139 Hero Bird

    [Return of Isla Fra'sa to the Ain'Dhassi]

    Summary: During the Mere Stone Conflict, the territory of Isla Fra'sa was conquered by the Su' Dhassi and the Fir' Dhassi forces.  The Fir' Dhassi has maintained possession of the Island long after peace was declared. The Mere Stone Mine that lay at the heart of the conflict is no longer producing any Mere Stone.

    [Approving Opinion: Serai Del Tali]

    [Dissenting Opinion: Tura Raine Xai]

    /Guild Officer: Nix: These two butt heads fairly often on dockets. The Ain'Dhassi and the Fur' Dhassi have never gotten along.  The Su' Dhassi will on occasion form temporary alliances if it suits them.

    Nix selected the Approving Opinion.

    [Serai Del Tali]

    The territories of our three races have long been established.  Never before has the conquest for land be allowed in Oasis.  The mine on this island no longer is active and the land is used as a staging area for raids.  This unbalances the power between the races.

    /Guild Officer: Nansu: Wow... Is this what you guys do?  I never thought Officer meetings might be interesting.

    /Guild Officer: Pon: We all seen what Tura Raine is capable of, perhaps it would be wise not to piss her off too much right away.

    /Guild Officer: Jun Li: Sounds like the Mere Stone war was actually beneficial to her.  The Fir' Dhassi gained some land and thousands of captives.  If checks and balances aren't applied, this world could very quickly fall under one races rule.

    "Maybe so." Nix clicked on the Dissenting Opinion and the image of Tura Raine filled his hud.

    /Guild Officer: Nix: Let's see what Tura Raine has to say.

    [Tura Raine Xai]

    There's been a long-standing agreement between the races that precious resources must be shared. Both the Fir' Dhassi and the Su' Dhassi approached the Ain'Dhassi with trade offers for reasonable quantities of Mere Stone.   The Ain' Dhassi saw the Mere Stone as a way to expand their power and refused both races.  The Fir' Dhassi expended vast resources in the Mere Stone war.  The acquisition of the mine and Isla Fra'sa is our just compensation.

    /Guild Officer: Semmi: Small movements like this are often part of carefully laid out plans. If the Fir'Dhassi gains power to the point where they don't have to worry about the reactions from the other two races...

    /Guild Officer: Jun Li: Then they will rule Oasis.

    /Guild Officer: Pon: Logical.

    /Guild Officer: Wind: Bad for us if they manage it.

    [Approve:76 Dissent:146]

    Nix selected the vote icon.

    [Cast 75 votes for Approve?]


    /Guild Officer: Nix: That's about it.  You can stay for this last part if you like.

    Nix walked back to the couch and lay down with his head on the pillow.

    [Ice Sparrow]

    The small bird appeared on the couch cushion and then quickly hopped onto Nix's elbow.

    /Guild Officer: Ronnie: Pretty.

    /Guild Officer: Nansu: Woah... That's really nice.

    /Guild Officer: Semmi: I'll open the window and wait.  The Ain'Dhassi camp is NW of where you scouted earlier.

    /Guild Officer: Nix: Hopefully they won't shoot me.

    Nix flew out the window and this time headed toward the orchards.  He perched comfortably in a tree for sometime before moving to another tree.

    /Guild Officer: Ronnie: What you seeing Nix?

    /Guild Officer: Nix: Nothing yet, doing the bird thing in the orchard.

    /Guild Officer: Nansu: What's the bird thing.

    /Guild Officer: Nix: You know, flying from branch to branch and pecking things.

    Nix hopped off the branch and took to the air, keeping low he passed through the barrier and headed North.

    Within a few minutes, he passed over the ambush site, according to Semmi all the Dhassi races maintained a camp outside of Parliament.  The Parliament was supposedly surrounded by a large neutral area where conflict isn't allowed.  The assassination attempt of the Ain'Dhassi youths was a clear violation of that agreement.

    Nix gained as much elevation as he dared, making sure to use the upper branches of the forest trees as cover.  The sounds of blades clashing caused him to pull up and land quickly on a branch.

    /Guild Officer: Nix: Fighting...

    It only took a moment to zero in on the combatants. Two figures chased a third through the woods.  Nix took to the air and closed in, it was a running battle that showed just how fast and agile the Dhassi are.  From the sounds of their grunts and curses, all three were male.  The pursuit managed to catch their prey twice but each time he fought them off.

    /Guild Officer: Nix: All three fighters are masked, perhaps that's normal for Dhassi.

    Finally, the fleeing warrior made a mistake and took a deep cut to his chest.  He backed up to the river that Nix had flown over a few days earlier.

    /Guild Officer: Nix: Jump in idiot...

    The assailants spread out, backing him up to the river.  The more aggressive one leaped out and slashed at the wounded Dhassi. "We'll see if Raine keeps leadership without your backing old fool."

    The wounded man leaped backward into the water, submerging himself while his enemies cursed loudly and pursued.  Nix left the branch and climbed quickly.

    /Guild Officer: Nix: Hopefully I have some clout with the Ain'Dhassi camp.

    It only took Nix a few minutes to find the camp, he had been forced to go above the trees for a few moments to spot it.  Once he knew the direction he flew straight for the camp.  The Ain'Dhassi camp was set up where the river curved, forcing the current to slow quite a bit.  There were dozens of white tents.

    /Guild Officer: Nix: Their tent city is nicer than ours.  Where would the big wigs be?

    /Guild Officer: Jun Li: The biggest tent, probably in the middle for protection.

    The biggest tent was easy to spot from the air, there was a large table set up outside of it with several people sitting down eating.  Since Nix didn't have time to waste he landed right in the middle of the table.

    Nix cursed silently, he was hoping to find Del Tali but she wasn't there.  The men at the table stared for a moment.

    "Hey!  It's the Winter Sparrow!"

    Nix turned his bird head to look at the speaker.  It was the larger youth from the assassination attempt.

    The Dhassi beside him stared at Nix, his face looked young but Nix had the feeling he was definitely one of the Elders.  His eyes were so pale they were nearly white, his snow-colored hair was cut short.  "You said it understands?"

    "Yes.  Del said the same thing."

    Nix flew back in the air, hovering over the table for a moment before flying toward the river.  He did this a few times.

    /Guild Officer Nix: F*ck guys... Figure it out already.

    The older Dhassi stood up.  "You want us to follow you?"

    A minute later Nix was flying downstream over the river while the Dhassi kept pace on the far side.  They had sprung into action unbelievably fast.

    Less than two miles downstream they found them.  The wounded man was standing in knee-deep water with his back to the steep riverbank.  The two attackers turned at the sound of horses, Nix was too far away to hear anything but they fled quickly into the forest.

    The Ice Dhassi brought their horses into the water, stopping a few meters away from the wounded man.  The elder seemed to recognize the wounded man.  "I'm Morai Sai Tali, you are hurt but I will not ask my healer to help a masked dhassi."

    The wounded man pulled his mask down.  "Tura Delyn Xai well met Grand Elder Morai Sai."

    The elder made a gesture and one of the dhassi dismounted and approached  Delyn.  Nix watched from his perch on the bank as the dhassi healed the wounded man.

    "Thank you for rendering aid.  I would most certainly have perished if not for your timely arrival."  Delyn finished the statement with a deep bow, oddly the elder wasn't looking at him but at the riverbank.

    "This Winter Sparrow seems to have a knack for saving dhassi.  He came to our camp and then led us here."  The elder held out his hand, palm up.  "Come."

    /Guild Officer Nix: Fine... I'll peck your old eyes out if you try and nab me.

    Nix hopped on the hand of the elder, up close the pale eyes looked even older.

    "You're saying the bird brought you?"

    The sound of more horses stopped any further conversation.  A half dozen Fir' Dhassi exited the woods, their mounts sent water in all directions as they splashed toward the Ain'Dhassi.

    Delyn held up his hand when they were close enough to see his face.  "There is no conflict here. Be at peace."

    The masked leader of the group nodded and dismounted before pulling down her mask.  "Master Delyn... Are you well?"

    Delyn nodded.  "Manners first apprentice, you stand in the presence of Grand Elder Morai Sai Tali."

    /Guild Officer: Nix: Morai, Tura, and Serai are all titles right?

    /Guild Officer: Semmi: Correct: Morai, Serai, and Tsai are all Ain'Dhassi ranks. Bera, Tura, and Ura are Fir' Dhassi ranks.

    Nix didn't realize the newcomer's identity until she bowed.

    "Greetings Honored Elder, I'm Raine Xai."  She wore the plain brown leather armor that Nix had seen in the courtyard, there was a black recurve bow slung across her back.

    Nix decided he had stayed long enough and hopped off the elder's hand before flying downstream.  After several minutes he turned back toward Parliament.

    /Guild Officer: Nix: On my way back.  I didn't get to explore much.  I'm like a hero-bird or something.  I'll brief you when I get back.


    A half an hour later, Nix was recovering on the couch with a cold beer in his hand.  While he was out Pon and Wind made a quick run to the courtyard.  "This is speculation, but I'm guessing that there are factions within Clan Xai that are battling for control.  This Delyn character is obviously one of Raine's supporters."

    Semmi nodded. "He's also a Master Ranger.  Raine is his apprentice."

    "I didn't see him with a bow, only swords."

    "This is part of the brief that I will be sending out in the next few hours. The Ranger class has two paths, the sword, and the bow."  Semmi closed her hud and leaned back in her chair.  "You look tired Nix."

    "Everyone get some rest, we are going to hit Mermaid City hard tomorrow." Nix grabbed the pillow, clearly intent on using the couch.

    /Guild Officer Jun Li: Sounds good Nix.  I'll be on the morning raid.

    Nix waited until they all file out, only Mina had remained.   "You seemed troubled Min."

    Mina nodded and sat down.  "The Chaos Gate, I failed miserably."

    Nix shook his head.  "No one was expecting that Min, next time you will be ready."

    Mina grabbed his hand, squeezing it slightly.  "We were married and living in the beach cottage."

    Nix smiled.  "A cute daughter named Lisa who liked to draw on Soup's shell?"

    Unexpectedly Mina started crying.  "Yes... She was beautiful and sweet.  We shared the same illusion?"

    "I suspect that all of us shared things to some extent.  The strength of the illusion was that it presented something nice.  In your case, a daughter."  Nix hugged her close for a moment while stroking her hair.

    After several minutes Mina stopped crying and sat up straight.  "How did you break the illusion?"

    Nix shrugged, not wanting to say that he had to kill the illusions of Hyai, Mina and Shae to break free. "Head back to the Sea-World Min, I'm going to rest here a bit."
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