Instead of a classic wooden sign, it resembled an old and faded scroll that looked as if it would turn into dust if one so much as brushed up against it. However, there was a remarkable amount of powerful energy being emitted by the scroll which caused Izroth and his party to be struck by a constant bombardment of Willpower Checks.
There were only a few words written on the scroll with deep black ink, "Ancient Hall of Tempris". The brush strokes were natural, flowing, smooth, and overall aesthetically pleasing to look at.
'What refined calligraphy.'
Izroth did not know if a real person or the system was the one behind the exquisite calligraphy, but nevertheless, it was a pleasant surprise to run into.
"Ancient Hall of Tempris? I wonder what it means." Mirage said.
"We can assume the name Tempris is referring to the name of a specific place or individual. However, it can also be a unique word that's indigenous to RML itself. If that's the case, then Tempris can mean any number of things. I can mean anything from a location of meditation, all the way to a battle for combat. At this point, there are still too many unknown variables." Luna explained.
As Luna was speculating about the scroll, Izroth turned around and stared in the direction of the pathway they had come from earlier. He heard the sound of rapidly approaching footsteps and metal clanking around.
"It appears we have some company." Izroth said which made everyone turn around curiously and look towards the area he had his eyes on. They were unable to see or hear anything for the first few moments, however, after a few more seconds passed, everyone could see a group of six players frantically racing across the broad pathway as the lava pools grew restless.
"I can't keep up with the heals! Why are we taking so much damage?!"
"This heat! So hot! The lava is closing in, we have to hurry and make it to the other side!"
All of a sudden, a few random bursts of flames shot out from inside of the lava pools and headed right for the players crossing the pathway.
A loud explosion rang out as the flames rained down upon them. A few seconds later, two of the lower HP players had died off!
Before they even had time to agonize over the death of their party members, around five pillars of flames formed in front of them and blocked their path. This made it so that they had to stop running and go around the pillars. However, the lava pools were closing in fast which made it extremely difficult to pull off. Due to her lack of reaction time and agility, the healer was the next to die off.
"Help us!" One of the party members who seemed to be the leader of the party shouted when he saw Izroth and the others in the distance. How was it possible that the entire party ahead of them made it safely to the other side? Surely there must have been some unknown certain to this place!
He regretted not listening to the warnings about entering this place without a Fire Spirit. Originally, he believed that players were just being overly cautious and wasting time hunting for Fire Spirits. He was never afraid of facing a challenge!
However, this was one challenge he failed to anticipate. If only he had prepared some defensive and agility potions, then maybe it would not have ended this way. Unfortunately, such things were not cheap enough to simply have sitting around in one's inventory.
But, just as he called for help, the lava pools had completely closed in and covered the whole pathway.
The moment that happened, every player within that crossing party had immediately dissipated and died!
"To come all this way and die without even setting a real foot into the Blazing Temple, how cruel. I wish there was a way for us to have helped them." Mirage said as she shook her head.
"The only way we would have been able to help them would have been to gift them the Fire Spirit within our possession. In the end, even if we were generous enough to take such a huge risk, what would they do after traveling deeper into the Blazing Temple? After all, there's no way that we can continue swapping ownership of a single Fire Spirit all the way through." Luna said.
"Those who come unprepared and are not strong enough to face the challenge set in front of them deserves such an end." Azalea said without a shred of pity.
"Are you always so depressing to be around?" Mirage scoffed.
Azalea glared at Mirage and snapped back, "Are you always spouting such absurd fairytale words with happy endings?"
Izroth shook his head inwardly as he stepped inside of the corridor and started to make his way to the other end with Luna following next to him. As he did so, Azalea and Mirage stopped giving each other death glares and eventually caught up before Izroth arrived at the end of the corridor.
The moment Izroth stepped into the room at the end of the corridor, the first thing he realized was that there were no intense heat waves or Willpower Checks that seemingly spawned out of nowhere. In fact, it was eerily quiet with no sign of life or any kind of heat source within the room itself. There was nothing but a bunch of crumbled up black stones piled scattered throughout the room.
Izroth faintly heard the sound of some kind of liquid dripping. It sounded similar to a broken water faucet, except the only difference, in this case, was that when Izroth examined the source of the noise, it was molten lava instead of water.
The lava was dripping down onto one of the nearby stone piles causing the black stones to radiate extreme levels of heat. Now, the once black stones started to turn into a lemon color as if it were metal being cast into the eternal flames due to the great temperature they released. It soon reached a point where the stones melted and began to fuse and bind together.
This process was beginning to happen all throughout the room and soon enough, the scattered pile of stones grouped together and instantly formed a circle around Izroth and his party. The circle was around thirty meters in diameter. With the creation of the circle, there was the return of the heat waves and Willpower Checks.
"Prove your worth!" A voice rang through the room.
"This voice... It's coming from the Fire Spirit!" Mirage said as she was startled by the sudden announcement.
'Prove our worth?'
A couple of seconds later, the fire spirit that was hovering above Izroth's head disappeared and dived into the circle of melted stones.
"The Fire Spirit! It disappeared!" Mirage exclaimed. Did this mean that they simply did not need it anymore? Or did they just get robbed by this place without even knowing it?
"Odd, we still have the Protection of The Fire Spirit passive. This should mean that we haven't truly loss the Fire Spirit, or at the very least, the protection it provides us with." Luna commented.
"You're right, it's still there. But then what's going on?" Mirage said with her brows furrowed.
"Prove your worth!" The voice shouted once again. This time, however, a wisp of smoke rose up from the circle and formed the image of a transparent and ghostlike salamander. This salamander bore a striking resemblance to the one that Olohas' party slew to obtain its Fire Spirit. The only difference was that this one could actually talk!
"What is it that we must prove?" Izroth asked the salamander spirit.
"I am the keeper of the hall known only as Fourth of Ten. You have entered into the Ancient Hall of Tempris himself. Prove your worth, eternal ones." Fourth of Ten said. After that, no matter what questions Izroth and his party asked, it would only respond with "Prove your worth" as if it had nothing more to say to them.
"How frustrating! It tells us to prove our worth and then offers no explanation on how to do so. What does it expect us to do?" Mirage scowled.
"If it wants us to prove ourselves, then that's exactly what we'll do." Izroth said as he scanned the room. One of the things he immediately noticed was that there were no other exits or entrances besides the way they had entered through moments ago.
Izroth unsheathed his Sword of The Storm. As if responding to Izroth's readiness to fight, the salamander spirit spat flames from its mouth that were aimed not at Izroth's party, but rather the at an empty space within the circle itself.
From the flames, a monster similar in appearance to the Lava Beast emerged. The key differences were that this creature was slightly bigger in size and looked more intimidating than that Lava Beast.
Name: Spirit Possessed Lava Brute(Elite)
"Now this is more like it." Mirage said as her previously trouble expression had been replaced by one of excitement. The area of mind games was one that she did not excel in, therefore, she could not help but be relieved that the Fire Spirit did not require any.
Izroth noticed that the circle that was precisely thirty meters in diameter had shrunk to around 29.8 meters and it was continuing to decrease slowly. If it continued to shrink at its current rate, it would reach ten meters in diameter in only thirty seconds!
There was even the chance that it would close in all the way and at that point, there would be nowhere to run from the Lava Brute and they would have to face all of his attacks head-on without a tank. There also existed the possibility of them failing to prove their worth and being unable to proceed on their journey. However, both situations were far from being ideal.
"The size of our battlefield is slowly decreasing. It should become noticeable soon if it already hasn't. We should end this fight as quickly as possible." Izroth said as he dashed forward. When he approached the Lava Brute, he swung his sword in a sideways arc and landing a solid hit on its body.
Right after Izroth's sword made contact with the Lava Brute, his body quickly spun around as he followed up with yet another attack. But this time, there were with two phantom blades trailing right behind his sword as it lashed out. He not only used the skill Phantom Strikes, but he also infused it with the First Sword Form: Converging Paths. This allowed his Phantom Strikes to critically strike.
With just his opening move alone, Izroth had dealt nearly 10,000 damage! When Mirage saw the level of damage Izroth just did with a single move, she was startled.
Since Izroth did not use his sword during their journey, she thought that it was simply for decoration purposes or simply put, to look cool. However, she did not think that Izroth was capable of unleashing such monstrous damage as a combat master!
Mirage felt foolish for actually being worried about him being at a disadvantage during his fight with Present Order. If Present Order himself knew that Izroth did not even use a portion of his true strength, how much more depressed and humiliated would he be?
Mirage and Azalea joined in and pressed forward with their assault on the Lava Brute.
The Lava Brute's eyes turned bright red as its upper body began to expand like a large balloon being filled with air. A few seconds later as the attacks were raining down upon its body, a vicious and intense gathering of flames rushed out towards Izroth and his party. It was an AOE move with a range of nearly around ten meters!
With that attack range, it meant that if the Lava Brute used such a skill after the thirty seconds passed by, then they would unable to do anything to avoid it!