370 Goralpri conclusion

    [0800 Embassy Arena Training Grounds Several months earlier]

    "Well... at least your handsome."  The ugly old woman extended a hand to help him up; both were shirtless and wore matching brown leather leggings.  The woman's chest was flat as a board, and her thin, bony build gave no indication of the speed and agility of her movements.

    Nix scowled at her and accepted the towel she had already wiped herself down with. "That form has fifty-something different steps that you showed me one time.  I'd have to be a savant to remember all of them."

    Chiba didn't bother to hide her gaze while she watched her apprentice wipe the sweat and sand off his well-muscled frame. She leered shamelessly while playing with a strand of her oily gray hair. "Perhaps we should take a sex break to recharge your mental focus."

    "Pass."  Nix moved back into position.

    Chiba nodded and picked up her silver blade from the sand where it had been stabbed tip down.  "You are my lovely apprentice, so I shall do my best to instruct you.  Even if you can't do it yet, you must remember it.  Chiba's first form, aka [the Great Beauties Blade.]"

    Nix stood silently and watched the swordmaster flow through the form again.


    Nix shifted both of his blades downward and side-stepped the double-bladed slice in a single movement that ended with three double strikes to heel, hamstring, and spine.  The giant silver man stumbled slightly, giving Morti enough time to plant two enormous paws on his target's back that sent him skidding across the rocky surface.

    /Hotness: Fajii: I can't BR anyone Nix, it's part of my Scorched Earth Element.

    Nix has used [Ghost Step].  Without blocking, he flowed easily around a thrust that Bo'raz sent from the ground, giving chase he slashed both blades across the silver man's back before he could respond.

    Bo'raz has activated [Escape]

    The giant silver man seemed to melt suddenly into the ground.  The giant puddle pooled for a moment and then was absorbed by the rock.

    Elemental Infringement has worn off.

    /Hotness: Wind: Shit... he's gone.

    /Hotness: Nix: Start rezzing our people.

    /Hotness: Fajii: On it.

    Nix stared at the spot on the rocks where Bo'raz disappeared, the loud mouth-breathing of a certain Fire mage told him he wasn't alone.  "Didn't see that coming."

    Pon shook his head.  "Yeah... That's a nice trick. What now?"

    "We forced him to ground."  Nix summoned his Shadow Daiken.  "Let's head back to the warehouse for now.  We'll regroup and prep for round two.

    Semmi approached the two; her sweet smile could have melted butter.  "You can double up with me Pon, since your Daiken is down."

    The blonde officer scooted forward a bit to make room. "Nice bladework there, boss.  You looked like Chiba for a moment."

    Pon nodded in agreement. "First time I've seen you use finesse instead of the 'long blunt club of overwhelming fire ability.'"

    Fajii approached and stood next to Nix's mount with her hand extended.  "Let's ride together. I wish to speak with you."

    Nix let the scorched earth mage slide in behind him; his Shadow Daiken was quite a bit larger than the normal ones.  He waited until she wrapped two tanned arms around his waist before launching into the air.

    /Hotness: Ronnie: What's the plan, Nix?

    /Hotness: Nix: I'm going to have Leva take me to Inferno so that I can locate Goralpri.  You and Bal can head back to Free Trader City.

    /Hotness: Ronnie: Sounds good, we'll wait in the warehouse until she returns.  Cya Nix.

    /Hotness: Bali: Yep, cya boss.

    "So... What did you want to talk about?"  Nix let his Daiken climb slowly, its long wings spread as it spiraled upward toward the edge of the mine.

    Fajii squeezed him tighter.  "I made that up.  After seeing Pon and Semmi riding together, it seemed nice."

    "You can just ask.  I don't mind."  Nix glanced at the old man who was riding a few meters away. "Is something bothering the old bastard?"

    The alchemist shrugged slightly. "He always seems the same to me."

    Nix laughed at the diplomatic phrasing.  "Always a crabby bastard."


    Half an hour later, a breach opened in the infusion chamber of Inferno City.  Leva led Alpha team through and waited patiently.

    The former dark chancellor watched as Nix approached the control hud. "Do you know where Goralpri is?"

    "I don't have to know." Nix stood at the Interface in the Infusing Chamber. "Display System Menus."

    [Inferno System Operations]

    1. Security

    2. Power Grid

    3. Transportation

    4. Master Key

    "Display Master Key Menu."

    4. Master Key.

    a) Annonymous (Disabled)

    b) Intercity Communication (Enabled)

    c) Direct Control (Enabled)

    d) City Links (Disabled)

    "Display Direct Control Menu."

    [Direct Control Menu]

    a) Inferno: Nix

    b) Chyanama: Nix

    c) Alliance City: Nix

    d) Goralpri: Bo'raz

    e) Filamina: Nix

    d) Icaraphet: Tharaka

    f) Verynzai: Unaqoir

    "Access Goralpri."

    [A message has been sent to Bo'raz regarding the start-up procedures. He has three minutes to answer.]

    "Got some personal stuff to take care of after this."  Pon stood next to him, keeping his voice low so the rest of the team couldn't overhear.  Semmi had recently trimmed his thick white hair, "might be gone a few days."

    Nix nodded in reply.  "No worries, be careful."

    [Goralpri: Remote Controller Recognized: Nix]

    "Open Goralpri Security Menu."

    [Goralpri System Operations]

    1. Security

    a) City Controller (Nix)

    b) City Shields (Disabled)

    c) City Gating Platforms (Disabled)

    d) City Gun Points (Disabled)

    "Enable City Gating Platforms between Inferno and Goralpri."

    [Gating Platforms between Inferno and Goralpri have been enabled.]

    Leva opened a breach to the Inferno City gating platform and waited until the team had moved through before stopping Nix with a hand on his arm. "I'll head back and oversee the transfer of the dragon steel back to Ionova."

    "You can tell Ronnie and Bal to head back to Free Trader City. Be careful. If Bo'raz shows up, I want you to retreat."

    Your group chat has been changed from Hotness to Alpha.

    /Alpha: Nix: Hey... Why the change?  It was growing on me.

    /Alpha: Pon: I couldn't stand it any longer.  Plus, it really doesn't fit me.

    /Alpha: Wind: Certainly true.

    /Alpha: Nix: He has a point, Pon is an ugly bastard.

    Alpha team activated the Inferno City gate and disappeared an instant later.


    /Alpha: Pon: The f*ck is this?

    Nix grabbed the old man's arm before he lost his balance.  The air was heavy with humidity, and the temperature had grown uncomfortable warm.  Vines and green foliage of all kinds covered everything; a slippery looking green moss could be seen under the vines.  "Weapons out."

    [Aura Ignition]

    A red blade flashed out and cut away some of the vines that were entangling his feet; the vines had tiny barbs that stuck to whatever it touched.

    Nix has cast [Tides of Flame].

    Less than a half-minute later, the immediate area surrounding them had been cleared down to a gray stone.  Semmi brought her hud map on to zero in on their location.  "We're about a hundred miles south of the Great Desert."

    "That's deep jungle." Pon swatted his arm and cursed.  "F*cking mosquitos?  Could we have done without those?"

    Clouds of insects harassed the group; Nix was unbothered as none of them made it past his flame aura.  "Why hide it so far away?"

    /Alpha: Semmi: An entire city could disappear relatively quickly in this sort of environment.  I remember reading that some vines will grow a few feet a day under the right conditions.

    /Alpha: Wind: No one has been here in years. Could that be why Bo'raz didn't respond to the city query?

    /Alpha: Nix: Maybe.  Let's find the infusion chamber.

    Pon and Nix took turns burning the path; neither were interested in destroying the buildings that hid beneath the vines.

    /Alpha: Pon: What kind of shape do you think the city is in?

    /Alpha: Nix: I'm seeing a lot of wood, so my guess would be that it's mostly rotted away.

    Semmi nodded in agreement; she walked directly behind Nix since she was the one tasked with holding the spectrum pellet.  As one of the non-mages in the group, she received the pellet from Leva before stepping through the breach.

    The group stopped a few minutes later, Nix had been in nearly every Dragon City and didn't have any issues finding the entrance to the control room. He dropped his flame aura while Pon burned through the foliage that covered the grate.  Eron jumped from Fajii's shoulder to Nix's and then settled down.

    The black fox pushed a cold nose against his face.  "A splinter is present, Nix.  Small and nearly insignificant."

    /Alpha: Nix: Eron says we have company.  Be ready for anything.

    The tunnel downward gave them a brief respite from the overgrown city; it was exactly the same as the others.  Nix spotted him first, a slender silver-colored man without weapons or armor.

    "Greetings. I apologize for the aggression. Those parts of me are quite fierce."  The silver man was leaning against the infusion platform, his eerie eyes watching the group.

    /Alpha: Pon: Kill it?

    /Alpha: Nix: Talk first...

    "You are Bo'raz?"  Nix moved forward with Pon, while the other three fanned out.

    The silver man shrugged.  "Mostly, no.  I was 1/7th of Bo'raz. Now I'm just a third."

    Eron stared at the creature, its tiny black eyes glowing as it studied the splinter. "Interesting... Bo'Raz has splintered his abilities as if they were sections of his spirit."

    The silver man nodded in agreement.  "We are very good at that. Although you have destroyed most of us."

    Nix glanced at the fox on his shoulder.  "Explain."

    The fox jumped nimbly to the ground and approached.  "Initially, they were divided into seven equal parts.  This was accomplished long ago, what we fought wasn't one dragon, but seven parts of one dragon.  Each of those parts imbibed with the same amount of knowledge."

    /Alpha: Pon: F*ck this... Let's melt the bitch and go home.

    /Alpha: Fajii: Agree.

    Nix gestured toward the silver man who hadn't moved. "So he's part of Bo'raz?"

    The silver man sighed heavily.  "Not the best parts, unfortunately."

    A peal of light laughter that sounded like the ringing of bells filled the air.  Eron pranced on his four delicate paws. "He's empathy.  Completely useless in a fight."

    /Alpha: Nix: Nope.  I don't get it.

    /Alpha: Pon: I'm with ya boss.  Let's kill it.

    "Don't hurt me."  The silver man walked forward slowly, his hands held outward.  "We recognized that a one-seventh division of us wasn't capable of defeating your group. You were able to injury us badly, so we changed our division to thirds."

    Pon's old face continued to scowl at the silver man, "let's melt this third and then go looking for the rest."

    Semmi's small hand grabbed the old mages arm before he lit up.  "You said thirds?  What are the other two thirds?"

    "Our marshal ability makes up one, and the other has our mage ability, along with most of the intellect."  The silver man showed them a slight smile. "As your spirit catcher guessed, I am the empathy and conscience of Bo'raz.  My section was deemed useless for our continued existence."

    /Alpha: Wind: Marshal ability?  That's a melee fighter, right?  The other one is a mage?

    /Alpha: Semmi: Both will be cold-blooded killers if they weren't already.

    "They can't see or hear you, but they will be aware that we are communicating."  The silver man stared at the black fox.  "You will have to sever my connection to them or kill me."

    Eron's black eyes continued to watch him.  "I suggest killing him. He won't put up a fight."

    The silver man nodded in agreement. "I don't even know how to fight."

    /Alpha: Nix: Thoughts?

    /Alpha: Pon: Let's wack him.

    /Alpha: Wind: Not sure, but regardless this would be an execution, not a fight.

    /Alpha: Fajii: Let's give him a quick death.

    /Alpha: Semmi: He's a potential resource if he can't be used against us.

    "Eron..." Nix knelt down and waited while the fox approached him.  "Can he be cut off completely from the other two?"

    The small fox nodded its head. "I'd have to take him with me; it's not something I can accomplish alone."

    "You'd return to the Burrow?"  Fajii interrupted their conversation, her calm voice showing excitement.

    "Yes.  I would need a few of the elders to help me with such a task."

    /Alpha: Fajii: I changed my vote Nix.  I'll escort him back to the Burrow with Eron.

    "Can you tell us where the other two are?"  Nix pushed flames into his red blade and approached the silver man.

    "They know who your enemy is.  They will be joining Khione."

    /Alpha: Pon: F*ck...

    /Alpha: Wind: Our enemy grows stronger.

    /Alpha: Semmi: Don't kill him, Nix.  I have a feeling he'll be useful.

    Nix let the flames drop from his scimitar and stowed the red blade with a thought.  "Can you guarantee he won't escape Eron?"

    "Yes, but he'd have to consent to a spirit shackle first."  The intelligent black eyes observed Nix, waiting for his decision.

    Nix pursed his lips slightly; he was on the bubble.  He trusted Semmi's intuition; perhaps he could be a resource for them.  "Listen carefully, Third.  You have two choices in front of you.  Consent to this spirit shackle, or die intact."

    "I give my consent, Spirit Snatcher."  The silver man didn't hesitate; he bowed slightly.  "Thank you for sparing me."
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