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408 The Mysterious Light and Teardrop Necklace

 It did not take long for Izroth to completely wipe out the Great Palace Seeker Fish. By the time he was finished, he had leveled up twice. This meant that within just a few moments, Izroth's level had jumped from 46 up to 48!

Though Izroth was somewhat disappointed that he only managed to level up twice. Unfortunately, he had underestimated just how massive the jump in experience points needed to level up was in the late 40s.

To put it into perspective, Izroth required approximately 2,900,000 experience points to advance from level 46 to level 47.

However, for him to move from level 47 to level 48, he required a massive 4,600,000 experience points!

But, this was nothing compared to the amount of experience points level 49 demanded of him. If Izroth wanted to increase his level to 49, he would have to obtain a bit more than 8,000,000 experience points!

Even after wiping out the Great Palace Seeker Fish, Izroth gained somewhere around 9,000,000 EXP. This was far from enough for him to reach level 49 - Yet alone level 50.

Izroth, however, did not find this to necessarily be a bad thing. After all, the harder something was to obtain, the greater the benefits that would follow. Since level 50 was a huge milestone for players, surely it was not without perks.

As for the Great Palace Sharks, they refused to fall as easily as the inferior Great Palace Seeker Fish and continued to endure Izroth's unrelenting onslaught. This caused Izroth to inwardly frown as he realized his attacks against the Great Palace Sharks were ineffective.

'As I thought, it must be the work of the hardcore effect virulent, however-'

Izroth found that even his armor-piercing skill Fissuring Point did laughable damage when compared to the 100,000 HP stat of the Great Palace Sharks. Therefore, he immediately ruled out any skills that increased the sea creatures' defensive capabilities.

While there exist some skills capable of reducing damage and did not count as a "defensive stat", there was nothing in the battle logs that indicated the Great Palace Sharks were using anything of the sorts. This made Izroth instantly turn his focus back onto the virulent hardcore effect.

'I've already seen through this cheap trick.'

Izroth had a roughly complete understanding of virulent after Guan Yu attacked the first Great Palace Shark they ran into and administered the finishing blow. However, he needed to confirm a few suspicions before rushing to any conclusions. In the end, Izroth finally managed to piece things together.

Originally, Izroth figured that one had a time limit to defeat anything with the virulent effect before it became virtually impossible to do so, but he soon found out that this was not the case. To test this theory, Izroth used three different methods.

The first was that he attacked a single Great Palace Shark multiple times as fast as possible. The result this produced was his damage rapidly decreasing below 500 points per hit.

When it came to the other two methods, Izroth used an attack pattern that was more spaced out. It was not until he performed this action that he successfully gained a core understanding of the virulent effect.

In simple terms, the hardcore effect virulent resembled a virus - In a certain manner of speaking.

What caught Izroth's attention was that his damage did not randomly drop to miniscule amounts, but instead, it was more of a decaying process. This meant that as the battle went on his overall damage fell. But, he discovered a way around this major inconvenience and the key, in his particular situation, was patience.

Two Great Palace Sharks opened their jaws as a sphere of pressurized water encompassed in mana converged before them. These water spheres were the size of a large boulder and in less than a single breath, the two spheres traveled forward at great speeds with Izroth being the intended target.

Boom! Boom!

Each sphere of water released a small explosive noise as it moved which demonstrated its raw power. However, the speed of the two water spheres could not compare to that of Izroth with his Flickering Steps active.

Izroth's figure flickered as he effortlessly evaded the incoming assault. However, he was no longer as aggressive as before with attacks. Instead, Izroth shifted his playstyle to a more passive tone and avoided attacking altogether.

If one of the Blue Oasis members were to see him now, they would scoff at his actions and view it as nothing but a waste of time. But, it was not as if Izroth suddenly decided to take an unproductive approach.

Not too long after Izroth evaded the water spheres, his Flickering Steps went on cooldown. Izroth also removed his Sword of The Storm from its sheath as his Call of the Thunder God Heavenly Descent had run out of time.

If this had been a normal raid, then all of the Great Palace Sharks would have been turned to particles a long time ago with just his Heavenly Descent Chained Lightning effect alone. This demonstrated one of the reasons why such a large gap exists between a normal raid and a hardcore raid.

Although Izroth still possessed the movement speed buff from his Light Feather Footwork, he had to be cautious when facing the nine Great Palace Sharks as one or two hits were enough to incapacitate him - Even with his current level of HP.

3 seconds...

7 seconds...

10 seconds...

Izroth did not launch a single strike within the last ten seconds at any of the Great Palace Sharks as he concentrated solely on evading their attacks.

'This should be good enough.'

All of a sudden, Izroth halted his movement. As if detecting an opening, four of the Great Palace Sharks dived towards Izroth.

Just as the first Great Palace Shark was about to slam its large body headfirst into Izroth, a brief flash of light could be seen sliding past the sea creatures' head.

Woosh...! Crrrrrrckle... BOOM!

-12,038

The flash of light was soon followed by the clapping sound of thunder and a powerful explosion. This was the work of Izroth's Third Sword Form: Collapsing Thunder.

'So it's like this... How simplistic. But, it's probably due to its simplicity that one may easily overlook the smaller details.'

Just as Izroth had planned, his damage had once again returned to its normal amount against the Great Palace Sharks thanks to the third method - patience.

〈System Alert: Congratulations, you have defeated a Great Palace Shark!〉

〈System Alert: You have been rewarded 652,950 EXP!〉

The virulent effect was a huge headache - if one did not know how to properly combat it. If a player attacked a monster with the virulent effect, then as more players began to attack it, they would all become affected by the same damage debuff. It was the reason why Izroth and the members of Blue Oasis found their damage decreased to such a pitiful state earlier against the Great Palace Shark.

However, why was it that Guan Yu was unaffected by the same damage debuff? He had not been affected by the "virus" of the virulent effect. This was why the damage he produced was on a normal level.

In the end, Izroth discovered two ways to overcome the virulent effect. The first was through natural decay, which was the method he used. As long as one did not attack the monster who produced the 'virus' for a certain amount of time, then the damage debuff would naturally wear off.

However, this method was mostly for small parties or players who were fighting alone. An easier way, Izroth believed, was simply for the damage dealers to rotate in and out of the fight against the monster who possessed virulent. That way, the stream of damage would never cease and the effect of virulent would be minimal to nonexistent!

But, figuring this information out should have taken players countless fights and maybe even multiple hardcore raid runs. Even then, there was no guarantee that they would have smoothed out all the details. Yet, it had not even been a handful of minutes since Izroth knew the virulent effect existed!

...

After finding a way to deal with the virulent effect, it was not long until Izroth finished off the rest of the Great Palace Sea Sharks. In total, he earned 5,876,550 EXP from eliminating all nine Great Palace Sea Sharks. Though this was still not enough for him to reach level 49, it put him infinitely closer to it.

Once the last sea creature perished, the whirlpools that acted as gateways had vanished. However, the mysterious light Izroth saw making its way through the various whirlpools earlier appeared to be now wandering about aimlessly.

Izroth swiftly collected the loot dropped by the Great Palace Sharks. As for the Great Palace Seeker Fish, they failed to drop any loot. This was most likely because the system considered them to be adds that accompanied the Great Palace Sharks.

Izroth did not bother checking the loot he picked up as he immediately made his way to the mysterious light after he finished.

The closer Izroth moved to the mysterious light, the more it felt as if it were calling to him. When he arrived within range of the mysterious light, it seemed as though it was about to extinguish at any given moment.

'No, it's not me it's calling to.'

Izroth reached out his hand and the moment his fingertips made contact with the mysterious light, an object shot out from his body. It was a small clam. The same clam that he acquired back in the dungeon Sea Palace Graveyard after he defeated the boss monster Vicious Barbados.

The Memento Clam opened its shell as the mysterious light was sucked in. At the same time, a light encircled Izroth and took the form of a transparent magic screen.

'It's just like the time in the Sea Palace Graveyard. Is it trying to show me something?'

The images were still too scattered and fragmented to form a clear picture, however, just like last time, it showed the image of a man and a woman. The woman was holding something wrapped in cloth - This was as much as Izroth could make out last time. But, this time Izroth could see a necklace peeking out from the side of the wrapped cloth. The necklace was in the shape of a curved teardrop and embodied every color on the spectrum within it.

The image constantly looped for five seconds before the transparent screen disappeared and the Memento Clam returned to his inventory. As it did so, Izroth received an alert from the system.

〈System Alert: 2/10 Collect the remaining scattered memory fragments of the «Memento Clam».〉

'Without a doubt, this place is related to the Memento Clam. Are there more fragments in this place? What is it trying to show me?'

Izroth had many questions, however, he understood that there was no use thinking about it too much without additional information.

Izroth turned his attention to where the raid party had entered into the underwater stream.

'Since there's nothing left for me here, I should catch up with the others.'

Izroth scanned his surroundings once more and after finding that nothing was out of place, he swiftly moved towards the narrow entryway. Then, without hesitation, Izroth swam directly into the underwater stream.

...

After being carried away by the stream, Izroth exited from a small pond and arrived in a garden. However, it was not like those gardens on land. Instead, it was filled with a large variety of underwater plants and small harmless sea creatures.

The ground and walls were made out of aqua-colored crystals. There were also numerous crystals growing in various places within the surrounding area.

However, Izroth did not see any of the raid party members around. He tried to use his Energy Vision Sense, however, there was a bizarre energy being emitted from the crystals that interfered with it.

'These crystals are even capable of blocking my Energy Vision Sense... Indeed, this place is not normal.'

〈System Alert: You have entered «Sprite Dwellings».〉