440 Four Corners: Dhou part one

    "Are you well?"  Deidra placed a hand on her son's shoulder.  The action caused Elan to freeze in place.  His mother had never acted so motherly before.  Was it the influence of Inferno?

    Commander Mtui nodded.  "I am fine.  It seems like I owe Inferno  a great debt."

    Deidra nodded in agreement.  "As do I. They have proven themselves many times.  Perhaps I should ask Nix to be my companion."

    Commander Mtui kept his face passive.  Dragon companions were usually primordial beasts of great power.  Those positions were meant for creatures of legend. "You have a good opinion of him.  So do I."

    "Tai'Qui will probably ask him before long; I'd hate to lose out."  Deidra pursed her lips slightly; she hadn't known Tai'Qui very well before Nix came along.  However, she was confident in saying they were now allies.

    "Jargon has reopened Talumbir. However, he has still not been seen."  Elan relayed the latest intel to his mother. "Most likely, he has returned to the Fens."

    Deidra shook her head slightly.  "He cannot return to the Fens without his tokens. What's the report from the House of Kane?"

    Elan let a smile show on his face.  He felt a deep resentment toward Jargon Kane; typically, he wouldn't dare feel something like that.  Jargon Kane could kill him without trying.  "Much of the city was destroyed by Jargon himself in a rage.  No one knows what happened to the exploded buildings.  The House of Kane security feels they might have a trader in their midst."

    Deidra returned her son's smile.  Only the two of them and those who were on the raid knew that Inferno staged a Rat-Rescue.  Nix had dared to rob Jargon Kane.  "That's good."

    "Repairs and construction are already underway; I believe Jargon left his Champion in charge of the city."  Commander Mtui opened a breach to his office, pausing to glance at his mother.  "How long until you take refuge in Haven?"

    "A few days, not until after I go through Krelandur."

    [0900 Belatora War Camp]

    Nix smiled in his sleep, the soft fur blankets formed a warm cocoon of comfort and peace around him.  After wiping out Remis and her guard, Alpha and Pathfinder charged into the army's tent city.  It had been completely abandoned.  They spent half the night scouting around for traps and surprises; Inferno agreed that they had left suddenly.  Wind let himself die from his wound rather than continuing the mission with one arm.  The Officer tents were all close together, so the group of allies chose to stay there for the evening.

    [A new Gemini Skill has been awakened: Skill Sharing.]

    Skill Sharing: Gemini Only

    Description: To strengthen the Gemini

    Temple, you may choose to teach another

    Gemini one of your skills. This may only be done one

    time per Gemini.

    Nix stared at the message on his hud.  "Skill Sharing..."  He sat up slowly in bed while considering the possible implementations.  "This is an upgrade..."  The sound of breathing caused him to look toward the tent entrance.  Fey was curled up next to the door; her long silver hair shone brightly against the dark furs.  His drakon companion had shown up right after the fight ended.  Her report about Aledo was cause for some concern.

    /Alpha: Nix: Going to step out for a moment, back it a bit.  I want to know where this army went.

    /Alpha: Bali: I'll find them.  Leave it to me.

    Nix nodded to himself.  [Create Breach: Belatora: Gemini Temple]

    A moment later, Nix stepped onto the training grounds at the Gemini Temple.  He waved at the smiling blonde who was working with Lucid and the rescued members of the Desert Fox Clan.  Scorpion-Sin could be seen on the other side of Lucid.  As a .25 puppet, he was substantially smaller than her, but as their training progressed, it became obvious that Sin was phenomenally strong.  [Note: Sin is one of Tai's people.  Both him and Nihlus inhabit Titan puppets since they are both currently in dragon eggs.] "Looking good, everyone!"  Nix clapped his hands together, then paused for a moment.  There were three Scorpion Titans instead of two.

    /Inferno: Nix: What's going on?

    /Inferno: Semmi: It's Hostil! When I woke them up this morning, he was like that.

    Nix stared at the third scorpion.  The old man was the first to change.  "Let's talk about the new Gemini ability that I woke up to.  Can we use this [Skill Sharing] to create more Titans?"

    Semmi nodded.  "I think so; Lucid wants to try it on Kia.

    /Inferno: Nix: Go ahead and attempt to share the skill.  If it can be passed from person to person, this part of our mission will be successful.

    /Inferno: Semmi: Leaving already?

    /Inferno: Nix: Yes.  Keep me, briefed.  I have a thing.

    Nix gave Lucid the thumbs up and opened a breach.

    [Create Breach: Gemini Temple: Tai'Qui Sanctuary]

    Nix stepped into the Earth Dragon's sanctuary a moment later, breathing deeply he closed his eyes for a moment.  The fragrant scent of Tai's mud baths seemed to have a positive effect on his energy.

    "Nix?"  Tai was sitting on the grassy bank with the Lion Titan.

    Nix smiled at the sight of the Earth-Dragon. "Up for a fight, Nihlus?"

    The White Lion walked slowly toward him.  "Of course.  I've been using this form every day at our training grounds."

    Nix studied the white-maned Lion, this would be the first real test of the .25 Titans.  "I will send you to the Red Lion Clan.  I want you to kill their Totem Beast and take its place."

    The white Lion glanced at Tai'Qui while yawning widely. "Do you have any sort of report on the Red Lion totem?"

    "Sure.  The Red Lion totem is fire-based and should possess nearly the same abilities that you have."  Nix didn't want to send Nihlus into the Red Lion Clan, but it was either him or Gai, the new Lion Titan first.  If push came to shove, it was better to lose his Titan puppet than the real thing.

    Tai lay a hand on her son's mane and stroked it softly. "Do your best, Nihlus."

    Nix waited until they were finished and then opened a breach.

    [Create Breach: Tai'Qui's Sanctuary: Red Lion Clan]

    A moment later, Nihlus stepped through the breach, leaving Tai and Nix alone.

    Tai tightened the red bandana on her head and stared at Nix.  "Alone at last."

    "I'm also going to send Sin into the Desert Fox Clan to take over the totem there."

    Tai's face showed her surprise. "What about Lucid?"

    "One of the rescue group has already activated his Titan bloodline; Sin will pave the way for their eventual return."

    "If he can win," Tai had confidence in Nihlus, but sometimes Sin was a bit too rash.  It was a trait that led to both of their deaths.  Her warm brown eyes clouded slightly at the harsh memory.  Nix had returned them to her, without any sort of payment request.  "I would like to fuse your blood Nix."

    Nix frowned at the term.  "Trying to eat me?  No, thanks."

    Tai smiled and nodded in reply.  "According to Deidra, you taste very nice."

    Nix already knew what blood fusion was; male dragons used the technique to create dragon spawns.  "The only problem with that is that I have no dragon blood in my body."

    Tai's full lips opened slightly.  "How's that possible?  Deidra has given you plenty, and Inferno has killed a few dragons already."

    Nix shrugged slightly, "I've never used any  myself."

    Tai placed a hand on his shoulder and leaned closer before breathing in deeply.  "Not even the smallest trace... I didn't expect that."

    "I'm kinda picky with regards to blood.  My Salamander bloodline is precious to me."

    Tai offered him a smile before holding out a small metallic canister.  "This is essence blood. I've been collecting it for years."

    Nix's eyes widened slightly; it felt hot in his grip. "What's the difference?"

    "Potency.  Essence blood is many times more effective than regular dragon blood." Tai paused for a moment before continuing.  "I want you to use all of this on yourself."

    Nix shook his head and handed the canister back.  "I'm sorry, Tai.  This isn't the path I want to take."

    Tai ignored the canister when he tried to return it, instead, she embraced him. "You aren't allowed to say no, Nix.  I apologize for insisting, but you must be protected.  Use the blood and afterward return for blood fusion."

    Nix tried to extricate himself from her grip, but he was unable to.   Tai had many qualities that Nix liked; however, in the end, she was still a dragon.  "I'm going to get angry if you don't release me."

    Tai loosened her grip slightly and raised one hand until it rested gently against his face.  "You're a very stubborn person.  As a favor to me, please do my bidding on this."

    Nix sighed heavily. Her hands were warm and soft.  He had realized long ago that Tai was a strikingly beautiful woman.  It was more than that, though, by nature, she was also very warm.  It was this trait that won her many friends in Inferno. "I will consider it."

    Tai shook her head.  "Please agree. I promise that it won't affect your salamander bloodline."

    Nix made a sour face and pushed her hand away.  "Fine."  He stowed the canister in his inventory.

    Tai smiled warmly and let him step away.  "Don't be angry with me.  You must defeat Khione."

    Nix ignored the smile and opened up a breach.

    [Create Breach: Tai'Qui's Sanctuary: Belatora]

    Tai watched him step through the breach.  Unexpectedly she felt unsettled by his anger.  "I'm sorry, Nix.  I'll protect you, even if it means breaking the Accord."

    [1300 hours, Near the Cultist Training Grounds]

    /Bravo: Jun Li: Report.

    /Bravo: Seya: The compound is two miles north of your position.

    /Bravo: Jun Li: Thank you.  Please continue to monitor.

    [Note: Seya is the CC creature that surrendered to Nix's group during the First Trials.  It resembles a blue Arch Wind and has the Air/Water elements. It is one of Jun Li's companions.]

    Locas wiped his forehead with the back of his sleeve.  The Ain'Dhassi ranger was decidedly uncomfortable in the dense jungle that bordered the Great Desert.  "Nothing on track, a few small predators."

    Jun Li took a long pull from her canteen before putting it away.  Vooni, Mina, and Leva were all watching her.

    /Bravo: Jun Li: As soon as it gets dark, we'll move into position and take them.

    Jun Li brought up the compound on her hud map.  "Suggestions?"
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