200 Fallen House

    Nix led Alpha Team to the exit and paused.  "Ducky, follow them without being seen."

    Ducky nodded and then vanished through the doorway, a few moments later, Alpha Team followed.

    [Whisper: Nix to Ronnie] Need some research done. We have a new Guild Quest called 'The Fallen House.'  Also, I want you to find what you can regarding the 'House Planar Trial.'

    [Whisper: Ronnie to Nix] I'm on it.

    /Alpha Team: Nix: Let's follow at a distance, Ducky is better equipped for surveillance than we are.

    /Alpha Team: Pon: Who was the jackass that hit the Strom girl?

    /Alpha Team: Semmi: Umi is the Clan leader's daughter, whoever Archon Zar is, he must be a big deal.

    /Alpha Team: Wind: Stands to reason that there would be Archons among the dhassi.

    [Whisper Nix to Shae] Do you know of any Archon among the dhassi?

    [Whisper Shae to Nix] There are a few mixed in with the Great Houses, I feel that Bael Strom is probably one.  Not all Archons serve the Sky Kingdom.

    Alpha Team traveled for nearly an hour; Ducky was sitting on a rock at the crest of a hill when they caught up with her.  The dense canopy of the heavily wooded area completely blocked out the afternoon sun.

    "Is there anything else you can tell me, Rithi?" Ducky leaned closer to the Fir'Dhassi, placing a slender hand on his knee.  "What about this Zar person?  He doesn't seem very nice."

    /Alpha Team: Pon: What skill is that?

    /Alpha Team: Nix: Bewitched I think, it's new.

    Rithi didn't take his eyes off her when they walked up.  "He's not nice; he's from the House of Oasis, the only Great House to ever fall."

    "I see."  Ducky pulled him toward her until his head rested on her lap.  "Why don't you sleep for a while."  The Water Witch stroked his forehead soothingly until his eyes closed a few seconds later.

    Ducky led them away from the sleeping man to the entrance of a small valley.  "This is called the Vale.  It's sacred to the Fir'Dhassi, stepping foot in this place is punishable by death."

    "What is the Foundation Stone?"  Nix tried not to stare at his Spirit Companion; she was like a different person altogether.

    "Rithi wasn't completely sure. He feels it's a vital part of what they are trying to do."

    Nix patted her spiked hair, it was still soft beneath his touch, even though it didn't look like it.  "Very well done."

    [Detect Disturbance]

    A large holo of the surrounding area popped up in front of Nix.  The entire valley was represented; at the Northern end, there was a group of dots showing the location of the Strom Clan.  A blinking icon located at the base of the Eastern edge drew his attention.

    /Alpha Team: Nix: They are searching in the wrong area. Follow me.

    Nix ran eastward toward the mark he had seen on the holo; within a few minutes, Alpha Team was staring at the steep granite wall.

    /Alpha Team: Semmi: This is where the disturbance was?

    Semmi had her hands pressed up against the wall; it was smooth.  Her pretty blond face was etched with focus, "it should be here."

    Pon frowned at granite wall, he scuffed his feet on the sand, the noise of it drawing his attention.

    /Alpha Team: Pon: Try going down Nix.  See the sand beneath us?  I've never seen sand so fine.

    Nix moved away from the wall and caught Ducky's eye, "can you keep people from finding us?"

    Ducky nodded and moved away from them a few feet.  "I'll keep watch Nix."

    [Aura Ignition: Gemini Flame]

    Nix pulsed his flames downward, the sand quickly melting into a liquid as if it were wax.  A moment later, he disappeared from sight.

    You have entered [The Vale] instance.

    Nix dropped several feet before landing hard on the rocks.  He dropped his flames and immediately stealthed; nimbly jumping to one side when the rest of his team came crashing down.

    Semmi stood up, rubbing her bottom with both hands.  "Someone is going to notice the huge hole in the ceiling here. We should move fast."

    They were on the steps of a stone mausoleum, light from mounted torches showed a tall set of doors.

    /Alpha Team: Wind: Rope bridge Nix.

    Nix turned away from the door, back to the path leading up to it.  A rope bridge crossed a chasm several hundred feet across.

    /Alpha Team: Nix: The entrance is probably where the Strom Clan is searching if they find it; they will have to cross the bridge.  Burn it.

    Pon nodded, both his hands were glowing with white flames.

    [Balefire: Burst]

    The middle part of the bridge that Pon targeted disappeared in a flash of flames.

    /Inferno: Ronnie: The Fallen House would be called The House of Oasis.  It was made almost entirely of Dhassi.  It only existed for a handful of years before conflicts within the House tore it apart.

    /Inferno: Nix: That matches up with what we've learned so far.

    /Inferno: Ronnie: The Foundation stone is a unique artifact that enables the formation of a new House.  When the House of Oasis fell into conflict, one of the founders stole the stone and hid it away.  Without the Foundation Stone, the House cannot remain.

    /Alpha Team: Semmi: So... They stashed the stone here, Zar must know of its existence, but he can't expose himself long enough to find it personally.

    /Inferno: Ronnie: Oh, I almost forget.  House of Oasis has many enemies within Solomon City; I'm not sure what they did.  I don't have the quest specifics yet, but I'm still working on it.

    /Inferno: Nix: Thanks, let me know what you find out.

    Nix pushed open the door to the mausoleum and stepped inside, when the last member of Alpha Team stepped in, it slammed shut with a loud crash.

    Alpha Team stood just inside the entrance.  Bright painted murals adorned the ceiling, the white marble floors reflected them almost perfectly.  There were long wooden pews meant for seating; a large altar stood alone at the far side of the room.

    /Alpha Team: Pon: The f*ck is this place?

    /Alpha Team: Fajii: Nix!

    The Aquarion pointed at the altar, a darkly armored body had appeared there.

    /Alpha Team: Nix: Was that there before?

    /Alpha Team: Pon: No.

    /Alpha Team: Wind: uh-huh.

    /Alpha Team: Nix: Split up. Pon and Semmi take the right side, Fajii, and Wind the left.

    Nix walked down the center aisle; the entire place seemed like it should be filled with worshippers.  It was as if they had all stepped out suddenly.

    The grinding of metal on stone announced the movement of the Armored body.  It slid off the altar and took a step forward; a black sword made a loud rasping sound when he pulled it from the scabbard.

    It faced Nix, dark eyes staring.  It had two horns jutting from its forehead.  "Why have you come here to the Vale?"

    /Alpha Team: Nix: Dragonspawn, prepare to fight.

    The man's chest had been sliced open and was plainly visible.  With his insides exposed, Nix could see a gold-colored stone where his heart should have been.

    "Someone seeks to raise the fallen House of Oasis, I am investigating the matter," Nix spoke quietly while drawing his Archon blade.

    "Of course, they come for the stone."  The Dragonspawn moved toward Nix, his voice slowly rising from a whisper.  "It doesn't matter who takes it now; the cost of doing so remains the same!"

    /Alpha Team: Nix: He's an Archon, so don't hold back.
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