318 Dunbar Steel

    Nix placed a foot on Zed's chest.  "Gonna send you to town if you aren't cooperative."

    Zed's bald head was scratched in several places from being dragged across the rocky ground.  "F*ck off."

    "F*ck off?  Well... that's a bit rude."  Nix turned to the trio of Mollie, Lu Ban, and Circa, "know what happens in Everspire when you get eaten?"

    Lu Ban shook his head.  "No idea."

    Circa shrugged. "Same as any other death?"

    Mollie was playing with a strand of her green hair.  "Something bad, I hope... Is your horse going to eat him?"

    Nix shook his head.  "She only eats grass."

    [Summons: Fey]

    A thin white-haired girl wearing a loose-fitting green robe with the sleeves rolled up appeared in front of them a moment later.  Her hair was done up in two long braids on either side of her head, and she held a long white wooden staff.

    Mollie gasped in surprise.  "Is this a Spirit Companion?"

    Fey's calm light-blue eyes stared at the trio before focusing on Nix, who was holding Zed down.  She offered him a smile.  'Hey, Nix."

    Circa's face was slowly turning red while he stared at the teen mage.  "You're very pretty!" he blurted it out all at once, making it sounded like one word.

    Fey leaned against her white staff, not bothered by the outburst.  "Thank you.  Why aren't you wearing  a shirt?"

    Circa's handsome face continued to redden.  "I can't afford it yet," he admitted.

    Fey glanced at Nix, who was waiting patiently.  "Can't you make him something, Nix?"

    Nix nodded.  "I'm going to take care of these guys, but first I need you to eat this clown."

    Fey studied the grounded warrior, her pretty nose wrinkled in distaste.  "He doesn't look tasty at all."

    A laugh escaped Mollie's lips.  "I agree completely."

    Nix pressed down with his foot, his face expressionless.  "If you're eaten in Everspire, you can't be resurrected; it means you lose the character completely and are forced to make a new one."

    "Bull**.  I'm not an idiot."  Zed tried to push the foot off his chest, but oddly enough, he couldn't even move it.

    "Right... I forgot the important part; you only disappear if a dragon eats you."  Nix winked at Fey and gestured for her to move away.

    The skinny mage made a distasteful face walking a few meters away from the group.  "This is under protest, Nix!"

    Nix smiled apologetically.  "I will make it up to you, Fey."

    Fey flashed him a smile.  "Fine then."  She extended her slim arms outward, they continue their progress, morphing into a broad set of wings.  An instant later, her beautiful, silver scaled head pointed at the sky and released silver flames high into the air.

    "...." Circa.

    "...." Lu Ban.

    "...." Mollie.

    A loud booming sound caused Nix to turn toward the blacksmith shop, Zane had finally looked up from his forge and was clapping his huge hands together.  "Beautiful, absolutely beautiful."

    Nix cleared his throat, "we'll just be a moment.  I don't want to bother you."

    Zane was smiling widely. He had short brown hair and a weathered face.  He was the widest man Nix had ever seen.  "It's no bother, go ahead and eat him."

    Sixty feet of Drakon crouched low to the ground, her silver eyes staring at Zed.  "Let him up, Nix, prey that runs always tastes better."

    Nix nodded. "Of course."  He removed his foot and stepped away.

    Zed stared wide-eyed at the transformed Fey; he didn't make an effort to move.  "W-We have a quest from a Bandit Lord named Vega.  For every ten pieces of beginner gear we give him, he trades us a piece of intermediate gear."

    Nix considered the player bandit's words. "Why would this Vega care about crap gear?"

    "He has been trying to unite the other Bandit camps to take over Neva.  He wants to turn Neva into a lawless province." Zane's booming voice answered the question before Zed could speak.

    "I see."  Nix suddenly wished he had brought Semmi; she could often see how things connected. "Does Vega see us as a threat?"

    Zane nodded.  "The rift opened by Khione when she was fighting you stayed open.  Because of this, many powerful heroes have entered Everspire. Although they come here with only the bare amount of supplies, their existence threatens Vega's plans."

    Lu Ban had just recovered from the shock of seeing a Drakon when a second bombshell dropped. "You're the one... The guild leader of Inferno, from the cutscene."

    "Guilty."  Nix nudged Zed, who had decided his best defense was to curl up in a ball and ignore everyone.  "Get going.  Fey's not going to eat you."

    Zed popped up like he was on springs and started sprinting down the path.

    [Balefire: Burst]

    Nix targeted the fleeing player-bandit; an instant later, three balls of white flame turned Zed into ashes.

    Because Zed has 144 blood counters against him, your faction with Neva has increased by 144.

    Your approval rating with Neva has risen to Acquaintance.

    Mollie finally found her voice.  "You could have taken all those guys."

    "They were just bullies.  You three did great."   Nix glanced back toward Zane.  "What now?"

    "You have my backing,  Nix."  Zane paused and studied him for a moment, nodding to himself while mumbling words under his breath.  "You should talk to Bor Na next."

    Quest Updated.

    "We want to help."  Lu Ban had, and his group was talking amongst themselves while Zane was updating Nix's quest.  "You are on some sort of 'World' quest, right?"

    Nix shook his head slowly.  "Nothing as grand as that,  there are two more people I need to see in Neva.  You can come that far if you wish."

    Lu Ban shared a glance with his group; they were both nodded vigorously. "We accept."

    "I don't make weapons, but perhaps Zane can make something."  Nix turned back toward Zane, who suddenly had a sour look on his face.

    "I am also on an important Quest Nix; I'm making a weapon for each of the Four Kings."  He walked back to his forge and picked up a gigantic hammer.  "I dare not delay further; the Clans are set to invade the Corners."

    Nix pursed his lips for a moment.  He didn't know who the Four Kings were, nor had he heard of the Corners.  "Anything I can do to help?"

    Zane shook his head.  "I need something special, an edge that will help them in the battles to come."

    Nix held out Wrath so that the blacksmith could see the hilt.  "Like it?"

    Zane shrugged, not sure if Nix was joking.  "It's a hilt. I've made thousands of them."

    Nix pushed flames into Wrath, slowly the white blade protruded.

    "A Spellsword?"  Zane moved closer, staring at the flames.  "I can't feel any heat, but I sense a vibration."

    "It's a Fury blade."  Nix picked up a thick piece of steel from the nearby scrap pile. He tossed it into the air and then swiped Wrath once, the steel was cut neatly in two."

    "That's heavy armor steel!"  Zane ran to a separate table and picked up a sizeable misshapen piece of orange crystal.  "This is Dunbar steel."

    "That's steel?"  Nix looked doubtfully at the orange mass.  It looked like an oversized, lumpy basketball.

    Zane sat the steel on his anvil.  "Could I get you to push Fury flames into it?"

    Nix nodded and placed his hand on a particularly lumpy section that looked like a doorknob.  He focused his thoughts and pushed fury flames into the ball.  It glowed even brighter orange as the white flames engulfed it.

    The blacksmith picked up his hammer and slammed it against the steel, unexpectedly the massive hammer shattered.  Zane's face looked like a thundercloud as he muttered curses under his breath.  "I guess it won't work, Nix. I had hoped..."

    "Grab another hammer and try again."  Nix pushed lightening into the flames, the air around the anvil was filled with the crackling of heat and electricity.

    Zane had already retrieved another hammer by the time Nix was ready.  He slammed the hammer down with a loud bang.  Instantly he was catapulted back into the side of his hut, he bounced off the wall and collapsed onto the ground, his entire body enveloped in orange lightening.

    Nix bit down the smile that threatened to come out when Zane stood up.  The smith's entire face was blackened, and his hair was standing straight up.  He dropped the flame when Zane started walking toward him. "Guess it's no good."

    Zane paused halfway, his eyes staring at the crystal.  The blow of the hammer had flattened one side of it.  He took two gigantic strides and picked up the hammer that had dropped to the ground; it was undamaged.

    Nix noticed the dent in the orange steel.  "Flattened it a bit, I guess."

    Zane howled loudly, his white smile flashing out of his blackened face.  "Wait here, Nix!"

    The blacksmith disappeared into his hut, and a moment later came out wearing a black breastplate.  He picked up his hammer and motioned for Nix to try again.  "Thunder breastplate, I should be fine."

    Nix nodded and pushed fury flame into the mass again, a few seconds later, the air around the forge crackled with electricity when lightning mixed with the white flames.
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