363 Pawn Broker

    Nix finished off his breakfast and walked outside with Shae.  "Are you going back to your seed world right away?"

    Shae nodded.  "Tai brought by a second non-viable dragon egg; she thought it might be useful to you sometime down the road."

    "Keep it with the other one we got from her, I'll think of something."  Nix leaned close for a kiss only to be wrapped up in the redhead's arms instead.

    Shae kissed him a few times before stepping away.  "I want you to stop by the nursery and seal your elements into a few of the dragon eggs.  Several of them haven't developed elements yet."

    Nix nodded.  "As soon as I wrap things up with Goralpri, I'll come by."

    [1000 hours, Free Trader City]

    Nix glanced at the time on his hud; he had two hours before he was meeting Alpha team. Plenty of time to run the two errands he had been putting off.  The Taxidermist shop was nestled neatly in between a Blacksmith forge and a Pawn Shop.

    A bell sounded when he pushed open the door to the shop a few moments later.  The inside of the shop was lined with shelves that displayed several impressive examples from a wide variety of puppets.

    "You have a good eye."  A young man barely out of his teens walked through a curtained doorway that separated the display area from the crafter's shop.

    Nix was studying a rather sleek looking aquatic bird that bore a stunning resemblance to a penguin.  "This is an animation, right? Not an actual puppet?"

    The young man nodded. "Only another Taxidermist would know that.  I'm Wallace, pleased to meet you."

    Nix shook the offered hand, hiding the surprise he felt at seeing how young the shop owner was. "I'm Nix. Lan, from Ever Flame, sent me."

    "He did?  Do you have a coin?"

    Nix nodded and showed him the Crafting Guild coin he received while in Ever Flame.

    Although animations could be made to represent real animals, they were more often animals that didn't exist in Everspire.  Taxidermy required exact materials of the animal being represented, while animators could make substitutions and circumvented the puppet tiers.  Once you maxed out Taxidermy, you were given the Animator title.

    Wallace moved behind the counter before returning the coin. "May I see an example of your work?"

    Nix took out his two of the animations he developed for the essences that have been taken in Elementia. Then he placed two of the Emperor puppets he made.

    [Air Raptor]  [Sea Hunter]

    [Sand Leopard] [Shade Falcon]

    Wallace whistled softly, his young face showing his excitement. "These are very good, Nix."

    Nix didn't hide the smile that popped onto his face.  Everyone liked receiving compliments on their work. "I shored up these animations a bit since they  were being released into Ionova."

    "Dragon scale, right?  How many did you make?"

    "113 Air Raptors and 240 Sea Hunters."  Nix already knew that both groups were staying close to Ionova, the Sea Hunters could often be seen sunning themselves on the docks.

    "Could I study these for a few days? They really are amazing."  Wallace disappeared into the back room for a few moments before reappearing with a large book in his hand.  He set it down on the counter before sliding it toward Nix.  "This should help you continue your advancement."

    [Advanced Animation]

    Nix picked up the manual and opened it briefly before closing it up.  "Thank you, Wallace. You may keep those two Animations if you like."

    A loud banging from next door echoed in the shop, causing Wallace to jump slightly.  The young man glanced at his shelves.  "At least nothing fell this time."

    Nix studied him for a moment. He was slimly built and was average in height.  He wore his light brown hair pulled back in a single ponytail.  Instead of looking angry at the disturbance, Wallace had a smile on his face.  "Does that happen very often?"

    "Not nearly enough."  Wallace's smile slipped into a full grin, and he cleared his throat.  "I better have a word those new shop owners."

    Since he was curious, Nix followed Wallace out the door and waited while the Taxidermist put his 'out to lunch' sign up.  An instant later, he entered the Pawn Shop.

    "Welcome to the R & B Pawn Shop!"  A familiar voice spoke from behind a counter on the far side of the room.

    "Hey Wally, some help here, please?" A dark-haired woman was standing precariously on a bucket that she had turned upside down.  She had a hammer in one hand and was holding up a shelf in the other.

    "...." Nix.

    "Of course!"  Wallace moved to the center of the shelf and held it up while the woman nailed it into the wall.

    "Thanks, handsome."  The dark woman stepped down from the bucket, pausing when she noticed Nix.  "Hey, Boss."

    "Hey, Ronnie."  Nix tried hard to keep the smile off his face, quick footsteps from behind him announced the presence of her partner in crime.

    "Commander?  I bet you have a ton of things to pawn!"  Bali stepped in front of him, looking up with an innocent smile on her face.

    /Inferno: Nix: The hell is going on here?

    /Inferno: Ronnie: This is our shop!

    Nix glanced around at the wares on display.  Nearly every shelf was full.  "I was next door with Mr. Wallace when his entire shop started shaking from your pounding."

    Ronnie turned her dark eyes on Wallace.  "Our apologies Wally, we should do this after shop hours."

    Nix watched as the Taxidermist melted beneath the smiles of Inferno's troublemakers.  "Wallace has an interest in the animations we released in Ionova."

    Bali picked up the bucket and moved behind the counter. "The Sea Hunters?  I can show you some of them; they are almost always on the docks sunning themselves."

    Wallace nodded his head in agreement. "Further study is required so that I can get a better grasp of Nix's techniques.  Hey... You know Bali and Ronnie?"

    Nix nodded.  "We are all members of Inferno."

    /Inferno: Ronnie: This guy is fantastic!  He gave both of us a free puppet when we opened up.

    /Inferno: Nix: I don't doubt it.  This place is packed with gear.  Are you doing good business?

    /Inferno: Ronnie: Don't tell... but we found a work-around.

    /Inferno: Nix: This should be good.  A work-around what?

    /Inferno: Bali: Pawn Shops can reset the 'bound' status on previously owned items.

    /Inferno: Nix: Holy crap.

    Nix glanced around the shop shelves, many of the higher-end items in Colonial would bind to the owner when they were equipped.   Shops wouldn't buy them, so players were often left with the option of either destroying them or letting them take up inventory space.

    /Inferno: Ronnie: You must have a lot of items that you aren't using.

    /Inferno: Nix: Quite a bit.

    /Inferno: Ronnie: Send me a copy of your list later, and I'll give you prices.

    /Inferno: Nix: I will.  Take it easy on this guy; he's a valuable resource to my continued advancement in animation.

    /Inferno: Ronnie: Of course, he's in good hands.

    /Inferno: Bali: Yep, good hands.

    Nix stepped away from the two Inferno members while they chatted up 'Wally.'  The shelves were mostly stocked with average items.

    /Inferno: Ronnie: Back in a bit, grabbing lunch for Bali and me. Want anything?

    /Inferno: Nix: No, thanks.

    [Whisper: Gideon to Nix] Are you in Free Trader City?

    [Whisper: Nix to Gideon] I am at the Pawn Shop next to Wallace's Taxidermy.

    [Whisper: Gideon to Nix}  Wait for me!

    Nix spent a few minutes browsing the impressive inventory of the shop. Bali sat on the counter, talking with Wallace, who was in no hurry to leave.  The door opened, and the guild leader from Salamander walked in.

    Gideon smiled when he saw Nix.  "Hey, just the person I was looking for."

    Nix was always glad to see Gideon, although at times the situation was made slightly awkward by his awareness of the Assassin's real gender.  "What can I do for you?"

    "Do you still have the illusion ring that dropped from the Vega Campaign?"

    Nix nodded and linked her the item in question. "You mean this one?  It really isn't an 'illusion ring,' while it is activated, you are someone else."

    Ring of Deceit [Unformatted]

    Description: Use a simple hud

    interface to construct any human form you

    design. Once you have chosen, it becomes

    permanently assigned to this ring.

    Gideon studied the effect for a moment.  "Even better.  I would like to purchase or barter for it."

    Nix considered the request before nodding.  No one in Inferno requested it, so he felt comfortable selling it to Gideon.  "I want two hundred head of horses.  No more than a dozen stallions in that number.  They can be a mix of the different Everspire Breeds."

    Gideon's face showed his disappointment; the price would probably take a while to gather. "It's a deal, Nix.  You'll hold onto it for me?"

    Nix tossed him the ring.  "No, but I trust your word."

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