499 Saboteur

    Nix waited while Edi explained all of the Bone Fortress rules regarding invading, defending, and reinforcements to the new arrivals.  Jun Li and Semmi listened closely, occasionally stopping her to ask questions.  When they were done with the brief, Semmi opened up the Bone Fortress map and started taking notes.

    [Whisper: Pon to Nix] It's nice that the brains of the outfit has finally arrived.

    Nix chuckled but didn't protest the sentiment;  Semmi and Jun Li were great at long-term tactics while he excelled in sneaky one-time maneuvers.

    "Nix?"  Skeleton Raine took a seat on the same boulder that he was sitting on.  "Are you used to this already?"  The Fir'Dhassi held a bony hand in front of him and wiggled the fingers.

    The Inferno Leader nodded.  Even without the guild tags over everyone's head, he had no issues telling Ronnie from Sharl or Nezbit. Individual personalities seemed to shine through, even when smiles, frowns, and other expressions were impossible.  His yellow eyes glanced toward Ronnie and Sharl, thankful that his own face was unreadable.  After their recent escapade together, he had figured out the sister's math. Separately they were both attractive and personable, but the closer their proximity to each other, the more difficult things became for him.

    "Do you like me, Nix?" Raine's warm voice could have melted butter.

    Nix nodded and answered truthfully.  "What's not to like?"  She was smart and very easy to be around.  Besides that, she had killed and roasted that **ing goat; the bastard had tasted so good.

    Raine stared at him for a moment, her glance following his until Sharl and Ronnie came into view.  "Same here.  Once we get our bodies back, I'm going to handle things differently."

    Nix nodded again like he understood what she meant, but of course, he didn't.

    Over the next hour, the small group talked quietly among themselves while the guild tacticians drew up their initial plans.  When they were finally done, Semmi stepped forward and sent everyone a short brief on their first few objectives.

    /Inferno: Semmi: Let's ignore the precincts and talk about the individual Burroughs.  There are sixteen of them that we've labeled 1-16. We must take all sixteen Burroughs before we can touch the Bone Fortress.  In each of these Burroughs, there is a graveyard that we must claim.  Thanks to the hard work of those who were already here, we currently hold the Sandcrab Graveyard in the Xander Burrough.

    /Inferno: Jun Li: We should be able to move forward on our first three missions within 30 days.  However, time isn't really important here.  We will only move when we are prepared for the next step.

    [Objective 1]

    Continue to fortify and build.  The Sandcrab Graveyard means that we should be able to take all of the Xander Burrough.  We'll stay here for a few days and then take out the rest of the Burrough.

    [Objective 2]

    We've numbered the Xander Burrough (16). There are two other Burroughs to the Northeast and Northwest; Fury (15) and Peril (14).  We'll be fighting on both of these fronts as soon as our victory in Xander is complete.  We will aggressively take Fury while fending off Peril.  Fury has no bordering Burrough except for Peril so conquering it won't add more enemies.

    [Objective 3]

    Bear Creek Precinct Graveyard in the Fury Burrough.

    Dark Wood Precinct Graveyard in the Peril Burrough.

    /Inferno: Semmi: There's one thing to keep in mind as we move forward.  Currently, the Undead Faction is controlling most of the sections within the Sandcrab Precinct.  Because our largest territory is a Precinct, only bordering precincts within the same Burrough may attack us.  Once we claim the entire Burrough, all bordering Burroughs may attack, regardless of which precinct they come from.

    /Inferno: Nix: Here are our current numbers.

    [Bone Fortress, 1100 hours.  Ice Faction: 12,545, Undead: 23]

    Nix would have been wearing a wide smile had his lips been present.  The only thing they were missing was some clerics.  The odds were good that Tess, Pinky, and Gypsy Rose would be revived before Inferno stormed into the Keep.  He stepped onto the small platform and stood behind the pulpit.  As soon as he touched it, a hud activated in front of him.

    [Sandcrab Precinct Graveyard: Undead Faction]

    Current Gravestones: 200

    Current Fighters ready for recall: 194

    Do you wish to activate Recall?

    Nix glance to one side where Alfie and Edi were watching.  "Yes.  Activate Recall."

    A screeching sound like fingernails running down a chalkboard reverberated in Nix's skull.  He covered his ear holes against the unpleasant sound and watched as a skeleton hand punched upward through the unspoiled turf of the cemetery.

    /Inferno: Chiba: Shit... This is making me excited.

    Dozens of skeletons clawed their way out of their graves, Inferno stood silently while their numbers increased gradually.  Within a minute the skeletons were all standing in front of their freshly dug up graves.

    Alfie moved to the front of the stage.  "Undead Faction, FORM UP!"

    Skeletons from all basic classes double-timed toward their leaders and formed up into three ranks.  From front to back they were Melee, Mages \u0026 Clerics, and Archers.

    /Inferno: Semmi: It should be noted, that Undead who fall in battle will respawn here after one day.  According to Mortimus, that probably only includes the native Undead.

    /Inferno: Jun Li: Heroes will most likely respawn in Everspire and have to wait.

    [Whisper: Nix to Semmi] What's that mean for NPCs like Fajii or Shae?

    [Whisper: Semmi to Nix] Not sure.

    /Inferno: Nix:  Try not to die...  Mostly I'm talking to you, Pon.

    /Inferno: Pon: The hell does that mean?  I'll be the last one standing!

    Over the next three days, Xander Burrough was gradually turned into an active HQ for the Undead Faction.  The prisoners were kept out of sight in the cavern prison.  The scout team of Sasi, Rabi, Alfie, Del, and Rhy turned up no further enemy within their borders.  All Inferno members had been briefed regarding the Ring of Tides and its ability to create rule-bending artifacts.

    With the help of Shae and Fajii, Nix created a large kiln that was capable of making large ceramic molds for golem making.  Raine stopped by and helped with features, although Nix felt they were unnecessary, he liked some of the faces that the Fir'Dhassi was able to create.

    "I didn't know you did some sculpting."  Nix watched from his crafting queue as Raine carefully carved out a new head.  She seemed especially gifted at making the scarier looking ones.  Because of his Everspire experience in crafting, he was starting to pull away from Pon who hadn't bothered with crafting before.  His golem making had improved to 149 while the old mage was still in double digits.

    "I have many hidden talents." Raine used the edge of a sharp rock to carve out the cheekbones for the facial mask.  Once put into the brown flamed kiln, it would become as hard as armor.  "We could use this kiln to make real armor if we had an alchemist to treat the ceramic."

    "Thanks for the help." Nix stared at her for a long moment. "What's wrong with your rib?"

    Raine glanced down at her left side, the tip of one rib had been neatly cut off.  "I was stabbed once while undertaking my training. It's a bit odd that I can see it now."

    "Must have been a close call..."

    Rained nodded.  "Very... You shouldn't stare so much."

    Nix sensed the humor in her words.  "Feeling a bit exposed?"

    "Perhaps."  Raine turned toward the south.  "Do you smell that?"

    Nix smelled nothing on the air, but immediately sensed the presence of fire. The surrounding woods seemed to ignite within a few seconds, the flames quickly moving high into the trees while it expanded outward.

    /Inferno: Nix: Fire in the Woods!

    /Inferno: Pon: The ** is going on?

    /Inferno: Nix: Move to the east side of the woods and start backburning.  I'll head west.

    /Inferno: Pon: Honri is with me, we'll work together.

    /Inferno: Fajii: Shae and I are heading to the north section.

    Nix put a hand on Raine's shoulder when she stood to follow him.  "Stay close to the river, we don't have any water user who can put out these flames."

    Raine sighed heavily but didn't protest.  "I'll wait here."

    Nix summoned Nightmare and rode her directly through the blazing woods.  Backburning was an easy concept, you burn in the path of the fire, causing it to starve.

    After a few hours of work, the fire had finally been contained. The air was thick with smoke, but since no one had lungs there was no coughing or gasping.

    /Inferno: Pon: Accidental fire?

    /Inferno: Nix: On three sides at once?  Doubtful.  My question is why?

    /Inferno: Semmi: Check the barricades.

    Nix frowned at the message and turned Nightmare toward their storage area.  With Nezbit's help, they had been skinning and sharpening logs to assemble barricades in front of the Peril Burrough (14). These logs were stacked at the edge of the western forest line.  The moment he cleared the woods, he could see the burning pile of embers.  "Wonderful..."

    /Inferno: Nix: Our stockpile of barricade logs have been burned.

    /Inferno: Semmi:  In the middle of the day?  How did we not see them?

    /Inferno: Edi: Our faction number just dropped by one.

    Nix pulled up his hud and scanned the list of Inferno members.  Halfway down he spotted the cause.

    [Whisper: Nix to Nezbit]  Don't say anything in chat.  Can you summon Rhy?

    [Whisper: Nezbit to Nix] Oh no... It says she can't be resummoned to the graveyard.

    [Whisper: Nix to Shae]  Rhy has been slain.  She should respawn at the Greater House of Inferno in Solomon City.

    [Whisper: Shae to Nix] I will look into it.  Resummon me in two hours.


    Two Days Later...

    [Bone Fortress, 1800 hours.  Ice Faction: 12,545, Undead: 216]

    Shae returned in the evening to announce that Rhy respawned at the Greater House of Inferno.  She had been killed after stepping into a witch's circle.  Similar to the one that contained Rabi, she was unable to move or see anything and was slaughtered without being able to fight back.  In the days since then, several incidents of sabotage had taken place.  Mostly they were small things like tents and stored resources.  The cannon they'd been saving for the Burrough invasion had mysteriously disappeared.  Since then, no one was allowed to move about in groups smaller than three.

    Alpha team was standing next to Nix's Kiln while nearly everyone else was combing the woods in groups.

    /Alpha: Semmi: Right under our noses and we are clueless.  If I didn't know better, I'd suspect they were using your camouflage.

    /Alpha: Nix: Losing Rhy hurt, she was our only flier.

    /Alpha: Wind: I can fly with that broom mount.

    /Alpha: Nix: Not until we figure this out, she was probably targeted for that very reason.

    /Inferno: Jun Li: The woods are on fire again! East and West sides.

    /Inferno: Shae: Send me Fajii to help on the east, the rest of you can take the west.

    /Inferno: Fajii: On my way.

    Fajii hugged Nix for a moment and then headed east at a run.  Within a few minutes, she spotted the flames climbing steadily toward the sky.

    Fajii has been silenced.

    Fajii has been bound by witchcraft.

    [Bind Breaker]

    Fajii has broken her bindings.
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