Nix followed Shae through the long grass of her world. For a Salamander, Shae had a high appreciation for forest land and all things green. She slipped her clothes off and walked into one of the steaming pools.
Nix stopped at the edge and disrobed, he tested it with a foot. It seemed comfortably warm. "Did you cool the pools down Shae?"
She shook her head and eased herself into the scalding water. "Your tolerance for heat improves every day."
"Maybe so," Nix smiled noncommittedly and sunk down into the water with a contented sigh. He ducked under the water and then surfaced to slick his black hair back with both hands. "Something on your mind Shae?"
Shae moved behind him and wrapped her arms around his shoulders, her soft breasts pushed against his back. "Does something need to be wrong? A friendship like ours needs to be tended carefully."
Nix laughed when she kissed his shoulder. He leaned back against her and closed his eyes. "You are right of course."
She leaned against his back and sighed contently. "Am I missing something in my world Nix?"
"Some wildlife would be nice. You'd have to allow a few cooler pools for that though."
"There are a couple of them south of here."
"If you are interested in creating a habitat, then ask Fajii to plant things here. This dark volcanic soil is great for growing things."
Shae shrugged against his back, "I don't know much about gardening."
"My mom and sister loved to grow things in our back yard when I was a kid." He smiled at the memory of them, "I secretly grew ghost peppers," this time he laughed aloud.
She leaned over his shoulder and looked at his face, "you're very handsome when you laugh Nix." She paused long enough to kiss his lips. "What's a ghost pepper?"
"It's a pepper so hot that it burns your mouth."
Shae clapped her hands excitedly. "I want some Nix!"
"Might be tough to find, but I do know a chef." Nix's eyes fell on the egg he had retrieved from the Earth Temple. "How close is that egg to hatching?"
"Hmmm... less than a week I would say. It's not a Lamia egg like we thought though." Shae closed her eyes, her red hair floated on the surface of the water.
"Not a Lamia?"
Shae shook her head, "I thought it was at first, but in the last few days I discovered I was mistaken."
Nix stared at the egg, he had no idea what kind of egg it was. He had assumed it came from the Lamia Queen. "What then?"
"It's a Naga."
The term sounded familiar to him, but he couldn't quite place it. "What's a Naga?"
Shae moved away from him and submerged herself in the water for several moments be surfacing. Her light brown eyes watched him with unhidden amusement. "In simplest terms, it would be the male version of a Lamia."
"Oh, I see..." Nix pondered her words carefully, Shae's senses were better than anyone he knew. "I had thought it was the Queen's egg."
"It probably was, it's valuable Nix. For whatever reason, there were no Naga in the temple. That may have been some long-forgotten law. Whatever the reasoning, this Naga needs to be bound to someone."
"You mean as someone's companion?"
"Not me, I only have one slot left and I'm looking for something a bit more stout." In his head, Nix considered something like a bear. "Why does he have to be bound?"
"If he's the last of his kind, which I assume he is. Then his life is quite precious."
"Right, binding to a companion grants him life protection." Fey had admitted to Nix that this was the reason she had wanted to bind with him. If a companion was slain, she could be revived three days later. A drake in the wild would die and probably end up as armor.
Shae walked to the shore, her skin dripped with water for only a moment before it dried. The air around her shimmered for an instant as her form changed.
Nix knew he was staring but he couldn't help it. Of course, he realized that Shae utilized her human form because she liked it best. He was also aware that Salamanders weren't human. She was nearly nine feet in length, her smoothly scaled skin reflected every color in the spectrum, the glow around her looked like a rainbow. He approached slowly, not because of any threat but because he wanted to soak in every detail.
Her voice sounded soft in his head. "What do you think Nix?"
"I've always thought your human form was beautiful." He stroked her back with one hand, "this is real beauty."
A warm feeling flooded his senses, she was pleased by his words. "If I were to take this form during a fight, all of Glory would be in ashes."
Nix nodded, "thank you for showing me Shae."
Her bright eyes closed slowly and she rolled over on the brimstone rock that lined the shore. "You are the only one I would show."
Nix was still smiling when he exited the elemental world. Shae had fallen asleep and not moved. He claimed the Naga egg and ported directly to the Sea World. It was her aura that had kept the Manta mounts from coming near the Fire Palace, keeping it extended for such a long time had tired her out.
[Do you wish to bind with the Naga companion?]
"No." Nix looked toward the wharf, of course, there seemed to be a group of people hanging around the top deck of his houseboat.
"Nix!" Ronnie waved when she saw him, she was leaning against the rail between Pon and Wind.
On the second floor, he ran into Hyai and one of her assistants. "Anything I can do to help Hyai?"
Hyai nodded, "let's see the Leviathan meat."
He handed her a can which she sat on the counter and quickly opened. She broke off a piece of the white meat and dropped it in a pot of boiling oil. Hyai fished it out a minute later and took a small bite before offering some to Nix.
"Oh my... That's really good. Barbecue?"
Hyai nodded in agreement. "Barbecue. Head on up Nix, I've work to do."
Nix grinned at her and unloaded two dozen cans of Leviathan on the counter. "Thank you, Hyai."
She waved at him as he headed up the stairs. "Cya hun."
There were four people in his bedroom when he exited the stairs. Nansu was holding Chael's face in her hands. It was obvious that she wasn't pleased with the changes the Scorched Earth path had brought. Nix took a closer look, his hair and eyes were still the same. The only real change was his pointed ears. "Looking good Chael!"
Chael grinned at him. "She hates it."
Fajii and Sharl were sitting on his bed. There were dozens of bottles of potions spilled everywhere.
Nix frowned at them. "You selling stuff from my mattress?"
Fajii gave him a small smile. "Yes."
Sharl laughed at the face Nix made, Aquarions didn't understand sarcasm. "Sorry Nix, we'll clean it up."
Nix handed her the Naga egg. "This is for you Sharl. No strings attached, please take good care of it."
Sharl's dark eyes stared at the egg. "Is that the Lamia egg I've heard so much about?"
"Yes and no. It's actually a Naga egg, the male counterpart of the Lamia."
She held out her hands, instantly a soft web of light connected her and the egg. She must have accepted the binding right away. Fajii already knew what the egg was, but was surprised that Nix had turned it down.
Sharl stroked it softly for a moment before stowing it in her inventory. "It's counting down Nix. The timer says it will hatch in 3 days."
"Why is everyone on my boat again? The party is on the wharf!" He motioned the four of them toward the sliding door. "Out, out! I'm going to change."
Nix changed into a swimsuit and t-shirt before heading down the stairs barefoot. On the dock, Hyai already had a large barrel-shaped barbecue going and a table full of food. When she waved him away, so Nix headed toward the end of the wharf and sat down.
A beautiful song caught his ear and caused him to peer under his seat. Ducky was playing under the wharf with her sisters. Unlike her, they were still water nymphs. She reached up and grabbed his foot when she noticed him.
"Ducky... Don't even think about it." He gave her a stern look that lasted all of a second before he was pulled into the water.
"Nix play..." Ducky laughed and circled him with her sisters. A sudden movement from underneath caused them to scatter in all directions. Soup had arrived.
"Very heroic Soup." Nix complimented the sea turtle before pulling himself onto its smooth back. "Let's relax a bit."
Soup swam slowly away from the wharf, keeping on the surface. He ignored the Nymphs but would occasionally move closer to the Siren so that she could stroke his smooth head.
Nix watched the interaction for a few minutes. "You're kinda popular Soup."
Ducky slid easily onto the turtles back and settled down next to Nix. She had taken her human form. "Soupy is good."
The siren slid off a few minutes later when Nix started to fall asleep. The gentle sway of the ocean coupled with the warm sun made him drowse off.
"Hey, sleepyhead." Ronnie's voice pulled him out of his sleep.
Soup had circled back and came ashore when Nix fell asleep. Ronnie and Mina were watching him.
"His head is sleepy?" Mina looked confused.
Ronnie shrugged, "it's an expression. Nix is cute when he sleeps."
Mina pursed her lips together and considered it for a moment. "No... He is not."
"Bring that guy to the tables Sis! We're starving." Sharl shouted at them from the wharf, she was wearing the swimsuit that Nix had made her.
"Right." Ronnie grabbed his hand and pulled him to his feet. "Come on lazybones, girls gotta eat."
Colonial System Event Message: Congratulations to all participants of the Faction Event. Results are as follows.
[Victorious Battle of Glory Bay]
All Terran fleets receive 50 thousand faction points.
All Sea Farer fleets receive a reduction of 50 thousand faction points.
[Top Five Ship performances]
Phoenix; Inferno: 39 kills
Venture: Inferno: 23 kills
Scimitar: Inferno: 19 kills
Crane: Inferno: 19 kills
Star Fire: Kings X: 15 kills
Notable Performances: Inferno defeats Leviathan.
[Victorious Battle of Glory Island and Faction Final Event]
All Sea Farer guilds are promoted one faction level.
All Terran guilds are demoted one faction level.
[Top 5 Individual Kills]
Nix: Inferno: 337
Caza: Resolute: 115
Ronnie: Inferno: 106
Gideon: Salamander (Upper Tier) : 98
Sori Dah: Scorched Earth Temple: 95
[Top 5 Individual Contributors]
Chiba defeats Calyph
Nix defeats Glacio
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Top 3 Guild Contributors]
[Glory Island has received the Golden Settlement Expansion Award]
[Inferno has been promoted: New Guild Options are available]
[All Inferno Sea Captains and crews are promoted to Elites]
[You have received the 'Unstoppable' Title]
[Your Champion Metal has been upgraded]
[You have received an invitation to Shangri]
[You have received a letter from Morgan Bolo]
/Guildchat : Nix: Great job everyone!
/Guildchat: Ronnie: We win, we win!
/Guildchat: Pon: Bullshit! There's no way Ronnie topped a hundred kills!
/Guildchat: Sharl: I agree.
A half-hour later the small group was sitting at a long table that they had assembled on the wharf. Semmi stood up and raised her pint. the small blonde had already finished two of them and was starting to talk loudly. "Cheers everyone! Let's give it up for the lovely Hyai who prepared all of this food for us!"
Nix raised his mug, he was sitting between Hyai and Banzi. "This is even better than the Kraken."
/Guildchat: Ronnie: Anyone get an invite to Shangri?
/Guildchat: Jun Li: Everyone in Inferno did.
/Guildchat: Ronnie: Oh... What is Shangri?
/Guildchat: Sharl: Read the letter Ronnie, it explains everything.
Tess and Gypsy were sitting on the other side of Hyai, they were toasting each other.
Tess's smile continued to widen after each pint. "Finally, the healers get a little bit of love!"
Gyspy nodded in agreement, for the fifth time. "I worked hard keeping Pon alive!"
Tess covered a yawn with her hand. "I know right? A total glass cannon."
Banzi laughed at their teasing, even the normally volatile Fire Mage took it in stride. "Thank you for the magnificent job healing us."
Wylie noted that she was included in the thanks, she smiled and nodded her head. "I've never seen such great teamwork."
Hyai slid an arm through Nix's. "Did my Inn take any damage?"
Nix shook his head, "the Terrans didn't step a single foot in our city!"