Shae studied the stone, her expression unreadable. "Archon is the highest class of Salamander. It's after Nemesis, there are none of those in Colonial."
Nix nodded, "I figured as much. Is it directly after Nemesis?"
Shae nodded her head. "The Salamander ranks are Elemental, Spirit, Lord, Nemesis, and Archon."
He had seen what Archons looked like in the illusion. "There aren't any Archons in Colonial." Nix stared at the stone, "somehow it feels wrong."
"I agree... It should be destroyed." Shae's voice was firm, "it goes against the order of things. A Class V reward for a mid-tier quest?"
Nix placed it on a flat rock next to where they were sitting. Shae picked up a larger round rock and together they held it for a moment. "This is the right thing."
"This is the right thing," Shae agreed.
Together they slammed the rock down on the spirit stone and everything went black.
Nix woke sometime later. Instinct told him he was no longer in Colonial. He tried to sit up but discovered he couldn't, he was in Salamander form. Every fiber of his body burned in agony, his emerald flames engulfed his body as he struggled to stand. Shae was unconscious a few meters away, she was also in Salamander form. He turned toward her and starting crawling, his body didn't seem to want to move and his thoughts were clouded.
"What have we here?" A clear male voice spoke from behind him, Nix lacked the strength to turn and face the newcomer.
A wide-jawed face covered in scars bent over him. "Not dead I see." When the voice moved to check on Shae, Nix got a good look at him. His blood ran cold when the man bent down and touched Shae's forehead with one hand.
"Don't touch her!" Nix staggered up, three strands of Emerald flame shot at the stranger.
A white wing that burned with silver flames blocked the strands easily. The man laughed. "Fire strands? That's really interesting. "I came here to investigate an Archon burst on the lower plane. As you can see, I am an Archon myself."
He turned away from Shae and approached Nix. "Stop struggling, the fact that you can even survive here is a testament to your strength. Let me sum it up quickly, before you and your mate perish. You attained a spirit stone. The Archon class was, of course, a trap. Had you used it, eventually one or both of you would have gone insane with power. I'm impressed that the two of you sought to destroy it."
Nix tried to speak but only managed a low groan. The entire world seemed to be pressing down upon him.
"If I leave her like this, she will certainly die. You'll die also, but unlike yours, hers will be permanent." He moved back to Shae and knelt down.
"Don't let her die." Nix managed to push out the sentence, his vision starting to fade.
The Archon nodded. "Take heart and grow stronger. You've plenty of time, Salamanders mate for life." He picked Shae up and spared one last glance at the emerald salamander. "Rise to the top of this world, and then the next. It is there you will find the right path."
Nix watched as the Archon disappeared with a flap of burning wings. Next world? Oasis?
You have discovered a hidden class.
You have died.
"Champion?" The voice of the Fire Palace's High Priestess rang in Nix's ears, he felt warm hands healing him. Derva helped Nix to his feet, her pale face full of concern. "What has happened?"
Nix moved away from the altar, he knew without looking that it was no longer a place he could enter. "Shae has taken the next step in rank, it will take several months to complete."
A few minutes later Nix entered his houseboat, for once there wasn't anyone else present.
He brought up his stats, staring at the display.
Nix [Race: Human/Salamander Hybrid]
Inactive Hidden Class: [Stats may not be displayed at this time.]
/Inferno: Jun Li: Anyone seen Nix? He must have privacy mode turned on.
/Inferno: Mina: I stopped by his houseboat, he isn't there.
/Inferno: Semmi: Let's get started... Welcome, Nansu.
/Inferno: Nansu: Thank you.
/Inferno: Jun Li: It's only been a few hours, but the exploration of Haven is going well. How far would you say we are Sem?
/Inferno: Semmi: Maybe 20 percent explored, if we didn't have flying mounts, we wouldn't even be close to that.
/Inferno: Pon: Hey, Fajii isn't here either?
Colonial System Message: Congratulations to Inferno for being the first guild to advance to the 6th Floor of Mermaid City.
/Inferno: Jun Li: What?
Mina stood up and then moved quickly toward the door. All of the officers followed her as she ran for the dock portal, she stopped when she saw Nix exit the platform with Fajii, Sora and a squad of Lamia. "Nix?"
Nix smiled at Mina. "Five minutes, get your team ready. We're going back in."
Fajii sent her Acolytes back to the temple with a wave of her hand. "I'm coming too."
A few hours later Pon lay flat on his back on the wharf next to his houseboat. The old Fire Mage was exhausted. "The f*ck has got into Nix?"
Wind was sitting on a nearby crate. "Really? Three stages in one day?"
Nix had taken the Scorched Earth Temple Acolytes and advanced to the sixth floor. Then he had come back long enough to get reinforcements. Pon, Wind, and Semmi were on the third raid that cleared 6.1.
/Inferno: Nix: We'll make two runs tomorrow at Mermaid City. All combat members who are still too low or undergeared, I want you grinding the Embassy. I'll send Morti with the Embassy teams.
/Inferno: Jun Li: I'll go with the morning team.
/Inferno: Nix: Officer Meeting in the Parliament, 30 minutes.
Nix sat back in his chair, staring at the dockets that would be closing soon. He had 17 unanswered messages, every few minutes his desk hud would buzz again. Noticing a small change, he glanced toward the window, true to her word Semmi had replaced one of the desks with a couch. A true professional, she had also placed a neatly folded blanket with a soft-looking pillow.
Nix walked toward the couch. "That's a great idea."
A half-hour later the Inferno Officers filed into the Guild Office together, Nix was sound asleep, curled up under the blanket.
/Inferno: Semmi: Damn it. Nix got firsties on the couch.
Nix turned and slowly sat up when he heard his guildmates arrive. The short nap seemed to revive his thought process.
/Guild Officers: Nix: Thanks for coming. The first order of business. Shae will be out of commission for the foreseeable future. Through happenstance, she was forced to embark on advancement early. Her only choices were moving forward or perish.
/Guild Officer: Jun Li: Going to share anything else?
/Guild Officer: Nix: Not at this time. Let's treat it as need to know only. The knowledge of it is a dangerous thing.
/Guild Officer: Jun Li: Good enough for me.
/Guild Officer: Nix: Many of you are wondering why the sudden push. I witnessed and help foil an ambush of three Ain'Dhassi youths. The trio they sent in had skills substantially higher than any of the Colonial Upper-Tier fighters.
/Guild Officer: Jun Li: If Nix is saying that, then we need to work hard.
/Guild Officer: Semmi: In a few hours I will be putting out the requirements for all known Class 3 specials in Oasis.
/Guild Officer: Ronnie: Class 3 Specials are the Classes that can be upgraded to Class 4?
/Guild Officer: Semmi: Yes.
/Guild Officer: Nix: There's a docket that I want everyone to look at.
Nix moved from the couch to his desk and quickly brought up his hud.
/Guild Officer: Nix: Read it and give your opinions.