Izroth inwardly shook his head as he looked over at the bizarre poses each person was frozen in. In a way, he found it to be an amusing sight to take in.
"Congratulations on your victory." Luna said with a delightful smile on her face as she approached Izroth.
Izroth gave a lighthearted smile in return and replied, "Just a small matter, nothing worth mentioning."
Izroth's response only further infuriated Sinking Clouds, however, he controlled his anger and took a moment to think things through. Present Order had already been killed and there was no changing that regardless of what he did.
As for Mirage, it appeared that she was reluctant to fight until the bitter end. Therefore, Sinking Clouds could see that the odds were stacked against him at one versus three. A moment ago he was acting on pure rage without thinking of his actions or their consequences.
However, now that Sinking Clouds had some time to think while being locked in place, he began to rationalize the situation. There were only two options for him at this point. The first was to attack and ultimately die without accomplishing anything. The second was to no longer put up a fight and retreat.
A few moments later, the effect of Luna's voice magic wore off and everyone could finally move again. As soon as that happened, Azalea immediately resumed her fighting stance which prompted a proper response from Mirage, causing her to take on an offensive stance.
"If the two of you insist on fighting I won't try to stop you. However, I have no plans of sticking around until the end. After all, my reason for coming here resides within the Blazing Temple itself." Izroth said in a calm tone of voice.
Azalea narrowed her eyes and glared at Mirage. Mirage met Azalea's glare with one of her own. It was clear that she would not allow herself to be a pushover.
"Hmph, you should consider this your good fortune." Azalea said in an icy cold tone of voice as she returned both of her daggers to their sheaths.
She walked right past Mirage to rejoin Izroth and Luna, however, she stopped right next to Mirage on her way over and said, "The next time you decide to block my path, I will show you what happens to those I call my enemies."
"Bah, who's scared of you?!" Mirage responded as she turned her head away. In truth, fighting against Azalea was one of the most terrifying experiences she had faced within RML. If she had a choice, she would rather not do so a second time. But, she would never let Azalea have the satisfaction of knowing that.
Azalea arrived next to Izroth and Luna. The first thing she did was set her gaze upon Luna. It was as if she were trying to dissect Luna with her eyes and see exactly who she truly was beneath that exterior appearance.
"My apologies for targeting you with my skill as well, Wraith. However, it was a necessary action." Luna said in a straight forward way.
"I hold no grudge against you. Also, you may call me Azalea." Azalea said in a nonchalant manner.
Luna was taken aback at first. After all, Azalea had made it very clear when she said that only Izroth could call her by that name. But, in the end, Luna chose not to look too much into it and instead gave a small nod and smiled in return.
"What will you do?" Luna asked Izroth as she looked over at Mirage and then towards Sinking Clouds.
"I've just received a full set of equipment, so I'm quite content at the moment. However, if he wishes to fight, I would be willing to make yet another wager." Izroth said as he set his gaze on Sinking Clouds.
Sinking Clouds facial expression turned extremely ugly when he heard Izroth's words. He wanted to say something, however, he was afraid that if he said the wrong thing, he would end up the same way as Present Order. He was unwilling to risk giving Izroth even one more item to add to his collection.
Sinking Clouds gritted his teeth as he said, "I have no intentions of fighting you... Furthermore, my hand slipped with my earlier attack, I hope that you can overlook this small matter so that I can be on my way."
His hand slipped? As if anyone would believe such an excuse! If this were some other MMORPG such a thing might be remotely believable, but this was RML! One's hand did not simply slip. There was also the matter of him trying to launch a second attack. So what, did his hand just magically slip two times in a row? Unlikely!
Azalea had a look of disgust in her eyes as she listened to Sinking Clouds speak. He was literally lying through his teeth in front of them!
"If you have nothing to wager, then I won't bother wasting my time pursuing the matter. However, if you wish to continue pursuing this matter once you've found something to wager, I'm sure I can find the time for a friendly bet." Izroth said in a carefree manner.
"Hmph... Tian Suyinrong, let's leave this place!" Sinking Clouds said as he removed a high quality looking scroll from his inventory.
"Not going!" Mirage said as she folded her arms and ignored Sinking Clouds words.
"What are you saying?! Do you really intend to stay with these-!" Sinking Clouds wanted to protest, but before he could complete what he wanted to say, Mirage cut him off.
"If I said I'm not going, then I'm not going! I came here to explore and that's exactly what I intend to do! With or without a Fire Spirit." Mirage said stubbornly. She knew that after her most recent actions, there was a good chance that she would not be welcomed back into Izroth's party. However, she was still willing to take on the risk.
"You-! Fine, do whatever you want! Just remember, you're my brother's woman!" Sinking Clouds said as he opened the scroll in his hands and tore it in half. He was engulfed by a tremendous wave of magic energy. However, this magic energy was not like most others and distorted the surrounding space.
'This is... Spatial magic?'
Thanks to his Spatial Awareness passive, Izroth could clearly see the surrounding space being manipulated the moment Sinking Clouds tore the scroll into two pieces.
Mirage scoffed and angrily stomped her foot as she responded, "I'm no one's woman! I'll do as I please with who I please!"
Sinking Clouds was covered with a bright light and around ten seconds after he tore the scroll, he had vanished into thin air!
'Of course, the Returning Scroll. With everything that's been going on lately, it managed to escape me. I'll have to look into purchasing a few when I return.'
Sinking Clouds used an item called a Returning Scroll. At the moment, a single Returning Scroll cost around 100 gold coins which was approximately 78,000 RMB with the current exchange rate. It was definitely not something the average player could afford the luxury of using.
The scroll Sinking Clouds used was specifically designed to return the user to the nearest Amaharpe village or town. It was definitely a useful item to have if one was able to acquire it. Players were only able to purchase a limited number of Returning Scrolls per day and the cooldown timer on the scrolls were 24 hours. Therefore, it was only possible to use three times a day with the current game time ratio.
After Sinking Clouds took his leave, the only four remaining were Izroth, Luna, Azalea, and Mirage. There was a long silence for a few moments until Mirage chose to break it herself.
"I won't apologize for my actions. Ultimately, I had hoped that everyone could learn to get along in the end, but those guys are far from being the two easiest people to get along with. However, I hope that your relationship with them won't affect the way you think of me. I'd like it if we could all remain in a party together since I was just getting to know you, but I understand if you wish to part ways here." Mirage said as she spoke her mind freely.
Izroth did not blame Mirage for her actions. She wanted a peaceful solution and tried to achieve it even though she was at a clear disadvantage. In a way, Izroth respected her level of resolve in the matter. After all, not many people were willing to face an unfavorable situation for the sake of a peaceful solution, even if things failed to turn out the way she had expected it to.
"Your actions are your own, just as their actions belonged to them. I will not condemn you based upon the actions of others. You are, of course, still welcome to join us." Izroth responded.
Mirage let out a small sigh of relief. To be completely honest, she found adventuring alone to be a dull task. To her, it was much more interesting to have others along to share the experience with, therefore, she was grateful that Izroth did not take offense.
Also, Mirage could not remember the last time she met a man that did not attempt to get close to her with some hidden agenda due to her family's standing, as well as, her naturally beautiful appearance. It was a refreshing experience for her to say the least. After all, she wasn't exactly the kind of woman who had "girlfriends" that she hung out with.
Izroth reformed the party and after everyone was in, he turned his attention towards the ancient and desolate temple before them. The opening to the Blazing Temple was only around forty meters in front of them. There was a large and faceless dragon that sat perched on top of the temple. One could tell that the dragon itself was once a mighty figure that ruled over its own domain.
"Let's go." Izroth said as he began to make his way towards the entrance and into the Blazing Temple as the others followed after him.
There was space left between the Lava Beast and since they did not have to worry about the wildfires, Izroth and his party were able to avoid useless fights. In the end, level 30-33 normal monsters like the Lava Beast was not exactly a good source of experience for a party of their level range.
A few moments later, Izroth stepped through the entrance of the grand temple and was met with an intense wave of searing heat.
〈System Alert: You have been protected by the skill «Protection of The Fire Spirit».〉
"This seems like the perfect place for someone to get a decent tan!" Mirage said jokingly as she felt the heat wave wash over her. She decided not to linger on the previous issues and return to being her normal self.
"It's a good thing we ran into those players and obtained a Fire Spirit. There's no telling how harsh the conditions in this place would be without it." Luna commented as she took in the new sight before her.
There was a broad pathway that led deeper into the temple with two pools of lava residing on each side of it. One could see the magma bubbling on the surface and the smell itself was like that of fire and brimstone. It was far from being pleasant, especially for players like Izroth and Luna who had taken the Five Cycles Pills.
However, the smell was not a bother for Izroth since he had been around much worse. As for Luna, she had turned down her smell settings even before she took a Five Cycles Pill due to some previous unfortunate circumstances.
Azalea and Mirage adjusted their smell settings so that it would at a tolerable level.
Izroth led the way as he walked down the pathway and remained alert. He could see clear movements from the creatures swimming within the lava as if they were fish in water.
'According to the information I received from He Huian, I should be able to obtain a higher grade fire core from somewhere within this temple. As for those other rumors she mentioned, only luck will decide if I'm able to verify it or not.'