As soon as the monsters disappeared, Izroth's system alert logs were bombarded by a series of messages. However, before he could even check the alerts, everything around him turned into pure darkness.
Before Izroth knew it, his surroundings had changed and he felt much lighter than usual. He could feel small changes taking place within his body.
'I'm close to the next stage of the Heavenly Golden Body, but the last step is more difficult than I anticipated.'
Though Izroth did not mind the small delay since he knew it would come naturally to him. Besides, he made some significant gains during the last few waves of the event.
When the darkness disappeared, Izroth swept his gaze across the room. He had a feeling that they would be brought here.
'We have returned.'
Izroth and his party were transported by the Chaotic Dogma Realm! To be more precise, they had returned to the Endless Pandemonium Tower. But, the room they had appeared in was different than the one they originally arrived in.
Izroth opened his system alerts to check everything that he missed, however, the most recent of the alerts that showed up after he pulled out the fragment had the word "currently unavailable" in its place.
This was the first time something like this happened to Izroth. Never had he once received a system alert that was not available for him to read over. But, there was nothing he could do about it at this time.
"We're back!" Halls said as he checked his body to make sure that he was still in one piece. He let out a small sigh of relief when he realized that everything was alright. When Izroth pulled that fragment out of the statue, almost immediately after everything went dark.
"I wonder how much easier it would have been if we had discovered the location of the statue at the start of the sixth wave." Luna said.
"Hmph, then even if you did find the Returning Shard, you would not be able to reach the second floor." A voice sounded from out of nowhere. It was the same voice that lurked within the tower and had sent them to the front of Amaharpe's gates.
"What do you mean by that?" Zi Yi asked.
"Bah! Foolish! Ignorant! Without hope and beyond saving!" The voice spewed out a bunch of insults after Zi Yi asked her question.
Zi Yi's facial expression immediately turned gloomy. Why was this voice so set on insulting her every time she asked a simple question? Who would create such a natural born bully?!
"Pffft...!" Guan Yu tried to hold back his laughter, but some managed to slip out which caused Zi Yi to glare at him with a cold pair of eyes. Guan Yu instantly contained his laughter and made a slightly awkward cough in the process.
"Quickly, hand over the items you've collected!" The voice said in an impatient tone of voice.
Everyone was startled. Hand over the items they had collected? What was with such an unreasonable demand?!
"Impossible! You're being too unreasonable. How can we just hand over all of the items we worked to obtain? You can't just find rare items lying on the ground." Halls responded. He was outraged by how shameless this voice acted.
"Indeed, demanding that we hand over all of our earnings without a proper explanation is a bit too much." Izroth said with a carefree expression on his face. At the moment, Izroth was trying to discover the source of the voice, however, he continuously came up empty-handed.
The voice scoffed and said, "Rare items? Do you think that I want to claim such trash as my own?! I wouldn't accept a rare item even if you begged me to take it!" The voice seemed to be even more outraged by Halls assumption than Halls was about the voice's demand.
"Hey, that's a bit much..." Valentine said helplessly. One had to know that a rare item could destroy friends at the moment. After all, acquiring a rare item was almost an impossibility for the average player at this point. For the voice to say that it wouldn't take it even if someone begged it to was indeed a bit much.
Izroth was curious as to who the voice belonged to and if they were the owner or creator of this tower. If so then the words they spoke, while seeming arrogant, would still be true.
To someone capable of controlling a massive structure inside of the Chaotic Dogma Realm and having the power them freely in between realms, rare items could be considered trash in their eyes. Maybe only something like an epic item would grab some form of its attention.
"Then, what items are you referring to?" Valentine asked.
"The shard! The Returning Shard! Also, the Vessel of the Endless One! Must I explain every little detail?" The voice said in a frustrated way.
"For what purpose?" Izroth asked. From what he saw, the Returning Shard held a great deal of power. While he did not know the extent of the Vessel of The Endless One's power, he could speculate that it was nothing to scoff at. After all, it could at the very least bend space and was an S-ranked item.
Izroth understood that the voice most likely possessed a great deal of strength. In fact, it may take a simple thought from the voice to completely eradicate everyone present. However, Izroth was unable to uncover the intentions of the voice.
One could tell that the voice was unruly, arrogant, and powerful. Therefore, there should be no reason for it to scheme against Izroth and his party with their current level of strength. But, there was still the small possibility that the voice was attempting to use them in order to benefit itself and was somehow unable to use their full might.
"I have no time to explain, nor do I want to waste my time doing so. But, you may keep the items and stay forever trapped within the Endless Pandemonium Tower. Or, you can hand them over and proceed to the second floor. The choice is yours, but make haste! I do not intend to squander my precious time!" The voice said.
Everyone looked over at Izroth to see what choice he would make. No matter what he chose, in the end, they would support his decision and continue to search for another way.
Izroth chose to trust his instincts and give the two items to the voice. He had survived as long as he did within the Seven Realms thanks to his instincts, therefore, he would not choose to ignore them now.
Izroth removed the Vessel of The Endless One from his inventory. The Returning Shard was already being held within his other hand. As Izroth held the two items outward, a thin stream of energy slowly drifted towards the items and encased them in an azure aura.
A few seconds later, the two items spun rapidly in circles as they floated into midair and intertwined with one another. The fragment that was the Returning Shard, fused with the Vessel of The Endless One.
This caused the Vessel of The Endless One to release a tremendous amount of energy that formed waves of constant pressure.
"Talk about a windy day! Ahahaha!" Guan Yu said as the pressure was similar to the strong and fast winds of a storm.
The waves only lasted for around five seconds before it ceased. Afterward, the Vessel of The Endless One had become saturated with a boundless amount of energy and was now a deep azure color. Inside of the Vessel of The Endless One, small strands of bright energy jumping around freely could be seen.
"How pretty." Zi Yi said with a hint of surprise and amazement in her voice.
Luna's eyes sparkled slightly when she caught sight of the new appearance of the Vessel of The Endless One. There was something almost otherworldly about its new look.
The Vessel of The Endless One slowly floated in midair until it came into contact with the wall directly in front of Izroth and his party. The moment it impacted the wall, it vanished into thin air.
However, the wall that it came into contact with lit up and formed a large rectangle shape that was at least 15 meters wide. Soon after, a stairway appeared out of seemingly nowhere and led upward.
"Go forward! The Undying Maelstrom awaits you." The voice said before fading out once again.
'The Undying Maelstrom?'
"That does not sound like a very welcoming name." Valentine said.
"What? Was the name Endless Pandemonium Tower not welcoming enough for you magic freak?" Zi Yi said as she shook her head.
Izroth examined the stairway that seemed to go on without end.
"Let's go." Izroth said as he and everyone else walked towards the stairway. As soon as their foot touched the first stair, a fearsome suction force pulled them in.
In the blink of an eye, Izroth and his party had arrived in a place that appeared completely different from the previous area they were in. An intense blizzard greeted Izroth and his party. There was nothing but pure white snow as far as the eye could see and the stairway behind them had disappeared.
Before they could even ask where they were, the group received some alerts from the system.
〈System Alert: Congratulations, you have passed the First Trial!〉
〈System Alert: You have entered the region «Undying Maelstrom»〉
Izroth and his party had successfully passed the first trial as soon as they set foot on the second floor of the Endless Pandemonium Tower, the Undying Maelstrom.
Immediately after Izroth and his party reached the second floor, three players had appeared in the area they stood at just moments ago. The three players were Aegis and the two other members of Heaven's Law.
Aegis frowned as he said, "We have not yet completed the mission. Why have you brought us back here?"
"You are too late! Someone else has already beaten the first trial, therefore, there's no point in going on!" The voice said. It was the same voice that spoke to Izroth's party.
"Your luck is bad, Aegis. See? No one likes you! You're hated by everyone! Chichi!" The cloaked player next to Aegis said.
Aegis glared at him before turning his focus back towards the voice. "Am I expected to just walk away after coming this far?" Aegis said. He was unwilling to turn back and accept his loss just like that.
"How foolish! I have told you before, you can enter the Endless Pandemonium Tower, but you cannot leave so freely. Since you have failed, you'll just have to complete a different first trial." The voice said.
"Oh? And what might that new trial be?" Aegis asked.
"Simple, you shall become the hunters of the Undying Maelstrom. Your task is to simply, how can I put it... Ah yes, to thin out the herd. I shall put it in simple terms for you. There are three of you and six of them, yet only six can proceed to the final trial." The voice said in a nonchalant manner.
Aegis narrowed his eyes, "Are you saying that all we have to do is eliminate three people and take their place?" There was a flash of coldness in Aegis' eyes.
"Exactly! Even your foolish minds can understand that much!" The voice said.
"You should have said so sooner. I would not have wasted my time playing your silly game. Take me to the second floor, I will take care of it immediately." Aegis said.
"Tsk tsk tsk, hunters! You are hunters! Is it not only fitting that the prey gets a headstart? Otherwise, how can it be considered a hunt? You will wait until it is time. Then, you may yet prove yourself worthy of the Endless Trials." The voice responded.
"It seems like we will have our rematch sooner than expected, Izroth." Aegis said to himself.