308 City Center

    Nix rode side by side with Jun Li on the way back to the turtle house.  The point of contact for the quest they just finished was Scarlett in Nescari. The rest of the mounts wouldn't come close to the pair riding in front.

    Nightmare nipped at Jun Li's mount, only to receive a warning snarl.

    Nix shook his head at the big cat.  "I forgot you had that Junie."

    Jun Li patted the Dire Cat on one shoulder.  She had won it in a bet when she defeated the Scarlet Temple champion. It had long Saber fangs and was striped like a tiger. "It's been so crazy I haven't had a chance."

    "What's his name?"

    "Her name is Fang."

    Nix brought up his hud while they rode. "Isn't the Scarlet Temple on the Edge of the Great Desert?"

    "Yes. There's a pretty dense Rainforest on the northernmost part of lower Everspire; a large river separates that from the Great Desert."

    "The Temples on the Rainforest side of the river?"


    Nix zoomed in on the map. "That river runs all the way to the ocean."

    "Looking for commerce?"

    "Let's get the lay of the land first." Nix highlighted the entire Rainforest area.  "I know it's in lower Everspire, but it's close enough to the Great Desert to take a look."

    /Inferno: Nix: You around Shae?

    /Inferno: Mina: She told me she has to take care of something, might be a few days.

    /Inferno: Nix: Okay.

    [Whisper: Jun Li to Nix] Something going on with Shae?

    [Whisper: Nix to Jun Li] Seen Rhylia lately?

    [Whisper: Jun Li to Nix] Isn't she tasked with watching the Fire & Air Palace while Shae is helping you?

    [Whisper: Nix to Jun Li] Yep.  The problem is that no one has seen her in a while, Wilo has disappeared also.

    [Whisper Jun Li to Nix] Ronnie's Air companion?

    [Whisper Nix to Jun Li] Yes.  Wilo disappeared almost two months ago.

    Jun Li turned slightly in the saddle, her eyes going to the dark archer.

    [Whisper Jun Li to Nix] Why haven't you got involved?

    [Whisper Nix to Jun Li] I was asked by Rhy to let her handle it.

    [Whisper Jun Li to Nix] And now Shae's is saying the same thing?

    [Whisper Nix to Jun Li]  Yep. I'll let it go for now.

    /Inferno: Nix: Can you bring Nebs here, Min?

    /Inferno: Mina:  The Salamander cleric?

    /Inferno: Nix: Yes.  Bribe her if you must.  She's probably at Loki.

    /Inferno: Mina: I'll go now.

    By the time the Turtle house came into view, the smell of smoke was heavy in the air.  A flash of silver in the sky showed that Fey was busy with the burning detail.  "She can fly, but I can't use a flying mount?  How does that work?"

    Jun Li laughed at the look on his face.  "There is a Guild Quest to unlock flying mounts.  I have no idea where it is, though."

    Nix rode around the back of the house and dismounted next to the pond.  Soup was still there, but there was no sight of Morti.

    Jun Li slid from her tiger and held out her arm.  An instant later, the tiger appeared to shrink and leap at the same time.  A small tattoo of the beast appeared on Jun Li's forearm.

    Nix made a face at her.  "That's awesome as hell."

    /Inferno: Nix: I'm going to turn this quest in.  We don't need another guildhall, so I'm electing for a City Center.

    /Inferno: Semmi: I think that's smart.

    /Inferno: Jun Li: We'll set up a tent city close by.  Let's get out of Nix's hair.

    /Inferno: Bali: Nix, we've put down the last of the blighted wildlife.  There's not much left.

    /Inferno: Nix: Thanks.  Good work.


    It was Nix's first time coming to Scarlett's office.  The Clan Leader of Titania sat behind a desk, quietly sipping a steaming cup of something while she hummed to herself.  There was a look of peace and contentment that hadn't been there when Nix first met her.

    "Clan Leader Scarlett?"

    The woman smiled when she saw who her visitor was.  "Just Scarlett is fine, Nix; you're part of our family."

    Nix handed her the broken Chaos crystal.  "Quest turn-in, The Nighthag of Thornwood Keep."

    Scarlett examined the broken crystal before setting it down.  "Well done.  Depending on what option you choose, additional benefits are available."

    "We are choosing City Center."

    Scarlett clapped her hands in surprise.  "That is a great choice for Ionova!"

    /Inferno: Mina: I have Nebs here.

    /Inferno: Nix: Great.  Did you bribe her?

    /Inferno: Mina: I had to bring Gideon also.

    /Inferno: Nix: Okay.

    "This comes with an option to move the town to a number of different locations with the Keep functioning as the central activity hub."  Scarlett nodded her head in approval.

    You have completed the [Nighthag of Thornwood Keep] quest. Thornwood Keep is now the property of the Inferno Guild.  It will act as the City Center of Ionova.  Please read through all the available options before you start the process.

    "Thanks, Scarlett."

    "With the City Center option, you'll be seeing a lot more of us."  Scarlett stood up and walked around the desk for a hug.

    "Hmm?"  Nix gave her an awkward smile. "How so?"

    "It has a portal to Free Trader City."

    Nix waved and walked out the door.  The last thing he wanted was portal access to Free Trader City.


    "Don't look at it that way, Nix."  Nebs was the one who set-up Loki's layout for Nix; she was a city planner in real life.  "This isn't a privately owned city like Loki."

    Gideon nodded in agreement. "You have to encourage traffic to and from Free-Trader City.  This will bring in more settlers and more trade."

    Fajii was listening to the conversation from the kitchen island.  "I can bring in a dozen Scorched Earth Temple acolytes to handle the increased need for security."

    Nebs pointed to the layout she liked best.  "This uses the Keep as the actual center of the city.  The bottom level of the Keep will turn into a large congregation of different shops and stores.  The top-level has more of the same and an auction house."

    Nix rotated the hud, so he wasn't looking at it upsidedown. "The gate platform to Free Trader city is on the bottom level of the Keep?"

    Nebs smiled and nodded her head.  The short-haired cleric was surprisingly knowledgable about quite a few things.  "This becomes a port city; more importantly, the City Center Keep comes with a wall."

    Nix let out a long breath.  "That's one less thing, I suppose."

    Nebs laughed at the sour expression on his face. "Do it little by little, have the population slowly migrate to the new construction."

    "Fine. I'll rely on you then, Nebs."


    An hour later, Nix was sitting down with Fajii, enjoying the meal that the Aquarion had prepared.  "Guess I didn't realize that you cook."

    Fajii favored him with a smile, "Hyai has been teaching us a few easy meals."

    Nix covered a yawn and leaned back in his chair. "Where'd everyone go?"

    "Mina took them all back to Haven." Fajii ran a hand through her streaked hair.  "Everyone was tired, Nix; we were doing quests for days."

    "Maybe it's easier to shuttle back and forth every day to Haven rather than put up a Tent City."

    Fajii grabbed his hand and pulled him to his feet, her hands circling his waist when she stepped into his embrace.  Her hair was pulled back, emphasizing her vertical irises.  "I look different than when we first became friends."

    Nix shook his head.  "Nope, still the same."

    Fajii's dark nose wrinkled slightly. "I had white hair and blue eyes Nix; my skin had a blueish tinge."  She held up her arm as if to show him; she was nearly as dark as Ronnie.

    Nix shrugged.  "I don't look at you with my eyes."

    She raised up on her tiptoes and kissed him.  "You always say things that make me feel nice."

    Nix followed her into the bedroom, and took a moment to stow his armor in the trunk while she got ready for bed.

    "Going to head out to the Oberton farm tomorrow.  Want to come?"

    "Yes."  Fajii walked by him a moment later wearing pajamas that Nix made for her.  "Sleeping in tomorrow?"

    Nix nodded and climbed into bed next to her.  "Sounds like a perfect plan."
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