364 Missing Shipmen

    Nix left the Pawn Shop a few minutes later.  Instead of waiting an hour for the arranged meeting with Alpha team, he summoned his Shadow Daiken and headed toward Ever Flame at top speed.

    The town of Ever Flame had recovered entirely from the Vega campaign. He landed the mount outside of the stables and walked in. Thitz the Stablemaster wasn't present, but his assistant Randa was.

    "Mr. Nix!"  Randa's face lit up in a smile when he entered.  Although she didn't know the Inferno Guild Leader very well, she witnessed first hand his strength and influence.

    Nix returned her smile. "Just the person I was looking for.  Have you considered my offer?"

    Randa breathed a sigh of relief.  She was angry at herself for not accepting Nix's employment offer right away. She was worried that he wouldn't return for her answer.  "I accept the offer to manage your herd.  I have two friends who will also join me if that's okay."

    Nix nodded. "It's fine.  Make your way to Free Trader City and take the Gate platform to Ionova.  Wait for me there."

    Randa has joined Inferno.

    "Thank you, Mr. Nix!"

    "Just Nix is fine."  He left Ever Flame a few minutes later and headed back toward Free Trader City.  Randa and her friends could live in the bunkhouse at his Haven Ranch.

    /Inferno: Pon: Where are you, Punk?

    /Inferno: Nix: Just landing outside the west gate.  Meet me at the City Management Office.

    Since Free Trader City occupied four different provinces, the leadership of those provinces agreed that the City would maintain a neutral status.  Free Trader City was governed by a Mayor who answered to an elected town council.

    Nix found his team waiting outside the Management Office by the time he found the place.

    /Alpha: Semmi: What's going on here, Nix?

    /Alpha: Nix: Nebs asked me to look into something.  It seems that Ionova paid for several shipments of metal, yet we haven't received it yet.

    /Alpha: Pon: Why meet here then?  You could handle this while I ate my lunch.

    /Alpha: Nix: You don't need to eat all the time, old man.

    The City Management Office was a long set of windowed counters with signs hanging over each.  Nix spotted the one that said Information and walked toward it.

    A bespectacled middle-aged man with male pattern baldness stood behind the counter.  "May I help you, sir?"

    Nix nodded and handed him his Steward Crest.  "Ionova purchased several shipments of metals a while back; for some reason, they've been delayed."

    The man examined the crest for a moment before handing it back.  "Welcome to Free Trader City, Steward Nix. You'll want to talk to Ian at the Import/Export Window.  They would process that shipment."

    /Alpha: Semmi: I see it.

    Nix thanked the clerk and followed Semmi to the far side of the building.  A tall woman stood behind the counter; her sharp eyes noticed them right away.

    "May I help you, sir?"

    Nix handed her his Steward Crest.  "I'm the Steward of Ionova.  I want to follow up on a shipment of metal that we ordered on paid for last month.  We have yet to receive it."

    /Alpha: Nix: F*ck...

    /Alpha: Semmi: What is it?

    [Summons: Ducky]

    The blue-haired Water Nymph appeared in front of Nix a moment later. She was wearing her Nether Breaker armor that Nix had upgraded.

    Ducky has joined Alpha team.

    /Alpha: Nix: I want you to talk to this cleric.  I sense something wrong with her.  Ask about the metal shipment that was supposed to be delivered to Ionova.  Nebs says the City Guard has confiscated it.

    Pon turned his head and stared at the woman behind the counter.

    /Alpha: Pon: I don't feel anything.

    /Alpha: Nix: She feels similar to the Tainted.

    /Alpha: Semmi: Crap...

    The other members of Alpha spread out slightly while Ducky approached the counter.

    Ducky has [Bewitched] Elena Anders.

    The Water Witch smiled pleasantly.

    Ducky read the nametag that was pinned to the clerk's shirt.  "Elena, right?  Recently a shipment of metals bound for Ionova was confiscated.  Do you know anything about that?"

    Elena nodded.  "Konin Tark has given the order that all metal shipments are to be routed through him."

    Ducky reached over the counter and grasped her hand. "I see.  You're very helpful.  Who is Konin Tark?"

    Elena smiled, her pale face blushing slightly. "Konin is the Commerce Administrator that is appointed by the City Council."

    Ducky pursed her lips slightly and leaned forward.  "Who does he really work for?"

    Elena's forehead instantly beaded with sweat while she struggled to answer.

    Ducky held up a hand to stop her.  "Forget, I asked."

    /Alpha: Ducky: If I push her hard on this, she'll break.  There's a strong geas on her.

    "I want to spend more time with you."  Ducky's voice was smooth as silk; Nix felt the hairs on the back of his neck rising up.

    Elena wiped her sweaty brow with a handkerchief.  "I would like that too."

    "Perhaps you could put in a good word for me.  If I worked for your boss, I'd do a great job for him."

    Elena smiled suddenly, her eyes warming slightly. "If I talk to the Mog..."  She broke off in mid-sentence, the warmth fading from her face.  "Nice try."

    Without warning, the clerk drew a dagger and plunged it into her own eye.  She collapsed face fist onto the floor with a loud bang.

    Ducky has cast [Illusion]

    /Alpha: Ducky: Take us out, Nix!

    Nix activated Deep Blue and chose Favi.

    A moment later, the group appeared outside of the Fighter's Guild.

    /Alpha: Nix: Did she break?

    /Alpha: Ducky: No, she was going to tell us.  Somehow she was being monitored.

    /Alpha: Nix: I have a quest here, might as well finish it since I'm back.

    /Alpha: Semmi: Group quest?

    /Alpha: Nix: No.  Grab some lunch, and I'll wrap things up quickly.

    /Alpha: Ducky: Want me to come with you?

    /Alpha: Nix: Sure.  That reminds me, I brought a new member into Inferno.  Her name is Randa.  Since she will be living in Haven, I want you to question her and the people with her thoroughly.

    /Alpha: Ducky: Okay.

    /Alpha: Nix: What Illusion did you cast when we left the Management Office?

    /Alpha: Ducky: Elena will appear to return to her work for a few minutes, and then she will kill herself with the dagger.  Best I could do on short notice.

    /Alpha: Nix: Great job, Ducky.

    Nix made his way to the fighting platform and stepped onto it.

    Your Clash of Swords Class quest is active.  Do you wish to start?

    Clash of Swords [Spellsword Only]

    Description: Your Master has been challenged, and

    so you must demonstrate your skill.

    Objective: Stand on the fighting platform at the

    Favi Fighter's Guild and defeat as many fighters

    as you can.

    [Required Objectives]

    Defeat Beryl Vorn

    Defeat Borsha

    Defeat Malice.


    /Fighter Guild Announcement: Apprentice Nix is challenging all-comers at the fighting platform.  A fifty thousand credit reward will be given to whoever defeats him.

    /Alpha: Nix: The F*ck you say?

    /Alpha: Semmi: Problem Nix?

    /Alpha: Nix: No.  Enjoy your lunch.

    Nix drew Wrath and pushed flames into it, the white flame buzzed in protest as it extended into the afternoon air.

    A bald-headed man wearing dark blue stepped onto the platform.  He was tanned and weathered from a life spent outdoors.

    Nix stared at him for a moment.  "Are you really an apprentice?  Look how old you are?"

    The man snarled at him, his face turning red.  "F*ck off!  It's all comers."

    [Storm Rider][Thunderfist][Advanced Execution]

    Triple Combination attempt successful.

    The man's head bounced onto the platform a moment later; Nix sidestepped suddenly to dodge the fountain of blood that sprayed upward from his neck.

    Nix nodded in agreement.  "So it is.  Thanks for the reminder."

    It was three quick fights before Beryl Vorn showed up.  She was a muscular female that moved like a giant predator; Nix was instantly reminded of Vooni.

    The woman had blond hair that was cropped close to her skull; she wore basic leather armor with a green singlet pulled over the top.

    The woman bowed respectfully. "I'm Beryl Vorn, the Apprentice of Master Eri Vorn.  Please advise me."

    Nix nodded and returned her bow. "I'm Nix, the Apprentice of Chiba. Please advise."
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