116 Then there were two

    Nix opened his eyes slowly, mid-morning on the fifth floor and nearly an hour before they were required to vacate the level.  Hyai and her Aquarion friends were clearing the camp while Jun Li was showing her companions how to take the tents down.  He was leaning back against Morti who was snoring softly, someone had placed a blanket over his legs.

    Morti turned his head when Nix moved.  "Nix. Can you bring Pinky into Inferno?"

    "She's already in a guild Morti.  Tea Leaf I think, right?"

    "I don't like them.  They aren't very nice to her." Morti's big brown eyes stared at him,

    "Did something happen I should know about?"  Nix stood up, he scruffed the fur on Morti's head, making the black hair stand up.

    Mort moved to a sitting position. "They told her she'd have to leave the guild if I didn't help them."

    "I see... Did Pinky tell you that?"

    "No, she hasn't mentioned it.  I heard them talking to her."

    Nix nodded.  "I'll take care of it.  You should go to visit Shae, she's been missing you."

    /Inferno: Jun Li: Nix are you heading out?

    /Inferno: Nix: After I lend a hand with clean-up, I want to check on Darsi and Donri.

    /Inferno: Jun Li: Salamander has petitioned us to remove the ban on them coming to Glory Island.

    /Inferno: Nix: They want access to the Embassy?

    /Inferno: Jun Li: Yes. What do you think?

    /Inferno: Nix: Lift all bans regarding ferry travel to Glory.  They can take the ferry like everyone else. We won't allow portal access to any non-Inferno members.

    Colonial System Message: A Bridge had been spotted in the Great Escalades Barrier to the far west.  Rumors of a New World with powerful inhabitants are starting to circulate.  Please check the forums for further details.

    /Inferno: Nix: Can someone investigate that?

    /Inferno: Semmi: I'm on it Nix, I'll have a full report by the end of the day.

    /Inferno: Nix: Thanks, Sem.

    He spotted Hyai stacking up the cooking pots.  "Hey, let me do that.  Why don't you show your companions the Inn."

    Hyai favored him with a smile.  "Thanks, hun. I really should get started on lunch prep."

    After helping clear camp, Nix found the elevator attendant. "Wanted to ask you something.  Why am I cleared to the 61st floor?

    "You're Morti's companion right?"  The large armored man smiled like the bear was his best friend.  "Since he's your Spirit companion, your Guild Cards are linked."

    "I see, thanks."  Nix reentered the elevator and chose the 50th floor."

    The elevator dinged and opened up.  Nix froze in place when he saw her.

    An Air Spirit glided smoothly toward him.  She was nearly transparent and completely devoid of clothes.  "Welcome to the 50th floor.  I am Esta, the floor Steward."

    Nix bowed slightly.  "Greetings, I am Nix. Is this what I think it is?"

    Esta nodded, her air hair flowing gracefully.  "Yes, it's a portal."

    "To anywhere?" Nix frowned at the huge device.  It represented a security threat if an entire guild could land here and then launch an assault at Inferno.

    "Yes, you can port in from any destination in Colonial, providing you have access to this floor. Furthermore, the 50th level of this Embassy is a free binding point."

    Nix shook his head.  "I would like security measures put in place.  No one who ports into the tower from outside of Glory may exit the Embassy."

    Esta smiled at the Nix. "You have interesting eyes, but I cannot do that, sir."

    "This Embassy is on Glory Island. I will simply dismantle the entire building if you won't agree."

    Esta laughed but then quickly covered it up.  "Sir, the Embassy cannot be dismantled."

    Nix brought up the Glory Island Menu.  A hud map of the island appeared, when he touched his finger on the Embassy it lit up.

    [Do you wish to destroy the Embassy?]

    "WAIT!"  Esta stared at the menu and bowed her head.  "Forgive my mirth Sir.  I didn't realize your identity."

    "I am Nix, Guild Leader of Inferno, The Champion of the Palace of Fire and Air. You may be able to control this floor, but this building is on Glory Island and is the home of the Inferno Guild."

    "Of course Sir. We are enjoying your hospitality."

    Nix closed the menu.  "I am not being unreasonable. Restrict those who port-in from other places to the Embassy."

    Esta sighed, she had started badly.  She could sense the smallest measure of Air within him. "It is my honor to greet the Palace of Air Champion. Anyone who arrives through this portal will not be able to use our exits."

    /Inferno: Nix: The 50th floor is a Portal.  Once you make it to this level you receive a free binding point.

    /Inferno: Jun Li: That's bad Nix.  An entire guild could launch an attack from there and we wouldn't even know they were on the island.

    /Inferno: Nix: No worries, if you use the portal to enter the Embassy, you are not allowed to exit.

    When Nix headed back to the elevator, the Air Elemental moved to block his path.

    "Does the Palace of Air have access to Air'Voilla?"

    Nix nodded.  "Why do you ask?"

    [Summons: Ea'Shadai]

    The small Arch-Wind appeared in the air behind Nix.  Right away she realized it was a single summons.

    [Wind Haste]

    Ea'Shadai has increased your movement speed by 30 percent.

    Esta gasped when she saw the Arch-Wind.  "An Air Priestess!"  She bowed deeply and introduced herself.  "I am Esta Helisstuiride."

    Shadai moved closer to Nix.  "A Stormsinger here?"  She glanced at Nix, "is she being troublesome?"

    Nix shook his head.  "Not really. Just a small misunderstanding."

    "I bet she wants access to Air'Voilla."  Shadai shook her finger at the Air Elemental.  "That is the home of Arch-Winds!"

    Esta leaned closer, smiling at the priestess.  "I only want to play for a bit."

    Shadai shook her head.  "My companion has access to a world that you may have some fun in, but you'd have to pay a price."

    Nix shook his head.  "I can't bring her to the Sea-World."

    "Sea World?" Esta circled them both quickly, her movements blurring her form.  "Water and Air together? That sounds amazing!"

    "I'll consider it. Let's discuss it another time."  Nix opened the elevator and waited until Shadai landed beside him before choosing the 60th floor.

    The elevator opened up once again, immediately the sounds and smells of Colonial flooded his senses. Shadai ducked behind Nix, and grabbed onto his sleeve.  "It's a city, kinda like the 10th floor only not limited to weapons and armor."

    There were hundreds of brightly colored tents everywhere.  Vendors hawked their wares in the streets, while NPC customers by the dozens examined their goods. There were no players that Nix could see. White stones covered the marketplace, there were several small stages where people sang or dance.  A theater troupe performed on a large stage that had stadium seating built around it.

    "Apprentice!  Of course, you are strong enough to get here." Chiba was dressed in proper clothes for once, sleek white armor and her shoulder-length hair was pulled back into a ponytail.

    "Master... What are you doing here?" Nix studied the Swordmaster, her normally cavalier disposition was absent.

    "Did you think this place some sort of market?  No.  It's where you can buy a few more minutes of life."  She turned and pointed to a domed building in the far distance.  "This floor is the Embassy Arena!"

    "Arena?  Do you fight in the Arena?" Nix studied her gear, the armor was definitely high end and the sword was the one she had taken from Calyph.

    Chiba bowed slightly.  "Advance in the Arena and you will eventually have to face me."

    Nix considered the words carefully.  Chiba was better than anyone he'd ever heard of with a sword, but defeating her using abilities may be possible.  "How far would one have to advance?"

    "To the end.  I am the Arena Champion."

    [A champion that you may challenge is present.  Defeating this Champion will result in a major upgrade.]

    Nix wasn't interested in fighting Chiba, he had a genuine fondness for her.  "I am just looking around Master."

    "Smart and handsome."  Chiba lay a hand on his shoulder. "I would like to see you here for the next few days.  It's time to continue your sword training."

    "Of course.  I will make an effort to come in the mornings if that works."

    Chiba nodded and then walked away without another word.

    /Inferno: Nix: The 60th floor is a huge Bazaar that seems to have everything. There is also a fighting Arena.


    Shadai returned to the Sea-World while Nix walked toward the Scorched Earth temple to check on Darsi.

    "Finally come to see me?"  Darsi was sitting with Fajii and Nansu on the bench next to the Temple's garden.

    "Hmm.. Interesting changes."  Darsi looked nearly the same as before, the biggest change were the pointed ears.

    "I look like an elf now."  She smiled at Fajii, "An elf and a dark elf, tell me that doesn't make you think."

    Fajii stood and greeted him with a hug.  "My High Priestess would like a word with you, she won't tell me why."

    "Um... Sure.  When I can arrange it. I came by to check on Darsi, now I have to see how Donri is doing."  Nix strained his ears, listening for the telltale sign that Sori Dah was close.

    Colonial System Message: The capital city of Safarza has been destroyed.  A Palace of Fire has been constructed in Safarza.

    /Inferno: Jun Li: Nix?

    /Inferno: Nix: All Inferno members return to Glory and stand by.

    Nix ran out of the Scorched Earth Temple and up the stairs to the Palace of Fire and Air.  Just as he came into view of the thrones, both Rhylia and Shae appeared.

    Nix's face showed his anger when he stopped abruptly.  An entire city had been destroyed.  "Sogon?"

    Shae nodded.  "Has to be."

    /Inferno: Nix: Milat, Wind, and Semmi.  Drop whatever you are doing and investigate this immediately.
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