357 Dragon City: Houdinya

    "Intercity Communication, contact Houdinya."  Nix only had to wait for a moment before a life-sized holo similar to the kind his Breach Commander Interface used, popped up in front of him. He hadn't known what to expect, but  Tai'Qui was nothing like Deidra.

    The woman's head was wrapped in a red silk scarf, and her clothes appeared to be standard leather.  There was no sign of horns, nor did she give off an aura of strength. She had dark skin and light brown eyes that brimmed with intelligence.  Where Deidra gave off a feeling of power, Tai'Qui seemed more like a scholar.  "This is a surprise; I am Tai'Qui, the Dragon Master of Houdinya."

    Nix was surprised when she bowed slightly.  Her face appeared to bear a hint of sadness.  "I am Nix, the Guild Leader of Inferno. I assumed that Deidra told you that I would be in contact."

    "Well met, Guild Leader Nix, Deidra did mention that, but I didn't imagine I would be first."

    "Just Nix is fine."

    "Feel free to address me as Tai.  Do you want to get started?"

    "Yes, assign me as the temporary controller, and I will bring Houdinya in."

    Nix waited a few minutes while she complied with his wishes.  "Enable Direct Control, Houdinya."

    Direct Control of Houdinya has been established.

    As Nix understood it, the process was very straightforward.  "Link Houdinya with Inferno City."

    Tai watched as her own Interface hud activated, and her city moved for the first time in decades. Moving a city around required a lot of energy, so in an effort to save their own strength, the Dragon City Masters never did it.  "Link will be established in fifteen minutes, Nix."

    Nix nodded; he received a similar countdown.  "When it does, assign the power grid to me, and Inferno City will assume permanent control of Houdinya's power requirements."

    Tai nodded slowly.  "Is travel to Inferno City going to remain restricted?"

    "It is."

    /Houdinya City Announcement: Tai'Qui:  We are moving the city so that we may once again join with the other 18 Dragon Cities. Once we are connected, it will once again be possible to travel between the cities on foot.

    Nix watched as she made the announcement; she seemed less severe than Deidra.  Comparing the two dragons, he decided that Tai made a much better first impression.  "I wish to talk with you concerning a personal matter."

    The first hint of a smile crossed the woman's face.  "Doesn't Deidra take care of your personal needs?"

    Nix couldn't stop the laugh that roared up.  "That makes it sound like our relationship is intimate."

    Tai shrugged comfortably.  "There are rumors."

    "We are only allies, and I hope friends."  Nix began to think that Tai was messing with him.

    "What do you wish to speak about?  I will help you if I can. This city link will lift the death sentence that has been lingering over all of us."

    "I wish to speak about Nihlus and Sindi."

    Tai's face lost all hit of humor or goodwill.  "They have both been killed, although I haven't made that public to anyone."

    Nix understood the sudden chill the Dragon Master was giving him.  If it were still a secret, then he would have no way of knowing unless he'd been involved somehow.  "I ran into them in the City of Eidengal; they were part of a quest to win the Sword of Kings."

    Tai nodded. "A stupid sword that wasn't worth the life of either of them."

    Nix gave her a detailed account of the action, including the mistake each of them made during their fight with Phedor.

    Tai listened carefully.  "That fits them.  Sindi was the better swordsman, but he was entirely too impatient with his attacks.  Nihlus was patient and smart; it doesn't surprise me that he performed better."

    "I'm sorry for your loss."

    Tai stared at him for a moment before the cold look left her face.  "Thank you for telling me, Nix. Such a thing is easier, now that I know what happened."

    Nix nodded in agreement.  As someone who dealt with the loss of family members, he understood that the small comforts were important.  "After the link-up, I'd like to visit you in person."

    "I will open a Breach for you to visit me in my Grove.  I assume you've been to Deidra's a few times?"

    "A few."  Nix was hesitant to continue discussing a delicate topic over the holo.

    Tai waited while the cities established a link; the surge in power within the city was evident immediately.  She found herself flooded with relief; she would have laughed had she not been grieving.

    She said goodbye to Nix and gave him a few minutes to wrap up things with the Controller Interface.

    Tai sat on the grass in her Grove.  Unlike Deidra, she didn't have a Majordomo.  Her luck with offspring was substantially worse than other dragons.  Nearly all of her eggs were unable to support life.  Nihlus was one of two in the past five decades.

    After waiting a few minutes, she opened a breach for Nix to enter her Grove.

    Nix stepped through the breach that appeared next to his Control Interface in Inferno City.  He wasn't overly alarmed at her ability to open a breach inside of Inferno City.  He stepped into her Grove a moment later.

    There was no pond filled with Dragon water in her Grove.  There were a few very comfortable looking chairs along with what Nix could only call a mud-bath.  The basin was about ten meters across and filled with a slowly bubbling brown mud.  "Earth magic?"

    Tai didn't seem as friendly in person as she had over the holo.  Perhaps she felt the intrusion in her otherwise private retreat.  "You wished to speak further?"

    Nix nodded.  "It's my understanding that sometimes the eggs in dragon nurseries don't sustain life."

    The statement felt like a dagger in her side, Tai took a deep breath and only nodded.  The human had touched a sensitive spot with his first words.  "Did Deidra tell you this?"

    "She showed me." Nix apologized in his head to Deidra, it wasn't a secret, but she considered it a private matter.  Unfortunately, Nix needed to speak about issues that he couldn't otherwise know about.

    "You've been to Deidra's Nursery?"

    "Yes. In exchange for a personal favor, she asked me to seal my elements inside of her eggs."

    Tai shook her head in disbelief.  Deidra must have a very favorable opinion of the human to even consider letting him in the nursery.  "Unfortunately, your information is correct; I seem to suffer the most among my race in this matter."

    "I'm going to speak bluntly since there is no easy way to broach this subject."

    "Your candor is welcome."  Tai used her senses to study him; he had none of the usual fear of her kind. It was just the opposite; he gave off a sense of danger that she felt immediately.  He would have to have slain a handful of dragons for that edge to exist.

    "The sword that I mentioned.  I had all of the enchantments removed and stored.  I believe that I may be able to restore your offspring and his student."

    Tai kept her face free of expression, although her Dragonheart was pounding inside her human chest.  "Explain."

    "The favor Deidra did for me entailed me placing the essence of my friend in one of her uninhabited eggs. I was able to animate it without issue."

    Tai reached for both of his hands, squeezing them in hers. "I will pay any price, Nix.  Just name it."

    Nix shook his head. "There is no price for uniting a mother with her son.  I will do my best."

    Tai opened a breach while retaining a grip on one of his hands.  "Come with me."

    An instant later, Nix stepped into Tai's nursery.  It was similar to the one belonging to Deidra; he could feel the eyes of a dangerous predator watching him.

    Tai pulled him toward four eggs that were the long occupants in the nest area.  They were half-submerged in bubbling mud.  "These are the most recent, my nesting area will recycle them in a few months before my next cycle."

    Nix tried to keep the look of distaste off his face.  The dragon woman had pulled him into knee-deep mud, although the intense heat didn't bother him, the mud itself clung to his armor.  "Hold the enchantments, please."

    Essence Diamond

    Description: Contains the

    essence of Nihlus the Red.

    Essence Diamond

    Description: Contains the

    essence of Sindi.

    Nix gave her the diamonds and then started setting up the first queue.  On a whim, he took out two tuning forks.  He pushed emerald flame into it and then tapped it softly on the side of the egg. It immediately changed into the white fury flame.

    [Dragon's Egg] [Essence Diamon: Nihlus the Red][Fury Flame enhanced Tuning Fork]

    [Animate the Dragon's Egg Containing the Essence of Nihlus the Red?]


    The egg slowly started to change; the dim glow continued to increase as the seconds went by, and after several minutes it thrived with life.  Not wanting to stop, he quickly set up the exact same queue for Sindi and animated the second egg.  This one also slowly improved until it gave off a healthy glow.

    Nix slogged slowly away, struggling to move in the hot mud while Tai spent a few minutes inspecting each egg.  "What was that enhancement you gave them?"

    "Fury flames," Nix replied. "They were both earth-based so that it won't harm them."

    Tai smiled for the first time since Nix arrived.  "I thought I lost my son, and yet somehow he is back."

    Nix nodded.  "I'm not really sure how the dragon-egg-incubation works in animation.  It could be a long time."

    Tai shook her head.  "Two years for Sindi and a bit over three of Nihlus."

    "Damn... that's a long wait."  Nix was surprised to see that the wait wasn't bothersome to the Earth-Dragon.

    "Come with me, Nix."  Tai opened up a breach back to her Grove and unfastened her robe, letting it slide down her lith form to puddle at her feet.

    For the first time in a while, Nix felt speechless. She was stunningly beautiful even more so than Deidra.  "What's going on?"

    Tai offered him a smile.  "Nervous?  I've heard rumors that you were fairly adventurous."

    The sentence caused Nix to laugh suddenly, effectively breaking the ice.  He watched as she slowly waded into the mud, she stopped in the middle and turned toward him.

    "Remove your clothes and enter Nix."

    "Famous last words," Nix muttered under his breath.  Since he doubted her intent was seduction, he disrobed and approached her.

    They both stood facing each other in the bubbling brown mud, the warmth was comfortable, but Nix found the view fairly distracting.  The mud was slightly below Tai's full breasts; they jiggled slightly when she placed her hands on his cheeks and leaned forward to kiss his forehead.

    You have received the Blessing of Earth.
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