There was an eerie silence that lingered in the air. At the moment, there was not a single person present who was not shocked by what had just occurred. The Silver Hawk Merchants Caravan had collapsed before their very eyes and there was nothing they could do about it due to their current movement restrictions.
The barrage of vibrations lasted for a full ten seconds before it finally halted. The Faceless One who had stabbed themselves through the stomach burst into a fit of laughter. Their laughter was the only thing that could be heard as they began to turn into particles.
"How beautiful. They are free at last." The Faceless One said in a tone filled with ecstasy.
The caravan that was still fairly organized just seconds ago was now a total wreck! Not even one wagon was left completely intact and the Equosavras who stood brave in the face of danger were all dead.
As for the members of the caravan, out of the original fifty-some members, less than ten were left alive! This included Robin, Jyuuriel, and Lyn who had just moved closer to the rear of the caravan.
Robin's facial expression turned pale when he saw the aftermath of the attack. If he had not followed Lyn's suggestion and moved towards the rear of the caravan, then he may very well have been one of the people killed by that vicious attack.
"This is a disaster." Robin's voice held a tinge of guilt within it as those words escaped his mouth. It was him that cloaked figure was after, not the members of this caravan. This weighed heavily on his heart, however, when he remembered what was at stake, he could only convince himself that such sacrifices were a necessity.
But, even though Robin tried to justify the massacre that happened before his eyes, he was unable to make himself truly believe that it was a necessity. Could all this have been avoided if he simply handed that thing over to the Amaharpe officials when he first arrived in their kingdom?
However, he quickly erased those thoughts from his mind. If he did that, who knew what the consequences would be for his Tempest? Indeed, he did not want to see Tempest fall into the hands of those who were corrupt by nature, but he also did not wish to see it taken advantage of by another kingdom.
Also, there was no guarantee that the Amaharpe officials would keep their promise. Therefore, he had to have a few insurances. As a member of the Tempest royal family, he knew how politics worked and how some short-sighted individuals only cared about advancing their own agenda instead of doing the right thing.
There was one thing in particular that bothered Robin the most. How did the League of The Eidolon manage to pinpoint his location so accurately? There were only a handful of people who knew his true identity, as well as, the original route he would use as the "vice-leader of the Silver Hawks Merchants Caravan".
The only logical explanation was one that he had put off for far too long. Robin truly did not want to believe it, however, he knew that it was time to face the facts. Someone close to him had betrayed him.
"Fool, we are a Faceless One. To us, death is but a mere illusion. But to them, the suffering is eternal." The Faceless One said in a stern voice as their body shattered into countless particles. The only thing that remained was the strange greatsword pierced into the tree the Faceless One crashed into. The four crescent moons at the top area of its blade blinked a few times before losing its color.
Izroth's body stopped flickering as the movement restrictions wore off and the Faceless One ended their own life. Everyone was back to moving at normal speed, however, the atmosphere was extremely gloomy and they all felt as if they had just been cheated.
Izroth returned his Sword of The Storm to his sheath. He looked back towards the wreckage of the caravan with a calm expression on his face. He narrowed his eyes as something immediately caught his attention.
"What a ripoff!" Mirage scowled as she angrily stomped her foot on the ground. What kind of cheat ability was that? How could she accept that they had failed the quest just like that? What were they supposed to do in that kind of situation?! There was not a single thing she could think of besides killing the Faceless One faster. However, they had spent less than one minute in battle with them!
Midnight released a sigh as he recalled his totems and said, "It just wasn't meant to be. It looks like we've wasted our time for nothing."
Qi Jiguang and his party were still in a state of shock. All they saw was an alert from the system staring them in the face that had just confirmed their failure of the quest. However, that shock slowly began to turn into anger and outrage.
"Isn't this system being a bit unreasonable?! How could we have possibly stopped that?" Omega scoffed. How were they supposed to defend an entire caravan against an attack like that? Even if his Shield of Pacification could expand over the whole caravan, it would have still shattered after the first two waves of vibrations were sent out.
Qi Jiguang, on the other hand, had a serious expression on his face as his gaze fell upon the greatsword that was currently pierced into a tree. A few moments later, a flash of purple light enveloped the greatsword and it vanished into thin air.
"I think you're asking the wrong question. The real question is how come none of us received any damage from that attack?" Qi Jiguang stated.
"Now that you mention it..." Omega muttered to himself as a frown appeared on his face.
Indeed, why was it that the attack ignored them and singled out the caravan. With an attack like that, surely it would not have been out of that cloaked figure's hands to eliminate them in the process. So, why was it that they chose not to?
As everyone contemplated on what their next course of action should be, Izroth started to walk towards the wreckage of the caravan.
"Where are you going? Are you leaving back to Amaharpe already?" Mirage asked when she saw Izroth had already begun to move.
Izroth did not halt his steps as he responded, "I'm going to take a look. Something about that last attack felt off."
"At this point, it doesn't make much of a difference. No matter what, we've already failed the quest given to us. There's nothing that can change that. However, I too felt that something was odd about that last attack." Midnight commented.
"I, as well." Ying Yue stated in a soft tone as the four pillars she summoned at the start of the fight retreated back into the ground.
Since Midnight and Ying Yue were at a greater distance than Izroth and Mirage, they had a much better view of what took place during the moment everyone's movements were restricted.
Izroth arrived at one of the wagons that were in pieces and sifted through the debris of the wreckage.
'It should be right around...'
As Izroth moved one of the large pieces of wood that the wagons were made from out of the way, he uncovered a few shreds of paper scraps. However, they were not normal scraps of paper. There was still a very faint magic aura being emitted from them.
Izroth picked up the few remaining fragments of paper that he could find and closely examined them. As he did so, Mirage walked over and glanced over his shoulder to see what he was up to.
"What are you going to do with that trash? I doubt it can be sold anymore whatever it was." Mirage said as she saw the scraps of paper in Izroth's hand.
"This is a key." Izroth said as he stood up straight and looked towards the rear of the caravan.
"Key? To what?" Mirage questioned.
"Understanding." Izroth replied. He then made his way towards some of the other wagons to search the debris there as well. After he finished searching four wagons, Izroth had confirmed his suspicions without a need to check the rest.
'Most of it's charred, but from the similar patterns that are still visible in certain parts, I'm 90% positive that these are Echo Talismans.'
Echo Talismans were something Izroth learned about from the Amaharpe palace library. He knew that Echo Talismans were mainly used to amplify sounds and they were pretty common compared to other talismans.
However, while most individuals only used Echo Talismans as a way to increase the range of their voice when speaking, there was another possible application for them if used together with a Quake Talisman.
A Quake Talisman was very similar to an Echo Talisman and could even easily be mistaken for one, however, instead of amplifying sounds such as someone's voice, the Quake Talisman amplified vibrations.
Given that sound itself was simply a form of vibrations, the two talismans were able to feed off one another and produce a destructive result in a limited range. In other words...
The two talismans, when used together, formed a makeshift bomb. While the overall range was not that amazing, the concentrated and focused area of its destruction could cause a shattering-like effect to occur.
The Faceless One had released a powerful series of vibrations and yet no one but those within the immediate vicinity of the wagons was injured or killed. Also, there was the fact that nearly every wagon shattered in the same manner and from the exact same point based on what Izroth examined.
However, none of this could have been set up during the time frame of their journey. After all, Izroth would have remembered if anyone behaved in a suspicious manner and visited every single caravan. Even if someone had an advanced stealth skill, he was still confident in, at the very least, picking up their general presence as long as they did not have an item similar to the one Trinity's group used.
Therefore, he was left with one probable answer, sabotage. Before his party or any of the other groups joined with the caravan, the talismans had already been set into place and were ready to be activated at any given time!
'Before we even started this quest, it was doomed to fail.'
While the damage would not have been as drastic without the vibrations released by the Faceless One increasing the overall destruction force of the talismans, the loss of the wagons would have still been inevitable. All it would have taken at any moment was one good bump to start a chain reaction.
However, these were all clues that were never meant to be found. After all, not everyone had Izroth's keen eyesight and knowledge acquired from the Amaharpe palace library. This only further confirmed his previous conjecture that this was a quest set up for those participating to fail!
But, there was now another question that needed to be answered. Who sabotaged them?
'It can't be those two, so that leaves four.'
Izroth eliminated Robin and Jyuuriel from being the individual who purposely sabotaged things. The reason it could not have been Robin was obvious given his situation. As for Jyuuriel, there was no need for him to resort to such methods.
If he wanted to, he could have single-handedly killed every member of the Silver Hawk Merchants Caravan before they even had a chance to invite Izroth and the others along.
This meant that the person who sabotaged the caravan had to be Lyn, Needle, or one of the other two members of the caravan that were still alive.
'Slow beast, talismans, access...'
Izroth quickly began to piece things together and the answer immediately came to him. Who was the one person, besides Robin, who could roam around the caravan without raising any suspicions? Who arranged their transportation? Who practically brushed off his warning before the first bandit attack?
Just as this thought crossed Izroth's mind, he heard a painful wail come from the rear of the caravan. He knew that voice, it belonged to Robin!
Izroth turned into a shadow as he used his Shadow Movement skill to quickly arrive at the rear of the caravan. When he left his shadow form, he was surprised by the sight that awaited him.