243 Core Races

    "Let me see that Min." Nix waited while she slid the book closer to him. The three of them stayed in the library until well after dark.  Vy was seated next to Milat and was helping them with their research.

    "It mentions three Core'dium races here."  Mina pointed to the paragraph she was referring to.

    [Core'dium races]

    Dragons: These magical reptiles were formed in the diluted spectral lakes of Core'dium. After a millennium of evolution, they left the Core'dium for the higher planes.

    Chelestias: The miners of the Core'dium, these fur-covered creatures have special senses that enable them to sense precious metals hidden in the core.

    Drahk'Dhassi: These Core'dium dhassi have evolved to live underground. They are an albino race of nomads that wander the core, hunting, and gathering.

    Nix reread the page a few times.  Spectral sounded a bit like Spectrum.  Was there a connection? The Dragons once inhabited the core. Are they related to the Spectrum?  They must know what it is, Yandro was desperate to have it.  "This raises so many questions, I'm not sure where to start."

    Vy closed the book that she'd been reading.  "I'm not even sure where to access the Core anymore."

    /Inferno: Mina: I know where we can travel to the core.

    /Inferno: Milat: You're talking about the Abyssal crater in Mermaid City?

    /Inferno: Nix: We can no longer access Mermaid City.

    /Inferno: Mina: Not strictly true.  All the entrances and gates have been deactivated. However, you should be able to open a breach inside.

    /Inferno: Nix: Theoretically I suppose.  If I know where.

    /Inferno: Mina: The crater is close to where the Arcadic Temple used to be.  No one has explored it fully.

    /Inferno: Nix: We'll head there tomorrow after we do perform our diplomatic duties with the Izzin.


    Bali appeared in the same area where Alpha Team defeated the weakened Yandro.  It was close to dark but she could see fires in the distance.  The Ain'Dhassi ranger had already figured out that Guild Chat was disabled.

    Bali has joined the Expedition channel.


    Ronnie: 551m. NW

    Nansu: 522m. NW

    Chael: 644m. NW

    Moki: 541m. NW

    Darsi: 541m. NW

    Dalton: 541m. NW

    Hyai: 522m. NW

    Banzi: 522m. NW

    Wylie: 522m. NW

    Gypsy: 544m. NW

    Zhava: 522.m NW

    Kylie: 522m. NW

    Bali studied the results of her tracking skills while she ran towards the group. With the exception of one person, they were staying in groups of two or three.  There were twelve of them in all, no one else was in the city.

    Ronnie was the first to notice the ranger.

    /Expedition: Ronnie: Don't be alarmed.  This is Bali, she's one of the Inferno Rangers.  Nix sent her here to investigate the attack.

    /Expedition: Nansu: Investigate?  What are the rest of us going to do?

    /Expedition: Ronnie: We have a mission, we'll have to adjust and work in pairs.

    Ronnie smiled at the petite ranger when she approached.  She was barely over five feet and sported a white mohawk.  "Nice hair.  You must be Bali?"

    Bali returned the smile.  "Yes.  From now on, you work for me.  Is that clear?  First thing in the morning, I'm going to conduct a thorough search of the scene.  Until then I need to rest.  Take me to my tent."

    Ronnie nodded pleasantly.  "Of course.  We were going to use the Inn as our HQ, but with the attack, I decided to deploy our Tent City to the Market area."

    Bali followed along behind her.  "I'll let you know if it's suitable."

    "This is the one."  Ronnie opened the flap of the largest tent in the area and let Bali enter.

    Bali smiled happily at the accommodations, whoever owned the tent really like luxury. "Hmm...  this is..."

    The ranger turned in time to have a fist slammed into her stomach, she dropped to her knees gasping for breath.  "What kind of way..."

    Bali leaped from the ground and drew a dagger, her wrist was secured before she could move and a second fist to the stomach put her down again.  She felt the dagger in her hand clatter on the ground.  She glanced up to see the dark archer smiling at her, her arms were folded casually across her chest.

    The Ain'Dhassi dived to one side and rolled to her feet while equipping her bow in one smooth motion.  Unfortunately, she was staring down the shaft of an arrow that was already pointed towards her.

    Bali sighed heavily and sat on the ground.  "You're a fast one."

    Ronni nodded without lowering her bow.  "Listen little ranger.  I like to fight and I like to play.  Not always in that order. This is my expedition but I'm giving you free rein to carry out your investigation. You better not push me."

    Bali nodded sullenly.  "No need to bully me so much."

    Ronnie's dark pretty face was the picture of innocence.  "Welcome to Inferno, where we hit people who make us angry."

    Unexpectedly Bali laughed, "that's a good one.  I'm gonna use in next time someone makes me mad."

    Ronnie took a seat on the nearby cushion. "I'm guessing you'll need details on everyone before you start."

    Bali gave her a questioning look. "Do you suspect one of yours?"

    "Not really. However, I've learned that anyone can be charmed, replaced with a doppelganger or made into a minion."

    Ronnie spent the next half hour giving Bali the details on everyone in her expedition.  The ranger asked several questions while they talked and was able to formulate a good idea of what she was working with.

    "You said the Inn Keeper was attacked?  She's the one from the Emerald Salamander right?"

    Ronnie nodded, a sly smile on her face.  "You could say that; she's also Nix's girlfriend."

    Bali leaned forward, her interest obvious.  "The big boss has a lover?"

    "Three actually, but the other two are somewhere else."

    "Any others?  Maybe this is good love gone bad."

    Ronnie pursed her lips as if considering.  "Besides myself, I don't think so."

    "Did you do it?"

    Ronnie laughed at the ranger's expression.  "I do have some interest in Hyai, but it doesn't extend to fighting."

    Bali felt her face heat up.  "You're a bad one."

    "Hey... Don't judge."

    "Right.  I'm going to want to question everyone tonight while it's fresh in their heads.  Tomorrow I'll start tracking our target." Bali made a mental note, not to mess with Ronnie anymore.

    Ronnie had everyone line up outside of her tent and walk in one at a time to talk with Bali.  During this time she walked the perimeter of the camp, her dark eyes keeping watch.  Nix had trusted her with this expedition so she really wanted to do well.  She had purposefully left out who was attacked when she reported the incident. Knowing Nix, the whole town might have been in flames already had she mentioned Hyai's name.

    An hour later the last of the Inferno members were questioned. Many of them were sitting around the cookfire eating and chatting.  Hyai had summoned her Djinn to stand guard, Ronnie did the same with her Stone Golem before entering her tent.

    Bali looked up from her hud when Ronnie walked in.  "Only three people don't have someone to vouch for their whereabouts during the attack."

    Ronnie smiled sweetly. "Unless it was more than one person."

    Bali cursed under her breathe.  "Don't spoil my mood."

    "Was Chael one of those?" Ronnie didn't suspect the Inferno Sniper, but he had attacked Nansu while under a charm.

    Bali nodded.  "Chael, Zhava and Kylie."

    Ronnie frowned while she unpacked her sleeping bag. "Those are all good people."

    "That's why Nix brought me here I think.  I don't have any preconceptions."

    "I guess."  Ronnie's dark lips curved into a smile.  "You want to sleep in here?  Plenty of room."

    Bali jumped to her feet, backing toward the door.  "W-What?  No, thanks.  I like sleeping outdoors."

    Ronnie watched her flee through the tent flap.  "What's with that reaction?"


    Donri, Jun Li and Sharl took a gate to Elipo, a small coastal city located on the western continent of Jhabi.  From there they mounted manta to continue there journey.

    Jun Li was riding in the middle of her two companions. "What makes you think that Shangri and the Cabal are related?"

    Donri turned his dark eyes toward Jun Li. "Nix asked me to look into possible locations. Although technically we are heading to the Sea Farer faction HQ, the possibility of them being part of the Cabal is high."

    Sharl listen to Donri speak, she barely remembered him from before he was appointed Seneschal. "How did you know where to find Sea Farer HQ?"

    "The Central Kingdom's main Palace has an extensive library, that gave me a few ideas and Festa pointed me here."

    Jun Li smiled at the Princess's name.  "First name basis with the Royal Family? You aren't dragging Inferno into a scandal, are you?"

    Donri shrugged but didn't bother to deny it. "We are heading to the city of Oliphia, by all accounts it's one of the most beautiful in Colonial."

    "Oliphia?"  Sharl's dark face showed her confusion. "I did a quest called that in my starter city."

    Jun Li's face lit up. "Hey!  So did I.  It was one of the first ones I had to do."

    Donri nodded.  "Same here.  Which begs the question; why does a city like Oliphia sponsor such a small quest in the starter cities?"
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