"Some kind of illusion?" Guan Yu said to himself as he brandished his guandao, sweeping it through the darkness, however, no matter where he swung he was only met by nothingness.
"Where are you swinging?" Grim's voice sounded from behind Guan Yu causing him to immediately react.
Guan Yu twisted his body around to attack Grim, but there was no one there by the time his guandao reached its intended target.
"I can't see a thing and his voice seems to be coming from where he pleases." Guan Yu muttered to himself. He was annoyed with this kind of fighting style that involved so many mind games. A real man should face problems head on!
"Shall I let you in one a little secret?" Grim said.
"Even if I said I didn't want to hear it, something tells me you'd still run your mouth. You talk a lot more than you fight." Guan Yu said taunting Grim.
Grim's laughter reverberated throughout the darkness. It sounded eerie and mocking as if he found Guan Yu's words to be amusing.
"No matter how much you struggle the end results will be the same. You guys have no idea what you've walked into, do you? If you knew what this place was, then you would have never even dreamed of coming here. But, I suppose people like you need a firm hand to guide them." Grim said as he phased out of the darkness.
Guan Yu took a small side-step as he thrust his guandao directly at Grim's head. This thrust was many times faster than Guan Yu's usual attacks and had a strong rotating force to it. It was a new skill he picked up called Revolving Drive.
Guan Yu's guandao went right through Grim's head. It was a critical hit! Or, at least, that's what was supposed to happen. Indeed, his guandao did go through Grim's head, but it did not do a single bit of damage. Before he knew it, Grim phased right through him in the same way the Netherworld Specter's did when they attacked.
"An illusion? No, it's-" Guan Yu felt that something was off and came to a sudden realization, however, it was too late. A crimson scythe brushed across his back. The attack came from the figure he thought was a simple illusion who just phased through him.
This made Guan Yu kick off his back foot and launch himself forward as he turned around with a wave of his guandao. But, just like last time, his guandao hit nothing but air instead of Grim. He was like some sort of phantom or ghost! Guan Yu's facial expression turned serious as he locked his sights onto Grim whose body was currently cut in half right across his torso area! However, he seemed unbothered.
"I know what you're thinking. It must be an illusion, right?" Grim said as his body that was split apart had attached itself back together! He was completely unharmed by both of Guan Yu's attacks.
Guan Yu did not respond to Grim. He took a deep breath and released it after a few seconds. He now had a look of clarity in his eyes as he adjusted his position. He lowered his guandao so that its blade was pointing towards the ground and set his left foot in front of his right foot, taking on a slightly wider stance.
"Oh? The silent treatment? You were just so talkative a few moments ago. Do you dare not talk anymore, little lamb?" Grim said in a voice drowned in disdain and contempt.
"Rah!" Guan Yu suddenly yelled, releasing a loud thundering scream.
Grim instinctively jumped back and his eyes widened slightly from shock. Was that supposed to be some sort of sound based skill? If it was, he did not feel any different than before and remained uninjured.
Guan Yu grinned and said, "As I thought, you're just a spineless coward who likes to hear himself talk. You're scared of a small battle cry? Hah! But, I suppose people like you need a firm hand to guide them." He threw Grim's own words right back into his face. What he used was not anything as fancy as a skill, just a simple shout.
Grim's reaction showed Guan Yu that he lacked any real spirit when it came to fighting. To Guan Yu, someone who lacked spirit would never be his match, let alone even think about guiding him in any way.
Grim's expression darkened as the cool in his eyes grew cold. Guan Yu had just made a fool of him! Originally, he was going to just play around with him for a bit before sending him off to a quick death. However, now he would take his time and make sure that Guan Yu knew just how terrifying his Nether Realm could be.
"Bravery and stupidity are often confused for one another. But, I can tell you, without a doubt, insulting me is nothing but absolute stupidity." Grim said in a monotone voice. If his previous demeanor could be seen as playful and entertained, his current behavior showed that he no longer had any interest in toying around.
"That's more like it. Besides, you looked stupid with that smug smile on your face. Though, now that I think about it, I think that's just your natural state." Guan Yu said as a ferocious blue aura that gave off an ancient and primordial feeling rushed from out of his guandao.
"I've been wanting to test this for a while now. I couldn't have asked for a better practice target." Guan Yu stated as the guandao within his hands soon became saturated in that ancient blue aura.
Meanwhile, Izroth and the rest of his party had already brought down one of the Puppet Chained Assassins and managed to deal a heavy amount of damage to the remaining one.
An arrow drilled through the head of the Puppet Chained Assassin as its movements were halted. A few moments later, it fell down to the ground motionless.
Halls let out a deep sigh. Those chains the two NPCs used to attack with were annoying to deal with due to their AOE nature.
"Nice healing, Luna." Halls said giving her a thumbs up. Most healers would have a difficult time with one level 40 NPC, not to even mention two and yet Luna was able to keep him alive! It was an amazing feat. He was thankful that someone like Luna was in their party.
"I fear the price may not have been worth it." Luna said with furrowed brows. She had exhausted over 80% of her mana and burned through a few important cooldowns just to keep Halls alive. She was only level 36 facing off against the damage of two NPCs that were equal in power to two level 45 elite monsters. That was almost a full 10 level gap!
The fact that she even had 20% of her mana left was a miracle in and of itself. Though, if not for the increased mana she received after her transformation into a member of the Trephasia race, then she was certain that she would not have possessed enough mana to keep Halls alive. They would have had to change their entire battle strategy.
'It's the first time I've fought against an NPC, but...'
After defeating the two NPCs Izroth did not receive an alert from the system. No experience, no loot, not even the usual congratulations for obtaining victory. It was a bit strange, however, it could be that these NPCs just simply didn't give any of those things. But, Izroth found that difficult to believe considering how the system always rewarded players based on how challenging the task was.
'She has not moved a single step since I've used the Behemoth's Quake.'
Izroth looked over towards Aelaza who still had her arms crossed and her eyes closed. He then turned his focus to the black sphere formed from smoke located where Guan Yu was fighting Grim most recently. Everything just felt off about this place, but Izroth was unable to put his finger on it.
"We can no longer afford to stand around here. If they call for reinforcements then it'll become a headache, especially if more level 40 elite NPCs come along with them." Zi Yi said. However, she just wanted to get out of this place as soon as possible due to how eerie it was.
"Oh? Then should we go help spear boy?" Mariposa said referring to Guan Yu.
"A real man fights his own battles! I'm sure my brother would say something like that if you tried to help." Halls commented.
Izroth began to walk without warning. He was headed towards Aelaza.
"Where are you going?" Luna asked curiously as she saw Izroth walking off.
"I'm going to have a little chat with someone who probably knows more about this place than any of us. After all, I have no plans on turning back now that we've already come this far. The tomb Azalea spoke of has to be somewhere nearby, however, it's currently impossible to tell with the sudden appearance of this village. So, I'm off to get some answers." Izroth stopped and responded before proceeding onward.
"Be careful." Luna said with a hint of concern in her voice. Luna thought that Azalea was already hard enough to get along with, but compared to her twin sister, Azalea could see seen as being the warm and passionate one of the two.
A few moments later, Izroth arrived before Aelaza. He halted his steps around five meters away from her.
Aelaza opened her eyes at the same exact time Izroth moved within five meters of her. If he had taken more step, he would have entered into her attack range. It was almost as though he purposely chose that spot to stop in, however, it could have also just been a simple coincidence.
At first, there was nothing but silence. Surprisingly, Aelaza was the first one to break that silence.
"You approached me with your sword sheathed. You must be quite confident in your abilities." Aelaza said.
"Is confidence a bad thing in your eyes?" Izroth inquired.
"No, it's just too often that one's overconfidence ultimately leads to defeat." Aelaza replied.
Luna, Halls, Zi Yi, and Mariposa stayed back and observed Izroth speaking with Aelaza.
"What do you think they're talking about?" Halls asked.
"I'm not sure, but I'm more concerned about what's going on inside of the black smoke. Their fight should have been over by now." Zi Yi said with a frown. At the moment, Guan Yu's HP bar was grayed out. That meant one of two things, the first was that he was too far away for them to know his status. The second was that he had been eliminated.
But, Zi Yi believed that it was the former. After all, if that Grim player had finished off Guan Yu, then why was he not back at this place? Also, Guan Yu may be a lot of things, but he would not allow himself to be defeated without putting up a fight.
Out of nowhere, Mariposa was sent flying through the air before crashing into the ground around ten meters away and tumbling a bit before finally coming to a stop.
Everyone was shocked! What just happened? That was the main question on everyone's mind. However, their question was soon answered. One of the Puppet Chained Assassins they had defeated earlier that was lying motionless on the ground was now standing up again! How was this possible?
"Sis!" Zi Yi exclaimed when she saw Mariposa's body treated as if it were a ragdoll.
Not too long after, the two Puppet Chained Assassin stood to its feet and immediately attacked Halls who was still the closest to its body. But, he was able to raise his shield in time to block the incoming blow.
"He's gone...!" Luna said which confused everyone, but they soon discovered what she was referring to. When Luna was about to call out to Izroth, she looked over and saw that both he and Aelaza were no longer there! They had seemingly vanished into thin air!
However, that was not the end of their problems. Luna's mana only had a chance to heal up to around 35% of her total mana! Without Izroth here, their overall damage would drop significantly which meant they would definitely not outlast the two Puppet Chained Assassins before she ran out of mana.
But, it did not stop there. It was as if their misfortune was destined to continue its growth.
〈Battle Alert: Puppet Chained Assassin has entered an enraged state!〉