With Gear keeping Nekrostalmenos suppressed and Guan Yu taking care of the Undead Netherworld Skeletal Beasts, Izroth and his party were able to refocus their attention entirely on shaving away at the arm's HP.
However, even though they still had plenty of time left to take care of the arm with their current damage output, Izroth found that troubling feeling steadily growing inside of him. Not only were his natural senses amazing, but his Soul Sense was even more abnormal. Right now, his Soul Sense was sending off a constant stream of alarm bells in his mind as though attempting to warn him of impending danger.
There were no stacks or anything hidden away within the battle logs. There was zero evidence of anything that could lead to a potentially unstable situation and yet, this bizarre feeling was present.
After its HP fell below the forty percent mark second time around, small black puddles began to form in random locations. Halls was the first to get caught by one of these puddles and it removed a good chunk of his HP in the process!
Luckily, he only remained inside the range of the black puddle for two seconds.
"Be careful of the puddles forming on the ground!" Halls warned as he began to pay more attention to the ground beneath him. Each black puddle would last for around ten seconds before disappearing.
Even without Guan Yu present, they maintained a high level of damage output thanks to the holy aura and quickly brought the arm's HP back down to a critical level. Surprisingly, there was still no retaliation from Nekrostalmenos or any of the creatures coming in from the portal.
The creatures only goal were to latch themselves onto the massive arm and Guan Yu was doing a great job acting as a preventive measure. Unfortunately, the creatures did not provide any experience after being eliminated which was most likely due to the currently overpowered holy aura from Tererestiaa.
As for Gear who did not let up on his attacks and robbed Nekrostalmenos of any chance to breathe, his speed was becoming progressively slower compared to the beginning of their fight. The flickering of his silhouettes also became inconsistent and instead of its usual phasing in and out of existence afterimage, it was as if the silhouettes were starting to harden. In other words, Gear was slowing down.
"How much longer can you keep this up, human? Five minutes? One minute? You are being consumed by your own power and yet you still continue to resist and take upon yourself to embark on such a meager and futile endeavor. You humans and your reputation for being illogical and irrational creatures do not do you any justice. Your idiocy and unwillingness to accept that which is inevitable remains one of the most baffling things about your race." Nekrostalmenos said.
"Did anyone ever tell you that you talk too much, old man?" Gear said with a small grin on his face. However, even though he was grinning, one could tell that he was hiding away a deep level of pain. One minute? He did not know if he could keep this up for another second let alone a minute! Every single second that passed, Gear felt his power slipping away from him.
The Imperious Rejuvenation Liquid may be an incredible and legendary medicine that could bring those who were near death back to perfect health, however, in the end, it was still medicine. The more one consumed, the higher the quantity of the medicine they would have to take in order for it to continue being effective.
Gear kept the medicine stored in an Endless Flask and consumed the medicine every day as if it were medicine. The wound he received from his fight with the other heroes against that monstrous Shadahi was just that powerful. If not for the Imperious Rejuvenation Liquid, then Gear would have probably left this world long ago.
Tererestiaa furrowed her brows as beads of sweat could be seen falling down the side of her face. She tried her best to encompass Gear in the same holy aura as Izroth and the others, however, every single time she tried that dark and corrupted energy from the wound on his body would repel the holy aura.
"How dreadful..." Tererestiaa said softly to herself. This was not just any holy aura, it was the holy aura of a divine being! Even though it lost a great majority of its strength, as to not destroy her body which was acting as its medium, it still contained a tremendous amount of concentrated holy energy. To be repelled by Gear's wound truly showed just how vicious and overbearing it was.
"We must hurry. If it continues to go on like this then..." Tererestiaa refocused herself and concentrated solely on maintaining the holy aura on Izroth and his party. She decided that she would hold on until the very last second and buy as much time for the others as possible. At this point, she could only hope that Gear would be able to last that long.
Meanwhile, Izroth, Zi Yi, Mariposa, and even Luna was unleashing a final assault on the arm of Nekrostalmenos. Just a few more hits and its HP would finally be reduced to zero! It came at a good time too, since the number of Undead Netherworld Skeletal Beasts were starting to reach a dangerous point.
"We're almost there!" Zi Yi said as she shot two arrows in quick succession towards the arm using Void Jump and they pierced through it effortlessly.
After Zi Yi's attack, the arm of Nekrostalmenos only had around 30,000 HP remaining. However, that was swiftly taken care of by Izroth as he slashed directly at the center of the arm with his Sword of The Storm.
"We did it!" Halls cheered as he watched the last bit of HP disappear from the arm. How could he not be excited? They were about to complete the first part of an SSS-ranked quest! That was huge! Also, the rewards from the quest were not small by any means. It even included an epic ranked piece of equipment!
Even Mariposa could not stop herself from smiling. Just the thought of Sleeping Gardenia being the sole top guild to own an epic ranked weapon was enough to bring a smile to her face. One had to know that amongst top guilds, something as small as a single enchantment or one piece of gear could decide who would break a dungeon's clear record!
After all, for top guilds to attract more skilled players, the best way to do so was proving their strength on a grand stage and right now, dungeon clear records was that grand stage.
"Something's not right." Izroth said immediately after realizing that the arm was not retreating back into the portal. In fact, the skeletal beasts were still leaving the portal freely every five seconds.
"Wait a second, it's HP..! It still has one HP left..!" Zi Yi said in a surprised tone of voice.
Everyone looked closer and quickly noticed that Zi Yi was correct. There really was one HP that remained!
"Then we just need to hit it one more time, right?" Halls said as he charged forward and struck the arm with a simple sword strike.
"What the...?" Halls was momentarily shocked. His sword had bounced off the arm and it was almost like striking something made out of pure metal.
The others also tried attacking the arm and even with the use of magic, it remained immune. After wasting nearly two minutes doing so, everyone had a troubled expression and gloomy expression written on their face.
"There must be something preventing us from dealing the final blow. We don't have a lot of time, we have to find an answer and fast." Zi Yi said as she rested her chin on her thumb and index finger taking up a thinking pose. They had less than four minutes left until the quest was considered failed, therefore, she had to think fast!
"I'll see if Tererestiaa can tell us anything." Luna said as she took off without waiting for a response. After all, she knew that they were pressed for time. At this point, Tererestiaa may be their best hope. However, a part of her felt a bit uneasy. This was because of the fact that if Tererestiaa truly did know something she would have definitely informed them of it beforehand.
"Guys! A little help over here!" Guan Yu shouted as he was currently being overrun by the skeletal beasts. At the moment, there were more than forty skeletal beasts spawning every five seconds! While Guan Yu was perfectly capable of one-shotting them, he did not have the attack speed or AOE skills to take care of such large numbers alone before they latched onto the arm.
"I'll go." Mariposa said as she volunteered to assist Guan Yu. She opened up a spatial rift and went over to lend a land. With the two of them working together, they were able to once again halt the skeletal beasts advance.
Izroth swept his gaze throughout the surroundings searching for answers. When his eyes landed on a small black speck lingering above that massive arm, it suddenly dawned on Izroth.
The deathly energy that had been gathering around the arm was not directed at the arm itself, instead, it was feeding that tiny black speck that was barely discernable. If Izroth was not intentionally looking for something that stood out, then even with his amazing eyesight he would have never discovered that black speck.
Now that he had perceived that black speck, Izroth felt that there was something strangely familiar about it. He had sensed a similar aura only once before, however, the aura of that black speck was much more devious and restless!
Luna had returned just a few moments later after she left to speak with Tererestiaa.
"Did you find out anything?" Zi Yi asked. She had still not come up with anything close to a solution. She simply lacked the data necessary to even begin forming any kind of theory or answer.
Luna, however, shook her head and released a small sigh as she replied, "It's no use, Tererestiaa has every ounce of her concentration on maintaining the holy aura and is unable to answer. Besides, we have a much bigger problem to worry about. From the looks of things, it doesn't look like she can hold out much longer. Also, Gear is..." She explained what she witnessed on her trip over to Tererestiaa.
"He's losing?" Zi Yi said with a look of disbelief on her face. When Luna told her of how Gear seemed to be on the losing side and struggling at that, she could not believe her ears. That was one of her seven heroes fighting! How could he be losing against a single arm?
'Could it be due to the wound from that time?'
With Gear's speed alone, it should have been no problem for him to keep Nekrostalmenos suppressed. However, Izroth was reminded of that wound Gear showed him a while back that was made by that being who was eventually sealed by the divine ones. If that wound truly was holding him back, then the situation was much worse than he originally expected.
'This is troublesome.'
The skeletal beasts were overrunning the portal, the massive arm refused to die, Tererestiaa was struggling to maintain the holy aura, Gear was most likely struggling just to stand at this point, and now Izroth had just discovered the source of that impending danger that was bugging him all this time.
That tiny black speck which levitated above the massive arm of Nekrostalmenos and was constantly collecting the deathly energy in the atmosphere was not just any black speck. That black speck which was no bigger than one's fingernail was actually releasing the same aura as an item from the True World!
'It has the same aura quality as the item I received from that chest. However, this is obviously many times more powerful. But one thing is for certain, it's definitely an item from the True World. I'll bet that it has something to do with the immunity of this thing.'
On top of everything that was already going on, they now had to potentially deal with an item from the True World and had less than four minutes left to do so! Was it possible for things to get any worse?
Just as that thought was passing through everyone's mind, that black speck sunk into the massive arm and integrated itself within the arm.
The red hue that was spread through the entire underground chambers flashed constantly. It switched back and forth between a red hue and total darkness. However, in the end, the red hue retreated and converged onto the location of that massive arm followed back the newly formed darkness. The underground chambers had regained its original lighting a few seconds later.
As Izroth observed the arm before him, he could only shake his head inwardly.
'This quest truly is merciless.'