464 The Might of Ashobel

    Gladis Hub 0900 hours

    The giant Ashobel smoothed down the fur on its hips.  "Does this puppet make me look fat?"  Chiba's rubbed her muscular chest while showing a mouthful of sharp teeth.

    Nix glanced at her and shrugged slightly.  "I like the look on you.  Perhaps you should keep it."

    Chiba nodded in agreement.  "Can you modify one of these into my armor?"

    "That's an emperor puppet... Do you know how much time and credits it takes to make one?"  Nix turned his back on her and started tightened the strap on Morti's silver helmet.  "Remember... You need to stay here until the second wave."

    Morti's big head started to nod up and down but then paused.  "Hey, Nix."

    Nix stepped back and viewed his work before giving Morti the thumbs up.  "What's up?"

    Morti stared at the stack of puppets on the floor. "How many extra Ashobels do  you have?"

    "Five.  Maybe I should get the acolytes to inhabit a few."  After considering it for a moment, he shook his head.  "No... They really need combat experience to temper their training."

    "Let me use one."  Morti waddled over to the pile and nudged one with his black nose. "They smell pretty interesting."

    Nix smiled despite himself.  "Think you can do it?  Lay down, and I'll try to walk you through it."

    Morti moved closer to the wall and flopped down onto the ground.  "What do I do?"

    The Inferno leader knelt next to the Titan cub and placed a hand on his soft, black fur.  "Stare at it for a moment and then try to imagine yourself in the puppet.  It's not as easy..."  His words filtered off when the Ashobel in front of him sat up.

    "Woah..."  Slowly the puppet climbed to his feet.  "These legs are so nice!"  It bent them slightly and jumped into the air.  The entire room shook when he landed.

    "Careful, Morti."  Nix followed the retreating Chiba out of the room.

    "Yeah.  That's me.  I'm really careful." The Ashobel stared at his own body, resting comfortably next to the wall.  "Was I always that good looking?"

    Nix chuckled.  "Since you've had fur, yes."

    The Ashobel patted his own head and then ducked through the doorway.  "Can we go outside?  I want to practice jumping and kicking things."

    "Ashobel mostly use their claws to fight, although I've seen a few Axe wielders."  Nix waited for Morti to catch up and started heading toward the exit.  "Stay close, no wandering around."

    "Well, I'm gonna kick things." Ashobel Morti stopped in front of the door and nodded to himself.  "Yep.  I'll stick close by."

    /Inferno: Chiba: Hey Banz, got any Great Swords?

    /Inferno: Banz: I have one, the damn thing is five feet long.

    /Inferno: Chiba: That's perfect. I dislike biting and scratching things unless we're both naked.

    /Inferno: Banz: Noted, I'll get it for you.

    /Inferno: Semmi:  When are you bringing the Ashobel in?

    /Inferno: Nix: They are already here, all fifty of them are buried in the snow, less than a mile away.

    /Inferno: Semmi:  Thanks for the puppet.

    /Inferno: Wind: Same here.  I'm gonna kick ass.

    /Inferno: Nix: Don't try and wander off with them.  I didn't give them to you.


    An hour later, after giving Ducky last-minute instructions, he made his way back to the room where he created the puppets.

    [Summons Soup]

    Nix bent on one knee and rubbed the turtle's smooth head.  "Change to your Sphinx form, and you can accompany me."

    Soup flapped her front fin loudly on the floor, the sound of it echoing in the room.  A moment later, a tiny black creature peered up at Nix, its eyes filled with curiosity as he took a seat on the floor and leaned back against Morti.

    "Over here, girl."  An Ashobel stood up from the stack and climbed to its feet.  As someone who spent hours in the form, there was no sign of awkwardness.  Nix waited while she ran up his leg and settled in the thick fur of his shoulder.  "When I drop this form, stealth your way back here and return to Haven."

    /Alpha: Nix: Report!

    /Alpha: Chiba: I'm in the north hall with two dozen acolytes.

    /Alpha: Wind: South Exit with leadership.

    /Alpha: Semmi: Eastern courtyard with the rest of them.

    /Alpha: Nix: Watch out for these guys.  They may look good on the mat, but combat experience is a bit different.

    /Alpha: Chiba: My beautiful niece is here, I will take care of them.

    /Alpha: Wind: I'll work with Banz and Wylie to keep an eye on the leaders.

    /Alpha: Semmi: We got this, I've got Morti with me!

    /Alpha: Nix: Noted.

    /Alliance: Breach Commander Nix: Ready Junie?

    /Alliance: Jun Li: I'm in Loki with the 12 Pillars.

    Ashobel Nix stood quietly on the snow-covered roof, his eyes scanning the ice fields. The Gladis Hub wasn't defendable; it was never meant to be a fortress.

    [Whisper: Leva to Nix] In position.

    [Whisper: Nix to Leva] Understood.  I'll need you to open three breaches at the same time.

    [Whisper: Leva to Nix] I have the coordinates.  The Nether is on standby.

    [Whisper: Nix to Leva] Thanks.

    A crash echoed across the frozen tundra; a moment later, the air shimmered, and a large group of armored fighters appeared on the ice.

    /Alliance: Nix: Contact, east fields, two hundred meters.

    Nix watched from the roof.  The attackers marched in formation, heavy fighters in the front, and casters in the middle.  Their white armor blended in perfectly with their surroundings.

    /Alliance: Nix: Let them get closer, more than a hundred of them.  They brought a lot of ranged fighters.

    Nix Ashobel slid off the roof, jumping down the thirty feet to the ground without issue.  He clicked his long claws together.  It was time to kill **.

    Shi has established a [Black Ice Domain]

    All Allies receive the [Blessings of Black Ice].

    All Allies receive [Black Ice Armor]

    All Allies receive [Black Ice Spear]

    All Allies receive [Black Ice Shield]

    All Enemies within the Domain will take continuous damage based on their resistances.

    All Enemies within the Domain are slowed by thirty percent.

    All Enemies within the Domain will suffer from [Impaired Vision].

    Nix paused in place, a long black spear and shield appeared in front of him, without thinking, he grabbed both of them.  At the same time, if felt his torso encased in a protective layer of ice.  "The ** is this?"  The snow and ice fields surrounding the Gladis hub turned black as night.

    /Alliance: Nix: Beautiful.  Hit em!

    Ashobel Nix broke into an all-out charge, his long strides eating up the distance as he closed on the enemy. Ashobel-Semmi was leading a charge with the main force.

    /Alpha: Semmi: Guess we are throwing out tactics for this battle?

    /Alpha: Wind: Yep, it's an old school beat-down.

    Nix lowered his spear ten meters before the charging heavies and braced his shield.  He slammed into the front line with four other Ashobel that had caught up to him with a crash that sounded like a freight train; the heavy armor was slammed backward.  Unable to resist, he threw the spear at the column of fighters, skewering three of them before wading into the foray.

    /Alliance: Wylie: Shields down, spears up.  Advance and pair off!

    The sound of Ashobel's howling was loud in Nix's ears as he grabbed a mage by the arm and yanked it completely off; the screaming mage started casting an ice spell but was silenced when Nix's shield crushed the bones in his face.

    /Alliance: Tharaka: We're here, taking care of the archers!

    The Ice Archers managed to get off three volleys before Tharaka, and his group crashed into them.  Within seconds, the battlefield was complete chaos.

    A blade-wielding Ashobel danced nimbly into the middle of the combat.  Five feet of steel flashing in and out as limbs and heads were separated from their owners.  She was followed closely by the sound of hot blood splattering on the cold snow and the screams of misery.  "Beautiful Chiba has come to play!"

    Nix stumbled backward a step when an ax struck him, his long arms snaked out and gripped the fighters helm, twisting it until it popped off like a cork.  Two fighters more charged into him, before he could brace himself, an Ashobel streaked past him.  A long leg flashed up and kicked the first one in the head; its sharp claws tore through the second man's face.

    "Kick in the face!  And here's a Swat!"  Morti's rumbling voice called out his strikes as he terrorized the middle of the collapsing formation.

    "SHIELDS UP!  FALL BACK AND PROTECT THE CASTERS!"  A masked man carrying a white bow shouted out directions to his fighters.  He paused suddenly when a cloaked figure stepped in front of him.

    Ducky has charmed Sazo Tali.

    The Water Witch smiled and held out her hand.  "Come with me, dear."

    A breach opened behind her, and she led him through.

    The battle lasted less than five minutes; without the support of the Archers, the heavy armor couldn't protect their casters and was slaughtered in place.  None of the enemies survived.

    Nix glanced around the battlefield, suddenly thankful for the black snow.  He could imagine how grisly an image it would be if the landscape had remained white.

    /Alliance: Nix: Casualties?

    /Alliance: Semmi: Just them, we took a few light wounds.  Nothing serious.

    /Alliance: Nix: Lets reset and wait.  Hopefully, we'll get a real battle.

    [Whisper: Nix to Shi] You didn't mention you had an Ice Domain.

    [Whisper: Shi to Nix]  It was a surprise, Nix.

    [Whisper: Nix to Shi]  Very nice.
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