After Izroth was transported by the platform, he arrived in a pitch black room. However, the darkness did not last long as small twinkles of light began to form. A few moments later, Izroth found himself floating in space and taking place beneath him was the birth of a galaxy.
'The others have vanished.'
Izroth scanned everywhere in his surroundings, however, he was unable to locate any of the party members that he transported over with. Though he believed that they were not in any immediate danger and had simply been transported to a different location.
"Where is this place?" Izroth asked. At first, there was nothing but silence. But, a few seconds later a familiar voice sounded out.
"This is the third floor of the Endless Pandemonium Tower. It goes by many names, but the most common one is the Stargazer Sanctuary. You should be grateful, there are only a handful of people who are able to behold such a marvelous sight." The voice said.
"Where are the others that I transported with to this location?" Izroth asked without bothering with the small talk.
"That is something for you to decide. Well, for one of you anyway." The voice said as a flash of light appeared a few meters away from Izroth bringing along with it a familiar face.
'It appears that he is unable to escape his fate. Though, not many are capable of doing so to begin with.'
The individual who arrived before Izroth was Aegis. During their last encounter, he managed to escape while Izroth was occupied with the small piece of the Undying Maelstrom, as well as, preventing Luna from harm.
"This place is-" Aegis swept his gaze over his surroundings as he eyes soon fell onto Izroth. The moment he saw Izroth, he immediately became dispirited. However, he did not allow for it to show on his face and remained calm on the outside.
At the moment, Izroth was the last person Aegis wanted to run into. One thing that he understood from their last battle was that he could not defeat Izroth with his current level of strength. It was okay for one to be confident in their own power, but one had to also be aware of their own limits.
But, it could not be helped. In truth, Izroth was a bad match for Aegis due to his unbelievable speed that rendered his current Eyes of Providence virtually useless. Therefore, he would have preferred not to run into Izroth before increasing his own strength.
"Our paths seem to enjoy being crossed without end. It must indeed be fate." Aegis said.
"Fate is it?" Izroth said to himself. He had spent his entire life constantly challenging and changing his own fate. But at the moment, he did not mind allowing fate to work its unforgiving hand.
"Whatever the case may be you should stop your journey here, Izroth. This is the last time you will be able to heed my warning." Aegis said in a serious tone of voice.
This was not the first time Aegis had warned Izroth not to interfere. Back when he was with Mariposa after the chaotic shift, Aegis said something similar. However, Izroth figured that it was just Aegis having a moment of arrogance while trying to create a feeling of intimidation. But, there may be more to what Aegis meant at that time.
Izroth, however, did not care what excuse Aegis had for his actions. In the end, it was his party who was merciless in their fight against Zi You and Valentine. For that, Izroth only cared about one thing and that was repaying Aegis properly for all the damage he had caused.
"I will admit that you are strong. But, in the end, you are only one man. Your power alone will not be enough for what is to come. However, it is not hopeless. If you join us-" Aegis was speaking before he was suddenly cut off by Izroth.
"Are you finished?" Izroth spoke calmly.
Aegis became silent as he observed Izroth. His facial expression darkened when he saw that piercingly cold look in Izroth's eyes. It was the first time since he met Izroth that he witnessed him without a carefree expression. He already knew the answer to his own question.
"You are making an unchangeable mistake. Even if you are slightly stronger, I can still be considered your equal." Aegis said in an almost dejected manner.
"Fate? Mistakes? Join you? Truly laughable. So what if I'm only one man? Does someone like you have a right to talk to me as if we are equals?" Izroth's voice gradually became colder as more words left his mouth.
Aegis suddenly felt an overwhelming force crash into him. Without noticing, his entire body had begun to shake uncontrollably. As Aegis looked forward, the image of a massive ancient beast formed behind Izroth. Its face was shrouded in eternal darkness, however, the amount of killing intent being released from that ancient beast was monstrous and without end.
Aegis was unable to move a single muscle. He was actually frozen in place from fear alone! He believed himself to be above others. While he respected Izroth for his strength, he still thought of him as an equal. However, the truth completely shattered his confidence.
From the very beginning, he and Izroth were never close in strength. There was a gap the size of a boundless chasm between them. During their first encounter, as well as, their earlier fight, Izroth had never once taken him seriously. This was not someone who was simply skilled at RML, he was an actual monster!
"It is a thousand years too soon for you to even entertain such ridiculous thoughts. Remove yourself from my sights." Izroth's voice seemed to reverberate constantly within Aegis' mind. At the same time, Izroth received an alert from the system but did not pay it any mind.
Aegis began to sweat as his breathing and heart rate rapidly increased well beyond the safety limits. A stream of system alerts rang inside of Aegis' ears, however, all he could see was the vicious eyes of that ancient beast that lurked behind Izroth. His consciousness slowly started to become consumed.
〈System Alert: Player vital signs rising to critical levels. Do you wish to engage a forced logout?〉
〈System Alert: Player failed to respond. System override, engaging forced logout for Player Aegis. Protocol Alpha-5381 activated.〉
〈System Alert: Player Aegis has logged out.〉
Aegis had been forcibly logged out! Being logged out inside of the Chaotic Dogma Realm was the same as experiencing an existence wipe. Therefore, without lifting a single finger, Izroth had not only shattered all of Aegis' confidence, but he also made him eliminate himself in a sense.
Although Izroth had lost his original cultivation, the power of his soul remained unchanged. For a cultivator of the Seven Realms, the strength of one's soul was indispensable to them.
Normally, Izroth would never use such a method against mortals since their souls were extremely weak and fragile. However, for some reason, Aegis' soul was many times stronger than the mortals he had encountered.
He was not the only one. Ruin and Lulazali also possessed souls that were well above what the average soul strength was in this realm. Izroth felt that in some way, they were different from others. But, he was unable to tell any more than that.
'It is still something I should reframe from using on normal mortals.'
If Aegis' soul was like a glass sphere, then the average mortal soul could be compared to a ball of dust. If one even breathed too hard it could blow away. Once that happened, that person would experience a true death, never to be born again. Of course, Izroth did not harbor such hatred for Aegis that he would send him to a true death.
In simple terms, Izroth gave him a small fright.
Although, if Luna and the others were here then he would have never used such a swift and vicious method. Given the strength of their souls, they would have been caught in the power of it even if they were not Izroth's intended target. If that happened, there would have been no saving them from certain demise.
"As you were saying?" Izroth had regained his carefree expression and tone.
The voice had been silent the whole time and was simply spectating the events that unfolded without interfering. However, the voice carried on as usual as if it were unaffected by Aegis' untimely disappearance. Originally the two of them were supposed to compete for a chance at the final trial, however, that was now an impossibility.
"I suppose it is now only for you to decide." As the voice spoke something amazing took place. A full set of equipment along with a supreme sword appeared in front of Izroth. It was difficult to make out the details due to the brilliant light the items emitted, but one could feel an untouchable aura radiating off of it.
'Could this be legendary gear?'
That was the first thought that crossed Izroth's mind. The aura reminded him of the time he came across the legendary Vozrak or Scagmag.
However, such a thing should be impossible! No one had even obtained a single piece of epic gear, let alone legendary gear. Who would even dream about such a thing at this point?
"I know what it is you are thinking and I can guarantee you that it is no trick. What you see before you are a legendary set of armor and a weapon forged by the great Mazi, God of Craft himself. It is yours if you want it." The voice said.
"Truly you do not take me for a fool. Ever since I have first arrived inside of this tower, you have never told the entire story when it came to what it is we must accomplish in each trial. Do you expect me to believe that there is no price to pay for this?" Izroth said.
How could it be possible that the system was willing to destroy the balance of the game? If Izroth walked out of the Endless Pandemonium Tower with a full set of legendary gear, it would create an uproar.
"Hmph, you lack patience! How rude! Of course, everything comes with a price, that much is obvious. It's simple, the price you must pay is the lives of your remaining party members. Though, it is such a small price when compared to what lies before your eyes. This is the final endless trial, Choice!" The voice said.
However, without hesitating for a single moment, Izroth gave his answer.
"I choose the lives of my party members." Izroth said calmly.
Although it could not be seen, the voice was shocked by his choice. Without even taking the time to ponder or entertain the thought, he instantly gave his answer as if it was not even worth his consideration.
"I assure you, what you see before you is a true set of legendary equipment. With it, no one will be your match. Are you sure you wish to give up a once in a lifetime opportunity for a meager three lives?" The voice said in a stern tone of voice.
"Meager? We have journeyed together, fought beside one another, and they have called me a friend. To you, such things may amount to nothing, however, I refuse to turn my back on those who have shown me kindness. My answer remains unchanged, keep your items." Izroth said.
Items could always be replaced or obtained through one's own efforts. Izroth did not need a handout that required he sacrifice those around him. Eventually, through his own strength, he would acquire his own legendary gear.
There was something else as well. Although he had only known his current party members for a short amount of time, Izroth trusted each and every one of them. After all, he was an excellent judge of character.
There was a window of complete silence. But, a few seconds later, the legendary gear that was before Izroth had vanished.
"There are not many who would give up such an opportunity just to save the lives of their comrades. I am not sure if I should have some respect for you or call you a fool for rejecting it. So be it." The voice said as five flashes of light appeared before Izroth.
"The final trial is complete. The gateway shall now open. Hmph, I suppose you're not completely hopeless after all." The voice said as it slowly faded away. A light blue stairway made out of pure energy formed and led up towards some type of portal.
Following the light flashes, five individuals stood before Izroth. He could not help but inwardly sigh when he noticed the identity of the players before him.
'Until the very end, that voice continued to hide things away.'
Luna, Guan Yu, and Halls had all emerged! But the most surprising thing was the two other players who joined, it was actually Zi Yi and Valentine! However, how was it possible when they both experienced an existence wipe? Their characters were supposed to be deleted for good!
'It may have something to do with the choice I made.'
Meanwhile, somewhere far beyond the firmament within RML...
"Interesting, he rejected your legendary armor without batting an eye. Most would have inevitably succumbed to their own greed. Your pride must be injured. After all, your work has never been rejected by anyone." The woman who spoke strongly resembled the statue of a woman Izroth had seen before.
"I'd be lying if I said I'm not surprised by his choice. However, he made the correct one. If he had chosen that cursed legendary armor and weapon, he would have never been able to remove it and would have lost instead of gained the strength in its possession." A male responded.
"Oh? To use cursed legendary gear as a temptation... You were tasked with the creation of the Chaotic Dogma Realm this time around. You even used your Endless Pandemonium Tower for such a thing. The others believed you to be insane for sending such a powerful artifact to that place, but you've limited its power quite well." The woman said.
"Of course, otherwise, how could I dare hold onto my title? They only experienced a very small portion of the Endless Pandemonium Tower's true power. But, if I made things too easy then I would never hear the end of it from the others and it would cause too many issues." The man stated.
He then continued, "They still have a long journey ahead of them. We have offered them a way to avoid complete annihilation without breaking any of the set laws. The rest will be up to those below."
"If only we could do more. However, we must hope that we have done enough for now. At the moment, we must maintain the balance of power above the firmament. We cannot afford to directly interfere with the events below, or else those with evil intentions in mind will also make a move. We must be patient." The woman said.
"Hopefully we continue to have the luxury of being patient. After all, they are still far too weak to make any difference in the grander scope of things, Helilatiaa. Surely you of all people realize this." The man said.
"I believe the day will eventually come when they reach this place. I am well aware of the difficulties of doing so and their current level of strength. It is a time that remains far and distant from this day, a time in the future. However, you must remember that we too were once just like them, Mazi." Helilatiaa responded.
As Luna, Halls, Zi Yi, Guan Yu, and Valentine appeared at the same time, there was a small moment of confusion. Just moments earlier, they were in what could only be described as a separate dimension. Now, they were suddenly pulled from out of that location and arrived here.
After the initial moment of shock, everyone finally noticed one another and the confusion was replaced with feelings of relief, excitement, and happiness! Alive! Everyone was alive!