518 Raven Fligh

    Duran stared at the tiny woman in front of him. "You're an unbelievably gorgeous creature.  Who are you?"

    "Better believe it, Shorty.  You don't know who I am?"  Bali did the quick height gauge in her head; she was at least an inch taller than the wide-shouldered, mandolin strumming Bard.

    Duran continued to play his instrument, letting the notes drift into the afternoon air.  "I do not."

    "I'm Nix, the Rat-Queen.  From now on, you work for me.  How big is your tent?"  Bali gave him the once over, his attire screamed vagabond, but he had a certain amount of charm.

    "Um... Nix is actually a 'Rat-King.'  That's not you."

    Bali's pretty face twisted in her best Pon-scowl. "The heck you say!  Fine, I'm incognito here, half-pint.  I'm Duran, the ruler of Eidengal."

    "Duran!"  Nix waved from across the camp, where the group of Inferno Officers was forming.

    Bali grinned and returned his wave. "See? Talk to you later, Bard."

    Duran fell in step beside her, a wide smile playing on his face.  "You're Captain Bali, the Ain'Dhassi ranger!"

    Bali shrugged slightly.  "Fine,  but I'll probably be promoted soon."

    Duran laughed at the ranger's antics.  "I do like a tall woman."

    "Smooth talker, I see."  Bali threw an arm around his shoulder.  "Can you shoot a bow?  I'll teach you after my meeting is over. That mandolin won't do you any good in a fight unless you hit someone over the head with it."

    Duran slowed his step when his sister's children approached. They both bowed low when he entered the area.

    "Your Majesty!"  Edi and Alfie greeted him at the same time.

    "Enough of that crap."  Pon's crabby old face scowled at them.  "You two!  Thanks for telling the assassin hiding in the woods which of us is the King."

    Bali nodded sagely. "It's true. If I were hiding in that treeline, Shorty would have just received an arrow in his eye."

    [Whisper: Ronnie to Bali] Hey, Sweets!  Question.  Why are you calling King Duran, Shorty?

    Bali glanced at Ronnie and then back at Duran.

    [Whisper: Bali to Ronnie] Half-Pint is really the King?  Dang, it... He said he was a Bard!

    [Whisper: Ronnie to Bali] Odd, short people, are usually more reliable.

    Nix waited while the last of the group closed in.  He'd sent Shae back to Colonial to spearhead their budding plans.  "Pull up a chair everyone, or stump, rock, whatever..."

    /Officer: Jun Li: Let's get started.  I've temporarily invited our guests into the channel so that they can get a general idea of our direction.

    /Officer: Semmi: As we speak, Shae is teaming up with Sulane and Caza from the Resolute Guild.  The three of them will be getting the Colonial governments behind us.

    /Officer: Sharl: Is this new?  Toward what end?

    /Officer: Nix: Yes, recent Intel shows that a rival has been growing under our noses.  A three guild alliance, called the Trifecta, have been running rampant in Colonial since Inferno headed into Everspire.

    /Officer: Semmi: They're strong and well organized.  To put it bluntly, we plan to start a war with them.  The 12 Pillars will root them out, destroy their buildings, halls, and fleets.

    /Officer: Jun Li: We don't really care about the Trifecta, but their interference could affect our final battle.

    /Officer: Nix: We'll leave the Trifecta to the 12 Pillars.  Tura Raine Xai just passed a docket that puts all of Oasis behind us.

    /Officer: Semmi: Our Titan development program is developing rapidly.  We could have Titan states in Mid-Everspire by the time we finish here.

    /Officer: Jun Li: This brings us to our immediate goal in the Bone Fortress.  We have a construct order for a small fortress, but we won't build until we control the Honor (12), Burrough.  This will be our pivotal fight; we will have to face three Burroughs at once.

    /Officer: Nix: Our intel says there are four thousand troops in the Keep. If the remaining are divided evenly, that means that we'd have a numerical advantage in every Burrough until we are ready to take the Keep.

    /Officer: Jun Li: It's difficult to guess what strategy they'll use.

    /Officer: Ronnie: Do you think they'll stack up, Honor?

    /Officer: Semmi: We've gone through it a few times; no matter what, we have to be ready.

    /Officer: Bali: I've seen the map and read the rules.  Sorry for speaking out of turn since I just arrived, but I know exactly how I'd beat us.

    /Officer: Nix: Spill it, Captain.

    /Officer: Bali: If I was running things.  I'd empty out the Honor Burrough.  That way, the moment you stepped into it, you'd take control of it.

    /Officer: Pon: The hell would you do that for?

    /Officer: Semmi: Clever girl.  They give us Honor and then can attack immediately from the Dawn (11), Misery (10), and Agony (9) Burroughs. They'd have surprise and numbers on their size.  One last gamble before falling back to the Keep.

    *******Author's Note********

    There's a map of the Bone Fortress zone on discord if anyone needs a reference.  I wish we could include maps in the text.


    /Officer: Jun Li: We could get overrun if we didn't see it coming.

    /Officer: Semmi: We need our two crafters to start building deterrents.  Please give us any advantage you can.

    /Officer: Nix: We'll start building more barricades while Pon and I do our thing.  Several more companions have been summoned; Wilo, King Lubo, and Floyd are here.

    /Officer: Wind: I'm going to summon Commander Bensic before our next offensive.  I can't force him to speak, but I can make him fight his own people.

    /Officer: Nix: We're going to do a short bombing run, try and slim the numbers down a bit.  Our scout team will use that opportunity to sneak in.

    /Officer: Semmi: On a side note, our comm rings for the brooms we confiscated have all gone silent.  This could mean that our undercover gig is up.  We'll put that aside until we know for sure.


    An hour later, Nix was distributing teardrop bombs into three separate piles.  He would take Pon and Donri into the mountains to try and make things miserable for the guerilla fighters.  Sasi, Rabi, Wind, and Semmi would attempt to break into their perimeter and scout out the situation.

    ********Author's Note**********

    Donri is a Black fire Mage that returned from the Central Kingdom, acting as the Seneschal for the Royal Family.  He's also a former tank covert that was part of Nix's first grouping experience with Bulo the Black Bear.


    "You two ready?"  Nix stowed his own pile of explosives away before glancing up at the two mages.  The dark-haired Donri hadn't spoken much since leaving his Seneschal position with the Central Kingdom, but he had made it clear that he wouldn't be accepting any missions that brought him back to Colonial.

    Donri nodded while his dark eyes watched the shadows swirling around Nix's Raven mount. "I think your mount has the Shadow Element."

    Pon scowled and stepped into the saddle of his mount.  "With his luck, I'm surprised his mount isn't a dragon."

    Donri shared a glance with the old fire mage before looking back at Nix.  "The way I hear it, Nix has already mounted a few dragons."

    Pon's laughter drowned out whatever reply Nix made as the old man brought up his hud and added three waypoints to their route into the mountains.  "Our team will be coming in through a small side route that's obstructed from LoS (Line of Sight).  They should be able to get in unseen, providing we blow up enough **."

    /Alpha: Nix: We're heading out now, we'll fly unstealthed, so they see us coming.

    /Alpha: Wind: Don't get shot down, Boss.

    /Alpha: Nix: We got this. What could possibly go wrong?

    /Alpha: Semmi: Oops...

    /Alpha: Pon: Damn you, Nix!  Why'd you curse us like that?

    /Alpha: Nix:  Don't worry so much, old man... What could possibly happen to you?

    /Alpha: Pon: You're **ing with me, right?

    /Alpha: Wind: Ruthless.

    Nix chuckled and eased onto the saddle that was perched in front of the Raven's wings.  "Enough talk... Time to blow ** up."

    The three mounts shot into the air, circling camp once before heading toward the first waypoint.

    Raven has formed a Flight.

    A Bone Crow's flight speed has been increased by fifty percent.

    A Bone Crow's flight speed has been increased by fifty percent.

    A Bone Crow's maneuvering ability has been increased by thirty percent.

    A Bone Crow's maneuvering ability has been increased by thirty percent.

    Raven has shared the Shadow Element with you; this will continue for the duration of your flight.

    You have gained Shadow Sight.

    You have gained Essence Fade.

    /Alpha: Donri: I think your ride just buffed everyone.

    /Alpha: Pon: Of course it did.  It probably a **ing dragon.

    /Alpha: Donri: Speaking of **ing dragons...

    /Alpha: Pon: Heh... You keep hanging with us, Donri.

    /Alpha: Nix: This guy...


    The two demons climbed nimbly up the steep face of the bluff.  Sasi had Rabi made the verticle ascent look like a relaxed stroll.  They slowly led the two Gemini Thieves upward.

    [Whisper: Rabi to Wind] Don't summon Mimi while Sasi is with us.  They don't get along very well.

    [Whisper: Wind to Rabi] Mimi isn't my spirit companion, so I can't summon her.  I already told you this.

    [Whisper: Rabi to Wind] Right!  Sorry!  Rabi forgets things; that's why Sasi does all the planning.

    /Alpha: Semmi: Okay, let's go over the plan while we climb.  Our bombers should start their run in a few minutes.  We move in quietly and maybe get a chance to remove the leadership.

    /Alpha: Wind: Understood.

    /Alpha: Semmi: Once we get inside the perimeter, Rabi will take point.

    Rabi nodded happily.  "I'll find the bosses!"

    [Whisper: Semmi to Wind]  Making Rabi a spirit companion was a good acquisition for you. Did you bring the King?

    As if answering, the tiny red gecko poked his crowned head out of Wind's collar, his dark eyes darting in all directions before retreating.

    [Whisper: Wind to Semmi] Yep.
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