13 Lake Cavern
"An amazing place Nix." Pon was sitting next to the campfire that he had started, the sounds of a dozen people swimming nearly drowned out his words.
The Lake Cavern hadn't changed much in the four days since he had brought Ronnie and Sharl here. A long table sat on the beach, along with a bunch of chairs. The lamps that were suspended in the air, now put out much more light thanks to Pon the Fire Mage. The twenty-person team worked on their swimming every day, went over the possible scenarios of the raid and would spend the remainder of the day grinding levels in Hispana.
There were two things that none of the Daybreakers could figure out. Why Nix was a faster swimmer than everyone else and why the turtles flocked to him like he was the pied piper.
"Hmm... once this raid is done, you Daybreaker interlopers are gonna get kicked out!" Nix waded into the shallows, Soup followed him in, staying close when he dived towards the bottom.
The turtles had been growing at a phenomenal rate, Nix wasn't sure what the mature time was for Virtual Turtles, but he guessed it was much faster than real life. Soup was nearly three feet in diameter.
Nix latched on to Soups shell and he shot past the other swimmers.
"I want to ride one too!" Ronnie had tried many times to get one to accommodate her, but they fled whenever she came close.
He let go of Soup and dived toward the bottom where Sharl was harvesting. Almost immediately after her first swim, the Daybreakers Guild Leader found the Water Spry. It looked like regular grain, but when dried and harvested, tasted exactly like rice. The entire bottom of the lake was covered in it. "Helping yourself to my crop? I should get Maye in here to quote you a price."
Sharl looked up, grimacing at the mention of the old woman's name. "Why are you still working with that old shark?"
Nix laughed at the comment. Maye had hired some workers to do some much-needed repairs in the shop, it actually looked like a boutique again. "I'm sweet on Lela. Didn't you know?"
"Liar." Sharl glanced up at Nix, "you've been laying low right?"
Seemingly overnight, posters with Nix's image on them were plastered in every major city. The Salamander Guild was looking hard for him, even though he had been careful, it was already known that the trail led to Jenza and Cyphix.
"They should stop bothering my friends." Nix frowned when he thought of Salamander, they had stopped by the Kindled Spirit Inn and asked a lot of questions, Hyai had quickly shown them the door. Jun Li herself sent him dozens of friend requests until Ronnie had shown him how to block her.
"Once we get to stage four, they will stop bothering you." Sharl had tried on multiple occasions to bring him into the guild, each time he politely declined.
Nix spotted Soup swimming close by, he beckoned her by clucking his tongue. He pulled himself up on her shell and relaxed while she swam in circles around Sharl. "Hope so."
"You know that's an Elite Black Sea Turtle you are riding around."
"Yep, one of us is going to eat the other one day." He reached a hand and rubbed the turtles smooth head, "there's a reason I named her Soup."
An hour later all twenty of the Lake Cavern occupants were sitting at the table. It was the maximum amount that Nix could port, a number that had astounded everyone.
Sharl had her hud up and was going over the plan again. "Our best guess is that the location where Nix spotted Salamander is the first part of stage four. Two other teams are required to operate levers simultaneously to open the gate that Jun Li's group was behind. That group must then proceed down the corridor, after that, we are flying blind. We must finish this stage to lock Daybreakers into stage four."
"Which is cheating... right?" Nix said it with a smirk, it would also be a huge slap in the face to Salamander.
Sharl looked at her old Fire Mage, "how's he look, Pon?"
Pon glanced at Nix, "he's level 40, well equipped and his weapon skills are decent. We've improved his Fire Strands to the point where he can hold three at once." Pon didn't have to pretend to be impressed, the Fire Strands worked as a dot (damage over time) on anything it held. It absolutely tore through water creatures. Nix wouldn't say where he got the strands from, but Pon guessed it must be a Lord Class Fire Creature of some sort. "Still a noob, so he'll have to stick with CC."
Sharl nodded, she understood the last part was for Nix's benefit. "We will go in the morning, so everyone gets some rest."
A few minutes later they all stood in a circle holding hands. Nix had slipped on a cloak with a Daybreakers insignia for the port back to Jenza. He brought everyone to the Portal platform and then immediately chose to return to the Lake Cavern. He would pick them up at 0800 the next morning.
Nix returned to the beach hut, with the Daybreakers gone, the turtles were much more friendly. As an experiment he had once left the ring off when he approached the turtles, it no longer made any difference in their interaction with him. It did however substantially improve his swimming speed, so he kept it on. With all the swimming they had been doing the past few days, his strength and stamina had steadily increased. The other surprise came when he started working with Pon, his Fire Strand skill had started to improve.
Cold Resistance 90
Fire Resistance 100 [Burning Aura]
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Flame Strands 0 
Swimming 2 
Leather Making 100
He entered the hut and undressed before laying down on the bed. There was the smallest hint of perfume on his pillows, he had caught Ronnie napping on the bed a few times.
"Thanks, Glory." He smiled at the ceiling and hoped that the guard who had helped him was doing well. A bumping noise at his door made his smile widen. "Really?"
He walked to the door and let Soup in, she waddled slowly to the foot of the bed where a small carpet had been placed. "You're such a baby."
"Report." Jun Li sat behind her desk at Salamander HQ, the nightly scout report was late once again. She couldn't know that the reason they were late was that they dreaded giving her the same news every day.
"Scout Forsha Reporting!" The dark-haired scout saluted crisply.
Jun Li scowled at her, she knew it was protocol, but everything seemed to make her mad nowadays. She returned the salute and gestured for the scout to continue.
"There's been no sign of the Fire Wielder," that's what Salamander had started calling him since no one knew his name.
Junli slammed a hand down on her desk. "Is he a damn ghost?" She picked up a cup and threw it at the scout, it missed her head by only a few inches. "What about the tailor who made the Under Armor?"
"All we know is that the Tailor's name is Nix." Forsha gave a quick glance at the desktop for anything else the guild leader might throw, she gulped when she was the knife-shaped letter opener.
"Nix? How the f*ck did we miss out when the Under Armor was displayed all day on a damn mannequin?" She had heard the rumors regarding the tailor-made gear, but by the time they had investigated, a mid-tier guild had purchased all the stock. "This tailor works in Jenza, how is it you know nothing else?"
"Nix specializes in women's lingerie and underwear and is most likely a Day Shop owner that sells the product to Shana's Boutique. We also believe that Nix is female."
"A female... did someone see her? What makes you say that?"
The scout hesitated, "well, Nix specializes in women's underwear, so..."
Jun Li picked up the letter opener and flung it at her scout, fortunately, it missed. "Get out!"
The guild leader leaned back in her chair, taking a deep breath to try and calm down. Even though she had become a stasis player more than a year ago, she was still required to report to the Board. Soon they would find out that the Salamander Guild had actually lost their Salamander. She picked up the poster of the Fire Wielder that sat on her desk. It didn't do him justice. She had stood a few feet away from him, short black hair with a serious but handsome face. His eyes had captured her attention, they looked like twin suns.
She propped the poster up on her desk and stared at it. "How did you get behind that gate? Salamander is leading the other guilds in Mermaid City." Mermaid City was her personal mission. She had locked her level at 50 so she could continue to oversee Salamanders advancement. "Sooner or later I'll see you again."
A knock on the door got her attention. It was Semmi Dow, her childhood friend, and the only person who she wouldn't show her temper too. "Time to call it a night Junie, we're trying Mermaid again in the morning."
Jun Li smiled at her friend. The petite blond would start yelling at her if she dared get mad. "Okay, thanks Sem."