511 Return of the Rat King

    /Inferno: Nix: It seems like I missed a lot.

    /Inferno: Jun Li: What happened to the enemy forces that were headed this way?

    /Inferno: Nix: Wiped out, by Bobs and Arch Winds.

    /Inferno: Shae: The Arch Winds are here?

    /Inferno: Nix: They were, summoning only lasted a few minutes.

    /Inferno: Shae: How many were here?

    /Inferno: Nix: Lots...

    Nix clicked his teeth at the Burrough Commander. "I'm here.  What do you want?"

    Bensic looked up slowly; there was still the smallest bit of malice behind his eyes.  "A bargain.  I will give you intel in exchange for two lives."

    /Inferno: Jun Li: Interesting.

    Nix considered the statement before answering.  "Which two lives?"

    "Mine and Cyra Yun."

    Nix chuckled at the man's audacity.  "And the intel?"

    Bensic shook his head.  "Not until the bargain is made."

    [Commander Bensic Yun may now be attacked]

    [Whisper: Nix to Wind] Kill him.


    Wind has landed a mortal strike on Commander Bensic.

    Burrough Commander Bensic has been slain.

    The huge man fell forward onto the wet turf.  His body glowed for an instant before it completely disappeared.  Only the Commander's oversized silver helm remained behind.

    /Inferno: Jun Li: Why did you kill him?

    /Inferno: Nix: Unknown intel in exchange for releasing the two most powerful enemies in this Burrough?  I don't recall 'Dumbass' being my middle name.

    /Inferno: Shae: You ranked up?

    /Inferno: Nix: Yeah. Is he in the ring, Wind?

    /Inferno: Wind: Yep. Here he is.

    Ring of Graves: Legendary

    Description: Summon up to three enemies you've slain to fight on your behalf. Enemy identities may be locked in.  The Ring of Graves will permanently store any three of your fallen foes.

    Spirits: 3/3

    1: Atilla

    2: Blood Lord Fiend

    3: Commander Bensic Yun

    Morti waddled closer, his eyes intent on the large helm sitting in the mud.  "Can I have that?"

    Nix picked it up and stowed it away.  "Yep.  Let me find a good chin strap."


    Ducky leaned back in the comfortable chair; after giving Glacia something to think about, she was taken to a luxurious suite with two fireplaces burning brightly.  She knew without looking that there were two guards outside her door.  Her intent wasn't to be planted into the Keep as a mole; she didn't have the necessary information to pull off something like that.  Her designs were much simpler.  Free the Rat King.

    Although she arrived naked, most of her inventory remained intact, including the most important item of all.  She placed the Nether Rat puppet on her lap and closed her eyes.  A moment later, it opened its eyes and hopped onto the floor.  The rat stared at her own body for a moment before scurrying toward the open window.

    Her comfortable prison was several hundred feet off of the rocky shoreline; unsure whether she could make the steep descent, the Nether Rat elected to go upward.  The top of the Keep was only a few meters from her window.  The stealthed Ducky climbed through the battlements and started working her way to the fortress's southern wall.  He would be in the far north. If she could cross the Precinct and Burrough borders, then her personal mission would be complete.  "I must hurry... If they summon me while I'm doing this, I won't be able to make the delivery."

    Getting to the ground level was relatively easy; no one was looking for a stealthed rat to be sneaking around.  She entered the Zed Burrough (4), directly south of the keep.  From there, she continued until she arrived at the Deceit Burrough (6) border.  The Nether Rat chittered happily when she crossed it without effort.  "Follow the beach south and find Nix."

    [Bone Fortress, 0200 hours  Ice Faction: 9,903 Undead: 225]

    Pon watched while Nix ordered the first Company to abandon the Striker Graveyard and make an all-out push toward the front-line.  He convinced them that Pelos and Commander Bensic had broken through the Undead's defensive barricades and were in need of reinforcements.

    /Alpha: Pon: You're a damned cheating bastard.

    /Alpha: Nix: Sure.

    /Alpha: Pon: Ice Faction is below 10k; there won't be enough left for me to catch up!

    /Alpha: Nix: Sure.

    Nix had arrived several minutes earlier; he left Wind and his blood fiends in the woods with Sharl's group and entered the camp by himself.  Sharl's mission was to follow them back to the front line and then trap them in a pincer attack.  The Inferno Commander seemed distracted by the ring he held in his hand.  It was the Burrough Commander Ring that Rabi had pickpocketed off on Bensic earlier in the day.  The tiny demon had given it to Nix right before he left.

    [Burrough Commander Ring]

    Unlimited Uses

    Return to the Summoning Circle inside the Bone Fortress.

    /Alpha: Pon: You aren't going to use that, right?

    /Alpha: Nix: Not without a lot more information.  That Naga Commander must have had one of these also. He disappeared right in front of me.

    /Alpha: Semmi: Maybe all the Burrough Commanders have them.  If they are defeated, they can return and give solid Intel on enemy movement.

    /Alpha: Fajii: Bensic was supposedly commanding both Fury (15) and Peril (14). I think we should look for a second Commander.

    /Alpha: Semmi: Agreed.  He or she may have already used the ring, but I can't see anyone retreating when they still have us outnumbered.

    Over the next few hours, 1st Company attempted to breach the Undead Faction's defensive barricades but were unsuccessful.  Whenever they attempted, Sharl's company would attack at their flanks using hit and run tactics.  By dawn's first light, peace had once again settled onto the frontline; the hundred or so remaining fighters from 1st Company fled east in an attempt to rally more troops.

    Nix stirred the fire uneasily; he hadn't seen any action since taking Pelos prisoner.  "They stacked Fury and Peril in an attempt to overrun us. We can expect that they will change tactics."

    /Alpha: Pon: Damn. We're about to take a second graveyard; our numbers will double.  Hey...We have 225 now?

    /Alpha: Semmi: More of our Spirit Companions unlocked?

    /Alpha: Fajii: Or Pathfinder.

    /Alpha: Nix: Should be six if that's the case.  Ducky was with them.

    [Whisper: Ducky to Nix] I need you to find me!

    [Whisper: Nix to Ducky] Are you with Pathfinder?

    [Whisper: Ducky to Nix] No.  I just left the Courage Burrough (12) and have crossed into Peril (14).

    [Whisper: Nix to Ducky] What?  How are you crossing borders?  What are you doing that far north?

    [Whisper: Ducky to Nix] My Witch blood sent me to the Fortress.

    [Whisper: Nix to Ducky]  I want you to go back... Right now!

    [Whisper: Ducky to Nix]  I'm using one of your Nether Rat puppets.  Hurry and find me; I'm not sure how long I'll be left alone.

    "Shit... Shit!  SHIT!"  Nix's broom shot upward from the graveyard and raced toward the shoreline.  If she already crossed into Peril, that meant she was close.

    /Alpha: Semmi: Boss? Where are you going?

    /Alpha: Nix: Remember the route for reinforcements?  Check to see if Pathfinder is here.

    /Alpha: Pon: Yeah... I remember.  What about you?

    /Alpha: Nix: Ducky is here; also, it's complicated.

    [Whisper: Nix to Ducky] Drop stealth, I won't be able to see you.

    Nix zeroed in on the shoreline and headed north; within a few minutes, he spotted the Nether rat scurrying down the beach.  Banking hard into the ground, he used his feet to skid to a stop and dropped the broom onto the sand.  The soggy Nether Rat ran up his leg, chittering happily.

    "Nix!  I brought you something nice!"

    Nix stroked the wet fur; fear gripped him more than anything else.  "We may not have time.  Tell me what you can."

    "The Coven leader is a powerful ice elemental named Glacia.  She used to be one of Khione's minions, but I suspect she is trying to break away now that the Ice Goddess is distracted by us."

    "Why do you think so?"

    "One of her eyes is missing, and she reacted with fear when she saw Khione's eye."

    Nix frowned at the Nether Rat.  "Khione's eye?"

    The rat nodded.  "I convinced Gideon to give me the eye before we left.  I advanced thru some sort of trial when I first arrived, but after talking with Glacia, I have been confined to a room."

    Nix swore softly.  "Where's your room?"

    "Northern tip of the island, several hundred feet off the ground.  Unfortunately, I can't use my Archon form. Did I do good?"

    Nix stroked Duck's wet fur while he considered the options.  "Hmm... Yes.  The Rat King will have to stage a rescue."

    "I knew it!  Nix!  There are heroes here in the Fortress!  Guilds I've never heard of. Someone's coming, have to go!"

    The Nether Rat puppet went limp in Nix's hands, a sign that it was no longer inhabited.  He stowed it away after a long moment.  "Ducky's capable; since she's come this far, I'll have to back her play."

    [Bone Fortress, 0900 hours  Ice Faction: 9,113 Undead: 214]

    "She can't be rezzed?"  Alpha sat in a circle at the entrance of the Striker Graveyard.  They were looking at the most recent numbers.  Their casualties numbered less than a dozen; most of those would be recovered in the faction Graveyard.  However, they lost Raine during the running skirmishes when the Peril Burrough Commander finally showed up.

    Semmi shook her head. "She recovered at the House of Inferno in Solomon City."

    Pon cussed loudly; losing a top-end fighter set them back. Outside of Alfie and Edi, the skellies were only average fighters.  "What's next?"

    During the night, the Fury Burrough (15) had been completely cleaned out.  Alpha team staked out the graveyard and were the sole occupants along with Wind's Bloodfiends.  The remainder of enemy forces retreated to the northern region of the Peril Burrough (14).  Their numbers were suspect to be less than a thousand.

    Semmi stirred the fire while enjoying the feel of warmth on her skin.  Being skelly made her appreciate the simple comforts more.  "We'll have to leave them for now; those mountains will prove difficult for conventional tactics."

    /Alpha: Nix: No more dallying.  Let's claim this graveyard and begin moving our front into Fury.

    Semmi sighed heavily and removed her [Thine Enemy] ring.  One by one, her companions did the same.

    [The Undead Faction has claimed the Striker Precinct Graveyard]
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