519 Putrid Core part one
/Alpha: Pon: Damn... That bird is completely OP.
/Alpha: Nix: The hell you say! Don't badmouth Chupa.
/Alpha: Pon: Chupa? You named your mount?
/Alpha: Nix: Sure, makes them fly faster. Chupacabra seemed too pretentious, so I shortened it to Chupa.
/Alpha: Pon: Your naming sense is broken.
/Alpha: Nix: Right... I'm going to listen to someone who wears cowboy boots with shorts.
The two bone crows glided effortlessly within the airstream created by the wake of the raven. It was obvious that they were responding to its movements without any input from their riders. When Chupa banked into a dive a few moments later, the entire flight faded from view.
/Alpha: Donri: That's impressive as hell.
/Alpha: Nix: Starting our bombing run, Sem.
/Alpha: Semmi: Understood. We'll switch to Bravo channel and keep you updated through guild chat.
/Alpha: Pon: Be careful.
/Alpha: Semmi: I will. Take care.
/Alpha: Nix: That was very sweet, old man.
/Alpha: Donri: Very...
/Alpha: Pon: Shut the hell up.
Inferno knew that the Peril Burrough remains were bunkered within a series of connecting caves deep in the mountains from preliminary scouting reports. They assumed that these were created over the course of several years when the inhabitants of this Burrough didn't have anything to do. Unfortunately, it made bringing in a large force impossible.
Instead of coming in from above the pass, the Raven leader banked sideways into a rock crevice that was only a few meters wide; Nix ducked reflexively when his head brushed the smooth stone walls.
/Alpha: Pon: This bird is trying to kill us!
As soon as they passed through the crevice, the Raven descended to within a meter of the ground. Nix counted the cave openings on either side of the narrow pass.
/Alpha: Nix: Three on the right and one on the left, focus on the left one Don!
/Alpha: Donri: Got it.
/Alpha: Nix: Toss-em at will...
Nix dropped a half-dozen golems and directed them toward the entrance of the first cave, immediately after he started slinging the teardrop bombs as fast as he could manage. Although they were only in the ravine for a handful of seconds, they managed to drop everything they were carrying. The explosions started as soon the raven started to ascend once again.
The entrances of the caves were blasted away in chain explosions that went on for several seconds. The flight retreated out of the ravine, quickly gaining altitude before circling and heading for camp.
/Alpha: Pon: Going to have to do some more crafting, Nix. That last run depleted my reserves.
/Alpha: Donri: The Boss is gone...
Pon narrowed his eyes slightly; the Raven rider was no longer in the saddle.
/Alpha: Pon: Nix! Where the hell are you now?
Several meters below, Nix pushed emerald flames into his sword hilt and walked towards the middle cave on the pass's right side. It was the only one that seemed unaffected by their bombing run. Since he had personally tossed three teardrops into the cave, his curiosity regarding the lack of damage peaked.
/Alpha: Nix: Going to join up with Semmi and her group after investigating this cave.
/Alpha: Pon: Fuck if you're going without this old man! Wait for me.
/Alpha: Nix: Sure... Don't be such a baby. Send Don back so he can update our scouting report.
/Alpha: Donri: I'm getting fucked because I'm the new guy.
/Alpha: Nix: Yep.
/Alpha: Pon: Pretty much. You can always go back to the Central Kingdom...
Rabi bent low to the ground, his small body nearly disappearing on the rocky slope. He glanced up at his sister before shaking his head. The tiny demon's face showed his confusion. "Something isn't right... Unclean smell."
Semmi watched from below the slope's lip; there had been none of the mountains' expected movement when the explosions were detonated a few minutes earlier. She had expected it would erupt like a kicked hornet's nest, but the only response was complete silence.
/Bravo: Wind: I don't like it, too quiet.
/Bravo: Sasi: Unclean? Like undead?
/Bravo: Rabi: No. Rotten smell, like old eggs and cabbage.
/Bravo: Semmi: Let's continue forward, lead the way, Rabi.
Rabi nodded and favored Semmi with a fanged smile. "Nix and old man are here too.
Semmi stopped in mid-stride. "They should be back at camp already.
Rabi shook his head slightly. "Nope, they are close."
"Wait..." Sasi waved at her brother from the rear of the formation. "Feel that?"
Rabi paused for a moment and let his senses wander. His dark eyes closed as his lips pursed slightly; after several seconds, he opened them again. "We should retreat."
Sasi nodded in agreement. "Something bad comes."
The stench of rotten flesh hung in the air thick enough to push both Inferno members to change into their skelly forms. Nix's yellow eyes stared at the entrance before glancing at his friend. "Seems like we should be able to see a bit further into that."
Pon nodded and knelt on one knee before touching the rocky ground with a boney hand. The brown rock leading to the cave entrance felt sticky beneath his fingers. The area immediately before the cavern appeared to have been sprayed with some sort of clear, viscous fluid. "What do you think this is?"
Nix eyed the entrance a moment longer before letting a smile play on his lips. "I don't know the specifics, but I'm guessing it's a lair. Want to stay here while I investigate?"
"The fuck you say?" Skelly Pon would have been wearing a scowl had he possessed the face to do so. "There's probably some weak-ass creature in there with incredible loot! You'll whack it once, and then it will die before bequeathing you a kingdom."
Nix chuckled before nodding slightly. "Fine. You head in first, and I'll wait here unless you need backup."
Pon nodded with a huff and stomped toward the entrance; his bone feet skidded to a stop just before he entered. "Hey! I know what you're doing! There's probably some sort of trap just inside; one step further, and I'll be captured until you manage to free me."
Nix clicked his teeth at the fire mage. "Make up your mind, old man. Can't have it both ways."
Pon tapped his staff on the rock a few times before answering. "Fine! Let's both go in."
/Inferno: Nix: Pon and I are heading into one of the caves. Something strange is going on; the enemy encampment is empty.
/Inferno: Jun Li: The may have moved. Where's the scout team?
/Inferno: Semmi: We are east of Nix's position. There's definitely something odd going on here. Sasi senses something powerful, but can't say what.
/Inferno: Nix: Pon and I will investigate, make your way our position, and guard the entrance.
/Inferno: Wind: It's our turn to investigate, Boss.
/Inferno: Pon: Heh... First come, first serve! Should have climbed faster.
Morti held an oversized paw over his black nose. "Something smells bad, Nix."
Nix leaned against the cub, suddenly glad he'd decided to summon his companion. "Use your bone form if the smell is too much."
Morti plopped down on his haunches and took in his surroundings. "My helmet doesn't fit when I'm in Bone form."
The Inferno leader tightened the leather chin strap that held the shiny helm. "Let's head in then, or the scout team is going to complain about us going first."
Pon nodded in agreement. "After you."
Nix gestured for the cave bear to get up and then walked beside him through the entrance.
[All communications with the outside have been temporarily suspended.]
Pon froze in place when he read the message. "Were you expecting that?"
Nix nodded. "It's something I'm used to."
Pradi closed his dark eyes before turning completely around. "You should have warned me!"
Ducky peered over the edge of the large in-floor bath. "Warned you of what?"
The dark thief sighed heavily; after spending a few days with the Water Witch, her constant playfulness was slowly breaking him down. "You're naked. I shouldn't be here."
Ducky's all-blue eyes were filled with humor. "I like you, Pradi. Let's be friends."
Pradi smiled despite being teased. "Fine, we're buddies." The Slaughter guild's top thief had spent nearly a full day investigating the faction positions. Everything pointed to a mysterious third faction. Ducky had confessed to him that she worked for a powerful dragon called Deidra. If that was true... The dragons had once defeated Khione, although, by all accords, the price of doing so was quite high.
"Glacia hides from me because she fears that I'm aligned with her old boss. That is not the case."
Pradi shivered slightly. When he first arrived in the Bone Fortress, Glacia had possessed two eyes. She disappeared for several days, and when she returned, the ice blue eye had been replaced with an empty socket. "There's a rumor that there's a nymph in the lower levels."
Ducky stood slowly, the water of her bath running down her pale blue skin. "Doubtful. I would sense if one of my sisters was close."
Pradi heard her leave the bath and then waited a few minutes before turning. Instead of dressing, Ducky was standing in front of her open window, enjoying the sea breeze. "Why aren't you dressed yet?"
Ducky smiled over one shoulder. "Sorry... It's my nature to tease others. Have you made a decision?"
Pradi nodded slowly. For months he'd been sitting on his hands, receiving every crappy assignment because of his inability to control his words properly. His wisecracks in guild chat were meant to lighten the mood but instead had placed a target on him. "My friends are all gone, and I'm stuck here with a bunch of asshats."
Ducky picked up a white gown from her bed and slid it over her head. "Then, from now on, we are allies."
Pradi sighed loudly. It couldn't be worse than being weighted down by the Trifecta.
[Freedom Fighter Completed]
You have learned a new ability: Water Attunement.
You have discovered a hidden Thief Sub-Class: Wave Runner.
Pradi's dark eyes widened in shock as new skills scrolled across his hud. "Holy crap!!!"
A new quest has been discovered [Awaiting Contact].