"My Shield of Pacification won't be able to hold off against his attacks for much longer!" Omega warned as the barrier that protected everyone was beginning to slowly fall apart.
Ying Yue pointed towards the sky and at Zephyr as a spear made out of water and concentrated mana formed above her head. The spear of water quickly traveled through the barrier and soared into the sky with its target being Zephyr.
Zephyr halted his attacks as he moved a few meters down to avoid the incoming spear of water, however, he quickly resumed his previous position.
Even though Ying Yue missed with her spell, she had accomplished her goal of removing some of the pressure from Omega's Shield of Pacification. One thing she learned from this experience was that it was incredibly difficult to hit targets that were in mid-air. Fortunately, Zephyr did not seem to possess a master level of flight and his movements in the sky felt almost forced at times.
These details did not escape the eyes of Izroth and the members his party who were more observant.
"We should fall back out of range and force him to come down from there, otherwise, we stand no chance. Either that, or we have to find a way to knock him out of the air. However, that might be a little difficult considering our current class pool." Midnight said.
There were only two members of their party who were ranged, Midnight and Ying Yue. Even Izroth with his Tempest Strikes was unable to reach Zephyr from the ground. But, that did not mean that Izroth lacked any means of attacking him.
"If he refuses to come down here to us, then we'll just have to go up to him." Izroth said in a carefree tone.
"I think you're forgetting the very important fact that he's flying. How are we supposed to get up there when none of us are capable of flight? Jump really high?" Mirage stated. It was as simple as Zephyr was up there and they were down here.
But, there was one person who had his gaze set on Izroth and that was Midnight.
"You're joking..." Midnight quietly said to himself in disbelief. He remembered when Izroth first arrived at the inn back in Terisyllis Village. Mirage had questioned how Izroth was able to reach Terisyllis Village so fast from the capital city Amaharpe and his exact response was "I flew for a bit.".
Just like Mirage, Midnight had completely dismissed those words as nonsense when he heard them, however, after journeying with Izroth for a while and realizing just how abnormal he really was, maybe he was being serious at that time. However, that would mean that something frightening was about to take place.
Without any further warning, Izroth jumped into the air.
"A futile attempt." Zephyr said to himself as he observed Izroth's jump. Did that individual truly believe that he would be able to reach him by simply jumping? He was twenty meters above the ground! Even with a high-ranked wind magic skill, it would be difficult for one to reach his current position. How many years had it taken him to master this skill?
Zephyr sheathed his sword and took on an offensive stance.
When Izroth saw this, he closed his eyes. This caused Zephyr to look on coldly as the sword intent he released became sharper. Was this person intentionally mocking him? In his eyes, if that person was in such a hurry to die, then he would happily grant him his wish for a swift death.
Zephyr locked onto Izroth. When Izroth was around three meters in the air, the original momentum from his jump ran out. Three meters was the highest any player could jump without any additional skills to assist them. This number was a bit lower for those who wore plated armor or were cloth wearing magic casters.
"Warpath Blade: Unmarked Quick Drawing Arts." Zephyr waited for the perfect opportunity strike and that was the small window of time that Izroth was helplessly floating in mid-air before he would be forced back down by gravity. Zephyr's sword flashed out of its sheath as an intense blade of wind traveled at amazing speeds towards Izroth.
The unmarked version of his Warpath Blade: Quick Drawing Arts was even faster than the original attack he used against Izroth at the start of the battle. He believed that since Izroth was foolish enough to leave himself stranded and defenseless in mid-air, there was no chance of him surviving that attack.
"Let's see you parry this." Zephyr said to himself. No one had ever been able to defend against the unmarked version of his skill, let alone avoid it. This would be his way of redeeming himself from the previous humiliation of having his first sword strike parried by Izroth. However, little did Zephyr know, there was always for a first time for everything in this world.
Unlike what Zephyr believed, it was not Izroth's goal to mock him nor was it out of arrogance that he closed his eyes. Instead, he knew from Zephyr's sword stance that he was preparing to use a quick-drawing sword skill.
Since Izroth could not rely on his sight to follow the path of the attack, he would rely on his other senses. By closing his eyes Izroth increased more than just his other basic senses such as his hearing. By concentrating on the feeling from his Soul Sense and driving it to the very peak of its performance in order to sense Zephyr's attack, he was able to accomplish something unexpected.
〈System Alert: You have unlocked a new skill for the trait «Soul Essence».〉
Izroth, however, did not have time to personally look over the skill. But, soon after he received that alert from the system, something bizarre happened. Everything around him was supposed to be completely dark since his eyes were closed, but he could see flames of all sizes in the surrounding area.
'What is this?'
Below him was a total of five flames. All the flames were different colors, but the sizes varied. Green, turquoise, yellow, blue, and white.
The intensity of the flames was different, but without a doubt, the white flame was on an entirely different level compared to the rest and was at least double the size of the other flames. Followed by the white flame in levels of intensity was blue, yellow, green, and then turquoise.
However, there was another flame above him that held a greater level of intensity than all the flames that were below him combined. It was a murky and milky colored flame, however, unlike the wild and untamed flames beneath him, this flame was compressed and controlled. But, even though its appearance was much smaller than the other flames, its power was far greater.
There was an extraordinarily condensed flame headed straight towards Izroth. Compared to the other flames, this one did not feel as alive. But, Izroth was able to immediately tell that it was something extremely dangerous. He pieced everything together and quickly came to a conclusion.
'I see, if the five flames on below me are Mirage and the others, then that makes the one above me Zephyr. The flame heading towards me must be the sword strike he just used. But, why am I seeing all of this? Does it relate to the system alert I just received?'
Indeed, it was just as Izroth guessed. Due to the new skill he acquired from his Soul Essence trait, he was able to "see" even with his eyes closed! The name of this trait skill was called Energy Vision Sense.
Trait: Soul Essence
*New*-Energy Vision Sense: The user can feel and see mana, as well as, different forms of energy in their surroundings (Current Max Range: 164 meters). Consumes 0.10(+0.05 per second active) Essence per 10 meters every second it remains active. The greater the range and longer the skill remains active, the more Essence will be consumed.
On the ground, the white flame belonged to Ying Yue, the blue flame to Qi Jiguang, yellow to Mirage, green to Midnight, and turquoise to Omega. Of course, Izroth had no idea what these different colors meant.
Just as the attack was about to hit Izroth, his body started to flicker in and out of existence. Zephyr's sword strike hit nothing but empty air as it passed through the silhouette Izroth left behind.
At the same time, everyone became dumbfounded by what they witnessed next. The afterimages of Izroth's silhouettes did not show him descending, but rather ascending. In other words, he was still going up past the jump limit for players!
Zephyr eyes widened from shock. Impossible! How did that person manage to dodge his Warpath Blade: Unmarked Quick Drawing Arts?! It was undodgeable! Though the thing that left him completely speechless was the fact that Izroth was flying! No, it was still not quite flying, but it was much closer to what true flying than his own methods were.
Izroth's movements were similar to stepping and striding in the sky itself. He was capable of moving in all directions which was something that even Zephyr was incapable of doing. This was thanks to the Sky Steps skill attached to Izroth's Skystep Boots. It granted him the ability to temporary step on air for twenty seconds. Of course, this was reduced to ten seconds since he was currently in combat.
It did not take long for Izroth to arrive even higher up in the air than Zephyr. He stopped at a height of around thirty meters which was ten meters above the maximum height that Zephyr could achieve.
A strong gust of wind blew around Izroth's Sword of The Storm as he invoked the skill Tempest Strikes. Since Zephyr liked to attack in this same manner, Izroth felt that it was only right that he naturally return the favor.
In one second, Izroth sent five blades of wind soaring towards Zephyr.
Zephyr tried to adjust his position to block Izroth's attacks, however, his air maneuverability was mediocre at best. While he was able to successfully parry away two of Izroth's attacks, he was struck mercilessly by the remaining three blades of wind. At that moment, he understood that being in the sky had been quickly turned from an absolute advantage into a disadvantage for him!
This forced Zephyr to swallow his pride and concede the sky to Izroth! He hated to admit it, but he lacked the proper skillset for a battle in the sky. He began to descend back towards the ground as he was continuously bombarded by Izroth's attacks.
"Freak...!" Mirage could not help but exclaim. He could fly! He was actually able to fly! Not only that, but he forced Zephyr, a rare NPC, to retreat back towards the ground. Did this guy have to make it his job to ignore common sense?
Of course, Izroth would not allow Zephyr to retreat without paying a heavy price. He made sure to take full advantage of Zephyr's lack of maneuverability and followed him down to stay within attack range. Izroth did not let up on his assault as he shaved off a good portion of Zephyr's HP in a short period of time.
By the time Zephyr's feet touched the ground, his HP had dropped down to 35%! In that brief moment, while Zephyr descended, with his Flickering Steps active and Zephyr being practically defenseless, Izroth cut off 15% of his HP!
As soon as Zephyr's foot touched the ground, Qi Jiguang was there to personally greet him.
Qi Jiguang's fist collided with Zephyr as a series of small explosions appeared at his side.
Izroth opened his eyes as the flames disappeared and everything around him returned to normal. He rapidly descended from the sky along with his Sword of The Storm falling down at an incredible speed towards Zephyr. It was followed by the sound of a loud thunderclap as a bolt of lightning crashed down.