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409 Phantasmagoria

 Clink! Clink! Bang!

'Hm? This sound... Is someone fighting? But, this is...'

Izroth inwardly furrowed his brows when the clamor entered his ears. There was something off about the sound that was being generated. However, Izroth was confident that the source of the sounds originated from a player.

'This place is unusual. Although I'm unable to examine it more in-depth with my Energy Vision Sense, I can still vaguely feel it. There's an overwhelming presence spread throughout the entire atmosphere.'

While it was brief, Izroth's Energy Vision Sense left him with a few hints as to what lurked within this Sprite Dwellings.

Not to mention, he found it strange how the system had yet to send an alert announcing the completion of the "Survive" objective of the raid phase. Therefore, Izroth believed this insinuated a present danger inside of the Sprite Dwellings.

'Since these crystals are interfering, I suppose I'll just have to rely on my own two eyes to see what lies ahead.'

From the sounds alone, Izroth concluded that it was not Halls and the others, but instead, one of the core players from Blue Oasis who was on the attack. In the end, even some of the most seasoned players would struggle alone in a fight against an elite hardcore raid monster.

Izroth wasted no time as he followed the sound to its source which led him deeper into the Sprite Dwellings. He traveled down a broad pathway and soon arrived in a spacious area that branched off into six different directions with narrow pathways.

But, just as Izroth approached the intersection of the pathways, he suddenly halted his steps. A sweet smell that mimicked that of a lilac drifted by his nose. Not too long after, Izroth received a message from the system.

«Resisted»

〈System Alert: Player Izroth has resisted the «Phantasmagoria».〉

Izroth quickly pieced everything together after he received the system alert.

'That would certainly explain it...'

Between the sweet smell, the bizarre sound of a battle that seemed off, and the system alert... Izroth's thoughts shifted to one word - Poison.

As for it being an illusion type skill, Izroth ruled this out since there were no signs of a willpower check. Even if he resisted the Phantasmagoria, there should have been an alert regarding his undergoing a willpower check.

However, due to the Poison Resistance II passive attached to his Heavenly Golden Body, Izroth was immune to various forms of poisons.

While he was not immune to all forms of poisons, fortunately, it appeared that the Phantasmagoria he resisted was not inherently lethal.

In other words, it was a poison created to immobilize and deter an individual - Not kill them. But, Izroth did not let his guard down because of this as he remained on high alert.

A few moments after Izroth approached the intersection and successfully resisted the Phantasmagoria, the six paths that were originally formed had merged into a single pathway.

Izroth followed the path that appeared as the sound of fighting echoed from the opening up ahead. However, when Izroth stepped into the opening, he narrowed his eyes at the sight before him.

'It's just as I thought. Is this the work of the Phantasmagoria?'

The first thing that Izroth saw when he stepped into the spacious room was a person.

It was one of the core members of Blue Oasis with the player name Sacred Blade. He was not the talkative type and he always behaved in a professional manner that suited his status as a core member of a top guild such as Blue Oasis.

Also, he happened to be the only other member of Blue Oasis that originally caught Izroth's attention along with the Captain of the 1st Squad Road.

Although he was assigned to the clean-up DPS, Izroth believed that Sacred Blade was not any less skilled than the other captains of Blue Oasis. In fact, if his suspicions were correct, Izroth believed that among the Blue Oasis members, perhaps only Road was Sacred Blade's match!

But, there appeared to be a strange relationship between Sacred Blade and the other core members of Blue Oasis. As for what reason this may be, Izroth had no clue nor did he plan on digging any deeper. In the end, it was only enough to catch Izroth's attention for an instant.

At the moment, Sacred Blade was swinging his blade in a fearsome manner. The blade itself was so thin that it could be compared to the wings of a cicada. It struck from strange and unpredictable angles, as well as, curved in unnatural ways. But, the most bizarre thing was that everything connected so smoothly that it almost seemed as if a single blade stroke produced a myriad of inconstant variations.

'Interesting.'

Sacred Blade's Mystic Blademaster class focused on a fast combination of blade strikes with forms that constantly changed and shifted to stay unpredictable. It was also designed to face off against multiple enemies at once. Without his Flickering Steps or Heavenly Cloak active, Izroth gathered that even he could not afford to take those attacks too lightly.

While the blade in Sacred Blade's hand struck out with vicious attacks after vicious attacks, there was just one problem - He was attacking thin air!

The reason the noise of a battle taking place sounded so off to Izroth was that only one person was fighting and attacking.

"This thing still refuses to die even after being struck down so many times...!" Sacred Blade said to himself as he pressed on with his attack.

In Sacred Blade's eyes, he was fighting a monster made out of aqua-colored crystals with glowing red eyes. It was shaped like a humanoid, except it lacked any major distinct facial features.

With one swing of his blade, Sacred Blade shattered the body of the crystalized creature as it crumbled into countless pieces. However, in the blink of an eye, the shattered crystals merged back together and regenerated the body of the creature!

This process had been going on ever since Sacred Blade first reached the strange intersection with six directions. It was there that he was separated from the others who were brought to this place along with him. He could not help but wonder if they, too, were in a situation similar to his own.

"I have to end this quickly and regroup with the others. Staying alone too long in a hardcore raid is extremely dangerous. I have to find a way to defeat this thing. I don't believe it's invincible." Sacred Blade said as he pressed on with his onslaught.

However, Sacred Blade was unaware that someone was watching him. Indeed, this was precisely due to the effects of the Phantasmagoria.

In the eyes of Izroth, Sacred Blade was simply muttering to himself and striking with his blade at nothing. One would think he was doing some kind of intense image training if they saw him.

Izroth tried calling out further test Sacred Blade's awareness, but he was simply ignored.

'Since it's a form of poison, then there has to be an antidote. Given that it's impossible to avoid for those without a strong resistance to poison, there has to be an antidote located somewhere nearby.'

Izroth did not let the fact that this was a raid slip away from his mind. Precisely because it was a raid, he was confident that there had to be a way for the raid participates to cure themselves or other party members of the Phantasmagoria.

'Though I suppose I should take care of that matter first...'

Izroth narrowed his eyes as his gaze locked onto an empty location located around 10 meters away from him.

"How long do you plan on hiding? You should have already discovered that I'm not affected by this poison." Izroth stated, however, he was met with silence.

Izroth's question was not directed towards Sacred Blade, who was quite openly affected by the Phantasmagoria, but rather, to a presence that had been observing him ever since he stepped into the current area.

Even if his Energy Vision Sense was not functioning correctly, Izroth still possessed his heightened senses. Although a stealth-type skill appeared to be in use, he could still hear the slight movements being made, as well as, see the visible disruption and impressions left upon the natural environment.

'The impressions left on the ground match that of a player. Are they also affected by the Phantasmagoria?'

Izroth inwardly furrowed his brows as he pondered that question. In the end, he did not have enough information about what the Phantasmagoria was capable of. Therefore, he could only speculate as to what effects it may truly possess. But, there was a part of Izroth - A gut feeling, that told him that this person was not affected by the Phantasmagoria. Could it be that they also acquired a poison resistance skill?

Whatever the method was that they used to overcome the Phantasmagoria, it was clear that there was a high level of caution present in their actions. As to why they had yet to reveal themselves... Izroth could think of a few reasons for this.

The most obvious reason being that the player in hiding was unsure if Izroth was affected by the Phantasmagoria in the same way as Sacred Blade.

But, was that alone enough to stay hidden? After all, even if Sacred Blade attacked them by some chance, they were both in the same raid party. This meant that they would be unaffected by the attack. At least, that's the way it should normally be.

Izroth knew that it was not impossible for those in the same party to harm one another. During his time in the Tomb of Nekrostalmenos when Zi Yi was temporarily controlled by one of the boss monster skills, her attacks were perfectly capable of dealing damage to others within the party.

Izroth opened up his system interface and went to the raid party menu. He noticed that all the names were grayed out - All except for six, including himself.

Unfortunately, Luna, Zi Yi, Halls, Valentine, and Guan Yu's names were all grayed out. Though Izroth believed that they were more than capable of taking care of themselves.

'These five are...'

Izroth quickly glanced over the names of the other five players whose names were not grayed out. Among them, of course, was Sacred Blade who was in the same room as Izroth. The other names listed were Emberheart, False Summit, Ace of Saint, and Vanaheim.

Out of every name listed, Izroth was only somewhat familiar with Vanaheim who was the captain of the 3rd squad. Vanaheim ranked the highest out of the Blue Oasis members present, therefore, the right to command should have naturally fallen on her shoulders when they were separated from the others. As for the other players - Izroth had little or absolute zero interaction with any of them.

'Things must have gotten too out of hand after everyone was affected by the Phantasmagoria. It'll be too dangerous if everyone stays separated for too long in a place like this. We'll have to find a way to contact and meet up with the others.'

Izroth assumed the other raid members were in a similar situation to their own. If it was not dealt with properly, then this raid could be over before they even finished the second phase! If that happened, the members of Blue Oasis would only be able to hold their heads down in shame at their own failure.

Before closing out his system interface, Izroth tried to access the messaging system, however, it was currently grayed out and unavailable. Though he expected as much since Abstract had already relayed this information to them via his Tethered Shadows.

Izroth swiftly swept the room with his gaze. Almost immediately after doing so, he noticed something off about a particular area of the room. It was the only area where the crystals that blocked his Energy Vision Sense did not grow! In that same area was also a yellowish moss.

Just as Izroth was making his observations, he abruptly felt a strong killing intent focus towards him. It was coming from Sacred Blade!

"It doesn't matter how many of you appear." Sacred Blade said as mystical energy surged from the blade in his hands. He was now looking right at Izroth!