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126 Shifting Earth

 Izroth, Luna, and Zi Yi reached the next location of where one of their party members should have been transported to if Izroth was correct. However, they had no way to tell for sure until they found their lost party member in the surrounding area. This was even more so since Izroth's sense of perception was once again limited by the black specks in the atmosphere.

He had to mostly rely on his powerful Soul Sense and capped off senses to discover any clues.

The most simple train of thought was that whoever it was would head towards the tall tower in the distance, however, both Luna and Zi Yi had experienced different difficulties after they were transported which caused them to deviate from this obvious option.

In fact, if not for Aegis already fighting against Silent Step, Izroth may have been the one to face off against him. Therefore, they no longer had the luxury of assuming that the tall tower would be the direction their party member would be headed in.

Izroth studied his surroundings carefully, however, there was no visible indication of anyone ever being here. Though that was to be expected. Izroth could already consider himself quite lucky since he was able to find Zi Yi and Luna without much trouble.

"I will quickly search the surroundings, remain cautious." Izroth said before flickering off to begin his search. Hopefully, his previous luck would not elude him this time.

Zi Yi then turned to Luna and asked her a question that had been on her mind for quite some time now. "Luna, how did you come to meet with Izroth?" Zi Yi was not blind and would often see Luna's gaze wander off in Izroth's direction.

Therefore, she thought that maybe they had known each other from some previous games or maybe even in the real world. Not only that, but Izroth also had a very... Unique air about him.

Also, although the others may not have noticed it before, Zi Yi had observed times when Izroth had an incredibly distant look in his eyes. He would be looking straight ahead or towards the sky, but his gaze would isolate his surroundings.

Luna blinked a few times. She had not expected Zi Yi to ask such a random question. However, she did not have any reason to hide it from her. "It started back in Opal Town.." Luna then went on and retold the events that led up to her, as well as, Halls becoming acquainted with Izroth.

Zi Yi was shocked when she found out that Izroth, Luna, and Halls had only met during the beginning launch of RML. From the way Halls called him brother and they both respected him, she figured that there was a much deeper history between them. Even if it was not in the real world, at least very least, in the virtual world. But that turned out not to be the case at all.

Not too long after Luna told Zi Yi her summarized version of how she had met Izroth, he had returned from his search. But unlike the times with Luna and Zi Yi when he came back with someone, this time there was no one who came along with him.

"Anything?" Zi Yi asked.

"I found a small cave with what appears to be a few tunnels linked together up ahead. One tunnel is straight and appears to lead to the other side. I've returned here because I am unsure of what lies in that cave. It would be unfortunate if we became forcibly separated again after such a short period of time." Izroth explained.

One could never be too safe within the Chaotic Dogma Realm. While Izroth would have no trouble taking care of himself, he felt it would be unfair to Luna and Zi Yi if he left them waiting here for him to return.

"A small cave? Do you think that one of the guys would have gone inside alone?" Zi Yi asked.

"There's no guarantee that they did, however, there's also no guarantee that they did not. If we do not find anyone inside, we'll just have to label this as a dead end and proceed towards the tower." Izroth replied.

Indeed, there was no way to tell for sure if someone was inside of the small cave, but it was currently their only lead to pursue, excluding the tower route.

With their decision made, Izroth, Luna, and Zi Yi walked towards the small cave that Izroth had discovered during his search.

When the group arrived, they saw the small cave entrance that was no more than a few meters high and wide on a lengthy sized rock-based structure. It almost resembled a piece of artwork, rather than something that was naturally formed by nature.

There was also the straight path that Izroth mentioned before and the group could see the light source from the other side of the cave. If they were to travel around the entire rock-based structure, it would take them a considerable amount of time.

Inside of the cave was a faint light being emitted by an unknown light source. However, the light was bright enough so that players who entered would not have a challenging time adjusting to the area.

"If someone did come here, I wonder if they went straight through the cave, or decided to stop and explore for a bit." Zi Yi pondered for a brief moment. She could not say for sure, but she believed that all three of those guys would have chosen to explore this place out of pure curiosity with their simplistic mindset.

"Since the cave itself is not too large, we should be able to go through all of the tunnels within twenty minutes or so. If they are not at the end of the straight path, then we will simply proceed to the next step and search the tunnels." Izroth said.

Izroth led the way into the small cave with Luna and Zi Yi trailing right behind him. It only took the group a few minutes to reach the halfway mark. But, before they could continue any further, a loud rumbling sound went off and the entire cave began to shake.

They were alarmed by the sudden earthquake. However, when the group looked forward, the straight path to the other side was no longer there. The rocks around them were constantly shifting around as if someone was sliding the earth itself into direction positions.

"The earth is actually moving by itself!" Zi Yi watched as the large slab of stone slid past her and into a different location.

When the rocks came to a complete stop, the once small cave was now a maze where the group could not see the way the came from, nor the end where they were ultimately headed.

'A maze that's disguised as a cave?'

If one of their party members really did enter into this place, then they may be lost. He did not know how skilled Halls and Guan Yu were when it came to mazes, however, they were probably not the best people to deal with this situation. As for Valentine, Izroth felt that he would have an advantage with his Eyes of Magic.

"It almost felt as if the earth in this area was alive." Luna said.

Izroth and Zi Yi also thought the same thing. The way the earth moved seemed unnatural and it was as though someone was controlling its actions.

"Our original plan does not change. We'll-" Izroth was speaking when suddenly, a low rumbling sound echoed in the near distance.

Unlike the loud and very distinct sound from before, this one was more subtle and concentrated in a very specific area that appeared to be on a path set straight for their current position. The chances were that it was not friendly by any means.

Izroth unsheathed his Blade of Lightning and turned his focus towards the direction of the rumbling sound.

Izroth's actions caused Luna and Zi Yi to also prepare for a potential battle. At first, they did not hear anything, however, after a few seconds, the sound became loud enough for them to catch.

"What is it?" Zi Yi focused her attention in the same direction as Izroth. The rumbling sound grew louder and louder as the moments past. However, there was no way for them to go but towards the sound based on their current location. No matter what, they would have to face whatever it was that appeared before them if they wanted to advance any further.

"It appears that we are about to find out." Izroth said.

Cheeeeeeet! Chet! Chet!

Soon after those words left Izroth's mouth, an odd bestial like noise came from the ground in front of them. They could not see the creature that appeared before them clearly, but they were able to make out a few of its features and see the information about it.

Name: Earth Shifter(Elite)

Level: 26

HP: 50,000 (100%)

'For a level 26 monster, its HP is on the lower end of the spectrum.'

However, low HP usually indicated one of two things. The first was that the monster had other special qualities that required a lower HP value. The second was that the monster was a part of a group of other monsters.

But, the only group of monsters Izroth and his party had run into since they began the Chaotic Dogma Realm were the Chaos Fiends. However, did that truly count? After all, when all was said and done, the Chaos Fiends were the byproducts of a powerful magic item. If they took into account the natural monsters they had encountered thus far, then there was never a repeat.

"Earth Shifter, by its name I believe it's safe to assume that it has something to do with the sudden shift of the earth within this cave." Luna said.

The Earth Shifter resembled a groundhog, however, it was around 1.5 meters in size and possessed a much more intimidating appearance. It had no eyes as if it had been living in a dark place for its entire life and its tail was similar to a beaver's tail. Its tail constantly tapped against the ground beneath it.

It had a light coat of fur that was dark brown in color with black patches placed in various different locations. The most frightening feature about the Earth Shifter was its pair of claws. On each hand, was one long curved claw with a sharp point extended outward in a threatening manner. Those were the same claws it used to tear through solid earth like it was nothing.

The Earth Shifter did not waste time and immediately went after the closest target, Izroth. It, quite literally, swam through the earth and rapidly approached Izroth. The monster swung its sharp claws towards Izroth. It was incredibly fast and its claws came down rapidly.

However, Izroth managed to evade the incoming blows and parried one of the attacks to get a decent understanding of the Earth Shifter's attack power.

«Parried»

-330

2,638/2,968 HP Remaining! (Izroth)

Izroth was quite surprised that even though it possessed such a high attack speed, the Earth Shift still had a high attack stat. However, this would explain its lower HP value compared to other monsters of a similar level.

'It'll be a bit troublesome to constantly evade its attacks within this enclosed space. However...'

Izroth's surprisingly did not launch an offensive, but rather his initial sword stance had changed. It went from one that was aggressive, to one that was calm and incomparably patient. The two styles were almost the complete opposite from one another.

Izroth placed the palm of his left hand gently on top of his right wrist. Afterward, he tilted the Blade of Lightning within his right hand at a slight angle of 45-degrees with its tip pointed in a counterclockwise way.

'This is the most ideal situation to learn the second sword form.'