After they journeyed a bit deeper into the Towering Oak Forest, Izroth and his party came across a strange statue with a powerful dark aura surrounding it. The statue had the face of a man with no eyes, but it had the body of a chimera. There was a small fragment embedded into the statue's forehead that seemed to be the source of its power.
The most bizarre and creepy thing about the entire situation was the numerous egg-like cocoons that were scattered all around the statue.
Izroth and his party approached the area with caution. As they moved in closer, the statue shook violently and released a strong burst of magical energy. This caused everyone to halt their steps and prepare for whatever was coming. But, something unexpected happened.
From the statue came an endless number of strings made up of magical energy. The strings each attached themselves to one of the egg-like cocoons and a few moments later something shocking took place. The object cracked open and what spawned in its place was a monster!
"What is this place?" Halls said as he was a little disturbed by the sight.
Zi Yi furrowed her brows as she said, "It seems to be some sort of monster production area. But, they seem completely unaware of us."
'The dark energy appears to be coming from the statue itself, while the small fragment in its forehead is acting as some sort of catalyst. However, there is no information showing up from the system about the statue or the fragment.'
Izroth studied what was before him and came up with a few ideas. But, he was unsure of what the end results would be.
Not too long after the monsters appeared, the strings that were attached to them moved the creatures around like puppets as it lifted them into midair. Then at an incredible speed, the monsters were moved near the exit of the Towering Oak Forest.
Soon after, the strings retracted back into the statue as another batch of egg-like cocoons formed on the ground. That statue seemed to repeat the process endlessly, however, it would move the monsters to different areas of the Towering Oak Forest almost instantly.
"While the strings are attached, the monsters remain unconscious. But, as soon as the strings retracted, they enter into an almost frenzied state and rush directly towards Amaharpe." Luna said.
"But, how did this item get here? The magic sequences are constantly shifting, I've never seen anything like it before. It's like trying to read Middle Egyptian through a kaleidoscope." Valentine said with a baffled expression on his face.
"You can read Middle Egyptian?" Halls asked.
"You have a kaleidoscope?" Guan Yu asked at the same time as Halls.
"It's an old expression from- No, never mind." Valentine let out a light sigh as he shook his head. He almost forgot who he was talking to and was just about to waste time explaining.
Luna noticed that Izroth was silent ever since they arrived at this place. Of course, it was quite natural since he rarely spoke when it was not required, but he seemed to be in deep thought as his gaze seemed to pierce through the statue.
"Is there something that's bothering you?" Luna asked as she moved up a few steps and stood next to Izroth.
"Bother is not quite right. Though, I doubt it will be as simple as walking over and grabbing it." Izroth replied.
"Are you referring to the fragment on the statue's forehead? Could that be the Returning Shard?" Luna asked. She had also noticed the fragment, but she was not certain if it was another attempt to distract them from locating the true Returning Shard.
Izroth gave a slight nod in response, "I'm confident it's the Returning Shard. But, there's only one way to find out for certain. I'm going to go take a look, everyone else can remain here for now."
Izroth started to make his way towards the statue which startled everyone. While the monsters were mindless once they spawned, that may only be due to them keeping a safe distance. Who knows what would happen if they moved in closer?
However, while everyone was a little tense, they had already witnessed Izroth's monstrous speed. Therefore, he would be able to safely retreat if a dangerous situation arose. One thing was for certain, everyone was ready to fight whatever was thrown at them if necessary.
As Izroth stepped towards the statue, it released a wave of heavy force that wanted to stop Izroth from coming any closer. However, Izroth was completely unaffected and kept moving forward as he received a system alert in the process.
〈System Alert: You have successfully passed a Willpower Check!〉
Surprisingly, the monsters that had just spawned out of the egg-like cocoons did not attack Izroth, but they did not disappear either. Amongst the monsters were plenty of elite monsters and only a handful of normal monsters. It was easy to tell by the spawn rate of elite monsters how difficult the tenth wave would be for everyone.
Izroth reached out his hand to touch the fragment embedded into the statue's head.
As soon as his fingers brushed up against it, the statue shook violently and released a loud screeching sound. It was as if someone were dragging their nails across a chalkboard, only it was a hundred times worse.
"Ugh! It's so loud!" Guan Yu said as he covered his ears.
'It's stuck, but the statue is slowly losing its control over the fragment. However...'
The loud screech echoed throughout the entire Towering Oak Forest. Not only that, but every player participating in the event heard the sound as well. There was another unusual sight that unfolded before them. The monsters that they were fighting so fiercely against had stopped moving.
Not too long after, their eyes turned crimson red as they entered into a forced enraged state and started to make their way back towards the Towering Oak Forest at top speed.
At the Cross Haven section, Wang Qiang frowned as he watched the monster he was fighting, as well as, those that were locked in combat against his fellow guild members retreat from the battlefield.
"Did the event end?" Wang Qiang furrowed his brows, but he quickly dismissed that notion. After all, they would have definitely received an alert from the system. Also, the way the monsters reacted as not like someone retreating, but rather someone receiving a new set of orders. However, that did not make any sense to Wang Qiang.
"Why do I have a bad feeling about this?" Halls said with a gloomy expression.
"It may have something to do with our current predicament." Luna responded in a nonchalant way.
"It should not be much longer now. We will just have to hold out until it's done." Izroth said as a wild field of lightning formed 23 meters around him.
'It seems there's a limit to the range and stat boost increase.'
Izroth used 15 points of his Essence to increase the overall effectiveness of the skill by 75%. Since his total Essence was now 150, he could use larger amounts at a time. This should have increased the range of his Lightning Field from 15 meters to 26 meters, however, it stopped at 23 meters. That was only a 50% increase in range.
But, Izroth expected there to be a limit set in place on the range. After all, if he poured all 150 points if his Essence into his Second Baneful Sword: Kill, then its range would jump from 20 meters to easily over 100 meters! How game breaking would such a thing be?
The same set of rules applied for the boost to his attack and agility, a 50% increase limit. There was a chance that it would increase the stronger his Essence became, however, that was something only time would tell.
Izroth then lightly tapped his foot on the ground. A few moments later, a terrifying tremor shook the entire area. This tremor occurred every one second, it was the new skill Izroth had recently obtained, Behemoth's Quake.
However, it was not a normal Behemoth's Quake. There was strange energy fused inside of each wave sent out. Izroth poured 35 points of his Essence into the Behemoth's Quake!
Although it was over the recommended 10% limit Izroth suggested, he found out during his fight against the Brooding Behemoth Basbus that one could go further without the risk of Soul Weakness.
If he did not experience any fatigue using twenty points of Essence back when his maximum Essence was at 130, then he highly doubted he would feel serious backlash when using 35 points of Essence.
Thanks to the bonus lightning damage from his Lightning Field skill fused with Essence and a large amount of Essence poured into the Behemoth's Quake skill, it now had a range of 45 meters and would deal 35% bonus lightning damage. Not only that, but its damage that ignored all defenses was greatly increased.
The monsters were also inflicted with Izroth's Blood Stigma, increasingly his total damage output even further. By the time ten seconds passed, all the normal monsters that were within a 45 meters range had turned into experience and event points.
As for the elite monsters, there were a few who had a low HP stat and was unfortunate when it came to collecting Blood Stigma stacks. Those monsters had been eliminated right along with the normal monsters.
Everyone was shocked by the amount of devastation Izroth's caused in such a nonchalant manner. Without even moving and just by lightly tapping his foot against the ground, he had cleared out such a large number of monsters!
It was as if each time they looked at Izroth, they found out that the gap in power continued to grow larger and larger with every moment that passed.
Needless to say, Izroth's event points shot up by a substantial amount and instantly placed him at the number one spot on the event points leaderboards! The amount of experience he gained from it was not by any means small, however, it was still not enough to level up. After reaching level 30, the amount of experience required to level up had increased a great deal.
However, even after eliminating such a huge number of monsters, more continued to pour into the Towering Oak Forest. If they did not act fast, they would soon be surrounded and wiped out.
"We won't be able to hold out much longer!" Halls said as he knocked one of the monsters charging directly towards him back with his Rebound skill. But, another one came right up to him and he was almost instantly overrun. However, he quickly used the Shadow Pressure skill attached to his weapon and all of the monsters near him was sent into a feared state.
Zi Yi was trying to keep a safe distance, however, it was becoming more and more difficult to do so as the space was filling up fast with monsters. She shot an arrow into the sky and as it fell down, it split into two and continued to split until there were hundreds of arrows.
The arrows poured down on the monsters and she managed to pick up a few kills on some that were already weakened by Izroth.
Luna did not have any time to talk and was in a state of full concentration. Since Halls and Guan Yu were absorbing so much damage, she had to react swiftly and without hesitation while not wasting any MP.
Izroth's hand was still on the fragment embedded in the statue's forehead. As he pulled, smalls lights jumped around as if the statue was trying to force the fragment to stay in place.
But, just as Izroth and his party were about to be completely overrun, he yanked the fragment out of the statue's forehead. Immediately after doing so, the entire Towering Oak Forest grew silent.
The monsters that were just moments ago attempting to tear them into countless little pieces, were now frozen in place. A few moments later, the monsters began to turn into particles and vanish into nothingness.
As Izroth watched the monsters vanish, he received an alert from the system.
'So, this is the little item that has caused so many problems.'
〈System Alert: You have obtained a «Returning Shard»!〉