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164 The Price of Completing The Second Trial

 The first thing Luna, Halls, and Guan Yu caught sight of was Izroth surrounded by a wild dance of purple lightning. The lightning emitted an ear-piercing shriek every time a bolt struck down.

With his Blade of Lightning encompassed with lightning and his character seemingly constantly flickering in and out of existence, he appeared to be untouchable.

'Oh? He is quite sturdy.'

To everyone's surprise, Aegis was in a sorry state while Izroth looked to be completely unaffected. Although Luna and the others witnessed Izroth's strength firsthand, after fighting against Ruin and Lulazali, they believed that even he would have trouble with the player called Aegis who took on the leadership role.

They knew that even if it was a tough battle, eventually Izroth would find a way to come out triumphant. However, what they did not expect was for Izroth to be standing there with such a carefree expression while Aegis seemed to be at the end of his rope.

Luna breathed a sigh of relief when she saw that Izroth was alright. They had already lost Zi Yi and Valentine, she did not want to lose another friend today.

Izroth swept his gaze over the new arrivals. He immediately noticed that two members were missing, Zi Yi and Valentine. When he also observed how angered his party members were and how Guan Yu, as well as, Halls was giving Ruin and Lulazali a vicious look, Izroth knew that something went wrong.

"You look pathetic right now, Aegis! Didn't you say that you could handle it by yourself? Chichi!" Ruin said as he teased Aegis due to his current sorry state.

"I have to admit, I'm currently not his match." Aegis said in a solemnly as he stood to his feet. Although he was indeed struck by Izroth's attack, he pushed his Eyes of Providence to its limits and used one of the more constantly abilities to survive.

However, Aegis was already at his limit and this fight was considered as his loss.

All of a sudden, Izroth appeared in front of Luna, Guan Yu, and Halls. When everyone witnessed his speed they were shaken. How fast! Was it even possible for one to be so fast?

The two who were most shocked was Ruin and Lulazali. They both narrowed their eyes as they examined Izroth closely.

"Hey, could you see him?" Ruin asked Lulazali with a darkened expression on his face.

Lulazali quietly shook her head in response. It was impossible for her to follow Izroth's movements.

"You two won't be able to see him. Even with my Eyes of Providence, I'm still unable to see even his shadow." Aegis said as he moved to join Ruin and Lulazali.

Ruin and Lulazali were stunned. Even Aegis could not track Izroth's movements? Just how monstrous was his speed?

"You two appear to be have been partly successful. Ruin, you know what has to be done." Aegis said.

"You don't have to remind me! That's why nobody likes you, Aegis. Chichi!" Ruin said with a large smirk on his face.

"Tired..." Lulazali mumbled quietly.

"You can sleep all you want later, however, you'll have to stay awake a bit longer." Aegis said.

"Where is Zi Yi and Valentine?" Izroth asked although he knew the most likely answer. However, he still needed to ask instead of jumping to a random conclusion.

When Izroth mentioned their names, everyone's facial expression turned gloomy. Luna responded by shaking her head.

"I see." Izroth said as he closed his eyes. When he first began this journey, he made sure that everyone was well aware of the risk of entering into the Chaotic Dogma Realm.

From his experience within the Seven Realms, Izroth understood that a great reward often required a great risk. If Zi Yi and Valentine had been stronger then they would not have been the ones who perished.

Even though Izroth knew all of this, it did not change the way he felt about what happened. Ever since his earlier years as a cultivator in the Seven Realms when he led a fierce and mighty army, Izroth had learned that no matter how strong he became, he never saw them as just a sacrificial pawn.

To him, every member was a fellow brother in arms who he would trust with his life. Although he had not known Zi Yi and Valentine for that long, he still felt that since he invited them to the Chaotic Dogma Realm, it was his responsibility that they remain alive.

It was for that reason alone that he felt as if had failed both of them. If he had stayed behind instead of going off to fight Aegis alone, there was a good chance that they would still be here. In truth, he had greatly underestimated Ruin and Lulazali.

However, Izroth was not one to dwell on regrets or fault himself without end. Izroth was someone who would use his actions to respond and correct whatever was wrong.

When Izroth opened his eyes, there was a sharp and deadly aura lingering about within as he now had a calm expression on his face. While he was always calm, this time he was too calm. If one had to describe it, it would be like the calm before the storm.

"Then we'll avenge." Izroth said as if it were a simple matter.

"I agree! If we walked away and did nothing, how could we ever face our friends again?" Guan Yu said full of fighting spirit.

"Brother, those two are strong. That guy over there can control multiple weapons and make them move around freely. As for that pink haired woman, we still have no idea what her class is capable of. All that we know is that her movements are impossible to track and whenever she appears next to someone death soon follows." Halls explained in a serious tone of voice.

"Oh?" Izroth was not all that interested in Ruin, but the way Halls described Lulazali intrigued him a little. However, it was just that; a little. Izroth turned his attention towards Aegis, Ruin and Lulazali.

"We still need to get rid of one more. The healer should be the easiest target to get rid of. After all, we shouldn't bother wasting too much time in this place. Chichi!" Ruin said in a playful manner.

Aegis nodded, "Lulazali, you'll take care of their healer. Ruin and I will deal with the others. As soon as you eliminate the healer, we'll be retreating since our goal will have been accomplished. We stand to gain nothing else from fighting after that point."

Lulazali rubbed her eyes as she tried to stay awake as she gave a small nod in response.

"That's a bit troublesome. I've already made other plans." A voice suddenly sounded from behind Ruin.

Ruin instantly moved three of his weapons to his backside to protect himself from the surprise attack. Not only that, but he also controlled the sword to slash directly behind him. He was attacking and defending at the same time.

However, by the time Ruin turned around, all he saw was a flickering silhouette. Before he knew it, his entire surroundings that were filled with pure white snow had turned gray.

"A life must be paid for with another life, it is only natural. Do not think that I would allow you to simply leave this place without paying the consequences for your actions." Izroth said as the crackling on his Blade of Lightning began to slow down.

Ruin was dumbfounded. Although he was speaking with Aegis and Lulazali, he did not let his guard down for a moment. Someone who could unleash such a terrifying pressure and reduce Aegis to a sorry state was not an individual he was willing to brush off.

But, even while Ruin remained on guard he still suffered a previously inconceivable fate for someone who possessed his level of strength.

There were multiple cuts from a sword that appeared on various parts of his body. This was not Izroth using any kind of special skill, but rather his attack speed was so fast that he only needed to rely on his basic attacks to obliterate Ruin!

Adding on that Ruin still had yet to recover from his previous fight, it was fairly easy for Izroth to make quick work of him.

"You-!" Ruin was overcome with an endless amount of rage, however, before he could express any of that rage he dissipated into nothingness.

Luna, Guan Yu, and Halls were astonished. Just like that, the player that gave them so much was reduced to nothing! They knew that the gap in power between Izroth and themselves was already big, to begin with, but they never thought that it was actually such a vast gap.

"Lulazali, we're leaving!" Aegis said without a single moment of hesitation. At the moment, he was too low on HP to face off against Izroth, especially now that he was joined by his party.

Not to mention that since two players were already eliminated and now Ruin was gone as well, he no longer had any reason to stick around and fight.

"I insist that you stay." Izroth said as his target focus was now locked onto Aegis. He knew just how weak Aegis was after taking a hit from his Third Sword Form: Collapsing Thunder, especially with his Lightning Field being active at the time of the attack.

However, just as Izroth's Blade of Lightning was closing in on Aegis, he quickly halted his attack and retreated. As he did so, he used the Crystallization skill attached to his headpiece on Luna.

Luna was suddenly encased in a powerful magic crystal.

Less than a fraction of a second after Izroth did so, Lulazali appeared behind Luna. However, there was a startled look on her face. She was clearly surprised by her failed attempt.

'How sly, it is not a space or a teleportation type skill.'

"Wait right there!" Guan Yu shouted as he charged towards Lulazali with Halls trailing behind him. He wanted to release his frustration and channel his anger an actual fight.

Izroth's body flickered as he resumed his assault on Aegis. He only had a few seconds remaining on his Flickering Steps and wanted to end things before then. But, just as he was closing in, he felt an ominous presence creep up from behind him.

A dark purple bolt of lightning filled with terrifying energy shot directly towards him. It belonged to the small piece of the Undying Maelstrom that had been quiet all this time. It may just be due to being unlucky, but it appeared to always shoot off in Izroth's direction.

Fortunately, Izroth was able to detect the bolt in time and avoid it, but by the time he was at a safe distance, his Flickering Steps had ended. When he scanned the battlefield, Aegis and Lulazali had already disappeared from view.

'This does not end here, Aegis.'

Izroth sheathed his Blade of Lightning and canceled his Crystallization skill as he made his way towards Luna, Halls, and Guan Yu.

Even though Izroth had managed to eliminate one of the enemy players and chased the other two away, no one was in the mood to celebrate. In the end, they had paid a heavy price.

"What could they possibly gain from attacking us? There is simply no benefit to doing so." Luna said as she furrowed her brows. What bothered her more than anything was the fact that they were attacked without any good reason.

"Maybe they were scared because of us pulling ahead of them and wanted to get rid of the competition while they had the chance!" Guan Yu scoffed. He was still visibly upset from everything that recently occurred.

Luna shook her head as she said, "Why would they want only three of us to hand over our lives? If they really wanted to get rid of the competition, why risk letting three people live instead of just wanting all of us gone?"

"It's likely that three was the number they were given." Izroth commented.

Everyone was baffled. It was the number they were given? By who? For what?

"What are you saying, brother?" Halls asked.

"Ever since we've entered into the Endless Pandemonium Tower nothing has appeared as it seems. We were given the task of reaching the third floor, that's all. However, how could it really be so simple? There's a good chance that Aegis and his party were given another task in order to reach the third floor."

He then continued, "There's no rule or guideline that says everyone is given the same endless trial. After all, we do not know enough about this place to determine that. However, wanting to eliminate three of us when there were three of them seems to be too suspicious to brush off as a mere coincidence."

"Do you think the voice gave them such a task? If that's the case, then why? Is it possible that it does not want us to succeed?" Luna asked.

"Hmph! I knew that voice was shameless, but I didn't think it would resort to such dirty and underhanded methods!" Guan Yu said in a displeased tone of voice.

"It's just a speculation, but there's a high possibility that only a limited amount of players are able to proceed within the tower. If we were to assume that number was six, then it would make sense that they needed three spots to open up in order to all proceed." Izroth explained.

"That would explain why they left after their party member was eliminated. Since there was only two of them left, they had no reason to continue fighting." Luna said.

There was a brief moment of silence after everything had been said.

Halls broke the silence as he said, "What are we going to do now?"

"We have to keep moving forward. If we are not the first to reach the end, then both Zi Yi and Valentine's sacrifices would have been in vain. It is up to us to make sure that is not the case." Izroth said in a calm tone of voice.

Luna nodded in agreement, "He's right. We cannot continue to feel sorry for ourselves. I am sure Zi Yi and Valentine would not want us to move forward with such attitudes."

Guan Yu let out a deep sigh. He then took a deep breath and calmed himself down. He had indeed lost his cool head and needed to focus his anger towards something more productive, such as crushing the rest of this quest!

"Let's go." Izroth said as he removed the Isolation Compass from his inventory and followed in the direction that the needle pointed.

...

Approximately thirty minutes later, Izroth and his party arrived before a small platform. It was white with gold magic symbols shining at the center of it.

"The needle for the Isolation Compass has stopped moving. We have arrived." Izroth said as he examined the platform.

"It would have been nice to have Valentine here to see if he could tell us anything about the platform." Luna commented.

"Yeah, or drool over the fact that it's probably something he has never seen before." Guan Yu said as he could not help but laugh slightly at the thought. Whenever Valentine saw something new regarding magic, he would drool uncontrollably from excitement.

Halls also joined in on the laughter. Everyone had to admit, they already missed the presence of both Zi Yi and Valentine. After being in a party together for so long, it felt a little strange with them suddenly being gone.

"Congratulations, it appears that you've managed to reach the end of the second trial! Well, did you have fun? Well, you seem to be short two members so I suppose the answer is obvious." A voice echoed from out of seemingly nowhere. It was the voice that belonged to the tower.

Everyone's mood that was slowly becoming better immediately turned sour after hearing that voice. It was likely the fault of that voice that Zi Yi and Valentine were no longer here.

"What is the next trial?" Izroth said getting straight to the point. However, his voice carried with it a hint of coldness which was rare. He felt as if this voice was toying with them. If there was one thing Izroth did not like, it was being toyed with or manipulated for someone else's amusement.

"You should be excited. After all, this will be your last trial." The voice said in a nonchalant manner.

Everyone was startled. The last trial?

"Surprised? Well, step onto the platform and go forth. Hmph, you should be thanking and praising me for my assistance and yet here you are pouting. How boring! Ungrateful!" The voice slowly faded out.

"The final trial..." Guan Yu muttered to himself after the voice faded away. He was thinking about how challenging the first two trials were and could only imagine what the final trial would be like.

"I wonder what it will be like." Halls said.

"There's only one way to find out." Izroth said as he stepped onto the platform. Soon after, he was followed by Luna, then Halls, and finally Guan Yu.

Once all of them were on the platform, a brilliant light descended upon them before disappearing a few seconds later. After the light vanished, Izroth and everyone else had vanished from the platform.