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102 Phenomenon: World of Shadows and The Temple

 As Izroth and his party journeyed deeper into the forest, something happened which caused Izroth to inwardly frown. The closer they came to the source, the more Izroth's vision slowly started slipping away.

'It's affecting our sight. At this rate, we'll lose our ability to see within ten minutes.'

Izroth thought about turning back, however, he was unsure if the effects would disappear or not after they returned to their previous location just outside of the cave. If everyone lost their vision, then no one would even know how they died.

The effects were even worse for the others since their senses were not as strong as Izroth's.

Even though there were no clues linking the source of the illusion to their loss of senses, Izroth trusted his gut feeling and proceeded onward. With every step Izroth and his party took, their vision worsened and soon enough, their sense of smell also began to fade.

The group hastened their movement as most of their vision had turned into a blur. It was like looking through translucent glass. One could make out subtle details but had to guess what it actually was.

Around eight minutes later, just as all of their senses had started to fade away, everyone saw what appeared to be a black hole a few meters away from them. That black hole had numerous lines constantly rotating around it.

Although they were cautious at first, when their senses began to clear up the closer they moved to the black hole, they did not halt their steps and continued to approach it.

Izroth was still on guard and would fall back at the first sign of trouble, however, he believed that it would not be necessary to do so.

"W..." Zi Yi opened her mouth and managed to utter a small sound. The surprising thing was that everyone was able to hear the noise she made. Their senses were returning to them, but it was only a slight change.

When the group was around one meter away from the black hole, it suddenly vibrated and shot away as though it were trying to escape.

Izroth quickly turned into a shadow using his skill Shadow Movement and swiftly caught up to the black hole. To suddenly escape when they closed the distance was suspicious. He felt as if he had to act now or else their current condition would remain unchanged.

Although the black hole was incredibly fast, it was still not as fast as Izroth while he was using Shadow Movement. In the blink of an eye, Izroth unsheathed his Blade of Lightning which released an oppressive aura and slashed outward. He was using the skill First Baneful Sword: Destruction just to be on the safe side.

Oooooooooooooooooooooooom!

A loud sound reverberated throughout the entire forest when Izroth struck the black hole. The surroundings were engulfed in complete darkness, but it was a strange type of darkness. Although everything around them was covered in darkness, everyone could see white outlines of one another.

"What's going on?" Zi Yi suddenly covered her mouth with one of her hands in shock. She was able to speak now! She could also hear, feel, and see without any issues as well. That was definitely a feeling that she would rather never experience again. Slowly losing control one's senses was an extremely terrifying experience!

"Ahhhhhhhhhh!" Guan Yu shouted at the top of his lungs which startled Zi Yi. He then started to laugh without restraint and Halls soon joined him in doing so. They were both just happy to regain their senses. They were not at all worried about their current situation.

Valentine was too busy examining this unique type of magic which encompassed the area they were in. It seemed to form at the same time that Izroth destroyed that black hole. Though one thing was for sure, that black hole was definitely responsible for what happened to them.

"This place is becoming more and more bizarre. An underground cave, a mist, an illusion, and now a world of darkness. It's quite unpredictable." Luna said in a calm tone of voice.

"Maybe this is the true appearance of the Chaotic Dogma Realm?" Zi Yi suggested. After all, it was unlikely that they cleared one illusion just to run into another one right after. The chances of that occurring were highly improbable.

"This is the Chaotic Dogma Realm, but at the same time it is not." Izroth stated as his gaze swept across his surroundings. He then looked down at his hands and noticed the white outline. The forest was still around them, but it was no longer a lush green forest.

The trees were like shadows with white outlines. It was like they were in a world without an absolute form, a world of shadows.

The phenomenon only lasted for ten seconds before everything regained its proper color. The forest was no longer a vibrant and lush green color, but rather a desolate wasteland. The trees were a silver metallic-like alloy and the grass that was beneath their feet was dark blue instead of green. However, the sky itself remained unchanged.

This was the true appearance of the Chaotic Dogma Realm this time around. But there was one thing lingering within everyone's mind at that moment. How exactly do they reach the end of this place?

Izroth and his party were only told that they needed to reach the end of the Chaotic Dogma Realm. The SS-ranked quest also said the same thing and did not provide a method of finding where the "end" was located at.

"What should we do now?" Zi Yi asked.

After thinking about it for a bit, Izroth responded, "We were told that each team would be transported to different locations. However, no matter where a team is transported to, they are still the same distance away from the end as we are. Then again, there is a chance the end represents something else altogether."

"Why is this place so confusing?" Halls frowned. Ever since they arrived here not too long ago, it had been one thing after another. Now, things were becoming even more complicated.

"For now, we'll just have to continue exploring our new environment while looking out for potential clues. I'm interested in this Sealed Chaotic Essence I picked up and the Chaos Fragment needed to unseal it. There's a good chance that our next course of action will depend on whether or not we can acquire any Chaos Fragments." Izroth said.

"I agree. We will not be able to solve anything if we stay here guessing all day. We have to learn more about the current state of the Chaotic Dogma Realm. There may be more of those black hole objects spread throughout this place, we should proceed with caution." Zi Yi added.

Izroth nodded, "We'll head in the direction it tried to escape in." There was the possibility that it was attempting to return to a larger source or to a safer location. However, Izroth had no way of confirming this at the moment as he did not perceive anything nearby that matched that description. Though, that did not mean he was incorrect.

Izroth and Halls took the lead, as they walked with hastened steps in the direction that black hole attempted to escape in. The mist had long since disappeared and thankfully, all of their senses remained well intact.

"The fact that an illusion was set up in this area meant that whatever it was trying to keep us away from cannot be too far from here." Luna was not that knowledgable about illusions, but she understood that it was mostly used to hide the truth. Whether it was a location, an object, or even a person.

Zi Yi rested her thumb and index finger on her chin, thinking to herself. For some reason, she felt as if they were missing something important. But, she could not quite put her finger on it.

...

Izroth and his party traveled for around twenty minutes and had come across a few monsters in the process. During that period of time, they noticed something quite peculiar. They had not run into the same monster more than once. In other words, it was possible that every monster within the Chaotic Dogma Realm was unique in their own way.

That meant every time they fought a new monster, it was a completely different experience from the last. There was no strategy they could form beforehand to face a monster. Izroth and his party had to rely on their own ability to adapt and so far, they had successfully eliminated seven elite monsters.

Unfortunately, they had yet to locate any Chaos Fragments. Then again, they were not entirely sure if Chaos Fragments even dropped from monsters.

"That weird snake creature... I never want to fight anything like that again." Halls spoke in a gloomy voice.

"Ahahaha! Brother, I also did not expect it to be so fierce. When it bit you in that place, I'm sure it wasn't intentional." Guan Yu tried hard to hold back his laughter, however, he could not help but let a little slip out after he remembered what happened.

He was in tears from laughing when Valentine asked Halls if he wanted him to remove the poison. Halls immediately rejected the offer and clarified that he only liked women. This caused Valentine to be confused, but Guan Yu knew what method of poison removal Halls was thinking about.

"Disgusting!" Zi Yi had a look of disgust on her face. That was one thing she unquestionably wanted to be erased from her memory.

As the group continued forward, a temple soon appeared before them. It was in a state of ruin. There were only rubble and broken pieces of stone scattered everywhere on the ground.

"A temple?" Luna was bewildered by the appearance of a temple in a place like the Chaotic Dogma Realm. Who would, or rather, who could build a temple in such a desolate place? Was it another illusion?

That idea was quickly dismissed as the group moved closer to the temple ruins. At the center of the ruins, there was a stairway that led downward. It was impossible to see what was all the way at the bottom, but they felt a familiar sensation wash over them. It was very faint, but it was similar to the effects of the black hole they experienced earlier.

'The black hole wanted to return to the location of this temple. But, for what purpose?'

Izroth and his party stood before the stairway that led down into an unknown area. When they gathered near the stairway, the torches on the side of the walls lit up all the way to the bottom of the stairway. It appeared to be a normal stairway, however, at the end of the stairway was a giant stone door that was shut closed.

"Wait here." Izroth said as he walked down the steps one at a time. He was confident that if this was a trap that he would be able to make it back to the surface in time to avoid it. With Flickering Steps and Shadow Movement off cooldown, he could cover the distance in an instant.

When he reached the stone door, specific parts of it started to glow and release a small light. Soon enough, it formed many words that were surprisingly understandable.

'In the beginning, there was nothing. From nothing came chaos, from chaos, came order. Order shall return to chaos, and chaos shall return to nothingness.'

"This should not be possible..." Izroth muttered to himself as he furrowed his brows, troubled by the words before him. It was not that he was unable to comprehend the words, but rather he had heard these exact words during his time within the Seven Realms.

'This is the chant of Raza'Til.'

Raza'Til was once the strongest cultivator within the Seven Realms. If not for his untimely disappearance countless centuries ago, Izroth may not necessarily have become the strongest in the Seven Realms at such a young age.

"Do you see anything down there?" Halls called out when he realized that Izroth had been silent for too long.

Izroth snapped out of it, "There are no issues down here. You can all come down." Izroth responded as he calmed his mind and put on a carefree expression once more. He had hoped to get some answers once he stepped inside. Although it could just be a coincidence, it was nearly impossible for it to be so.

Halls, Zi Yi, Luna, Guan Yu, and Valentine made their way down the steps. They read the words on the door and had no clue as to what purpose it served or its meaning.

Izroth placed his hand upon the stone door. When his hand made contact, the door opened on its own. He stepped inside and immediately received an alert from the system.

〈System Alert: You have entered into the «Unknown Temple of Ruins»〉