326 Ionova City Center

    Nix sighed loudly for the third time in as many minutes, causing his two companions to stop their whispering.  "One of you want to switch places with me?  Or perhaps you'd like to get up and take this into the living room?"

    Both Fajii and Hyai were chronic early risers; normally, they'd both be out of bed by the time he was awake.  This time, however, they held whispered conversation from either side of him.

    "Sorry, Nix.  Were we bothering you?"  Fajii had one had propped under her chin; her red-streaked hair hung loosely over one tanned shoulder.

    Hyai's freckled face was carefully neutral. "Did we wake you?"

    "Yes, and yes again." Nix turned on his stomach and hid his head under a pillow.

    Hyai lifted one end, peeking in.  "We'll make you breakfast."

    Fajii sat up and nodded in agreement.  "In bed.  You'd like that, right?"

    "I would," Nix admitted in a muffled voice.


    By the time Jun Li stopped by an hour later, Nix was already finished with breakfast and showered.  The Inferno Vice-Leader greeted him with a shocked smile.  "How is it you are up before 0900?"

    Nix frowned at her and went back to crafting.  "Poor life choices."

    Jun Li moved one of the black puppets from the couch and sat down.  "Is this an Emperor? I thought these were white."

    Nix glanced at the black Orion that Junie was referring to.  "Yes, it is. It turns out all I need to do is place black ink in the enhancement slot.  Although using an enhancement slot sucks since I only have three for Emperor puppets."

    "Going to add this to  your armor?"  Junie stroked the puppet's head like it was a pet.

    "Cat person, Junie?"

    Jun Li nodded.  "Yep.  You?"

    "Turtles."  Nix smiled at the look on her face.  "Didn't expect that, right?

    Junie laughed loudly, her pale cheeks showing dimples.  "No, but I should have known."

    "After this business with Ever Flame, I want to take down another target in the Great Desert."  Nix put his crafting aside and studied the map.

    "Got a lead on any targets?"  Jun Li let the frustration on her face show, "I've been all over the southern section of that desert, nothing but a few big snakes so far."

    A knock on the door announced the arrival of Pon and Wind.  Nix waved at Hyai, who was already in her armor.  "I'll take a look at the Djinn today."

    Hyai returned his wave, smiling when he rushed out the door.  "Doesn't he know?"

    Jun Li shook her head.  "Didn't have time, he moves so fast."

    Nix followed Wind and Pon out the front door and stopped when he saw the large group.  "Guild meeting?"

    /Inferno: Jun Li: I was going to tell you...  Anyways, we'll all be in Ever Flame when you turn in that quest.

    /Inferno: Wind: Yep.  Something bigs gonna happen, boss.

    /Inferno: Nix: There's no turn in timer, so it will either be tomorrow or the next day.  In the meantime, I'll encourage everyone to think outside the box.  We can do a lot of different things in Everspire that we couldn't in Oasis.

    /Inferno: Semmi: Like Combo hits... Thanks to Nix.

    /Inferno: Bali: and Shapeshifter armor, also thanks to the boss.

    /Inferno: Nix: Don't be nervous about experimenting with different methods.

    /Inferno: Ronnie: Darsi made an optical device that can fit on both rifles and bows; it nearly doubles range damage.

    /Inferno: Jun Li: That's the kind of stuff we need.  I want all members to take up at least one craft; there's plenty enough downtime to make it happen.

    Nix grabbed Fajii and handed her Deep Blue.  "I would like to see Sori Dah."

    Fajii gave him a surprised look.  In the past, Nix had often gone out of his way to avoid speaking with the Lamia Acolyte. "She'll be happy to see you, Nix."

    Nix tried not to frown at the comment. "Tell her to bring the Death Squad."

    Fajii nodded.  The Death Squad referred to Sori Dah's top fighters; Nix would often spar with them in at the training grounds in the Gemini Temple. "Anything else?"

    "Esta...I want to see her." Nix hadn't seen his Storm Warden for a while.  As the Chief Acolyte in the Gemini Temple, she was tasked with training the Air'Voilla.


    Nix whistled softly when he saw it.  "Now that's beautiful, Nebs."

    Nebs and Gideon met up with him at the new town gates; it was an unlikely looking procession with the three of them leading the way and Morti waddling behind with his passengers.

    Two Earth Temple acolytes greeted them at the gates; they were both in their Lamia forms and had black bows that hung loosely over their shoulders.

    Instead of proceeding past the gates, Nebs led him up the stone steps that ascended to the top of the stone wall. The stonewall surrounding the city was fifteen feet in height and six feet wide, not as big as the titan sized wall that protected Glory, but Ionova was a rural settlement and not equipped to fight off hordes of invaders.

    The Salamander cleric was smiling widely when she showed Nix the view.  "I experimented a bit with the layout.  The City Center and the shopping district are the actual centers of the town.  The residential area, which is currently empty, will eventually completely encircle it."

    Nix could see a large, three-story building rising up from the shopping area; it was much bigger than he would have imagined.  "How many shops are in the City Center?"

    "As of now, there are a lot of empty spaces still; this is a bit more city than Ionova can support at this point."  Nebs brought up a hud layout of the City Center while the group walked along the top of the wall.

    "You leave me room for a Tailor Shop?"  Nix thought he would tease her a bit; she had obviously planned out everything.

    Nebs nodded, her smug grin told him that she guessed he would ask.  "Second floor of the City Center, where the best shops are going to be."

    Nix stopped at pointed to the large open area around the base of the city center.  "What's with all the open space?"

    "The area around the City Center is referred to as the Market Courtyard.  This is where the street vendors and day-shops will set up.  On the first floor of the Center is room for twenty or so shops; the shops on the second floor are slightly bigger."

    They stopped at a second set of stone steps that descended near the edge of the Market Courtyard. Up close, the Center was even larger than he imagined.  "What's on the third floor?"

    Nebs gave him a sly smile.  "An Inn and a residence."

    Nix pretended he didn't see her expression.  "Guess I'll have to find someone reliable to oversee the development of Ionova."

    "Hey..."  Nebs grabbed his arm, completely stopping his progress.  "You're not gonna ditch me now, right?"

    "Hmm... well, I don't know."  Nix couldn't keep a straight face; his train of thought was suddenly derailed.  "The hell..."

    "Wind Tunnel."  Fey slid off of Morti's back and moved next to Nix.

    An elongated tunnel formed out of thin air; a moment later, a dark-winged woman staggered through.  She looked exhausted and worn, her eyes showing relief when she saw him.  "Nix..."

    "Rhy?"  Nix was shocked at her appearance; she was covered in minor wounds.  "What's going on?"

    Rhy shook her head and looked back at the wind tunnel.  "Come with me; the tunnel is already collapsing.  It took five of us to open it."

    Nix nodded.  "Morti, you guys stay here, but be ready."

    Rhy grabbed his hand and ran back into the wind tunnel.

    Gideon stared at them for an instant and then charged after them.  A moment later, the tunnel disappeared.

    Nebs stared at the empty space, the surprise on her face evident.  "Was Gid suppose to follow them like that?"

    Fey shook her head.  "I don't think so."

    /Inferno: Ducky: Nix just disappeared through a wind tunnel with Rhy and Gideon.

    /Inferno: Jun Li: Of course... Guild meeting at HQ.
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