395 Dragon Puppe

    Nix spoke with the merchants while they ate lunch at an open-air restaurant next to the vegetable markets. The owner of the establishment frowned at him when he opened his own boxed meal but didn't make an issue of it.

    After the meeting, Nebs briefed him on town development and the need for better local roads. Three families in town wanted permission to buy land to raise livestock and several business owners from Free Trader City wanted to expand to Ionova.

    "I'll have the quarry supply materials for making cobblestone, you'll have to find the stonemasons."

    Nebs nodded and made a note of it.  "I'll put the word out locally first."

    "As far as the business owners from Free Trader City lets hold off.  Encouraging commerce is great, however, I'm okay with slowing it down if it means our local businesses develop to the point where they can expand."

    Nebula smiled at her boss.  From a financial standpoint, Nix did things backward.  Instead of maximizing profit, he was more interested in maximizing the potential of local businesses. However, she liked his approach better.  "Sounds good."


    Nix arrived at HQ at exactly 1400.  It was an accomplishment that gave him a great deal of satisfaction. "I'm on fire today!"

    Muncie looked up when he heard the sound of the gate opening, it broke his concentration, and the dragon corpse he was animating collapsed onto the ground.  "Damn..."

    "You can get it to stand now?"  Nix approached the dragon, he'd only managed to reattach the head, both wings were laying on the ground nearby, still unattached."

    Muncie nodded, when he last spoke with Nix, he could only manage to open its eyes.  "Making progress, but it's slow."

    "I have an idea, not sure if it will work."  Nix grabbed one of the chairs placed nearby and moved it closer to the dragon.

    "More repairs? Did you manage to get more Dragon material?" Muncie helped Nix with the repairs, he knew that the Inferno Leader used nearly all of his personal resources just to put the head on and repair the damaged torso.

    Nix shook his head and showed him the manual in his hand.  "Something better."

    Animation Manual [Minaturization Skill]

    Description: Create smaller animations and

    puppets using this ancient technique.

    Miniature ratios come in .25, .5 and .75

    Muncie's eyes widened. "Where did you get this?  Do the smaller ratios use fewer materials?  How does being miniaturized affect strength?"

    "So many questions."  Nix handed him the manual so that he could look at it.  "It's from Eidengal, the materials match the ratios exactly.  In other words, half the size equals half the resources.  Power isn't affected by miniaturization."

    Muncie paged through the manual. "You were able to learn the miniaturization skill?"

    Nix nodded.  Muncie reminded him of Dalton, he was short and a bit on the skinny side.  The only real difference was that the Necro-animator had a full head of curly brown hair.

    "Do you know how rare this manual is? Vega could have made four dragons if he had this skill."

    "I'm glad that he didn't." Nix opened the animator interface and attempted to Queue the Vega dragon, a long list of resources needed came up.  It didn't help that all of them were super-rare; dragon bones, dragon scales, and so on.  However, when he miniaturized it to .75, the list shrunk dramatically.

    Muncie clucked his tongue.  "Still more than we have.  I bet the smaller dragon would be easier for me to control."

    "Makes sense."  Nix adjusted the queue repairs to a ratio of .50, the required materials dropped to a manageable level.

    "Now we're in business."  Muncie's face showed how impressed he was.  "You have enough to complete the repair."

    Nix nodded.  "It uses the full-size dragon corpse as resources for the smaller version." When he dropped the ratio down to .25, a large surplus of materials was shown.

    Muncie wanted more than anything to be useful. "How big would .25 be?  Maybe fifty feet? I think I could handle that!"

    Nix looked at the surplus and felt warm inside.  All of his dragon materials could be recovered.  A bit more actually.

    [You are attempting to repair a damaged dragon animation while decreasing its ratio to .25. Do you wish to proceed?]


    [Animation complete, leftover materials have been placed in your crafting inventory.]

    Miniature Dragon

    Description: This dragon animation

    has been scaled to .25. It has been slain

    in combat and may only be activated

    by those possessing the Necro-Skeletal


    Nix kept it stowed in his animator interface.  "As of right now, we no longer can operate here."

    Muncie sighed unhappily, he didn't even get the chance to mess with it.  "Where then?"

    [Summons: Ducky]

    [Summons: Fey]

    Ducky and Fey appeared nearly at the same time.  Each laughed when they saw the other.

    The Water Witch smiled sweetly at Nix.  "We were playing hide and seek in the Nether with Leva.  She'd going to be mad when she can't find us."

    Fey covered her smile with a pale hand.  The Fallen Chancellor was exceptionally good at finding others.  "We on a mission Nix?"

    Nix nodded. "Want to join Inferno Muncie?"

    Muncie nodded without hesitating, although he had worked in the bandit camp, it was his master that took the job.  He was forced to follow along.  "Yes.  What do I need to do?"

    "You'll have to talk with Ducky.  She vettes everyone who gains access to Haven."

    /Inferno: Ducky: I'll have a chat with him.

    /Inferno: Nix: Be thorough with him, he's going to given access to Haven, his mission may help us when the final battle arrives.  If you find anything suspicious I want to know.

    /Inferno: Ducky: Understood.

    "Haven?" Muncie felt himself turn red, of course, he heard the place referenced by those who stayed at HQ.

    "Yes.  I want to make something clear before you agree.  You'll be confined to Haven until we deal with Khione. I can't risk letting anything happen to you."

    Muncie shrugged slightly.  As he understood it, Haven was bigger than Titania and hundreds of people already lived there. "I would like to join Inferno."

    Nix nodded. "If Ducky clears you, I'll bring you in and put  you on the payroll."

    Fey watched the interaction, she actually liked Muncie, they talked in the courtyard on several occasions.  "Why am I here?"

    "Remember that dragon puppet we had here?  We shrunk it down to around fifty feet. You're going to teach him how to fight like a dragon."

    "So it's a bit smaller than me?" Fey smiled at the idea of a tiny dragon.  "That Vega dragon only had fear, fire, and sharp teeth."

    Nix remembered that Deidra said it was a youth. "Get Muncie an acorn so he can construct his own apartment in the Dragon Fir Tree."

    Fey smiled pleasantly at Muncie, "Don't worry, I'll take good care of you."

    /Inferno: Nix: Get all the drakes involved.  They've been freeloading in Haven long enough.

    /Inferno: Fey: There's a sizable desert to the far south of the Gemini Temple, we'll start training there.

    /Inferno: Nix: Good, over the mountain range and out of sight.


    Nix used his Steward Meddalion and arrived in Nescari much earlier then he anticipated. As expected Jaro was sitting with Dresa, surprisingly Locas was lounging in a chair next to Yena.

    Both men stood up when he entered.

    "NIX!" Jaro's voice boomed loudly in the small room.  He wrapped Nix up in a bearhug and squeezed before sitting him down.  "Thank you, Nix!  I can never repay what you've done."

    Nix found Jaro's mood infectious and returned his wide grin.  "It wasn't just me, but you are welcome.  They were both injured while protecting my spirit companion, so there is no debt."

    "Hey Boss."  The handsome ranger offered Nix a handshake before sitting back down.

    [Whisper: Nix to Locas] I didn't mean for you to stay so long.

    [Whisper: Locas] I've decided that I like her.

    Nix felt like his face my break from grinning, he turned toward Dresa without commenting. "How are you feeling?"

    Dresa held out her arms and refused to put them down until Nix bent for a hug.  She kissed both his cheeks before releasing him.  "A few more days. The antidote worked great, but the poison left some aftereffects."

    Nix nodded, the persistent poison caused permanent damage, even though it was cured. Her voice had a slightly raspy sound, but it wasn't unpleasant. "Guess you won't be able to yell at Jaro anymore."

    Like an idiot, Jaro nodded. "Yep!"

    His smile collapsed suddenly under the weight of Dresa's stare.

    He turned toward Yena and took a seat next to her on the bed.  "Got you something."

    The Alchemist smiled sweetly.  He had stayed with her when he didn't have to, even making sure someone would keep her company. "A present?"

    "Yep."  Nix was told by Scarlett that Yena would never regain sight in the damaged eye.  The poison caused damage beyond what healers could do.  "Made it myself."

    Archer's Eyepatch

    Description: Camouflaged and

    enhanced with an Eagle eye, this

    eyepatch features distance magnification

    and 250-degree peripheral vision.

    +100 to Archer's Skill

    Additional Features: Complete Camouflage

    and Sound Suppression.

    Yena grinned when she saw it and bent forward slightly.  "Help a girl out Nix."

    Nix nodded and gently placed the patch over her recently healed eye.  "Does it still hurt?"

    "No... I just have this huge blind spot that is.."  Yena stopped speaking and looked around the room.

    Nix watched her as she focused on different parts of the room. "Looks good, like some kind of bandit queen."

    "My blind spot is gone!  They said it was permanent, but I can see."  Yena grabbed Locas and hugged him tightly.  It was obvious that she was crying from the way her shoulders were shaking.

    [Whisper: Nix to Locas] That's my hug you're getting bastard.

    [Whisper: Locas to Nix] It feels nice too. I'll have Bali pay you back.

    Nix didn't reply but was tempted to send him the 9 million credit bill for the three eagle eyes he had to purchase.  "While you're recovering, I'll take some of that booze you make for the Ground Pounders."

    "Okay." Yena gave him a muffled reply from Locas's shoulder.

    Nix hung out with the small group for an hour or so.  During which time he was cautioned by Jaro against granting more land to the existing farming families.  Land was limited and necessary for many different kinds of expansions.

    Jaro hugged him again when Nix decided it was time to leave. "Send me your current allocations for land and I'll take a look at it."

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