172 Three Points

    [You've joined the Fire group]

    /Fire: Nunzo: Welcome Pon.  Stay close to me.

    /Fire: Aja: Thanks for the help, Pon.

    /Fire: Omak: Stay alive little Salamander!

    Nix waited outside of the entrance, it was opaqued to the point where they couldn't see through it, so there was no guessing what they might face on the other side.  He was standing squarely behind Nunzo while Aja and Omak stood closest to the door.  From what he could tell, Aja was a thief type class and Omak some sort of ranger.  They took their orders from Nunzo, who was a hybrid tank/dps combination.  All three of them looked impressive.

    All of their huds buzzed at the same time, a briefing for the instance popped up.

    [Vooni's Recruits]

    This zone had three hidden items.  They are guarded by Archon level creatures.  Find and bring back two of the items without any deaths.  Your individual score will be based on contribution.

    Mission Time: 3 minutes.

    /Fire: Aja: Not much time.

    /Fire: Omak: How do we play this?

    /Fire: Nunzo: We'll split up.  We'll find the first target together, if you can solo it call out! Time starts when we enter.  Ready?

    /Fire: Aja: Ready!

    /FIre: Omak: Ready!

    /Fire: Nix: Ready!

    The group entered into a heavily forested area, there was only one path, so Aja sprinted down it with Omak and Nunzo close behind.  Nix brought up the rear since he was unable to run at top speed.

    [Dragon Eyes]

    The images of his teammates became brilliant red blobs, their natural flames drowning out the outlines.  Nix scanned through the woods, immediately finding all three targets.

    /Fire: Nix: The first target is 50 meters directly west of Aja.  The second target is Northwest of that one by 100 meters.

    /Fire: Aja: West?

    The group skidded to a half, giving Nix enough time to catch up.

    /Fire: Nunzo: You two head west, I'll take Pon with me!

    Aja and Omak increased their speed, apparently, they had been holding back so they wouldn't lose the slower Nix.  Nunzo waited for Nix to catch up.

    /Fire: Nunzo: Lead the way, Pon!

    /Fire: Aja: Found the first target!

    The 'way' ended up being a small meadow with a large pond in it.  A vicious-looking trio of Ice wolves sat quietly on the bank.

    /Fire: Nunzo: Three Ice wolves, if you finish early we might need help.

    Nix stood back, not sure how much he should do, the wolves gave him a sense of extreme danger.

    [Flashblade: Advanced]

    Nunzo appeared in the center of the wolves and landed a slash that sent two of them flying.

    Without meaning to, Nix leaned back and six strands of emerald flames shot from each hand, encircling the two wolves that were tossed away.

    Angry howls of the captured Wolves filled the air, the sizzling of their flesh sent giant clouds of steam billowing upward.  They turned and charged at Nix.

    [Deadly Strike]

    Nunzo has landed a mortal blow on an Ice Wolf Fury.

    Nix cursed loudly and activated his bond ability, disappearing right before the wolves caught him.

    [Critical Chain]

    Nix has followed up Nunzo's strike with a critical hit.

    An Ice Wolf Fury has been slain. A mission essential item has been added to your inventory.

    /Fire: Aja: Our target is down!  Heading your way!

    Even though the swap took Nunzo by surprise, he didn't miss a beat.

    [Knight's Challenge]

    Nunzo has called out a challenge.  All opponents must answer the call!

    Nix chose the closer Fury and sent 12 Emerald strands at it.  These were sharp strands with barbed tips that sunk deep into the Fury's flesh.  With both wolves attacking Nunzo, he wouldn't last long.  Nix slowly dragged his target away from the Flame Knight.

    Aja and Omak arrived in the meadow just as Nunzo finished off the second wolf.  The three members of the Fire team all turned their attention to the Fury Nix was holding.  It died under a barrage of critical hits.

    Nix turned and headed east, the timer for the instance only hand 40 seconds left.

    /Fire: Nunzo: Third target Pon?

    /Fire: Nix: This direction, 75 meters.

    His three teammates quickly overtook him raced away.  Nix was struggling to breathe, even in Salamander's form.  The third target was a pair of Rock Spiders by the time Nix arrived, one was dead and the other nearly there.

    [Emerald Flame: Lance]

    Nix managed to hit it once before Aja finished it off with a few seconds left on the timer.

    /Fire: Aja: Yes!  That's the bonus!

    /Fire: Nunzo: Well done. Three Mission Essentials.

    /Fire: Omak: When's the last time we got the bonus?

    They walked back to the entrance together and exited as a group.  Nix flopped down immediately on the ground with a tired groan.  Captain Vooni, their trainer was already waiting.

    [Your Strength has improved]

    [Your Stamina has improved]

    /Fire: Aja: What the f*ck is that on Vooni's face?

    /Fire: Omak: It's weird right?  If I didn't know better, I'd say it was a smile.

    /Fire: Nunzo: Impossible.

    Instead of reading their scores, Vooni knelt and patted Nix's emerald head.  "You okay there little Salamander?"

    "No.  Can I go home now?"  Nix turned over on his back.

    Vooni nodded and rubbed his stomach, "just take deep breathes Pon."

    "Pon the Magnificent," Nix corrected.

    "Of course, Pon the Magnificent."  Vooni stood up and posted their scores.

    Nunzo: Flame Knight: 92

    Aja: Fire Wyvern: 89

    Omak: Fire Drake: 88

    Pon the Magnificent: 71

    /Fire: Nunzo: That's what I like to see!

    /Fire: Aja: Hold on... Did Vooni just give him belly rubs?

    Nix finally turned over and stood back up. His team seemed to be having a laughing fit at his expense.

    Nunzo had to bite his lip to stop smiling when he turned toward his trainer. "I feel like this instance score doesn't properly reflect Pon's contribution. I request a three-point correction.

    Aja didn't bother to hide her mirth from the Captain, her white teeth flashing. "Same here, three-point correction."

    Omak nodded in agreement.  "Three points."

    Vooni considered their request before reopening her hud and adjusting the scores.  "Three points it is, well done, everyone.

    Nunzo: Flame Knight: 89

    Aja: Fire Wyvern: 86

    Omak: Fire Drake: 85

    Pon the Magnificent: 80

    Vooni dismissed her recruits, waiting with Nix while they walked away. "I will definitely remember this.  Thank you."

    Nix smiled and activated Deep Blue.  "Three days until the next one right?  See ya then."


    An hour later Nix exited the elevator on the 50th floor of the Embassy.  He waited patiently as the transparent Stormsinger glided toward him. The last time they had spoken, Nix had threatened to dismantle the Embassy if a restriction wasn't placed on the Embassy portals.  "Greetings Esta Helisstuiride."

    Esta gave him a mischievous smile.  "Guild Leader Nix. Did you bring Arch Winds?"

    "No. I have some questions." Nix returned her smile. When he asked Elune about ships and shipyards in Oasis, she had recommended he talk to a Storm Elemental. Sinking ships at sea was one of their favorite pastimes.

    "Hmmm... I can answer questions regarding the Embassy and this floor.  Outside of that, I'm afraid my knowledge is limited." Esta circled him once, her corporeal body swaying and bobbing as she moved.

    "You're a Stormsinger, right?  What's the difference between that and a Storm Elemental." Nix thought he'd start off with an easy question since he already knew the answer.

    Esta lowered herself until she was gazing into Nix's yellow eyes. "You asked me something I want to answer so I'll make an exception.  There is no difference, I'm a Storm Elemental."  Her smooth voice reminded him of flute music.

    "Is it true that Stormsingers love to play with ships?" Nix was suddenly glad he hadn't invited her to the Sea-World. Someone like her could wreck the entire wharf without trying.

    Esta covered her clear mouth with both hands, refusing to speak. Her watery eyes were filled with mirth.

    "You don't want to say?"  Nix had reasoned that Esta must be from Oasis since no one seemed to have encountered them in Colonial.  "Come on, with the crappy ships in Oasis, you must have sunk entire fleets."

    Esta let her hands drop.  "Their ships are pretty bad, one little gust and they... Hey!  Trickster!  I'm not saying anything else." She shook her transparent finger at him and started floating away.

    "I've taken the Gemini Temple,"  Nix spoke quietly, even though they were the only ones there. Elune had told him that if Esta was from Oasis, then she certainly knew the prior Lord of the Gemini Temple."

    Esta stopped and slowly turned around, her clear face had lost all semblance of humor. "Tessa Beryngare's Temple?"  She moved closer and locked her opaque eyes on him.  "I sense the Gemini..." Her voice dropped to the softest of whispers.

    "Can we speak now?" Nix kept his voice polite, it was obvious from her reaction to the name that they had not been enemies.

    Esta nodded slowly.  "Yes."


    Nix sighed in frustration.  "Why does your face always itch the moment you can't scratch it?"

    Hyai's laughter filled the kitchen. She had accepted his help to finish the Supper dishes at the Kindled Spirit. Both of his hands were covered in suds.  "Where's the itch hun?"

    Nix grinned at the Innkeeper.  "Left cheek, beneath my eye."

    Hyai dried her hands and scratch the spot he mentioned.  "Good?"

    Nix nodded and went back to scrubbing pans.  "Like I was saying, it seems we are going to take a trip to the far south of Oasis, into Ain'Dhassi territory."

    They had been discussing his conversation with Esta.  When she finally opened up, she told him about a lost shipyard far to the south.

    Hyai wrinkled her nose slightly.  "Polar Icecaps?  No thanks, Cyphix was cold enough."

    "Fraid so.  Semmi is getting permission from Morai Sai Teli for us to enter their lands."

    She glanced at that door and then leaned against him. "Just make sure you come back safe!"

    "We'll leave tomorrow. I'm thinking two days tops."
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