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155 Second Trial: Undying Maelstrom

 ...

"I hate cold weather!" Halls said as he shivered from the bone piercing coldness within the Undying Maelstrom.

"The cold shapes and molds many heroes, brother!" Guan Yu said as he embraced the coldness.

"This place resembles some kind of arctic tundra." Zi Yi commented. She appeared to be completely unaffected by the cold weather.

As for Luna and Valentine, they were handling the cold weather quite well. Besides the occasional shiver, there were no other signs of discomfort.

Nothing needed to be said about Izroth. This place could be considered a desert compared to some of the areas he explored back in the Seven Realms.

Izroth scanned his new surroundings. As he did so, he could not help but frown inwardly.

'It feels like we're being observed.'

Although Izroth was unable to see anyone or anything in the endless land of snow, there was this faint feeling that lingered about.

"I am unsure if it is your good fortune or bad luck for being able to reach the second floor. Hmph, I suppose that is something we will find out soon enough." The same voice from the first floor had followed them here

Zi Yi let out a deep sigh. Just when she thought that they were finally rid of that voice, it showed up again out of nowhere. However, the peace was nice while it lasted.

"What are the details regarding the second trial?" Izroth asked getting straight to the point.

"So impatient! If you're in a hurry to die then I won't further delay your departure! The rules are just as simple as the first trial, you must reach the third floor." The voice said.

When everyone heard the voice's words they wanted to strangle him. Simple? It would obviously not be as simple as he said, after all, reaching the second floor wasn't as easy as just taking a midday stroll.

"What's the catch? You can't expect us to believe that all we have to do is walk there." Halls said as he frowned.

"Oh? But that's exactly what you must do." The voice said as mystical energy drifted through the air. A few moments later, a small item appeared in front of Izroth.

Izroth studied the item before he took hold of it. The item was an old rusty and worn out compass that was silver in color. The strange thing was that no information was provided by the system about the compass.

It was as if the system did not consider it to be an item. But if that was truly the case, then what could it possibly be?

"The Isolation Compass will lead you to where you need to go." The voice faded with those parting words.

Izroth observed the Isolation Compass within his hand and saw that the needle stayed perfectly still and the small unknown symbol carved into the compass released a faint green glow. However, when he turned to face a different direction, while the needle inside of the Isolation Compass did not move, the unknown symbol changed to red in color.

"Can you tell us anything about the magic behind this item, Valentine?" Izroth asked.

Valentine shook his head, "It appears to be a normal compass to me. There's not a single drop of magic being emitted from it."

"The voice said that it would take us where we need to go. While it's difficult to take its words at face value, we should assume for the time being that it will take us towards the third floor." Zi Yi said.

Izroth nodded, "I agree. We should hasten our steps. Our time within the Chaotic Dogma Realm is limited and we remain uncertain of the number of trials we must face. Remain vigilant, there are many presences watching us."

Everyone was startled. They were being watched? Their Soul Sense did not warn them nor did they perceive anything in their surroundings. However, Izroth's Soul Essence and senses were on a whole other level compared to their own. Therefore, if he said they were being watched then they were definitely being watched.

Izroth and his party started their journey forward as they traveled in the direction the needle pointed in. The blizzard picked up the further they made their way into the Undying Maelstrom.

During the idle part of their journey, Izroth decided to finally distribute his 24 stat points that were slowly collecting dust. He felt that the power behind his attacks was still lacking quite a bit compared to what he desired.

Izroth possessed a handful of skills that increased his agility stat, however, only Lightning Field increased his actual attack power. With this in mind, Izroth used 20 stat points on his attack and the remaining 4 stat points on his agility stat.

Including the Flow of Essence stat boost provided by the trait Soul Essence, Izroth's total attack shot up to 833 points and his agility rose to 452 points.

"There's nothing but snow and more snow. Nothing has happened in the past ten minutes we've been here." Guan Yu said in a disappointed tone of voice. He had been looking forward to a fight after Izroth said that they were being watched, but it never occurred.

"Are we still being watched?" Zi Yi asked curiously.

"Yes, however, whatever they may be, appears to be in no hurry to cross our paths." Izroth said in a carefree manner.

As Izroth spoke, the needle within the Isolation Compass suddenly changed directions. Now, it was telling them to journey left of their current position.

Izroth continued to follow the direction provided by the compass and immediately changed their heading.

After traveling for around five minutes, Izroth noticed that the snow around them began to shift. When he saw this, Izroth rested his hand on the hilt of his Blade of Lightning.

"We have company." As soon as those words left Izroth's mouth, something shot out of the ground and launched straight towards Valentine.

GiiiiiiiI!

The creature was about half a meter in length with no eyes, nose, or limbs. It was like a vicious looking worm with rows upon rows of razor sharp teeth. The monster's hide matched the color of the snow.

Name: Snowdrift Seeker(Elite)

Level: 28

HP: 10,000 (100%)

The HP value on the Snowdrift Seeker was incredibly low, especially considering the massive amount of HP creatures within the Chaotic Dogma Realm possessed. Therefore, this could only mean one thing.

Giiiiii! Giiiii!

More Snowdrift Seekers began to pop up out of the ground. Before they knew it, there were at least ten of the creatures present.

Though the most bizarre thing about these creatures was the fact that Izroth could not sense their presence. If not for the snow shifting around, he would have never discovered that something was amiss.

Valentine reacted quickly and cast a Mana Shield to protect himself.

-450

Valentine's Mana Shield managed to absorb all the damage from the attack. This gave Halls the time he needed to pull the aggro of the Snowdrift Seeker off of Valentine and onto himself.

In fact, Halls drew the attention of all the Snowdrift Seekers using one of the skills he had recently acquired from his skill crystal called Battle Focus.

Skill Name: Battle Focus

Skill Level: 1/3

Skill Rank: B

Requirements: Level 26 Rebound Champion

Cost: None

Active: The user unleashes a wave of battle aura that attracts the attention of nearby monsters within 15 meters and causes them to focus their attacks on the user. Increases 'Threat Level' by 75%. Monsters affected by Battle Focus deal 4% less damage to the user of this skill.

Cooldown: 1 minute 20 seconds

-367

-367

...

"Their attacks are magic based." Halls said after failing to block two consecutive attacks even though his timing was well executed.

With the attacks of the Snowdrift Seekers now locked onto Halls, it made it easy for Luna to deal with the damage being done by the monsters. If the attacks were too spread out then the level of effort required would increase by a substantial amount.

Izroth positioned himself in between the group of Snowdrift Seekers and struck out with his palm. That single palm was soon followed by hundreds of other palms as they rained down upon the Snowdrift Seekers.

-1,137

...

-1,137

Since all the creatures had gathered around Halls, Izroth's Myriad Elusive Palms was able to strike every target. However, no matter where he aimed his attack the Snowdrift Seekers did not seem to possess any vital points. Or at the very least, their vital point was well hidden.

The Snowdrift Seekers were quick, but not so fast that they were hard to track. Their only troublesome feature was the fact that their attacks did magic damage instead of physical damage.

However, with the added damage output of Guan Yu, Zi Yi, and Valentine, the Snowdrift Seekers stood no chance of surviving the onslaught of attacks.

Within a few moments, Izroth and his party managed to eliminate all of the Snowdrift Seekers without any issues.

〈System Alert: Congratulations, you have defeated a «Snowdrifter Seeker»〉

〈System Alert: You have been awarded 927 EXP〉

"Those things appeared out of nowhere." Halls said.

Izroth and his party continued in the direction the Isolation Compass pointed them in as they discussed their current situation.

"It's possible that more may be lurking around nearby in groups. While they are not necessarily difficult to defeat, we have no idea what other creatures are inside of the Undying Maelstrom. We should be careful not to get overrun." Zi Yi warned.

"Were those Snowdrifter Seekers what you sensed watching us, Izroth?" Valentine asked.

"No, we are still being observed from a distance." Izroth responded.

Guan Yu frowned as he said, "Are you sure it isn't that voice just playing a trick on us?"

"Indeed, that is a possibility I have considered. However, I believe that it is unlikely to be the case. If I had to compare it to something, it would be that of a hunter observing its prey." Izroth responded.

"We're being hunted? By what or who?" Halls asked in a surprised manner.

"I am uncertain. But, if we are being hunted, then it will be when we are in our most vulnerable state that we are attacked." Izroth stated.

"Hmph, just a bunch of cowards. Waiting until we're weak before attacking. I'm not afraid of some weaklings who lack the courage to face us head on!" Guan Yu declared.

A few moments later, Izroth and his party arrived before a massive mountain. There was a long and winding path on the mountain that appeared to lead to the peak.

"Hey, you can't be serious right?" Halls said with a hint of disbelief in his voice.

"The Isolation Compass is pointing us towards the mountain path. What choice do we have?" Zi Yi said.

"I've always wanted to go mountain climbing anyways. Does this count? Ahahaha!" Guan Yu said.

"The pathway going up is narrow, watch your step." Izroth warned before he walked towards the beginning of the mountain path with everyone.

However, there was something that bothered Izroth as he started to make his way up the mountain. Izroth set his gaze up above on the mountain.

'From above as well?'

...

"Fools! Dare go up the treacherous mountain? We must wish death, must wish death! Leader must attack!" An unknown creature spoke in a broken way to a larger creature in front of it.

"We Fal'Jika, hunters of Undying Maelstrom! Patience! Patience! Snowdrifter test strength, they strong! Strong! Must wait until weak, then wish death! We wish them death!" The leader of the creatures responded.

Standing behind the leader, including the first creature who spoke, were five others. It was hard to make out their description thanks to the heavy snowfall caused by the blizzard, but the creatures seemed to be covered in some kind of white fur and each creature held a different type of weapon.

"Our brothers up ahead! We attack two ways! Once up treacherous mountain, wish death!" The leader of the group said as they started to make their way up, chasing after Izroth and his party.

Not too long after the creatures started their journey up the mountain path, three silhouettes appeared where they just stood moments ago.