As Izroth and his party made their way across the broad pathway, every few moments an intense wave of heat would pass over them. There were also random spurts of flames that jumped out from the lava in their direction, however, the flames always avoided them and simply landed inside of the lava pool on the opposite side.
"I know it's an unspoken rule not to ask about one's life in the real world, but I'm curious. Do you train in any martial arts in the real world?" Mirage asked with the target of her inquiry being Izroth.
Luna and Azalea ears perked up when they heard the question Mirage asked. They too were curious as to what it was that Izroth did in real life that made his combat prowess within RML so fierce. In their minds, he had to be some kind of professional martial arts practitioner or maybe even had some kind of special forces training.
Of course, these were just wild guesses that drifted through their minds. As for asking Izroth about details regarding his personal life, as Mirage said, it was an unspoken rule and could even be considered as being invasive or rude to ask someone about their personal life online. But, this did not stop them from being curious about the answer itself.
"I suppose you could say I've dabbled a bit in martial arts." Izroth responded. It was not entirely true or false that he trained in martial arts. In a sense, a cultivator's true strength did not come solely from their ability to fight, but rather their ability to comprehend that which eludes others.
While heavenly laws and physiques could be considered a higher form of martial arts, in the end, the core difference between the two was like that of night and day. In simple words, there was an ancient saying back in the Seven Realms that goes, "Martial artists reach for the heavens, while cultivators reach pass by heavens."
"I knew it! What were you using back there during that fight? At first, I thought it was just simple boxing, but when you used your legs it made me think of a more overall MMA style of fighting. You know when I..." Mirage began to go on an entire rant about the subject at hand.
As Mirage was talking, Izroth noticed that the lava pools had started to form more bubbles on its surface. All of a sudden, the temple shook violently as the lava pools were now boiling as if it were a pot of water. Not too long after, the broad pathway that Izroth and his party walked on began to be invaded by the lava.
"What's going on?" Mirage said as she had to abruptly keep her balance at the moment the temple shook. It felt as though an earthquake was about to occur and the lava itself grew restless and wanted to escape the confines of the pools. The once broad pathway was now becoming narrower and filled with magma as each second passed by.
'Strange, it almost seems as if the lava has a mind of its own.'
"It appears we'll have to pick up our pace." Izroth said as he hastened his steps. There was something odd about the lava, but he was unable to pick his finger on it. There was always the chance that he was simply overthinking the matter, however, there was this nagging feeling in the back of his mind.
A few moments later, Izroth arrived at the end of the pathway with his party. When he turned back to observe what was happening, Izroth saw that the lava had completely consumed the pathway.
However, around five seconds later the magma started to retreat back into the pools and the violent shaking stopped. A couple of seconds after that, everything seemed to return to the way it was before.
Luna furrowed her brows with a slightly troubled look on her face as if something was bothering her.
"Is something on your mind?" Izroth asked when he noticed Luna's troubled expression.
Luna shook her head and said, "It's nothing. It's something that will resolve itself with time."
Izroth gave a small nod in response before he shifted his focus towards an opening that led into a spacious room. It was currently being guarded by two Lava Beast, one at each side of the entrance.
It did not take long for them to eliminate the two Lava Beast and proceed into the next room. Before Izroth and his party even set a single foot into the room, they could feel the heat waves intensifying. Fortunately, the Fire Spirit continued to protect them without any problems.
But, even the Fire Spirit could not get rid of the natural discomfort that came from the heat waves which actually led to a Willpower Check by the system. Of course, everyone passed the check with ease.
"So hot!" Mirage said with a frown on her face. She did not mind a good bit of heat since she was used to it, however, it was beginning to reach a level of irritation.
"Indeed, if it continues to increase the further we go into the temple, I'm not sure if the Fire Spirit alone will be enough to protect us. It seems we'll have to rely on our own willpower as well." Luna stated.
"Then, I suppose we'll see just how far our own willpower can take us." Izroth said in a carefree manner. He started to make his way towards a corridor that led out of this room and most likely deeper into the Blazing Temple itself.
However, there were many Lava Beast scattered around and roaming the room. There was no choice but to clear a path to the corridor. Izroth and his party began to sweep through Lava Beast with ease.
Meanwhile back in Amaharpe...
Mariposa massaged the temples on her head and released a long sigh. At the moment, she had a tired expression on her face as if she had not gotten any proper rest over the past few days.
"He Huian, can you say that again?" Mariposa asked.
"I know it's not the answer you need at this time, but the truth of the matter is that they just won't budge no matter how much above the market price we're willing to pay." He Huian said in a low and soft tone of voice.
"Maybe I should just send Valkyria to have a talk with them." Mariposa said to herself.
"Please refrain from making my job any more difficult than it already is, guild leader." He Huian said as she emphasized the words "guild leader" as if to remind Mariposa of her own position.
Mariposa shot up to her feet and said, "Fine! If they want to play it that way then we'll play it that way too! Come, I'll go along with you personally this time! Let's see if they dare turn me away!" Mariposa had a fierce look in her eyes at the moment.
"Y-Yes." He Huian said in a startled manner as she was surprised by Mariposa's sudden outburst.
"Let's go!" Mariposa said as she left the temporary headquarters of Sleeping Gardenia along with He Huian.
Around fifteen minutes later, Mariposa and He Huian arrived outside of a building very much like their own temporary headquarters. However, this building was much smaller in comparison.
"Permissions?" Mariposa said as she turned to He Huian.
"Open to the public." He Huian responded.
"Good." Mariposa gave a small nod before opening the door and entering into the building along with He Huian.
There was a long table at the center of the room and a dozen players that were discussing various matters.
"The price of the Higlosa Flower has dropped by 10.5% in less than a day! I'm telling you, it's useless!"
"Useless? Are you forgetting about what happened to the Silver Albatross Feather? It dropped by 20% the very first day after it was put in the auction house and then what? It more than tripled in price two days later!"
"Bah, both of you are wrong! The future is definitely in raw and refined ores. A player will always need better gear and Blacksmiths will always need ore to craft better equipment. It's a market with boundless potential."
"See? This is how they've been ever since I first visited this place. However, every time I try to start a conversation..." He Huian said as she approached one of the players at the table to give them a friendly greeting. However, before she could even finish her sentence she was cut off.
"You're back here again? We've already told you it's impossible. What's impossible is impossible so it can't be done that's simple logic! We simply don't have any time for such a nonsensical agreement." One of the players who was called Masterworks said.
"Then make time!" Mariposa said with a strong level of authority present in her voice. In truth, she was already busy enough as it is and now she had to come down here to personally deal with this matter. However, there was only one reason why she would even bother paying a personal visit to this group of players.
A dozen players who were all so talkative just moments ago went silent and focused their attention on the newest arrival.
"Ah, guild master Mariposa of Sleeping Gardenia, you honor us with your presence. Come, come, what can we do for you today?" Masterworks said as he stood to his feet with a large and friendly business smile on his face and his hands clasped together.
It was well known that the guild leader of Sleeping Gardenia was incredibly wealthy, therefore, she was a customer who could provide a great amount of profit. Not only that but as one of the top ten guilds within RML, Mariposa held a high level of influence and power. For people like Masterworks, he could always use more friends with more power and influence any day.
"Alright, I'm not here for your legendary hospitality. I've come to talk about the resources He Huian requested from your consortium. Are you not the major suppliers of the Jugris Leaf and Violent Lotus Seeds?"
"Yes, of course, we are. However, you must understand the amount you're asking for is a bit-" Masterworks tried to explain, but he was cut off by Mariposa.
"I don't need to hear excuses, do you have it or not?!" Mariposa said without giving him any room to spin a web of pretty words just to delay the ultimate answer.
Masterworks furrowed his brows and responded, "To be honest, yes, we do have the amount you're asking for. However, I am afraid we cannot simply sell you our entire supply in one go. Surely you can understand our predicament from a business perspective?"
"You have what I want and I intend to buy it. Will you deny me face?" Mariposa said as she set her gaze upon Masterworks.
Masterworks gave a helpless expression. He did not want to be the one who offended the guild leader of a top guild. He grew silent as the atmosphere in the room became heavy and tense.
However, a few moments later, a player at the head of the table began to laugh which caused everyone to look over in his direction.
"Is something funny?" Masterworks asked with a gloomy expression on his face.
"No, nothing at all. I'm just amazed at by how much of a fool you are. The rumors may escape your ears, but they never escape mine." The player at the end of the table stood up to approach Mariposa.
Mariposa frowned and asked, "And who are you supposed to be?"
"I've been waiting for you to come here personally, guild leader of Sleeping Gardenia. Jugris Leaf and Violent Lotus Seeds, is it? Quantity is not a problem for me, however, I do have a single condition before I sell to you." The player said.
"Oh? What might that be?" Mariposa asked as she narrowed her eyes.
"It's simple really. I just want to become friends, that's all." The player who spoke was someone who Izroth would recognize immediately if he were there at the moment. It was surprisingly Metronome!