486 Cave of Bones
The two skeletons had been completely surrounded just a few moments before. Orange flame erupted out of the mage's hands and completely enveloped four combatants, just as more reinforcements arrived.
/Skelly: Pon: They're everywhere.
/Skelly: Nix: Thanks for the update, Captain Obvious.
Emerald strands shot out of Nix's hands and lifted three of the Ice Soldiers into the air, while his blade flashed out and removed the head of a fourth. The three airbound soldiers were then slammed headfirst onto the icy path before being discarded.
/Skelly: Pon: How many kills?
/Skelly: Nix: Nineteen. You?
/Skelly: Pon: Twenty-one.
/Skelly: Nix: Let's keep moving.
The boned feet of the two skeleton crunched loudly on the winding ice path; in the distance, they could make out several more Ice soldiers grouped together. All of the Ice Soldiers they had met so far were common melee fighters, with medium armor and Ice weapons. Most of them were male, although a few were women.
/Skelly: Nix: Fighting up ahead! Run faster, old man.
Nix accelerated down the path, slipping slightly as they started heading uphill. A single smaller skeleton dodged and jumped between soldiers in the distance, two sharp daggers flashing out to strike at the enemy. Even from a hundred meters away, he could see two tiny horns and a tail.
After dispatching the group's last, the smaller skeleton scanned the landscape, instantly spotting her approaching allies. "SKELLIES!" The tiny skeleton waved happily at them, motioning for them to hurry.
/Skelly: Nix: Arrows!
Flames roared out from the Fire mage's bone hands, creating an umbrella of heat over their heads. The Ice arrows melting harmlessly, but three larger soldiers moved forward to block their path.
Nix moved around the spear thrust, his bone fingers puncturing the fighter's throat before picking him up and slamming him on the ground.
/Skelly: Pon: Down!
Nix flattened out and rolled his target on top of him just as the flames roared around them, drowning out the screams of the last two enemies. Nix kicked free of the charred corpse and rolled to his feet. "Sasi?"
The approaching skeleton skidded to a stop, her horned skull tilting sideways. "Sasi is me! Nix?"
Nix nodded. "Found you."
Sasi leaped toward him, her arms wrapping around him while she hugged him tightly. "Is this Sasi's rescue?"
"Yep, me and Pon are the only ones for now." Nix gestured toward the skeleton mage, who was picking through the loot. Almost all of the fighters dropped items, but they were generally ice enhanced gear.
/Skelly: Pon: Got a stealth ring!
/Skelly: Nix: Awesome.
Sasi has joined Skelly.
/Skelly: Sasi: Thanks for coming! Follow Sasi, please.
Nix and Pon followed the demon skeleton up a narrow path to a cave. At one time, the entrance had obviously been much larger, but it had recently been narrowed by stacking rocks. When they approached within a few meters of the cave, the air warmed up noticeably, and the ground became visible. They had arrived at the last holdout against the Ice.
/Skelly: Sasi: Come inside, and Sasi will make introductions.
The stacked rock entrance made walking single file mandatory; sweet warmth accompanied by the smell of smoke welcomed the new arrivals. Sasi led them deeper into the cave where an armored skeleton waited.
/Skelly: Pon: Shouldn't there be one more?
/Skelly: Sasi: Alfie is on top of the cave, acting as the look-out.
Sasi stopped in front of the skeleton and bowed respectfully. "These are the two recruits; both of them have come here looking for me. They are both strong."
The skeleton's armor was black; Nix spotted a shield and longsword leaning against the nearby wall.
"I am Edi; thank you for coming." The armored skeleton bowed her head slightly. "Both of you are fire users?"
Nix nodded. "In this form, I seem to be more melee oriented, at least for now. What's going on here?"
Edi smiled at Sasi; she was obviously prepared to explain everything. She brought up her hud map, eyes made from black flames stared at the numbers. "Sasi just killed four more, so the two of you accounted for forty-three this morning?"
Nix nodded. "Twenty for me and twenty-three for the old bastard."
"13,292 left!" Edi clicked her teeth together a few times, giving the impression that she was laughing. "I shall explain everything." She zoomed out on her hud map, enlarging it until it took up a large part of the cave. When she did, dozens of smaller sections became visible. "Sixteen Burroughs are surrounding the Ice Fortress. Each of these Burroughs is further divided into precincts. We are currently holding down a small section of the Sandcrab Precinct in the Xander Burrough."
Nix waited while she zoomed in on their location. The Sandcrab Precinct was divided into much smaller sections. "How long have you been here?"
"I was one of the last to arrive; that was twenty-seven years ago. We lost the Bone Fortress shortly before my arrival. My mission was to recapture the fort and turn this fight around. As you can see, I am a miserable failure."
Nix shrugged slightly; her tone held no self-pity, only what she believed to be true. "Inferno is here. We don't know how to fail."
Pon nodded sagely. "Fucking straight up."
Nix stared at the map. "You lost the fort nearly thirty years ago, and now you're down to a small section of one precinct. Could be worse. How have you been managing with two people?"
Edi pointed to a circle of stone surrounding two dark mounds of dirt. "We cheated. Two years ago, we lost our last graveyard and were nearly wiped out. Our last magic user sacrificed herself and a handful of others to create the sacred ground."
Nix shared a look with Pon before refocusing on Edi. "Explain the significance of graveyards and this sacred ground."
Edi pointed to an area on the north side of the Sandcrab precinct. "When you hold more than half of a precinct, you gain control of the graveyard. Our undead will respawn after two days if we have the graveyard. This is how we replenish our troops; the enemy gets theirs from the outside."
"Yeah... We've seen the Sanctum. There must be a few more that we don't know about." Nix continued to study the map while she spoke.
"That ring of stones behind us is the sacred ground where Alfie and I are able to respawn. We had to choose two fighters when it was constructed."
/Skelly: Sasi: Alfie and Edi were the two strongest. They've held this patch of land by themselves for nearly three years.
Nix's yellow eyes stared at the two mounds. "Respawn time on those?"
"Four hours." Edi sighed heavily. "There have been many, many close calls where one of us stood at the entrance alone."
/Skelly: Pon: Shit... These guys are badasses.
/Skelly: Nix: Agreed.
Nix glanced toward the entrance when a skeleton stepped inside. He had a bone longbow in one hand; his armor was the same black leather as Edi's. "Could I see everyone's stats? I need to see what we are working with."
A low-growl sounded from Alphie's skull. "This is not for you to ask! Edi commands here!"
Edi held up one hand, shaking her head slightly. "I've failed Alphie. We both know that. I will step to one side and offer advice. At least temporarily, we will fight under their banner."
Race: Undead Skeleton
Class: Dark Knight
Race: Undead Skeleton
Class: Dark Archer
Race: Undead Skeleton
Class: Shadow Thief
/Skelly: Pon: Shit... That's a lot of kills.
/Skelly: Nix: Yeah. Display your stats too.
Race: Undead Skeleton [Elite]
Undead Skeleton [Elite]
Class: Fire Mage
Edi studied their stats for a moment, before glancing at the archer. "They are both Elites."
Alfie sat his bow down and moved next to her. "I'm unsure what that means."
Edi moved toward the back of the cave where a small chest was hidden. She opened it with a key that had been chained around her neck. After removing two scrolls, she locked the box and returned to the group. "Please see if you can use either of these scrolls."
Pon held out his hand and accepted one.
Job Scroll: Golem Maker [Active]
"It says active." Pon looked up at Alphie, who was suddenly clapping his bone hands together. "That's a yes?"
Alphie nodded and waited while Nix picked up the other one.
Job Scroll: Bombadier [Active]
Nix hid a toothy smile. "This is active also."
/Skelly: Nix: Your choice, old man. Bomb building or Golem making?
/Skelly: Pon: Fuck!! Why do I feel like yours is going to be OP?
/Skelly: Nix: Pick whichever you like...
The skeleton mage considered the two scrolls before switching scrolls with Nix. "This one!"
Nix nodded happily and activated the remaining scroll.
You have learned Basic Golem Making.
Nix brought up his hud and turned his attention back to the precinct map. "With five of us, we aren't going to be able to hold enough sections to give us back the graveyard."
Edi nodded in agreement, her bone finger pointing to an area next to the precinct graveyard. "This is where their Precinct HQ is. Only new recruits are able to cross precinct lines."
"They can't get reinforcements from other precincts?" Nix waited until she nodded before continuing. "Tell me everything you can about the rules and the chain of command."