up in front of your friends, Stixx.
As the evening wore on, dance partners switched fairly often. Nix danced with a dozen different members of Inferno as well as Deidra and Tai. Everyone recognized that it was a good time to unwind and no one held serious conversations regarding their missions. He was getting ready to call it a night when he received one last whisper.
[Whisper Gideon to Nix] Did you save me a dance?
Nix raised an eyebrow at the Salamander Guild leader. He knew he was actually a female in real life, but he also had no interest in being pressed up against another man.
[Whisper: Nix to Gideon] No way.
Gideon grinned from across the dance floor and casually slipped on the ring that changed his appearance to Mai.
[Whisper: Mai to Nix] How about now?
Nix laughed and nodded. He excused himself from Raine and met Mai in the middle of the dance floor.
Mai's pretty face was lit up in a smile. "I didn't think you'd say yes."
"No? Why not?"
Mai was a natural dancer and easily matched his steps. "Most of the people here believe I'm a male disguised as a female."
Nix shrugged and spun her around. "Fuck em. Can't live your life worried about stupid things."
Mai nodded in agreement. "Want to meet up in Virtuna with a group of us?"
"Sure. A real-life friend of mine has been wanting to visit." Nix thought of his salamander girlfriend and her real-life connection to Colonial.
"Next week then, I'll send you the date when we figure out when we can all meet." Mai stepped away from him with a wink. "Basically, we are going to party hard and watch some baseball."
Nix watched as she walked back toward her seat. Bev and his dad were curious about Virtuna, it would be a good time to introduce them to a modern virtual world.
"What are you doing, little ranger?" Vooni's amused voice spoke from the darkness, making the Ain'Dhassi ranger jump slightly.
Bali calmed herself and took a deep breath. "Hey... Why are you naked?" The ranger's eyes glanced toward the room Vooni had just left, immediately feeling her face heat up. "Be quiet!"
Vooni raised an eyebrow and disabled her dragon vision. "Why do you have that bath mat in your hands?"
Bali sighed and considered her options, sometimes a portion of the truth was best. "Operation Abduct Nix. Are you going to stand in my way?"
Vooni covered her laugh with a quiet cough. Bali was a notorious trouble maker. If she was here then Ronnie was definitely involved. "Going to steal Nix?" The dragon descendant considered the timing. Shae, Hyai, Fajii, and Mina were all 'bonding' at the turtle house. Essentially it was a group effort to give Raine time with Nix. It also was an opportune time for outside interference. "Sometimes successful missions are all about good timing. I approve."
Bali remained frozen in place for a moment while Vooni went back to the room she shared with Rico and closed the door. With the mat in hand, she snuck out of the house without further incident.
A few minutes later, Nix and Raine returned from the dance. The house was dark as the couple made their way to the kitchen.
Raine leaned against him when he stopped next to the island. "Are you tired?"
Nix shook his head, a slight smile on his face. "I'm going to take a shower. Join me if you like."
Raine stared at him for a long moment. The Inferno leader always said what he was thinking. Although at times it was embarrassing, she found herself liking that quirk. "You go first. I'll join you in a minute."
She waited until after he left before opening a bottle of wine that had been placed on the rack. After taking a long drink she followed up the stairs.
Raine had been in the bedroom a few times, she smiled at the pile of clothes in front of the bathroom door. He had obviously just tossed them off and gone in. She undressed and carefully placed her folded clothes on the nightstand. Wrapping herself in a towel that had been left for her, she walked toward the bathroom.
"Everything okay?" Raine had planned to wait until the water came on before she entered, however, the bathroom was quiet. "Nix?" She eased the door open and peeked inside. There was no one there. "Nix?"
[A recently excavated cave, half a mile away]
A naked Nix frowned at the sudden change of his surroundings. A quick glance around the torch-lit room showed him the careful planning involved. "This an abduction?"
"Like it?' Ronnie wore a white towel that was much too small for her. The archer's dark skin seemed to glow in the soft light.
Nix sighed, it was a good effort. She had gotten one of the fire mages to hollow out a large section in the cliffs near his ranch. They'd even gone as far as to make a small pool and fill it with water. From the steam in the air, he figured it had already been heated. "Who put the two-way in my bathroom?"
Ronnie didn't answer, the towel slid down her smooth body exposing her shapely backside as she entered the hot pool. "Does it matter?"
Nix laughed at the expression on her face. Ronnie always did whatever she wanted. "I'm stepping back onto the two-way, it was a decent plan."
Ronnie nodded in agreement, her dark lips curved in a mysterious smile. "Don't you remember, Nix? We decided to call them three-ways."
Nix chuckled and was about to step onto the mat when a third figure eased half-way out of the water. "Shit..." He stared for a moment before repeating. "Shit..."
Sharl's slicked-back hair made her smile even sexier. She reached for a large bottle of wine before sinking back into the water. "Not going to have a drink with us?"