383 Trials of Inferno part one

    Fey sat comfortably on Morti's back while he stood in the center of the stream.  "You promised not to splash.  Remember?"

    Morti's long tongue lolled in the river.  "I only said I wouldn't splash you."  One big paw slammed into the water, sending a wave over the top of the white bear that floated nearby.

    "Morti!" Snow Lily submerged herself and then bounced up with both paws extended.

    Fey has cast [Flashfire]

    The wave of water that hung in the air instantly evaporated into steam. Morti went back on the attack.

    "Stop!"  Fey's voice caused both bears to freeze in place.  "Take me back to the shore, Morti; I want no part of your silly courtship."

    "Okay."  Morti waddled back to the bank, where his mother and father watched.  He kept a cautious eye on Lily, who seemed to have a knack for splashing.  'What's courtship?"

    Fey slid off his back and walked towards her favorite sunning rock.  "It's what you do before getting married."

    Mortimus's deep laugh showed that he was listening. "He's much too young."

    Morti nodded in agreement. "I can't do that anyway."

    Scarlett smiled and leaned against her husband.  Morti always said whatever was on his mind.  "You can't?"

    "Nope." Morti flopped down on the water, sending waves bouncing up the bank.  "I'm gonna marry Pinky first; maybe I'll courtship someone after that."

    Mortimus jumped when his wife suddenly pinched his side.


    "I see."  The Titan War Leader avoided his wife's eyes.  "Who is Pinky?"

    "She's my favorite person.  After Nix and Ducky."  Morti went on to list the qualities of the young Inferno cleric; it was a long list.

    "Nix is my favorite person too."  Fey chimed in from her sunning rocking.  "Ducky is a close second."

    Scarlet sighed and decided to let it go.  "Do you think Nix will summon you today?"

    Fey shook her head.  "No."

    Morti huffed his nose from the shallow part of the river, sending water spraying into the air. "Yep. Definitely gonna swat things today."


    0830, Scorpian Trials

    Nix checked his hud, still no activity from Pon.  "Ready?"

    Jun Li nodded.  They had decided to let Juni accompany Nix and Lucid in the Scorpion trial. Nix would summon Ducky and Morti after they entered.  "Let me finish."

    Nix smiled and watched as Jun Li tied her dark hair up in a ponytail.  "Sure... just finish your hair, the rest of us will just wait."

    Jun Li made a face at him.  "Last is best."

    "No argument from me." Nix had to make a few last-minute adjustments to Pinky's armor.  Both the wolf and the lion trials were already underway.

    /Inferno: Semmi: Good luck, Junie. Try and bring the boss back in one piece.

    /Inferno: Jun Li: Will do.

    "Thank you both for helping me."  Lucid remained in scorpion form; it was hard to determine gender from the voice or name.

    Nix nodded while trying not to stare.  The sand-colored scorpion was the length of a compact car.  Its carapace was heavily armored. "What class are you?"

    "Healer class."  The scorpion raised its pincered claws and snapped them shut a few times.  "I can mix it up if I need to."

    Nix shared a look with Jun Li. "How did you end up being chosen as second?"

    "I'm the last of my kind."

    "Damn... So no spare then?"  Nix smiled pleasantly.  "Good thing you're a cleric."

    Lucid's features were impossible to read.  "Why is that?"

    Jun Li finished and gave Nix the thumbs up.  "He's bringing in the big guns."

    Lucid followed the pair toward the staging area.  "Does that mean I'm going to survive this?"

    Nix nodded, "Yep."

    "Without a doubt." Jun Li replied.

    Jun Li stepped into the instance first and waited for the group.  There were no paths or geographical features of any kind.  Just a single elevated platform set in the middle of a vast expanse of sand.  "Nice."

    Nix and Lucid followed a few seconds later.

    /Trials: Nix: Looks like waves?

    /Trials: Jun Li: That's my guess.  Stay off the platform until we are ready.

    /Trials: Lucid: Waves is good, right?

    /Trials: Jun Li: With this group, waves are perfect.

    [Summons: Mortimer]

    [Summons: Ducky]

    Morti and Ducky appeared simultaneously.

    The Titan cub pushed his big head into Nix's chest.  "I'm ready to go, Nix!  Forgot my helmet, though."

    Nix made a face at the cub and pushed his damp head away.  "Don't do that when you're wet. We'll be fighting off waves today.  Your number one priority is to keep our scorpion friend alive."

    Morti turned his head slightly to look at Lucid. "No problem.  I'll protect him."

    "Her," Lucid corrected.

    /Trials: Lucid: He looks like Tautius.

    Nix had the feeling that the scorpion was smiling.  It was the typical reaction that all clerics have when seeing an apex tank.

    Lucid targeted the Titan cub. "Incoming buffs."

    Lucid has cast [Amored Carapace].

    Mortimer's armor rating has been increased by twenty percent.

    Lucid has cast [Sands of Time].

    All damage to Mortimer results in the opponent being slowed by 30 percent for 30 seconds.

    Lucid has cast [Desert Fire].

    Mortimer's fur has absorbed the heat of the desert.  Fire damage will be reflected back towards all attackers.

    /Inferno: Jun Li: Those are some nice buffs.

    /Inferno: Nix: Might have to steal this cleric.

    /Trials: Ducky: Hi everyone.

    /Trials: Jun Li: Waves of fighters today Ducky, it will be up to you and Nix to limit the numbers coming at us.

    /Trials: Ducky: Do we know how many waves?

    /Trials: Nix: When they throw some sort of big boss at us, that's probably the last one.

    /Trials: Jun Li: Let's move onto the platform together.  Keep your head on a swivel; they could come from any side.


    Pon has cast [Sunfire].

    The solid wood wall that surrounded the eastern section of the slave pens exploded outward.  The old fire mage stepped through the opening before signing to the group. "Follow me and stay close."

    Dozens of fighters swarmed on both sides of the opening, the sheer amount of flames made midnight seem more like noon.

    [Fields of Fire][Molten Lake][Inferno]

    Pon has successfully attempted a triple combination.

    The old man ran down the only path that wasn't in flames. Casting three AoEs at once sucked through his mana.

    [Summons: Fire Imp]

    [Summons: Sun Devil]

    Two nearly identical flame spirits appeared in front of the group.

    "Time for you two **heads to earn your keep."  Pon gestured toward the open area.  "Burn anyone carrying a weapon.  For reference, a bucket of water is not a weapon."

    The fire imp scowled at the old man.  "I curse your existence, Pon the Miserly."

    "You never pay us anything you cheap bastard," the second fire creature dodged too slowly and was knocked backward by a boot slamming into his backside.

    "Shut yer pie-holes and get moving."  Pon wiped the sweat out of his eyes and turned back toward the Aquarion. "We're leaving this city."

    Pon led the group through the back alleys, steadily moving toward the front gate.  His terrifying flame-duo apparently decided that starting everything on fire would be a good distraction.

    "Won't innocents be caught up in this?"  Baryn still carried Panyu; the Aquarion woman had no issues keeping up despite her extra burden.

    "Innocent of what? Slavery is illegal in Oasis." Pon paused for a moment and handed Baryn his canteen.  "They reap the benefits of doing business in a slave town.  I say f*ck-em."

    The small group spent the next ten minutes trying to avoid everyone.  The swarming slavers had been replaced with townsmen who were intent on putting out the fires.  Pon ignored them unless then tried to slow him down.

    "In here."  Pon led the way into the stables and started saddling horses.  He spotted a stableboy hiding in the corner.  "I'm taking these horses, boy.  Tell your Master to send the bill to Nix at the Parliamentary Office of Inferno.  Got it?"

    The boy nodded.  "Nix at Parliament."

    They left town a few minutes later and headed east.  Baryn carried Panyu in front of her.  "Thank you, Pon."

    Pon spared a glance at the Aquarion.  "I'll take her now if you're tired."

    Baryn shook her head. "This is my fault. I let my guard down."

    "That's not important.  How's it your fault?  You didn't plan on being attacked."  Pon pulled his horse up and checked his portal ring; it still wasn't active.  "Once I can port out, I'll bring all of you to Loki.  Then I'll come back for Ayla."

    "They took her Pon.  Before we got to this city."  Baryn's quiet voice was could barely be heard over the sound of the horses running.

    "Shit." Pon gritted his teeth in frustration.  Ishna had contacted him and told him that a group of her people disappeared.  "I need names and places."

    "Panyu was the only one who saw him.  They beat her and left her for dead. She followed us and caught up the next night, that's when they broke her arms."  Baryn stroked the Aquarion woman's head.

    "Why did they leave her alive?"

    Baryn shrugged.  "They tossed her in the back of the wagon with the rest of us.  I am sure they thought she was dead."

    Pon pulled up a few minutes later and helped Baryn dismount.  "I need a moment with her."

    Baryn nodded and then led the others a few feet away.

    Pon wet a clothe with his canteen and wiped her face gently.  "I'll find Ayla, but I'm going to need a bit of information."

    Panyu stared at him from swollen eyes, fist and club marks were clearly visible.  "Seibel... The man who took her was named Seibel.  He wasn't a Su'Dhassi like the others."

    "No?  Was he human, like me?"

    "No, he was a Fir'Dhassi." Panyu gripped his hand.  "Bring her back."

    Pon nodded. "I will.  The Fir'Dhassi won't want to mess with Nix.  I'll send him a message."
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