270 Heart of Winter part one

    "Are you going to be working late Nix?" Cyan had brought a tray with his dinner since he was busy crafting.  Her silky black braid hung over one shoulder while she played with the end of it.

    Nix had found one of the few crafting rooms that hadn't been repurposed for something else. The massive amount of crafting supplies was still accessible through the bench interface. They weren't set up for Taxidermy since it was an Oasis skill, however, he did find some thermal diffusing fabric, a diamond scalpel, and an ice splinter needle.  The fabric could hold or deflect very hot or very cold items.  The ice needle infused an element of ice into whatever you were making, it had the benefit of not melting while you used it; the diamond scalpel would increase the quality of his work.

    "Thanks for bringing dinner, I'll eat in a bit after I set up a queue."

    Cyan smiled, "this is going to sound odd, but make an effort to interact with the acolytes while you are here."

    Nix laughed at her words.  "No, that doesn't sound odd at all."

    The dark-haired woman blushed slightly.  "That came out wrong.  We're building something strong and like it or not, you are part of that lore."

    Nix held up a hand to stop her. "I saw the possibilities of what could be done here when the girls needed a place to stay.  I'll help however I can."

    Cyan walked toward the exit, pausing at the door.  "Where would you like to sleep tonight?"

    "I'll take the couch in my old room if you don't mind the company."

    "Perfect, don't stay up too late Nix."

    Nix waved and began setting up his queue.

    The Nether Rat watched from its seat nearby. "That's not a Nether Rat doll."

    Nix shook his head.  "I don't have enough rat pelts to raise my skill, I'll make something else."

    Raka moved to one side when Nix started stacking pelts in the bin.  "Those are the Ashobel?"

    "I did pick up fifty thousand pelts today. The sheer amount of supplies needed to make so many would-be impossible anywhere but here.

    [Taxidermy Interface: Create a new Project?]

    "Yes, create a new project using the Ashobel."


    [Place all tools and components in the queue]

    [Ashobel pelt] [Skinning Knife: Diamond Scapel] [Needle: Ice Splinter] [Binding Spool: Ceramic Thread] [Filler: Thermal Diffusing Fabric]

    [Queue 50,000 Ashobel Dolls?]

    "Yes." Nix looked at the progress bar and stretched his hands over his head.  "We have a few hours to burn.  I thought of something while working."

    Raka looked at the Razir doll that Nix placed on the table.  "It's fine craftsmanship."

    "Right, I'm saying that my Revenants recharge while they aren't in use.  If I'm not high enough to produce an Emperor-level doll, you could jump to the Razir."

    "I'm struggling to stay in this form Nix.  Soon my Ice Soul will start bleeding out life force until I become a regular Nether Rat."

    "Will it still bleed out when the doll is higher quality?"

    "No idea.  In a perfect world, the Nether Rat would be an Ice creature."  Raka moved closer, his nose twitching.  "How did you kill the Nether Emperor? There's no way one group should have been able to manage it."

    "We developed a hard-hitting group attack that did most of the damage."

    The Nether Rat stared at him, "what about his Nether attacks?  He hits hard and he can siphon your life to replenish his."

    "An artifact that cancels Nether Spells on contact."  Nix shrugged at the curious rat.  Even though he seemed reliable, there was no need to spill the details of the battle.

    "Amazing."  Raka dropped the questioning and accepted a bit of food that Nix pushed to one side when he started eating.

    "Can you taste things in that doll?"

    Raka nodded.  "Taste and smell, although I haven't been hungry.

    "I see."  Nix drained the mug that Cyan brought him, apparently, they had a supply of Semmi's Golden Draft.

    "Won't this room be filled with Ashobel dolls in a few minutes?"

    Nix grinned at the idea.  "That would suck. They will stay in the queue until I pull them out.  If I chose to pull out all of them at once, we'd be covered in Ashobel."

    "I see."  Raka finished off the piece of meat he was eating, his red eyes watching Nix.  "I've been considering the problem Nix."

    "Hmm?  Which problem?"

    Raka moved closer until he was directly in front of Nix. "My spirit is slowly bleeding off, I think this is caused by two things."

    "Wrong element and an inferior body."  Nix finished his train of thought. "We've established that already.  I can make a better Rat."

    Raka sighed loudly.  "It would still be a rat Nix.  Even if it was a Nether Rat."

    "I once rebonded a Titan with his splintered Soul, something like this isn't going to slow me down."  Nix leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes, a few moments later his breathing deepened. "Just give me a few minutes while I consider different options."

    "Aren't you just sleeping?"  Raka laid down and waited while the Inferno Guild Leader recharged.


    [50,000 Ashobel dolls have been added to your queue]

    Your Taxidermy Skill has risen to 339

    Nix whistled when he saw how much his Taxidermy skill improved, higher quality tools and material always resulted in faster increases.

    [Queue 12,500 Advanced Ashobel Mannequins?]

    "Yes."  Nix glanced at the rat that had been watching him sleep. "I've figured it out."

    "You have?"  Raka's tone sounded doubtful.

    [Ice Sparrow]

    Nix held out the Ice Sparrow that Shi had gifted to him. "This is a creature of Ice.  It should be capable of housing your Ice Soul while I finish things."

    Raka moved closer and stared at the bird.  "It's like yours?"

    Nix nodded. "It's similar. I can animate this or give it simple tasks.  Perhaps when I create an Emperor doll, it will have the same abilities."

    "Nix, I thank you for the generosity, but I don't wish to be a bird."

    "I'm going to use this bird as the Enhancement, just like when I used the Infinity soul on Morti. Have a little faith Raka."

    The Rat-King head nodded up and down.  "Okay, Nix.  Thank you."

    "Same rules apply, this is a loaner.  I have plans to put you in a badass Ashobel King."

    Raka's two front feet gripped his hand.  "I am in your debt.  Once I inhabit an Ice body, I will gift you an Ice Flame skill."

    Nix climbed up on the bench and lay down. "I'll rest for a bit, this queue will take an hour or so."

    When Nix awoke an hour later, the Rat-King was lifeless on the bench.  He stowed it away, happy to have his hard work back.  A flash of silver/white caught his eye as Raka-Sparrow zipped around the room.

    "It feels good to fly again Nix, this bird is amazing."

    "Don't get used to it.  That's a gift to me from an important person."  He didn't add that he could summon it whenever he liked.

    Your Taxidermy skill has risen to 377.

    Critical Crafting Feat [10 Revenant Ashobel]

    Critical Crafting Feat [105 Pristine Ashobel]

    "Huh?"  Nix pulled up the Crafting Interface.  "Bastard!  I actually crafted a critical doll!"  He clapped his hands together and then ran to the other side of the room where he pulled out one of the Ashobel Revenants and laid it on the floor.

    "That's bigger than the one we saw."  Raka landed on his shoulder and stared down at the white-furred beast.  It had long claws and fangs, its eyes were a deep ice blue.  "I sense a high degree of Ice element in it."

    "My entire Ashobel supply was burned up making 105 Pristine and 10 Revenant.  The odds of me failing to make an Emperor are high."

    "There is no rush Nix, in this form my Ice Soul is preserved."

    "Sure, I get that."  Nix began setting up the next queue, "either way it's going to be a long night."
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