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110 Anomalies

 The third wave of the event Protectors of Amaharpe went by without anything major transpiring. If there was one noticeable difference, it was that Blue Oasis' sector had numerous players that left their area. It happened while the third wave was in progress so that their movements would go mostly unnoticed.

However, this shift was perceived by Niflheim, one of the seven captains of Blue Oasis. After being informed of the withdrawal, Niflheim speculated that there was a good chance they pulled back due to their plans being discovered.

"Strange..." Wang Qiang furrowed his brows as he received the report of the movements going on within Blue Oasis' sector. His first thoughts were similar to Niflheim's, however, he felt that there was another reason as to why this was so.

"What is it, Wang Qiang? You appear troubled." The player who spoke stood next to Wang Qiang. It was a male with a magnificent long spear on his back. He wore fully plated armor that was silver in color with white markings positioned in certain locations. He possessed short black hair that was slicked back, light green eyes and was quite handsome in appearance.

He was a bit shorter than Wang Qiang, but he was by no means any weaker. He was one of the Five Great Generals of Cross Haven, Zhang Jie.

"Zhang Jie, tell me something. If you found that your plans had been discovered by your target before you took action, what would be your next move?" Wang Qiang gazed into the distance towards a certain direction located in front of Amaharpe's walls.

"That's a little too broad of a question. There are too many unknown variables." Zhang Jie responded.

"Don't think too much on the variables. Just look at it from a common standpoint." Wang Qiang insisted.

"A common standpoint? That's simple then. If my plans were discovered then I would call them off. Though if possible, I would try to salvage the situation." Zhang Jie answered.

"Precisely. Now, what would you do if you had someone similar in strength to your target assisting you?" Wang Qiang continued to question Zhang Jie.

"Well now, that changes things. Even if my plans were discovered, I would execute them regardless. However, I would adjust the timing of my execution of said plans." Zhang Jie said.

Wang Qiang nodded. "So then tell me, why would someone back out at the last moment if they had such a trump card hidden up their sleeve?"

Zhang Jie furrowed his brows at that question. He supposed that if someone was being overly cautious, it would cause them to back out. However, there was such a thing as being too cautious as it could cause one to miss a prime opportunity. However, something suddenly occurred to him.

"Misdirection..." Zhang Jie said without realizing it.

Wang Qiang grinned, "Correct. However, I don't think it's that simple. Whoever is behind this knows quite a bit about strategizing. Their strategy reminds me of fish in disturbed waters."

Zhang Jie suddenly realized something else, "Feigning an attack in the east, and attack in the west...!" Zhang Jie was startled. If what Wang Qiang speculated was true, then whoever was behind all of this was an incredibly skilled strategist!

"If such an enemy truly does exist, then this event will not be so simple. I'll have to inform the leader of this. If things go according to that person's plans, then Cross Haven may be pulled into this confrontation. In fact, it's likely that none of the top guilds will be able to sit on the sidelines. Though the question remains... Who is the anomaly?" Wang Qiang said in a serious tone of voice.

Zhang Jie was silent when he heard Wang Qiang's words. A part of him hoped that Wang Qiang was wrong and it stayed as just a random guess. However, he knew that the chances of Wang Qiang being wrong was highly unlikely.

...

"What's your progress so far, Menerva?" Vault asked of a figure hiding in the shadows. It was difficult to make out anything regarding their specific features, however, one could tell that the figure was without a doubt, a woman.

"Just a minor hiccup. I have already prepared a contingency plan in case something like this happened. Do not worry, it will be successful." The one called Menerva replied.

"This entire plan was your idea so it had better work properly. I hope you remember our agreement." Vault spoke in a tone that was ice cold.

Menerva was quiet at first, however, she soon responded with a simple, "Understood...". If one could see her eyes at that moment, they would notice the flash of regret that appeared within them. But surfaced above that regret was something much stronger. It was the look of extreme determination.

...

Back within the Chaotic Dogma Realm, Izroth and his party were currently on their way to the mysterious structure in the distance. Luckily, they had not come across any additional illusions ever since they left from that temple in ruins.

At the moment, the group was discussing the new trait they received from the stone tablets, Soul Essence.

"The Soul Weakness part of the trait is a little vague. It does not give a specific amount when it comes to being drained too rapidly or dropping below a certain point. I would consider that as some need to know information." Zi Yi said in a slightly frustrated manner.

"There is a chance that the values differ for everyone who obtains the trait. That would explain why there is not an exact number listed for neither of the parts. It may be something that we have to discover for ourselves and through our very own experiences." Luna gave her own opinion.

"It's a little frustrating considering the consequences of overusing Soul Essence. A seventy-five percent reduction to all stats for five hours is quite severe. Not only do we lose a lot of precious time, but if we're in the middle of a battle that could be devastating." Zi Yi stated.

"That is why it will be important to not move too fast when it comes to adjusting to the usage of this new trait. To be on the safe side, we should try not to exert more than ten percent of our total Soul Essence at one time. Also, we should avoid dropping below the fifty percent mark overall." Izroth said.

"It's a shame that the Soul Weakness is a part of the trait. Otherwise, wouldn't it be like a superhero's finisher move if you could pour all of your power into one attack for an ultimate strike?" Guan Yu spoke in an excited manner.

"Oh! I was just thinking the same thing, brother! What kid did not want to have their own superhero finisher move growing up? Ahahaha!" Halls said.

Zi Yi shook her head in response to Guan Yu and Halls superhero statement. She then turned her focus back to the conversation at hand.

"Although it's unlikely that the threshold will be fifty percent, it is better to be safe rather than sorry. Even more so since we are currently within a place that does not allow for many errors to be made." Zi Yi ultimately agreed with Izroth's assessment.

Luna also gave a nod to show her agreement. Needless to say, the others would obviously go along with that recommendation as well.

"Hm?" Valentine halted his footsteps as he noticed something strange taking place within the surrounding atmosphere. It was hard to tell at first, however, after he observed a bit further, he discovered something quite peculiar.

When Zi Yi noticed that Valentine had stopped walking along with them she paused and asked, "What is it?"

Everyone else also halted their steps after both Valentine and Zi Yi did.

"I- Hm..." Valentine wanted to explain, but it was difficult to do so. To him, it did not make any sense whatsoever. It was something he was incredibly unfamiliar with. However, if Mariposa was here then she would realize what was going on at first glance.

"When did you become so timid? Are you going to speak or not?" Zi Yi frowned. Usually, Valentine acted in a completely different way. But, ever since they entered into the Chaotic Dogma Realm, he had been preoccupied with the abundance of unknown magic around him. It had caused him to become a little less outspoken and more focused.

"It may be nothing, but there are specks of what appears to be black dust spreading throughout the atmosphere. It doesn't appear to be from any source and there is a good chance that it is just a normal occurrence within this specific Chaotic Dogma Realm, however, I'm having a hard time separating the magic sequences in our surroundings." Valentine said.

'Black dust? I wonder if it has something to do with this strange interference I'm sensing.'

When they had first started their journey towards the structure in the distance, Izroth felt a strange sensation that was similar to a type of perception interference skill. It was as if within certain parts of his surroundings there were small holes of nothingness even though there was something in its place.

"Are these specks harmful?" Izroth asked.

Valentine studied the specks, however, he came up empty-handed. "I cannot tell. But for now, it does not seem to have any direct effect on how we function. Therefore, it can be considered harmless. At least, for the moment." He answered honestly.

"Then, we'll continue on our way. If they do pose a threat, it's just a bridge we will have to cross when we come to it." Izroth said as he began to move once more. Everyone moved along with him.

After walking for around five minutes, Izroth and his party came across a creature made entirely out of some type of metallic alloy. It had no eyes, no mouth, and no ears. It was over three meters tall, a little bulky, and had four arms.

"What luck...!" Halls was shocked and excited at the same time by their good fortune. They had just obtained an amazing trait and now they were presented with this fortunate encounter.

'Running into this type of monster here was unexpected.'

Name: Silverline Entity(Rare Boss)

Level: 25

HP: 180,000 (100%)

"What a scary amount of HP...! But that only makes things more interesting." Guan Yu said taken aback, yet fired up at the same time. He understood that creatures within the Chaotic Dogma Realm were naturally stronger than those outside, however, the bosses were even more exaggerated than the elite NPCs in this place.

"But, is it worth it?" Zi Yi asked, which surprised everyone except for Izroth and Luna who appeared to be contemplating those exact same words.

"Is it worth it? That's a rare boss! It may be a little risky fighting it, but since when are we afraid of a good fight?" Halls said with confidence.

Guan Yu agreed with Halls' statement. Why would they give up a free rare boss?

Zi Yi let out a long sigh as she then explained, "If we waste our time fighting against this boss when we've already lost so much time being trapped within those illusions, then we may lose sight of our true goal. This place is filled with many treasures, but all the treasures in the world become pointless if we never get the chance to use them."

Zi Yi continued, "In other words, these treasures are a double-edged sword. On one hand, they allow us to become stronger. However, on the other hand, the treasures also work as a way to distract us from our main purpose, and that is to reach the end of this place. After all, if every team becomes preoccupied with finding loot and forgets about the goal, then none of us will manage to walk away with anything we have gained."

Halls and Guan Yu were startled by Zi Yi's words. They had not thought about it that way. Indeed, if they became so obsessed with acquiring loot then there was a high chance that they would only be able to enjoy it up until the Chaotic Dogma Realm closed. If that happened, then only regret awaited them.

Everyone looked at Izroth as if awaiting his decision.

'To fight or not to fight.'

Izroth narrowed his eyes as he stared at the Silverline Entity. He had made his decision in an instant.