379 Trial of the Serpent part one

    Ducky smiled at the group, before hugging Nix.  "You guys worked fast."  The Water Witch held both vials of the antidote and Nix's Deep Blue bracer.

    "Return to the Gladis Hub and pick up Shi.  She'll be able to remove the Black Ice safely from the Infirmary. Administer the antidote as soon as they wake up." Nix was about to add more when a knock sounded at the door.

    "Nix?"  A feminine voice spoke from outside the door.

    Nix glanced at the others and shrugged. He didn't recognize the voice.  "Come in."

    The door opened slowly, a petite female with short black hair that stood straight up entered slowly. She immediately locked eyes with Nix.  "Miss me, boss?"

    "Damn..."  Nix's wide grin told his companions that he knew the guest.  "It's Gideon."  His tone held the hint of humor, Gideon had chosen her real-world looks as a reference for the ring disguise. The resemblance was spot on.

    Gideon nodded.  "Good job, you remembered."  Nix was one of the few people who knew that behind the Gideon Avatar was actually an Asian woman named Mai.  They met briefly in Virtuna during the Everspire Expansion patch.

    [Whisper: Nix to Gideon] So... Now you're a woman, pretending to be a man who is disguised as a woman.

    [Whisper: Gideon to Nix]  Yep.

    Sharl nodded in approval. "Changing gender is the perfect disguise.  Make contact?

    "She did,"  Floyd answered for her.  The Naga had followed the twins to a cantina where they met up with Shank.  After a few drinks, they exited the Under-City and spent an hour in the market before closing.  When Gideon wandered into the area, Shank made a bee-line for her.

    Gideon nodded in agreement.  "He actually approached me."

    Floyd studied Gideon for a moment; she had no apparent tells that would leave anyone to think she was a man in disguise.  "Was it odd?  Being hit on by another man?"

    Gideon bit his lip to keep from smiling.  "Not as much as you'd think."

    [Authors Note: To avoid confusion, I will continue to reference Gideon as a male, even though his current disguise and RL gender is female.]

    Milat's expression showed his skepticism.  "I sparred with Gideon a few times.  How did it go?"

    Gideon smiled sweetly.  "I beat  you three straight times."

    [Whisper: Milat to Gideon] I wish Pon were here for this.

    Milat frowned slightly.  "That was before I added the Trickster Class, your assassin had too many advantages over my scout.

    Gideon patted his cheek.  "Keep telling yourself that."

    Milat slowly turned red before stepping away from her.

    /Inferno: Sharl: Woah...

    /Inferno: Floyd: That's impressive.

    /Inferno: Ducky:  This is interesting.

    [Whisper: Nix to Gideon] Don't use your feminine wiles on my Trickster.  You'll confuse him.

    [Whisper: Gideon to Nix] It's rather fun.  I never get to act like a woman.

    "I'll be back soon." Ducky activated Deep Blue and selected the Gladis Hub.

    Nix took a seat on the bed and leaned back against the wall.  "How did the conversation with Shank go?"

    "Mostly, he bragged about how much he could help me.  I told him I was a new player that joined at the Expansion cap of 125."  Gideon shrugged slightly, Shank was handsome enough, but he liked himself too much.

    Nix smiled in approval.  "Set up another meeting?"

    "Tomorrow, the three of them are going to a ruin called the Palisade; they offered to bring me."

    Sharl listened intently.  "Be careful.  It's easy to slip up.  What name did you give him?"

    Gideon gave her a deadpan look. "Mai."

    Gideon has joined the Viper Channel.

    /Viper: Nix: It's getting late, dibs on the bed since I paid for the room.


    0700 The Following Day.  The Trial of Firsts, holding area.

    Mari'Djinn was in her snake form for the Trial.  Her green eyes stared at the two who were going to assist her in the Trial of Firsts.  One was a human female named Sharl; the other was a Spirit Companion from a race that Mari'Djinn had never heard of.

    /Trial: Mari'Djinn: I'm Toxic Mage, I specialize in dps, but I can siphon health from the enemy to others in my group.

    /Trial: Sharl: So we have some heals?  Great.  I'm a Gemini Defender; my specialty is tanking.

    /Trial: Floyd: I'm a Gemini Trickster,  I can CC and DPS, depending on the situation.

    Floyd was in Naga form, both of his daggers were gripped in his hands.  Sharl held a green shield with the House of Inferno emblem painted on it; her customary spear was stabbed into the sand in front of her.

    /Inferno: Milat: Go get them, guys.

    /Inferno: Sori: Take your time Floyd, make sure to assist the Tank.

    Inferno: Floyd: Yep.

    /Inferno: Nix: What is that thing on your tail Floyd?

    A deadly looking serrated blade was attached to the end of Floyd's snake tail by a leather harness. The Naga had designed it himself, the Master Armorer from Eidengal put the final touches on it.

    /Inferno: Floyd: I call it a tail sword, first time using it.

    /Inferno: Nix: What a crappy name.  How about Stinger?

    /Trial: Mari'Djinn: Fight hard, I will not hesitate to sacrifice both of you if it means I finish the Trial.

    /Trial: Sharl: Understood.

    /Trial: Floyd: The f*ck you say?

    Sharl led the trio into the instance; her shield held chest high with Floyd and Mari'Djinn directly behind her.

    /Trial: Sharl: I'm tanking, Floyd will be pulling.  Mari'Djinn on dps, do some healing when you can.

    The instance entrance was at the base of a large sand dune; visibility was low due to the high winds.  Ahead of them at the top of the dune was a group of three Titan serpents.

    /Trial: Floyd: On it. Stay in place, please.

    Floyd disappeared from view and approached the top of the dune; the heat and texture of the sand felt soothing against his scales.

    /Trial: Floyd: Marking the far left target with a blue star, and we'll work left to right.  No pulling on this one, take the target.

    Sharl has activated [Defender's Leap]

    A Serpent Priest has been stunned.

    Floyd has used [Flash]

    A Serpent Archer has been blinded.

    Ignus Tox has been blinded.

    Floyd slashed across the back of the Serpent priest's legs, the splatter of blood on the sand rewarding his first strike with the tail blade.

    A Serpent Priest has been crippled.

    Mari'Djinn has cast [Toxic Cloud.]

    A Serpent Priest has been poisoned.

    A Serpent Archer has been poisoned. Flash is no longer active.

    Ignus Tox has been poisoned. Flash is no longer active.

    /Trial: Floyd: No Area attacks mobs that I have CC'd.

    Floyd has activated [Turn Coat.]

    A Serpent Archer will now attack Ignus Tox for the next minute.

    Sharl Slammed her shield into the face of the Serpent Priest and then swept his legs with her spear.

    Floyd has successfully initiated a combination. [Viper Strike][Two-Fangs]

    A Serpent Priest has been mortally wounded.

    A Serpent Priest has been slain.

    /Trial: Floyd: Attack the named mob, the Archer is charmed.

    Sharl Shield Slammed the named mob, driving him away from the Archer, who was nearly dead.

    Sharl has successfully initiated a combination. [Gladiator Strike] [Spear Slash]

    Sharl has scored a critical hit on Ignus Tox.

    Mari'Djinn has cast [Poison Arrow]

    A Serpent Archer has been poisoned.  Turn Coat is no longer active.

    /Trial: Floyd: The f*ck are you doing?

    [Critical Chain]

    Floyd has followed up Sharl's attack with a critical strike.

    Ignus Tox has been slain.

    Mari'Djinn has cast [Pit Viper]

    A Serpent Archer has been poisoned.

    A Serpent Archer has been slain.

    /Trial: Floyd: Oi... Pull your head out of your ass.  You assist the Tank.  That means you use single-target attacks on whatever Sharl is hitting.

    /Trial: Mari'Djinn:  These mobs are weak, and you are moving too slow, I have to make up for the Tank's lack of dps.

    Sharl placed a hand on Floyd's shoulder and shook her head slightly.  "Let's keep going."

    Floyd nodded, his dark eyes stared at the white snake for a moment before he faded into the sands.

    /Trial: Floyd: That's interesting...

    /Trial: Sharl: What?

    /Trial: Floyd: Come to the next dune, there are two named mobs here.  I believe our objective is right behind them.

    After the group with the pair of named mobs, Floyd vanished into the sands to investigate the objective.  A single boss stood alone on a raised platform. Two winding paths led away from him. There were four named mobs on each path.  When the Trickster returned a few minutes later, he was ready to brief the group.

    /Trial: Floyd: The boss is called The Boa King, for now, he's a large fighter standing alone on the platform. He has a ton of health, and he is currently carrying a single long blade with a bow.

    /Trial: Sharl: We can't rely on that; he may spawn multiple mobs once we attack him.

    /Trial: Mari'Djinn: Doubtful, this has been relatively straightforward until now.

    /Trial: Floyd: Each path has four named mobs, among those, are a flier and a stealthed archer.  I only got close enough to the Archer to verify his existence; he was aware of me even though I was stealthed.

    /Trial: Sharl: High perception.  He didn't make a move to attack?

    /Trial: Floyd: No.  Suggestions?

    /Trial: Mari'Djinn: We'll do one path and then the other.  Don't lose your nerve now.

    /Trial: Floyd: The hell are you talking about?  We should discuss...  Wait, idiot!

    Mari'Djinn moved toward the near path, her long white form flashed through the sand and arrived at the first mob.

    Mari'Djinn has cast [Poison Sands]

    Allegre the Bold has been rooted.

    Allegre the Bold has been poisoned.


    The Boa King has entered the battle.

    Floyd scanned the area, the boss had already stepped off his platform and was moving toward them.

    /Trial: Floyd: Boss is moving!

    Sharl has activated [Defender's Leap]

    The Gemini Defender flashed toward The Boa King, slamming her shield into him repeatedly, driving him back toward the platform.

    /Trial: Sharl: I'll hold the boss, help Mari'Djinn.

    Sharl stowed her shield and put both hands on her shield while she backed him up, without warning the Boa King retreated onto the edge of the platform.  The Tank stumbled forward, only to find herself locked up in a suffocating embrace.

    The Boa King laughed loudly, his wide mouth locked in a cruel smile.  "I shall crush your bones, lovely Gemini."

    /Trial: Floyd: Need help?

    /Trials: Sharl: No, leave this to me.  Just hurry!

    Sharl worked an arm free of the Boa King's embrace and slammed a heavily armored fist into his face, after three straight punches his grip loosened.  The Boa King's face blurred for a moment, an instant later thick black coils wrapped tighter around Inferno's Main Tank, and she found herself facing thirty feet of heavily scaled snake.

    Feli, the Archer has scored a critical hit on Sharl.

    Trahti the Harpy has cast [Blinding Storm] on Sharl.

    Sharl has been blinded for the next minute.

    /Trial: Sharl: The other path is attacking!

    /Trial: Mari'Djinn: You can hold for a few minutes.

    /Trial: Floyd: No, not with the other side attacking her.  Finish this side, and I'll pull them away from her.  Don't forget about the stealthed Archer.

    Floyd charged across the stage, targeting the flier.

    [Grounded] Floyd has brought a Trahti the Harpy to the ground.

    He slashed his tail across the back of her wings, sending black feathers everywhere.

    Trahti, the Harpy, has been crippled.

    Sharl struggled to bring an arm across her chest, pushing outward she created enough space to breathe.  The leering face of the giant boa hung in the air.

    Sharl has cast [Gemini Companion Bond: Oil Slick]

    Without warning, both her and the Boa King tumbled to the ground. Sharl rolled to her feet just as the enormous maw struck at her, sending the shield she carried high into the air.  Without missing a beat, her spear appeared in her hand, and she pierced through the thick body of the snake, pinning it to the sands.

    /Trial: Sharl: Best if you hurry!
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