313 The Desert King part one

    The waypoint nearest their destination was 150km away.   After a few hours, the thrill of being transported underwater wore off, and most of Inferno either talked quietly or slept.  Nix was part of the sleeping crowd.  The steady hum of the craft, coupled with the warmth of the cabin, put him to sleep within a few minutes.

    /Inferno: Jun Li: ETA 5 minutes.

    Nix's eyes popped open, and he stretched for a long moment.  The craft was built for comfort, the seats were well-cushioned, and they leaned back.  A strong grip squeezed his hand, and he turned to see Fajii watching him.  "It might be a long night, hope you are rested."

    Fajii nodded. "I closed my eyes for a bit."

    The craft beached itself a few minutes later. The raid force dragged it onshore and hid it between two rock croppings.

    /Inferno: Jun Li: Mount up, we need to cover another 30 km before we know if the key we got off Tobias works.

    The Great Desert was mostly a place of rolling white-sand dunes; however, two large mountain ranges could be seen from Inferno's vantage point; they were called the Sword and the Shield Mountains.  To the north, the Shield Mountain range separated the Great Desert from Northern Everspire.  Bisecting the shield and stabbing south deep into the desert were the Sword Mountains. From the sky, it would have looked like a 'T.'  A single-pass north was the only way to Northern Everspire on foot. There was no known pass through the Sword, traveling to the eastern coast of the Great Desert required you to head south and circumvent the mountains.

    Nightmare thrived in the heat of the desert. Her heavily scaled reptilian feet ran efficiently through the soft sand.  She ran side-by-side with Jun Li's Saber Tiger, the two mounts lead the procession steadily east.

    /Inferno: Jun Li: The door we are looking for is the on this side of the Sword range, I've sent the Nav-point to everyone's hud.

    /Inferno: Pon: Gonna be a long ride home if the key doesn't work for us.


    [1900 hours: Sword Mountain Range, Great Desert]

    /Inferno: Jun Li: Quick break, and we'll try the key.

    /Inferno: Pon: Why not try the key now?

    /Inferno: Semmi: We don't know what's going to happen. If it works, we could have to fight right away.

    After a few minutes, Inferno moved to the entrance.  It was sheer mountain bluff that reached several hundred feet into the air.  The dark rock facing them was perfectly flat, only the barest image of an arched door could be seen against the gray slate.  A single triangular keyhole was visible in the direct center.

    Jun Li tossed the key to Sharl.  "You're up. Tanks first."

    /Inferno: Sharl: On me, I'll open the door and move in right away.  If it's clear, we should all rush in.

    /Inferno: Semmi: Right.  It may not stay open.

    Sharl inserted the key into the door and it swung inward like it was weightless, she walked in cautiously and then waved for the group to follow.

    Nix was the last one in, a few moments after he crossed the threshold, the stone door slammed shut.

    New Quest Available. [The Lost City part IV: The Desert King]

    /Inferno: Nix: Looks like we're in.

    /Inferno: Pon: Gladiator arena?

    Inside the door was a large circular arena covered in sand. There were four raised platforms set in a square.  At the center of this square was the blurred image of a massive beast.  The raised platforms hovered a few meters in the air, and each had a set of stairs leading up to it.

    /Inferno: Jun Li: The raised platforms probably spawn something.  We are going to have to play it by ear and try to adapt.

    /Inferno: Sharl: The beast in the middle looks to be the main Boss; at this point, I can't target him.

    /Inferno: Semmi: We have to cover four platforms and the middle boss, It seems like we are short a healer.

    /Inferno: Nix: Shadai is a flying healer; if she positions herself between the center and one of the squares, she should be able to handle both.

    [Summons: Ea'Shadai, Cal, Tor]

    Cal smiled when he saw him.  "We'll get her next time Nix!"

    Nix nodded.  Since he didn't have his gear for five days, he forgot that the three Air'Voilla had probably died facing Khione also.  "I won't let you guys down again."

    Shadai shook her head, the beautiful white feathers coating her skull seemed longer somehow.  "We have all used the time to get stronger Nix; we will support you properly."

    [Whisper: Nix to Shar] Summon Floyd, I know you like to baby him, but the kid is fantastic.

    Sharl nodded and summoned her Naga companion.

    /Jun Li: Give me a moment, and I'll assign everyone.

    NW Platform: Nix, Shadai, Cal, Tor.

    NE Platform: Jun Li, Ronnie, Tess.

    SE Platform: Semmi, Fajii, Eron.

    SW Platform: Wind, Pon, Gypsy.

    Center: Sharl, Floyd, Shadai.


    [Solomon City: Sky Kingdom]

    Breach Commander Mtui sat behind his desk, staring at his list of allies.  It looked much the same as it had a week earlier, with one small exception.  Besides Nix's name, there was an asterisk and the words, 'Temporarily Undeployable.'  He glanced up at his mother, who was frowning at him. "I'm not sure what happened, Mother."

    Deidra stared at his name.  The human was as impressive a person as she'd ever met.  "He disappeared after challenging Khione, then resurfaces in Northern Everspire a few days later. If he can't be listed as an ally, then either his Breach Commander abilities are gone, or they are disabled."

    "What do you want me to do?"

    "War is stirring in Everspire, it seems that it must be related to the arrival of Khione, but I don't see the connection yet."  Deidra opened a detailed holographic map of Everspire.  "Find him, send a team immediately."

    "Right away, Mother."

    Elan Mtui watched as his mother created a breach and then disappeared.  He sighed heavily and leaned back in his chair.

    [Direct Contact: Beta]

    An instant later, a holo of his white-haired operative appeared in front of him.

    Beta saluted crisply.  "Breach Commander!"

    Elan knew that his operative had strong ties to Inferno; she was in a relationship with one of their members and was old friends with another.  "Have you spoken to Chiba or Wind lately?"

    Beta chose her words carefully, although she was loyal to Mtui, she was hesitant to give away information regarding Nix.  Chiba and Wind were important people to her; then there was the matter of Nix finding her distant relatives in the Core.  "Chiba is on a class quest; she won't be back for weeks.  I spoke to Wind today."

    [Create Breach: Loki: Solomon City]

    Sasi and Rabi Qi stepped into his office a moment later.

    "Thanks for coming Sasi, I know the two of you are helping Uta with the Shadow Rage course in Loki. I wonder if you could step away from that for a while."

    Sasi glanced at Rabi, who nodded as if she spoke.  "Is this concerning Nix?"

    "It is."

    "Uta will be able to instruct his students without us.  We are at your disposal, Sir."

    Mtui turned back toward his operative. "I want the three of you to find Nix and lend him whatever aid he needs."

    Sasi's fanged mouth widened in a smile.  Nix was one of her favorite people.  "If we go through the gate, we'll lose all our gear."

    Beta held up her hand. "I will talk to Inferno; they can bring us right to him.  If he'll allow it."
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