254 Meeting the Cabal

    Jun Li blinked at the sudden drastic change in lighting. The Inferno group stepped into a well-lit room that was surrounded by a circular table.

    Neb bowed slightly to a gray-haired man dressed like a merchant and introduced them.  "Vice-Leader Jun Li, Office Sharl, Companion Floyd, and Seneschal Donri from the Inferno Guild."

    Jun Li stared at the nine men and women seated in front of them. They were dressed like ordinary people, but she wasn't going to make the mistake of treating them that way.  She bowed respectfully. "I can speak on behalf of the Inferno Guild."

    A large hud was visible in front of them, scrolling across the screen were the known accomplishments of Inferno.

    /Inferno: Jun Li: They seem remarkably well informed.

    /Inferno: Sharl: Nothing on there that a bit of digging wouldn't turn up.  I can list a few things that they missed.

    "From your reaction, I sense you are surprised by our appearances.  I can assure you that we are exactly as we appear to be, common people from Colonial, Oasis, The Sky Kingdom, Core'dium, Everspire, and the Nether." The gray-haired man gestured to his companions. "I am Teal, a caravan master from the Everspire Continent."

    The other seated people introduced themselves one at a time. The last to speak was obviously some sort of Nether Demon, she had deep brown skin that shined slightly, and her large eyes were set on the sides of her face. She expressed disappointment in the absence of Inferno's Guild Leader. "I had hoped to meet Nix here.  The Breach Commander, the Dragonslayer, the Nether Breaker, the Salamander, the Archon, and the Gemini Nemesis.  Did I leave anything out?"

    Sharl nodded.  "You left quite a few things out."

    "I am Xia, a Dark Priestess in the Nether."  The demon paused to see if her announcement had any effect.  "One of the Dragon cities reside in our territory if Inferno plans to capture it, you will need allies to deal with the Overlord who commands it."

    Jun Li shrugged nonchalantly.  "Our agenda is our own.  May I ask what the Cabal is, and why are you interested in Inferno?"

    Teal nodded. "That's fair. We are a coalition of people from all lands.  We sometimes ally ourselves with groups when we want to accomplish something outside of our expertise. Inferno has been on our watch-list since its inception. Although your accomplishments are many, the one thing that continues to stand out is your ability to build trust and gather allies."

    /Inferno: Donri: Nix would want us to exercise caution if he were here. We shouldn't agree to any tasks.

    /Inferno: Jun Li: Agreed.

    /Inferno: Sharl: Ask about the Dragon Cities.

    A flash of memory jumped into Jun Li's head, the first time she had seen Nix in Mermaid City. "What is the Cabal's interest in the Dragon Cities?"

    Teal's brown eyes studied her for a moment before he spoke.  "What makes you think we are interested in the Dragon Cities?"

    "If you aren't, then why sponsor such a high-end Quest involving the raising of Elynmoor?" Jun Li let her gaze move from one seated member to the next. "Aren't you measuring everyone's strength as soon as they come to Colonial?  That's the reason for the quests in the starter cities, to keep tabs on individuals that may climb higher than the others."

    A dark-skinned female chuckled from the seat next to Teal.  "You are an interesting case Vice-Leader Jun Li.  You started as the Guild Leader of a powerful Mid-Tier Guild. You leave the guild suddenly and immediately join the unknown Inferno.  Very shortly after that, all of Colonial is tipped on their heads repeatedly.  Who is the cause?  You?  Nix?  Sharl? Maybe the brilliant Semmi?"

    Sharl frowned at the woman. "Does it matter? Inferno is greater than the sum of its parts; we are a perfect storm."

    "Hmm... I like that term, a perfect storm."  The woman nodded, and Neb moved toward them with a small silver box.

    [The Fallen Cities Quest has been completed.]

    An ornate silver box has been added to your inventory.

    After giving Jun Li the box, Neb handed her a rolled-up piece of parchment.

    You have learned the locations of all six of the remaining Fallen Cities.

    [Guild Quest Available: Raise Hierophant City, has been updated.]

    [Guild Quest Available: Raise Bo'raz City, has been updated.]

    [Guild Quest Available: Raise Neptiphago City, has been updated.]

    [Guild Quest Available: Raise Tharaka City, has been updated.]

    [Guild Quest Available: Raise Unaqoir City, has been updated.]

    [Guild Quest Available: Raise Chyanama City, has been updated.]

    Jun Li ignored the messages scrolling across her screen. "You haven't answered my question.  What is your interest in the Dragon Cities?"

    Teal glanced around the table to the other seated members before answering. "We are not the enemies of the Dragon Masters if that's what you mean. The Cabal has more members than you could imagine, and our reach far exceeds a mere 25 Dragon Cities.  We are interested in progress and the continued economic and cultural growth of the lands we call home."

    The dark woman finally noticed Floyd.  "You are the Naga?"

    Floyd shrugged.  "I'm Floyd, a member of the Inferno Guild."

    The woman took note of his icy tone.  "I'm Uynn, and I meant no disrespect.  I would like to know more about the Naga and the Lamia."


    /Inferno: Sharl: Really?  What kind of answer is that?

    Floyd bowed toward Uynn in apology. "What I mean to say is, you're full of **."

    "....." Sharl.

    There were several chuckles at the table, but no one looked angry or put out.

    /Inferno: Floyd: Sorry... they make their goals sound so admirable.  You know what Ronnie would say.

    /Inferno: Sharl: I'm not going to let you talk to her anymore!

    Uynn reached under her chair and placed a black mat on the table. "You can go back to the Bright Sun Tavern, or if you are interested in a challenge, you can take on a small test."

    Jun Li smiled slightly. "No blind tests, tell us what the prize is, and we'll decide."

    Uynn pushed a small multi-colored stone onto the mat.

    [Temple Addition: Gemini Sniper]

    Jun Li studied it for a moment.  "The Gemini Temple only has Gladiator, Thief, Defender, Trickster, Mage, and Ranged Classes."

    Uynn pushed the stone closer.  "This will add the Sniper Class to the list of Gemini Classes the Temple is capable of producing."

    Jun Li nodded. "What do we have to do?"

    Uynn gestured to Neb, who came forward and placed the black mat on the floor.  "Just you, Jun Li. You are the Gemini Temple Champion, right?"

    "I am."

    "Defeat the Champion of the Scarlet Temple in Everspire." Uynn let her gaze linger on the black mat. "Make your choice."

    "I'll challenge.  What about my friends?"

    Neb placed a second mat on the floor.  "This will return you to the Bright Sun, where you will be our guest until the Gemini Champion returns."

    /Inferno: Sharl: Go kick ass Juni, we'll wait for you.

    /Inferno: Donri: We'll let Nix know.

    /Inferno: Floyd: Be careful.

    Jun Li waited while her three companions returned to the Bright Sun.  She drew her sword and stepped onto the black mat.
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