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299 Let The Hunt Begin!

 Izroth's words caused the other members of his party to prepare for battle.

"I wonder how many it'll be this time." Mirage said in a slightly excited tone.

Midnight summoned his Gaia Avis and Brilliant Regnouda totems as he responded, "If the pattern is anything like last time, then the number of elite monsters will increase by another one or two while the normal monsters increase by around five to ten. Then again, this is an S-ranked quest. Who knows what we'll face?"

"Five? Ten? It doesn't matter. We just have to deal with whatever comes our way." Qi Jiguang stated.

"Well said!" Omega said as he took into his hand the battle axe at his side. As for his shield, it levitated in front of him without him needing to hold it in his hand. This was due to his class Protector and one of the unique skills it possessed.

"It's not monsters. From their movements, they're bandits." Izroth said.

Bandits? Everyone was a bit surprised. They did not think that they would run into any bandit groups so easily after leaving the forest path, however, it seemed as if that was not the case.

Midnight furrowed his brows and said, "If it's a bandit group this deep into the Tiger's Mouth, then the chances of them being a part of a faction are high. If they really are members of a faction, then it'll be a bit troublesome if it's a big group. After all, we have no idea when the next wave of monsters will attack again."

The bandits finally came into sight for the rest of Izroth's party. As it turned out, there were fifteen bandits headed their way. Compared to the first bandit attack, it was only a small portion. However, unlike the first bandit attack, they would not have to focus on guarding the caravan wagons and its members. In other words, they could go all out!

"You're overthinking things. It's simple, all we have to do is beat those guys. Right, Izroth? Izroth?" Mirage pointed towards bandits as she looked for Izroth to back up her statement. However, when she turned to look towards the spot he just stood in, Izroth was nowhere to be found!

"Where did he go?" Mirage questioned as she blinked a few times.

Not too long after Mirage questioned where he had gone, Izroth reappeared out of nowhere. Quite literally, his figure just suddenly blinked into existence.

Midnight eyes widened in shock, however, he soon let out a helpless sigh as he shook his head and recalled the two totems he summoned just moments ago.

"Eh?" Mirage was confused as to why Midnight recalled his totem when they were about to head into battle. But, her confusion took a turn for the worse when she saw that the bandits who were just approaching them seconds ago were nowhere to be found! It couldn't be that they all had the Stealth skill, right?

"Where did they go?" Omega said in a shocked tone. He was just as confused as Mirage at this point. One moment the bandits were there and the next they were gone!

Qi Jiguang, on the other hand, had his gaze set on Izroth. He could have sworn for a moment there it almost looked as if Izroth had...

"This area seems to be highly active with bandits. There are another three groups not too far from us, however, none of them appears to know our exact location. But, it does seem as if they're looking for something in this area." Izroth said as he sheathed his Sword of The Storm.

Of course, those bandits from earlier did not just disappear into thin air. Izroth decided that this was the perfect time to test run one of the skills he had recently obtained during their last run-in with monsters. It was called Enhanced Instantaneous Movement. Using that skill, he immediately closed the distance and took care of the normal bandits with his First Baneful Sword: Destruction.

Skill Name: Enhanced Instantaneous Movement

Skill Creator: Izroth

Skill Level: MAXED

Skill Rank: A

Energy Cost: 35

Requirements: 1,000+ Agility

Active: Consumes 1 charge and allows the user to instantly move to any point within 15 meters. The user gains 1 charge every 45 seconds. (Charges: 4)

Special Note: The user cannot travel directly through solid objects or strong magic barriers. This skill can...

It seemed that the system already had a technique called Instantaneous Movement. However, Izroth discovered something interesting about combat masters that he was previously unaware of. It turned out that combat masters were not only capable of creating new skills, but also of improving upon skills that already existed within RML!

Since he used a better version of Instantaneous Movement, the system decided to grant him the enhanced version of the skill. This was a huge discovery!

This meant that Izroth was able to enhance skills like the Flickering Steps and Shadow Movement that he had already acquired. Of course, enhancing a skill was not something just anyone could do. It was different from how Izroth usually just learned skills by repeatedly using a rough version of them in combat. It relied almost entirely on one's understanding of skills.

One needed a basic knowledge of how skills worked within RML and how to utilize its sources of potential such as Energy or Mana. Izroth had obtained the Battle Fundamental Mastery and Magic Fundamental Mastery passive skills, therefore, his knowledge was certainly not lacking in that department. There was also one more important feature of enhanced skills...

Although everyone was still baffled by what had just happened, they quickly regained themselves. Going by what Izroth said, there was a question that arose on everyone's mind.

"Is it just a coincidence that the bandits are in this area searching for something? Or, are they actively looking for us?" Midnight questioned.

"It's hard to believe that there just happened to be bandit groups searching around when we're passing through. I don't know about all of you, but I'm not a strong believer when it comes to anything being a coincidence." Qi Jiguang stated.

Midnight nodded and said, "I agree. The timing is too perfect. However, this raises too many other questions. Such as how would they even know our location?" He let out a small sigh.

"Why don't we just ask them what they're looking for?" Mirage questioned.

"That's- That's actually not a bad idea." Midnight said as the shock on his face was clear.

In fact, he was not the only one shocked. Izroth and Ying Yue were taken aback as well.

When Mirage saw all those shocked faces looking at her, a smug look found its way onto her face.

"What's wrong? Are you all amazed?" Mirage said in a voice filled with confidence.

Izroth lightly cleared his throat as he said, "We should get moving. I have a feeling that it's not just those few bandit groups searching nearby."

"Yeah, we can't afford to stay in one spot for too long." Midnight followed up.

Ying Yue nodded her head in agreement.

"Why do I feel like all of you just ignored my question?" Mirage said as a look of defeat appeared on her face.

"What a bizarre party." Qi Jiguang muttered to himself.

Omega overheard his words and he said, "Heh, you think so? I think they're an interesting bunch."

"Don't get me wrong. They're definitely an interesting bunch. I just find it peculiar how a party like them managed to form with such a large range of personalities." Qi Jiguang commented.

"Right? It's a far cry from the old for visiting.

The Faceless One sat there in silence as they reached out and grabbed the black orb that floated by their side. They stared into the black orb with red energy dancing around inside of it and felt intoxicated.

"How beautiful..." The Faceless One uttered.

...

Woosh! Ding!

"You-!" One of the bandits was out to speak when a sword brushed past his neck in the blink of an eye. The next moment, the bandit collapsed on the ground and began to turn into a stream of particles. He was just struck by Izroth's Flash Counter.

'This is no coincidence.'

Izroth narrowed his eyes as he swept his gaze throughout the surrounding area. Not too long ago, they found a group of bandits and did as Mirage suggested. They asked what it was the bandits were searching for and they quickly received their answers when a flash of greed found its way into the eyes of the bandits. Without hesitation, the bandits attacked Izroth's party.

Before they knew it, their location had been discovered by a large group bandits and the numbers were ridiculous! There were one... two... three hundred bandits spread out within a fifty meters radius!

'The numbers are still increasing.'

"What's with these guys?! Do they really want our stuff that badly?!" Mirage said in a frustrated tone as her fist slammed into one of the nearby bandits and sent them flying back.

"That can't be it. How could our stuff possibly compare to what an entire caravan is carrying that's worth hundreds of thousands or even millions of gold coins? These guys are definitely after something else. They're after us." Midnight said.People with the same interests and personalities are more likely to hang out with one another.