Even though Izroth did not receive any loot from the NPCs, he was not left totally empty-handed. The pack of Tenedi Demon wolves dropped some high-quality materials that would have been difficult to obtain in a place like Amaharpe. Though, there were a few things that he was unable to use due to the restriction of only being able to have a single profession.
'A troublesome restriction.'
If not for that restriction, Izroth would have also become a Blacksmith, Alchemist, and any other professions he could get his hands on. After all, he was more than just a master apothecary back in the Seven Realms.
If he was able to learn every profession within RML, then his Mystical Realm Palace could have easily been a one-stop-shop. But, it would have no doubt been a time-consuming matter. It was already troublesome enough keeping up with the pill inventory in his shop.
'I suppose I'll just keep it stored for now. It may come in handy at some point.'
Thanks to the Mystical Realm Palace, Izroth was no longer lacking when it came to monetary funds. Therefore, he did not really think about selling the items he acquired from the Tenedi Demon wolves. Instead, he would use whatever he could and keep the rest to trade for potentially useful items. After all, there were some things that gold coins could not buy within RML.
Of course, no one in the group had any objections to Izroth taking all the loot since he was the one who killed the monsters.
After successfully going through the loot drop, Izroth returned to his party and was greeted by helpless smiles and strange looks.
"Have you ever heard of the word restraint?" Mirage asked as she shook her head.
"I thought I restrained myself quite well." Izroth responded with a carefree expression. Although it may have seemed as if he was simply boasting, he was telling the truth. Izroth had already tested the limits of how much Essence he could pour into a skill before he experienced Soul Weakness and it was a bit more than 50% of his total Essence.
At the moment, Izroth possessed an Essence of 164. He used 10 Essence on his Behemoth's Quake and 32 Essence on his Great Storm. This meant that he could have still poured an additional 40 Essence into his Great Storm skill before experiencing Soul Weakness. Not to even mention the results if he poured every last bit of his Essence into it.
Of course, Izroth did not want to waste any more than what was required to get the job done. After all, he had to also think about the battles that may lie ahead of them. Given that his Essence regeneration was still only one point per minute, it would take him a total of 42 minutes to completely regain that Essence that he had just spent.
'I'll have to find a way to increase the regeneration rate of my Essence if I want to be able to use it freely.'
"If you don't mind me asking, how did you manage to learn such a powerful skill as a combat master?" Midnight asked curiously.
Midnight asked the question that was on everyone's mind. Everyone would be lying to themselves if they said that they were not interested in how Izroth was able to teach himself that skill.
'A curious bunch.'
Izroth replied, "It's not a combat master skill, but one that's attached to my weapon. In other words, it's a weapon skill."
Weapon skill?! Everyone was more shocked than they were before. What kind of ridiculous weapon skill was that?!
They were all at a lost for words. Even rare weapons were incapable of producing anything close to the skill Izroth used, therefore, there was only one other explanation. Izroth's weapon was even stronger than a rare-quality weapon! However, was such a thing even possible at this point within RML?
Ying Yue and Qi Jiguang were the only two who understood everything as soon as Izroth mentioned that it was a weapon skill. The two of them were the only members in the group who had participated in the Chaotic Dogma Realm and knew that one of the rewards listed on the SS-ranked quest was one piece of epic ranked equipment.
That sword on Izroth's back was likely the weapon he received as a reward for completing the Chaotic Dogma Realm. In other words, it was an epic-quality weapon!
Qi Jiguang had been wondering who was the party that cleared the Chaotic Dogma Realm ever since he was first forcibly teleported outside of that place. Now, it seemed as though he finally got his answer.
After taking a few moments to settle down, they decided to resume their previous route. At the same time, Izroth brought up a topic that he believed everyone had the right to know. He explained to them about what he overheard from the bandits regarding the bounty placed upon them, as well as, the "cloaked weirdo" that they mentioned was behind it.
"One billion gold coins?! Hm, maybe we should turn the mind beads over ourselves." Mirage said in a half-joking manner.
"Yeah, one billion gold coins does sound really tempting." Omega commented. In all honesty, they did not owe anything to Robin. While it may seem cruel of them to ignore his request, one billion gold coins was simply too huge of a number to ignore.
"There's an old saying that if something looks and seems too good to be true, the chances are that it is. If the system really did give out one billion gold coins in one go, it would collapse the entire economy of RML and the price of gold coins would plummet. The exchange rate would drop to a laughable number." Midnight said.
"I have to agree. Although I've never deeply studied economics, even I can tell that releasing such a large volume of gold coins into play at once would disrupt everything." Qi Jiguang stated.
"The bounty is likely a lie used to entice others to chase after us. Even the combined wealth of Amaharpe and Proximus doesn't amount to anywhere close to one billion gold coins. However, I doubt that the average person in this world has access to such information. This means that we're bound to run into further hindrances along the way, and I don't mean just monsters." Izroth said.
"What a shame. I was actually pretty excited that we were worth one billion gold coins." Mirage sighed.
"Well, technically the minds beads are-" Midnight tried to explain, however, he was quickly cut off by Mirage.
"Yup, I was super excited about our bounty." Mirage said in a slightly elevated tone.
Midnight shook his head as he knew that there was no point in finishing the last of his words.
"It looks like we won't be able to ignore the elephant in the room any longer. I'm assuming we're all thinking the same thing about the cloaked figure they mentioned. It has to be the same one from earlier that attacked the caravan." Qi Jiguang stated.
Midnight, however, frowned and looked as if he had something else on his mind.
Izroth took note of Midnight's doubtful expression and asked, "Do you disagree?" Of course, Izroth had his own thoughts about everything that happened, but he was interested to hear Midnight's opinion before giving his own.
"Well, it's just that the cloaked- No, the Faceless One we fought earlier seemed mentally unstable. Would someone like that be truly capable of convincing such a large number of people to attack us?" Midnight questioned.
"I suppose now that you mention it..." Qi Jiguang furrowed his brows at Midnight's question. Indeed, the person Izroth and his party at the time fought against did not seem level-headed enough to convince others that they even had one billion gold coins. Even if the bandits were not that smart, surely they were not as gullible to believe the words of a crazy person.
A carefree smile appeared on Izroth's face as he said, "I agree. The Faceless One we previously fought was mentally unstable, therefore, it should be impossible for them to have orchestrated this set of events. At least, not by themselves. 'We are a Faceless One.' was what that cloaked figure said."
Izroth could see the knowledge level NPCs possessed and the Faceless One they fought against had "Unstable" next to their knowledge level.
"We are a Faceless One..." Midnight muttered to himself. A few moments later, a look of realization found its way onto his face.
"Could it be that the Faceless One is not just a group of people, but a group of entities?" Midnight questioned.
"Aren't those two basically the same thing?" Mirage asked.
"It's a bit tricky to explain but to simplify it, think of this party as a group of people. We each have our own thoughts and ideas. Unless we can read minds, we'll never truly know what the other person is thinking. Now, think of a group of entities as being the exact same, except they are all intricately connected to one another. Able to share thoughts and ideas as if they were a single person. Being one but also two. It's like..." Midnight tried to find the correct words, however, he was having a difficult time doing so.
"You call that the simple version?" Mirage said with a doubtful look in her eyes.
"I think you're partially correct, but there's one key bit of information you're missing. While I do believe the Faceless One is not just a single individual, it's not entirely accurate to call them a group of entities. A more proper term would be a group of personalities. After all, they aren't real people." Izroth explained.
"Well, of course, they aren't real people. They're NPCs." Omega said as if it was something obvious.
"What I mean by that is that we're not dealing with the kind of NPC we're used to. It's just a theory, but the signs all point towards the same conclusion." Izroth said.
"What conclusion might that be?" Midnight asked.
"That the Faceless One is a cursed weapon." Izroth stated.
Cursed Weapon? No one had ever heard of that kind of weapon. At least, everyone except Ying Yue. There was a sudden look of surprise on her face when Izroth mentioned the cursed weapon.
"What's a cursed weapon? Never heard of it." Mirage said.
"A cursed weapon is a weapon that possesses a mind and will of its own. Those who wield it are slowly consumed by its overwhelming power and eventually, it's no longer the person controlling the weapon, but the weapon controlling the person." Izroth explained. He had read about cursed weapons in the Amaharpe library and everything about them was tied in with horrific stories.
"How can you be certain?" Qi Jiguang asked.
"Back when we fought against the Faceless One, they stabbed the greatsword into themselves. Initially, it was believed that they had sacrificed their own life, however, the reappearance of the Faceless One told us otherwise. But, in actuality, the Faceless One we were originally fighting against truly did sacrifice themselves at that moment." Izroth explained.
He then continued, "The greatsword lingered behind even after the Faceless One died instead of instantly disappearing along with it. Do you not find it strange that there was no flood of weapons left lingering behind after the death of the bandits a while back?"
Indeed, the weapons that the bandits had instantly started to dissipate and turn into particles at the moment of their deaths.
"So they really did die back then. But, how did they reappear to attack Robin? You said that cursed weapons slowly consume the host, however, even if it did manage to take control of Lyn, it should not have been able to completely take over so fast." Midnight stated.
"There are two possibilities I can think of. The first is that it's a unique cursed weapon that can immediately consume its host. However, I do not believe that this is the case. After all, it would have been smarter for it to control Jyuuriel or even Robin himself. The second is that Lyn was already a chosen host for the cursed weapon." Izroth said.