290 River Camp

    Two dozen tents were set up along the river, the campfire must have been visible to the Iron Pike Trading Post but Hoot didn't come out to investigate.  Nix sat around the campfire with Dresa, Jaro, and Gil.

    "You want all of them?" Jaro looked at Nix like he was crazy.

    "Yeah... Just the Dire Wolf ones, since my crafting skill is very specific.  I can't make  Dire Wolf Doll out of an Arctic Wolf."

    Gil's round face showed his disgust.  "The hell you want to play with a wolf doll for?"

    "Spying."  A loud voice spoke from the edge of the river.  Mortimus walked up from the river back, his shirt hanging over one shoulder.  He took a seat on the log Nix was sitting on.  "How reliable is your work?"

    "Good enough to sneak into the Nether world and kill Azul Khan."

    The statement met with silence. The Titan War Leader stared at him for a long moment.  "That was you?"

    "Me and my team.  We specialize in group attacks."  Nix used his bare hand to reach into the fire and pull out the open can of otter meat he had placed there earlier. He fished a chunk of meat out with his fingers and popped it in his mouth, closing his eyes to savor the taste.  It was his first time tasting otter.

    Mortimus had heard the rumblings of a powerful outworld group called Inferno.  If rumors were to be believed, they killed dragons, the nether emperor and even dared face Khione herself.  "Why are you here?"

    Nix slowly chewed the hot meat while he contemplated the best answer. "I carry the curse of Khione on me, she pulled me from my world during our fight.  My people are following but they are many days behind."

    Mortimus didn't consider that Nix could be lying, he only nodded slightly.  "Tossed through a rift, by yourself with no one to aid you.  A difficult fate."

    Dresa listened to the conversation with interest, she had seen first hand how formidable Nix was.  "I heard when you travel through a rift, you leave all your belongings behind."

    Nix smiled slightly.  She was sitting next to Jaro, every once in a while she would shift closer to him.  "You a dip** or something?"

    Jaro froze in place, Nix was staring right at him.  " What?"

    Nix elaborated slightly. "Do you have your head up your ass?"

    Jaro stood up slowly.  "What's gotten into you Nix?"

    "This woman likes you, even someone like me who has been here for a few days can see that. She fights like a f*cking hero, she's very attractive and she runs her own business.  You too good for her or something?"

    Jaro's face turned red, the veins on his temple bulging outward.  "I never said something like that."

    "Fine, let's go then."  Nix stood up and walked away from the fire a few yards.  Several of the surrounding ground pounders noticed the commotion and walked toward their fire.

    "Go?"  Jaro gave him a confused look.  "Where we going?"

    Nix dropped his armor on the grass and stripped off his shirt.  "We're gonna fight for her.  If I win then she'll be my woman."

    Mortimus clapped his bigs hands together.  "Yes!  A fight!"

    A slow grin came across Jaro's face.  "I'm a Titan Nix, vastly stronger than a regular person."

    "I'm a Titan Nix..."  Nix mocked him.  "You sound like an old woman."

    Gil laughed loudly at the comment and moved next to Mortimus.  "Kick that bear's ass Nix!"

    Dresa stood up. "You gonna fight for me or not Jaro? If I'm not worth it, say the word and I'll leave with Nix now."

    Jaro frowned at her. "I never said you ain't worth it."

    Mortimus clapped his hands together again.  "Fair fight then boys, no Fire magic Nix."

    "Got it.  Fair fight and No fire magic."


    A surprized Jaro found himself flying through the air.  Nix held an arm straight out and clotheslined him causing Jaro to somersault in the air and land on his head with a loud bang.

    The Titan was climbing to his feet when Nix grabbed him around the waist and dumped him over his shoulder with a flying-mare.  Jaro slammed onto the ground with a bone-jarring thud.

    Gil was watching the fight with interest.  It was obvious to him that Nix wasn't trying to hurt Jaro.

    The two men fought for several minutes, punching and kicking in the grass and rocks of the campsite.  The cheering was loud and boisterous, even Dresa was clapping excitedly.

    Finally, Nix picked up Jaro and tossed him in the river, earning himself a moment of rest while the Titan splashed in the stream.

    Dresa caught Nix's eye, she already knew that Jaro couldn't beat the Inferno Guild Leader, it had been evident right away.

    Nix waited on shore while the wet Titan strode up the bank. "You giving up on her then?"

    Jaro growled and charged forward, his big fist pulled back as he threw a punch at Nix's chest.  Unexpectedly it landed and sent Nix skidding across the ground.  He lay there for a moment groaning before sitting up.

    When Nix remained sitting Mortimus stood up.  "You done Nix?"

    Nix nodded, one hand rubbing his chest.  "Yep.  Ribs are broke. Good fight Jaro."

    The camp erupted in cheers while Nix climbed slowly to his feet.  Gil moved under his arm to help him walk back.

    "Not bad Nix.  Not bad."  Gil was all smiles as he pointed to Dresa who was hugging a bruised Jaro close.  "I don't mind saying Nix, I have a very good impression of you."

    Nix laughed while still rubbing his ribs.  He had let Jaro land the punch, but it really did hurt his ribs.

    Jaro was waiting at the fire, a big smile on his face.  "You can really fight Nix!  I'm happy to fight with such a person."

    Nix shook his hand and stole a glance at Dresa.  "Well done Jaro."

    Several jugs appeared out of nowhere and were passed around the group.  Nix took a long drink before passing it to Mortimus, it was straight up Moonshine.  "Who makes that?"

    Mortimus took three long drinks before answering.  "Our alchemist!  You should see her by the way, she'll give you a healing poultice for your ribs."

    "I'll do that."


    Nix slept peacefully, his head resting against a stack of furs.  The smell of something nice caused him to open his eyes

    "Finally awake?"  A pale woman with reddish-brown hair smiled at him.  She held a glass in one hand while she stirred its contents with the other.  She smiled after a moment and then handed it to him.

    "For my ribs?"  Nix took the glass, he smelled it before downing it in one gulp.

    The woman laughed, "for the hangover.  I doubt your ribs hurt that much."

    "Hey... You the alchemist?  Where's my poultice?"

    She straightened up, her dark eyes smiling. "Dresa is a good friend of mine. Whatever you need, just let me know."

    Nix made his way outside, apparently, it was her tent.  His armor was still laying on the grass where he had dropped in the night before.  He picked it up and then headed to the river to wash up.

    "You always sleep this late?"  Gil was lazing in the sun, it was obvious that he'd been waiting for Nix.

    "When I can."  Nix kicked water at him and used a towel to dry off.  "Gonna summon my Spirit companion in a bit."

    "The one you talked about last night?"

    Nix nodded.  "We've been using her to pass messages back and forth."

    Gil smiled slyly.  "She?  A pretty girl I bet!"

    "Yep, as beautiful as a rainbow."

    Gil laughed loudly.  "You're so full of ** Nix."

    Nix sat on a nearby rock and made small talk until it was time.  Mortimus joined them just before the appointed time.

    [Summons: Soup]

    Soup appeared a moment later  Gil gasped when he saw the enormous greenish-blue Sea-Turtle.

    "It's a turtle Nix!  A turtle!"  Gil laughed loudly, his short legs bent slightly so he could get a good look at her.  "She's beautiful, absolutely beautiful."

    "Yep... Told ya so.  Didn't I?"  Nix read the messages one by one.

    1)  The team has finished the quests that enable them to leave the province.  They should be in Free Trader City in three days.

    2) Your dad was able to duplicate your results with the tuning forks.  Great job.

    3) A nether person stopped by your shop in glory and left you a note.  I copied it down.

    4)  That's it.  Love you Nix.

    "What?  Writing love letters on a turtle shell?  Appalling!"  Gil was patting Soups head, his face was brimming with excitement.  "What kind of Turtle is she?"

    Nix read the smaller note that Hyai had jotted down before answering.  "Royal Sea Turtle, she has an awesome Sonic attack and a ramming attack."

    "A Royal Sea Turtle?  What's her name?"


    "....."  Gil.
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