501 Pathfinder Returns
Pon inhaled for the third time in as many seconds. "Damn... That smells so good."
The group watched as Raine roasted a small deer over an opened flame next to the river. Alfie and Edi were both wearing [Thine Enemy] rings and were chatting amiably while the Fir'Dhassi cooked.
"What race are you?" Alfie asked Raine as she basted the meat with herbs she had gathered. Since she was cooking, Nix had given her one of the rings to wear. Her pointed ears had drawn the archer's attention.
"I'm a Fir'Dhassi, from Inuit." Raine was used to the stares of both men and women. "If Nix and I get married one day, all of Oasis will unite under his banner."
Nix coughed loudly from his place in the water, he was standing kneedeep in the clear stream while trying to catch one of the silverfish with his bare hands. "Oi... Don't go deciding things by yourself!"
"Right... Sorry, Nix" Raine's expression said that she didn't take his words to heart. "Some of the cuts are done, who wants it rare?"
Nix shook his head. "No red for me."
Pon nodded in agreement. "Same for me, burn mine."
Alfie and Edie bore a strong resemblance to each other. They were both on the short side with dark hair and eyes. Alfie smiled a lot while his sister seemed to guard her expressions more carefully. Rain used a sharp knife to dish them both large cuts of the meat she was preparing.
"Bone Fortress is a seed world. Where is it located?" Nix looked up from his task in the river, his understanding of seed worlds was that they must be attached to something.
Alfie closed her eyes, savoring the first bite for a long moment before answering. "The Bone Fortress is attached to the armory in Eidengal."
[Whisper: Pon to Nix] Didn't Gideon's last report from that eye thingie say that Khione mentioned Eidelgal?
[Whisper: Nix to Pon] Yes. Hopefully, those plans are delayed since she unexpectedly got her ass kicked.
Pon laughed loudly, causing everyone to look at him. The old man shrugged slightly. "Sorry... Was remembering something funny."
Raine stirred the glowing embers with the end of a blackened stick. "My rank says, Bishop. What does that mean?"
"It does?" Alfie licked one of his fingers, not worrying at all about manners. "It's a court rank within Bone Fortress. The strongest fighters of Bone Fortress fall into two categories, Royal and Dark Court. Bishop is a rare rank within one of those courts."
Nix finally decided to give up on catching silverfish and waded toward the riverbank. "Chiba holds the Bishop rank also. What does the Emperor rank mean?"
Edi shrugged slightly while scooting closer to the fire. The feeling of warmth was welcomed after so long as an undead. "Only Tautius has held that rank here. Had he still been here, we would have never lost the Fortress."
The group finished the rest of their meal in companionable silence, occasionally asking a question about each other. The nice thing about having a face was being able to see the expressions of others when they spoke.
Edi's bare feet were nearly resting in the glowing embers of the dying campfire. "We should keep the rings secret."
Nix nodded slightly and accepted a hand from Raine who pulled him to his feet. "Semmi probably already has it planned out."
Alfie grinned at the mention of the blonde officer. "Semmi is very beautiful."
Nix laughed at Pon's sour expression as Raine led him away from the group. "On that, we can agree." He followed her deeper into the woods, enjoying the quiet solace of the evening. "Where we going?"
"I found this a few days ago. Could you heat it up a bit?" Raine stopped at the edge of a small pool and started undressing.
Nix watched until she entered the water and then knelt on the rocks. "Say when." His extended hand glowed with emerald flame and submerged into the water.
Raine waited for several seconds while the small pool heated up. "That's fine, Nix. Please join me."
Gideon listened to the brief while observing the four people sitting around him. Three dragons and a salamander, the last of which had requested his presence at Nix's ranch. Shae reported everything she knew about the Bone Fortress. Their Solomon key was once again inactive, no one else could be sent through at this time. "Nix wants me to take my team and find this coven?"
Shae nodded. Nix specifically told her to seek out Gideon and give him this assignment. The Pathfinder team had accepted multiple missions from the Inferno leader in the past. "There isn't much to go on. Our only clue is that it is someplace cold."
/Pathfinder: Gideon: Everyone meet up at the Gemini Temple. We'll discuss the mission there.
/Pathfinder: Paco: On my way.
/Pathfinder: Roto: Am already there.
/Pathfinder: Jiggs: Is this a loot mission? Because I need some new shit.
/Pathfinder: Nebs: Waiting on you, Gid!
Pathfinder is a team from the Salamander Guild that Nix uses on occasion for special missions.
Gideon: Assassin (Salamander Guild Leader, a rl female named Mai)
Nebula (Nebs): Heals (Nebs has been working in Ionova for some time.)
Gideon arrived at the Gemini Temple a short while later. His group was sitting on the edge of the platform talking quietly while they watched the Titans from the Everspire Clans spar.
/Pathfinder: Paco: Inferno is making Titans now?
/Pathfinder: Nebs: As I understand, it's more like reawakening old bloodlines.
/Pathfinder: Jiggs: Surprised you could make it Nebs. Aren't you busy with the Ionova rebuild?
/Pathfinder: Roto: I hear Nix is looking for you Jiggs. Something about you engaging him to a Fir'Dhassi woman.
/Pathfinder: Jiggs: We agreed not to ever mention that!
/Pathfinder: Roto: You agreed... I only put it on the back burner until the next time you piss me off.
/Pathfinder: Nebs: Yep.
/Pathfinder: Paco: Same here.
/Pathfinder: Jiggs: Hey! Don't even kid about that.
Gideon shook his head slightly. "Settle down, we have company."
The group looked up to see their leader approaching with another person.
Ducky has joined Pathfinder.
/Pathfinder: Nebs: Hey Ducky! Welcome.
/Pathfinder: Ducky: Thanks.
Gideon waited until everyone greeted the newcomer before starting his brief. "We brought in some CC help for this mission."
Nebs slipped a hand through the Water Witch's arm, Ducky was someone she spent lots of time in Ionova. "If Ducky is coming, then this must be very big!"
Gideon didn't deny the statement. He had been told by Shae to find the second Coven so that they could bring more reinforcements in. Ducky was assigned to him until they discovered its location. "Our Mission is to search for a hidden Coven. Intel says that it is located someplace very cold."
/Pathfinder: Nebs: Like an Ice Cap? I only know of three.
/Pathfinder: Gideon: Yep. Northern Titania, the Ain'Dhassi territory around Fraya'Selene, and of course Cyphix City in Colonial.
/Pathfinder: Ducky: Shae said to leave Northern Titania for last.
/Pathfinder: Gideon: We will try Cyphix, the entrance to Everspire is close-by; perhaps the Coven is hidden there also.
1700 hours, Cyphix City.
The sun was already setting when the small group arrived in Cyphix a short while later. Despite the cold temperatures, the town was bustling with activity. A new Inn had been brought in to replace the one Hyai removed. The Temple that had belonged to the Ice Spirit Shi, was now the temple of a water spirit named Aquina.
/Pathfinder:Nebs: I haven't been here in a long time, but I don't remember Cyphix being so busy.
/Pathfinder: Gideon: A lot of people are trying to level up in the area so they can enter Everspire. We have a lot of ground to cover, everything between here and the Gladis Hub.
Jiggs stopped in place, causing Paco to run into his back. The scout ignored his cursing teammate and pointed to the Inn sign. "The hell is that supposed to be?"
"The Cold Bitch Inn..." Gideon read the sign that hung over the door of a rather new looking Inn. "Gotta start somewhere, I guess."
The warmth of an open fireplace coupled with the smell of baked bread made it welcoming despite the odd name. A striking blond woman with icy blue eyes waved at them from behind the bar. "Seat yourselves wherever you like."
Gideon nodded and pulled up a chair at the nearest table. It was fairly early for dinner, especially for players who would grind until darkness overtook them.
"Welcome to the Cold Bitch. I'm Trista, the owner." The blond stared at Ducky for a moment before a smile widened her lips. "Inferno member? Do you know, Nix and Sila?"
(Trista is a player that was introduced to Nix in Chapter Six. Sila made a point of calling her Bitch.)
Ducky nodded. "Yes. I have a few questions if you don't mind."
[Whisper: Jiggs to Gideon] Player-owned Inn, this thing must be a gold mine.
Trista nodded. "Your meal is on the house. Let me take your orders, then I'll try to answer your questions.