Nix crossed his bony arms in front of his ribcage and stared at the captive. One of the five had been beaten badly by the Precinct Commander, a service that made questioning the rest much easier. "Why leave now? Even with a few more bodies on our side, the Ice Faction has an enormous advantage."
The man's name was Rhu and he was a common foot soldier who had been sent to the Bone Fortress right after he finished his initial training. His snow-white complexion was completely off-set by his black hair. "With the addition of the fire users, we will definitely lose this precinct. Once that happens, we'll end up dead."
Nix nodded in agreement. "Rules of the war, this isn't a promise but at the very least, you'll outlive the rest of your faction that are currently in the Sandcrab Precinct."
"Don't put me back with the Commander, and I'll tell you everything I know."
Nix glanced at Pon and gave him a slight nod. "Deal, making the prison larger is easy enough. Where do you get recruits from? And why has it suddenly stopped?"
"There are a few covens that send us those possessing Witch blood. Over the years those have slowly filtered off. Most of the recent recruits have come from Enguarde."
/Skelly: Nix: Fuck... That explains why the reinforcements stopped.
/Skelly: Pon: Huh? How would you know about Enguarde?
/Skelly: Nix: We both know it, only by a slightly different name. I believe we called it Ice'Enguarde.
/Skelly: Pon: That place Sinfaya stuck into a snowglobe?
Nix nodded. While they were destroying the Ice Seeds that Khione had hidden under her Stronghold, the team of Pon, Shae, and Hyai had discovered an Underground City referred to as Ice'Enguarde. (Ref. Ch. 446) Sinfaya used spatial magic to place the entire city into a special container. This was done as an act of mercy because the destruction of the Ice Seed would have certainly wiped them out.
Nix studied Rhu for a moment while considering his words. There was always the chance that he was feeding them lies. "Know where the other Covens were located?"
Rhu shook his head. "No, I did hear of one that was located under the ice."
"Ice? Like Enguarde?"
"Yes, but further away."
/Skelly: Nix: If I got access to my Spirit companion after leveling up, then it stands to reason that you will also. Let's go up."
Pon was following Nix up the ladder, so the Inferno Leader didn't see his scowl. "Lorenzo? That worthless Imp bastard!"
Nix laughed loudly. Pon's first two companions were Fire users who he only knew by reputation. Apparently, they could be difficult. "Let's get your kills to one hundred, so we can get some communication going with the outside."
Morti's rumbling laugh grabbed Nix's attention as he was exiting the containment area, a higher-pitched giggling could be heard as the two sounds blended together seamlessly.
/Skelly: Nix: The heck are you doing to my bear, Sasi?
Nix stopped suddenly when he stepped out of the cave, Nezbit and Alfie were laughing so hard that neither could stand up. "Hmmm... How'd that little demon taste?"
"Yum!" Morti continued to laugh as Sasi tickled him from inside. She'd squeezed through the large gap in his ribcage and had propped herself up comfortably inside the bone cub.
"Nix! Help, Sasi has been eaten!"
Nix wagged his finger at Morti. "I was saving her for a snack."
"Hmm... Very humerus." Nix didn't expect either of them to get the joke. He left them to continue their antics and brought out the inventory he spent most of the evening working on. He had nearly 60 of the chesty Freestyle golems. The queue took up most of the night and in the end, his crafting was raised to 74.
Edi returned from patrol while he was laying them out. "Besides the impressive chests; What's the difference between these and the others?"
"The commands are a bit more detailed. I can have them attack a specific person or anyone in a given area. If no target is around, they will not follow the detonate order unless you override." Nix sat Blinky down next to the Freestyle golems. "I'm saving Blinky for something big."
"Blinky?" Edi knelt beside him, Nix got the feeling she was smiling. "Can I have him?"
"No... People always want my shit. I learned my lesson." Nix clicked his teeth together loudly, an expression that Alphie told him signified amusement.
Pon chose that moment to run out of the cave, he was holding a round object that closely resembled a small dinner plate. "Nix! Got a new design when I got to 75!"
Nix stared at the device for a moment. "Landmine?"
Pon nodded. "Anti-personnel mine (APMs)."
Nix whistled softly or would have if he possessed lips, the sound that came out was like a loud sigh. "Tripwire?"
"Nope, pressure plate." Pon's entire skeleton was nearly dancing. "I need lots of material."
/Skelly: Nix: Send us all a list of everything you need.
Nix waited for a few seconds and then opened his hud when it buzzed. "Looks like you need to make casings. Sasi and I will handle that."
Edi was looking over Nix's shoulder. "We can use APMs at the choke point. Alfie and I will start disassembling bullets."
Nezbit nudged Pon with a bony elbow. "We'll have to draw wire for the springs, gonna need your flames!"
Sasi crawled out of Morti and waited until everyone went in separate directions. "What are we gonna do, Nix?"
"Gather up all the crap armor and weapons that you can find and pile it here. I'll start making a clay mold for the casing" Nix grabbed two large helms and headed toward the river, Morti fell in step beside him.
/Skelly: Edi: Our friends set up a forward OP (Observation Point) near the edge of our territory. There are two of them and another four hiding nearby.
/Skelly: Alfie: They think we're stupid enough to walk into an ambush.
Nix considered their next objective while he walked. With the retreat of the ice, the entire area was dripping and flowing like early spring. He started filling the helms with mud from the river bank.
Morti stood on his hind legs and kept watch. "What should I be doing?"
Nix finished his task and then opened up the hud map. "There's an OP right here." He pointed at the map while Morti's big skull moved closer. "There are a couple of others nearby. Just get rid of them and come back. Can you handle that?"
"My own mission?" Morti pushed his skull against Nix and then spun away. Within a few seconds, he was at full speed, barreling towards his objective.
/Skelly: Nix: Gonna have Morti take care of that OP. He's getting bored.
/Skelly: Edi: Is that okay? What if he gets hurt?
/Skelly: Pon: Hurt? He's a mountain-sized Bone bear! The fuck is going to hurt him?
/Skelly: Nix: It's not very far, I'll know if he gets in trouble.
The ground vibrated from the weight and power of the giant bone mass barreling down on them. Both of the lookouts were melee fighters, but instead of standing their ground they turned to run.
"Nope!" A gigantic bone paw slammed into the back of one of the guards, catapulting him into the air. Huge jaws clamped shut over the torso of the second fighter, killing him instantly with a powerful wrench. Morti spotted the small group hiding in the low ground and charged them.
Cedi has taken damage.
Gula has taken damage.
Bonpok has taken damage.
Dru has taken damage.
A reflection of light on metal, followed by a flash was all the warning the bone bear received. He leaped nimbly to one side, as the heavy projectile slammed into the ground where he'd been standing. "Too slow!"
He was in the middle of them before they could react, rearing up on his hind legs he came down on the field cannon with all of his weight, sinking it deep into the mud as the wheels popped off. "Let's play!"
Morti swatted the two nearest fighters with the same swipe, and then caught the second pair while they were in full retreat. Instead of hitting them, his big paws stomped them into the mud. Within a minute, the OP was silent once again.
Nix used an old spoon to smooth out the clay mold. Using steel that he melted down with his aura, he created a second mold. The yellow eyes gleamed from within deep recesses of his skull. "That shit looks awesome." The familiar boom of heavy artillery caused him to drop his project on the ground. Instantly he was in a full sprint toward the sound. Pon blasted out of the cave immediately after.
/Skelly: Pon: That sounded like a cannon.
/Skelly: Nix: Sure did.
/Skelly: Alfie: Want more backup?
/Skelly: Nix: Advance to your forward sniper nest and wait. Sasi, you stealth up and follow.
Pon and Nix arrived at the OP a few minutes later, Morti was in the process of digging out the cannon. He looked up when he heard Pon's panting.
"Hey! Look what I found!" Morti clamped his jaws on the barrel and slowly pulled it free. "Guess I stomped on it too hard."
/Skelly: Nix: They got a cannon. How come we didn't know that?
/Skelly: Edi: They've never had one before. The only cannons here are mounted on the Bone Fortress wall.
/Skelly: Alfie: They must have taken it.
/Skelly: Edi: No. There are no cannons in the Sandcrab Precinct. Reinforcements, cannot cross the precinct lines.
/Skelly: Nix: It has wheels. What if they found a nice hill and rolled it down. Without crossing the line themselves.
/Skelly: Edi: I'm not sure, we've never tried.
Nix started digging the wheels from the mud, the axel was broken but that could be fixed. "I used the same strategy in Eidengal when I stole a sword. You couldn't leave the room with it, so I tossed it through the doorway and then walked out."