Pon and Wind were waiting for him the next morning when he dropped off some product at Shana's Boutique. They were talking to Lela while she swept off the walk. "You two here for some new underwear?"
Wind shook his head and very nearly smiled. Pon just nodded, "yep, silk g-strings."
Nix chuckled at the fire mage, "yeah, that's gross."
The three men headed toward the Jenza platform. Nix had received a message that Pon was looking for him. "So... Hyai told me that you wanted something."
Pon nodded, "a small guild called Vesuvius was wiped out last night on the Tsai Peninsula in Broyan."
"Broyan again, please tell me it's not more swamp."
"No, not this time. Timber mostly." Pon stepped on the platform and chose Cella. The three of them immediately summoned their Mantas and headed west.
Nix noticed that King Lubo was perched on Wind's shoulder enjoying the ride. "How's the King?"
Wind nodded, his face completely serious. "He's doing great."
Pon opened his hud and sent Nix the coordinates of the attack. "Vesuvius is a mid-tier guild, they are comparable in strength to the Daybreakers. My contact says they were gathering herbs for their Alchemist."
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Wind stopped what he was doing and glanced at the fire mage. "Nansu?"
Pon nodded, "the area they were gathering in is a beginner area. Nothing there higher than single digits."
Nix noticed the interaction. "Who is Nansu?"
"She makes potions of all kinds, and I mean everything. Every guild in Colonial wants her," Pon explained.
A few minutes later the trio circled the tip of the Tsai Peninsula. A man and woman were waiting there. Pon identified them immediately. "That's Nansu and Chael."
Nix landed his manta and quickly stowed it. Chael was a lean looking man with blonde hair and blue eyes. Nansu barely came up to his shoulder, "her black hair was cut short like a mans and was worn slicked back."
Chael immediately cut to the chase. "You here about the attack?"
Pon nodded, "something we are working on might be related, so we thought it was worth the trip to ask a few questions."
Nansu pulled a bag out of her inventory and then dumped its contents on the ground. "It's a wolf, or at least he started out as one."
The creature was about four feet long, its legs were bent awkwardly in a position that meant it walked upright. It had heavily muscled shoulders and possessed clawed hands instead of paws. Its upper canines extended below its jaws by a few inches.
Nix rolled the carcass over, the bones on its ribcage looked like they'd been heavily reinforced. "Did they exhibit signs of intelligence?"
Nansu shook her head, "not really. They attacked like a wolfpack, it only took three of them to kill our Main tank."
A flash of brown and three beasts jumped at them from the rocks, all three were wrapped in strands of fire before they managed to close the distance. Wind vanished suddenly while Pon took a step back and faced the opposite direction.
Nix managed to hold six strands on the three beasts while Chael fired off arrows into them. An explosion followed by miserable howls and the smell of burnt fur permeated the area.
Pon and Wind had killed four of the beasts, while Chael and Nix killed three.
Chael gave Nix a nod of approval. "A CC class? That's awesome."
Nix pointed to the three that had attacked first. "These were the smaller weaker ones, sent in as a diversion."
Pon kicked one of the ones he had roasted, the four that had come in from behind were easily double the size. "When did you pick up the sixth strand Nix? The flame quality is better too, super-heated."
He shrugged noncommittally. "A person with a talent for fire has been helping me." He knelt next to the largest beast.
[Do you wish to skin the Wolfman?]
"Yes." Nix skinned all seven beasts and then turned back toward his group. "I'd call this bad."
[Seven Pristine Enhanced Wolfman Pelts have been added to your inventory.]
He held up the pelt for Nansu to inspect. "Magically enhanced, that means it isn't some mutation."
She looked at the other pelts as well, "they all have the exact same enhancement, impossible to occur naturally."
A movement in the distance caused Nix to summon his Manta and fly south. He pushed his Aviente to top speed and drew his rifle. Aiming carefully he fired shot after shot at the fleeing figure. It disappeared in a flash of light.
Nix was already on the ground and inspecting when the others arrived. He knelt next to a rock with a single drop of blood on it.
Pon smiled when he saw it, "I'll get Semmi."
Wind looked at the drop of blood and then back at Nix. "Nice shooting."
Nansu and Chael had finally caught up, they shared a manta between them and were forced to ride double. The alchemist shook her head at Nix, "are all the white mantas that fast? It's like the rest of us were walking."
Wind looked at the white manta and then back at his. "You always have nice things."
It took about an hour for Pon to return with Semmi. She had her white fox pet in her arms and sat her down next to the drop of blood. It immediately started moving inland.
They followed Tilde from the air, the animal moved easily through and over every type of terrain with ease. It stopped in a canyon about eighty miles from where they started.
The group landed together while Semmi picked up her pet. She soothed it quietly, "She's really scared, we should get some backup."
"F*ck us." Chael was looking at the canyon they were in, lined on both sides were dozens of the Wolfmen. A single man stood among them, he was dressed in animal hides and wore a wolf mask.
"Come closer to me, but don't make any sudden moves." Nix activated his Sea-Beast bracelet.
[Scan Surrounding Areas?]
[Scanning, Stand By...]
[No Sea-Beasts have been located.]
[80 ineligible Wolfmen, already tamed.]
[7 ineligible Tree frogs]
[14 ineligible Field Mice.]
The Wolfmen leaped from the canyon walls, tearing toward them much faster than a two-legged beast should run.
"Grab onto me." Nix activated Deep Blue and chose Sea-World.
A moment later all five of them appeared on the beach. Immediately Nix raised both hands in front of him, "the inhabitants of this place are under my protection."
Shae was sitting on Soup wearing only her bodysuit while the turtle paddled through the shallow surf. There were several Aquarions in sight, most of them appeared to be relaxing. All four of Nix's companions froze, they had heard his words but they hadn't quite understood.
Pon was the first to move, He ran toward Shae instantly recognizing her, "SHAE!" The Salamander smiled when she saw the old fire mage. He hugged her tight while saying her name. "I was so worried!"
Wind approached also, but much more slowly. "Freedom looks good on you." He had lobbied for her release on many occasions.
Pon wiped his eyes after Shae finally pushed him away. He frowned at Nix, "you could have told me!"
Nix shrugged, "You should have freed her."
Both Pon and Wind stared at the ground, they both knew that they hadn't done enough.
It was Shae who lightened the mood. "Hey! That's in the past, this is my new place."
Nix looked confused. "How do two players from Daybreakers know the Salamanders Fire Lord?"
Pon's old face broke into a smile. "I use to visit them, many fire mages did. Shae knows a lot about the flame."
Wind nodded in agreement, "I would tag along, she is easy to talk to. Even for me."
Zhava walked toward them, stopping a respectable distance away. "Mina is back Nix."
"Oh okay, thanks Zhava." He glanced at Chael and Nansu, both of them seemed shocked beyond speech. "There's a rebel faction of Aquarions that are fighting for the right to co-exist peacefully with humans. They are called the Souza Accord, these are their members."
Pon took a deep breath. "I've decided Nix, I'm with you on this. If I need to take a leave of absence from Daybreakers, then I will."
Wind nodded, "Same."
"Check this out Pon!" Shae floated in the air and erupted into flames, only her head, hands and feet were on fire. Her red bodysuit remained unharmed, although it glowed brightly.
Pon clapped his hands, "Did Nix make that?"
Shae nodded, "He's made me a few other things as well."
Nix looked around and discovered that Semmi hadn't moved, she was standing on the beach, holding her head in her hands while she cried.
Shae floated down and extinguished her flames. "Sem... don't cry like that."
Nix watched while the Salamander consoled her friend. He left them there to catch up and went inside to talk to Mina.
Mina was sitting on the couch when he entered, she was wearing her normal black leather gear. He briefed her on the events of the past twenty-four hours.
She looked troubled by the story. "You are sure there were 80 tamed beasts?"
Nix nodded, "that's four-times what I can hold in my stable."
"Eighty tamed beasts makes him the same level as an Elder Matriarch."
"We were about to get eaten." Nix was watching her expressions, at first, he had difficulty reading Aquarions, until he knew what to look for. "There's more right?"
"This ability to enhance the beasts in his stable, only the Elder Matriarchs are capable of that."
"The only Sea-Beasts I know that can battle his on land are Salt Water Crocs." Nix also knew what their weakness would be, lack of speed and mobility. Nothing like the super-fast hit and run wolfmen.
"I have an idea, but we have to get you to the fifth floor of Mermaid City."
Nix smiled at her and leaned back on his comfortable couch. "Let's do that then."