Izroth's Soul Sense sounded off the alarm in his head as he felt an overwhelming killing intent rushing towards him from far above. It had only been a few moments since the previous heavy pressure had been lifted, and yet a new threat had now appeared in its place. While it could not be compared to the pressure from before, it was still at a level that Izroth knew he would be incapable of handling with his current amount of strength. Not to mention...
'My skills are temporarily locked and my stats have decreased. Is this the backlash from overusing the Full Mantle state?'
At the moment, Izroth's total stats had been reduced by 75%! That's not all, but his skills had also been locked and he was currently unable to use them. Even his passive skills had been restricted to some degree. Normally, the backlash from using Full Mantle was not this bad, however, not only had he overused it, but he even dared to have Flickering Steps active at the same time!
Izroth's physical body could not handle the stress of using both Flickering Steps and the Second State: Heavenly Cloak's Full Mantle. Therefore, the backlash was not small by any means. This is what Izroth wanted to avoid the most and it was also the reason why he restricted extended usage of Full Mantle to emergencies. He understood that if he allowed that Maelstrom Domain to fully stabilize, then his chances of victory would have fallen drastically.
"Die!" Savarosa cried out in a fit of rage. Decades... She had spent decades of hard work trying to successfully accomplish a fusion of two main upper eight Domains. After all this time she had finally managed to succeed, however, all of her efforts had just gone down the drain in the blink of an eye. Not only that, but it took place right before her! Right now, there was nothing in the Mortal Realm that would stop her from tearing that brat below into unrecognizable pieces.
Izroth shook his head inwardly. Why was it that so many strangers wanted him dead for no apparent reason today?
However, when Izroth received a closer look at the figure who was headed right towards him, he was a bit surprised. That person bore a striking resemblance to Sage! The main difference was that she possessed a more mature appearance and lacked the pink markings on her face.
Izroth believed that the woman who wanted him dead must be related to Sage in some way. If that was the case, then it certainly made sense that she would want revenge. But, what Izroth did not know was that Savarosa did not care for Sage herself, but the precious secret that was contained within her body. Without it, how many more years would it take for her to recreate the same set of circumstances?
'Will I have to use that item here? No, even if I did, there's no guarantee that I'll survive. With my current level of strength, it's too much of a gamble. However, do I even have a choice?'
Izroth was torn between what to do. If he really did use that item in this place, then he would consider it as being a huge waste! However, if he refrained from doing so, then his death was inevitable.
As Izroth was debating whether or not to use the item, Kayn traveled forward at great speeds as a pair of brilliant golden wings formed from sun-colored flames appeared behind his back. He skillfully moved through the air and positioned himself in between Izroth and Savarosa. He was unsure where old man Zushuatri was at the moment, but with him being away the responsibility of keeping those on the Sky Palace safe had fallen into his hands.
"Calm yourself! Do you know the consequences of outsiders attacking participants of the selection while it's still taking place?!" Kayn shouted as he tried to talk some sense into Savarosa. Unfortunately, his words fell on deaf ears.
"Move!" Savarosa erupted as she waved her hand and a powerful energy emerged from out of a tear in space. This energy was extremely unstable and dangerous for lifeforms to come into contact with. When Kayn observed Savarosa's overbearing measures, he unleashed his power in full force as the golden flames encompassed his body and completely enveloped him from head to toe. He knew that this was not someone he could afford to hold back against!
Kayn's golden-colored flames collided with the strange energy that left the tear of space, however, the strange energy seemed to absorb, convert, and then release the power of Kayn's own flames! In turn, this caused Kayn to be pushed back by the constantly increased force and it was not long before he was sent flying back. Kayn rapidly fell from the sky as his body slammed into the Sky Palace, creating a crater in the area of his landing.
In the end, Kayn may have been a genius among the true dragons, but he was still not the opponent of someone at the peak of the legendary realm like Savarosa. Just blocking that strange energy had drained a large portion of his strength!
Savarosa, on the other hand, was inwardly shocked that Kayn survived. That strange energy she just released was meant to claim one of Kayn's arms. Even if she was in a fit of rage, she knew Kayn's identity as the third young master of the Dragon Palace. An arm was nothing much to fix with the vast resources of the true dragon race, but if she took his life then she would be making an enemy of the entire Dragon Palace!
If that happened, then there would be nowhere left to hide for her within the Mortal Realm or any other realm for that matter. The only one she wanted dead at the moment was Izroth!
All of a sudden, Izroth's eyes caught sight of Zushuatri who was closing in fast on Savarosa. But, he knew that from how fast the two were moving, Savarosa would reach him long before Zushuatri was within range.
'It looks like there really is no choice, then...'
Izroth did not come this far just to forfeit his life at the Sky Palace. He opened his inventory. But, just as he was about to remove an item from his inventory, everything froze in place.
The cloud of dust that formed as a result of Kayn crashing into the Sky Palace, Savarosa who was in mid-air with a look of fury on her face, Zushuatri who was far behind trying to catch up to Savarosa to protect the Sky Palace, and even the leaves on the trees in the Living Forest had come to a grinding halt.
'What's going on?'
Izroth observed his surroundings and realized that he was the only one capable of moving around freely. Everyone and everything else was completely motionless as if time had come to a sudden stop. This was definitely above the level of any item or skill Izroth currently had in his possession. There was also no way that it was the doing of Kayn, Savarosa, or Zushuatri considering they were all motionless.
Out of nowhere, Izroth turned around to look behind him. There sitting peacefully upon a sizable stone was a barefooted man dressed in strange white clothing wearing a hood that only revealed the lower area of his face. It was difficult to make out any of his physical traits, but he was neither tall nor short and his short sleeves revealed a well-defined muscle tone. Although it was hard to see, there were a few strands of silver hair that peeked from out of his hood.
'I can't sense his presence at all. He's a dangerous one.'
Just now, Izroth had briefly sensed his presence, but that was only because that person allowed him to. The moment Izroth turned around, that person's presence had vanished once again. Even Aru, a member of the Phantasmal race who specialized in hiding their presence, was unable to avoid his direction from such a close range! However, Izroth knew that this person was unlikely to have any bad intentions towards him. Otherwise, he may not even know how he had died!
'This atmosphere... Is it a Domain? It feels somewhat similar to the Maelstrom Domain, but... Can this person control time? Isn't that a bit ridiculous?'
How legendary was the power to control time? With it, one was practically invincible among those of similar strength! Even those who were stronger would not necessarily stand a chance against them! Even now, a powerful legendary existence like Zushuatri was caught under its influence. Just who was this strange individual?
At first, there was absolute silence. But, after a few seconds passed by, the person before Izroth finally spoke.
"Has little Aru treated you well?" The mysterious man asked in a calm and unhurried manner. His voice was neither arrogant nor submissive. In fact, there was an unusual calmness to it that made one want to naturally relax their guard around it.
Izroth was taken aback. Little Aru? This person knew who Aru was? If that was the case, then could they possibly be the one who assigned Aru to follow him around and eventually invite him along to participate in the selection? Izroth remembered his conversation with Aru and he was extremely tight-lipped when it came to the identity of the person who gave him his assignment.
But, according to Aru, it was someone he could not afford to offend within the Mortal Realm. With the grand power currently being displayed, at the very least, he could see why those words left Aru's mouth. However, Izroth had never met this person before and their presence did not feel familiar whatsoever. So this left a question lingering in his mind, what exactly did this person gain from all of this? Also, what did that person want from him in return?
"I have no complaints." Izroth responded. Although Aru's personality was somewhat strange, Izroth did not particularly mind it.
A light smile appeared on the mysterious man's face as he said, "Good. He is still young and inexperienced so I was worried that he would cause some unnecessary trouble. I am pleased to see that my worries were inessential." After he finished speaking, silence once again filled the surroundings. This caused Izroth to ask the main question that was on his mind.
"Who are you?" Izroth questioned.
"It is not yet time for you to know. In time, the answers to all of your questions will naturally be acquired." The mysterious man answered.
Even though Izroth tried to view the system information of the mysterious man, all of his information was hidden. Since it turned out to be that way, all Izroth could do was make wild speculations. Though it made him wonder... Between the old man he met back in the Towering Oak Forest, Zhi, or the one before him... Who was more powerful? One thing was for sure, this person was definitely within the top 3 most powerful individuals Izroth had come across within RML.
The mysterious man stood to his feet. At the same time, a unique hourglass with scattered particles inside appeared within his hand. These scattered particles acted as the grains of sand that were normally inside of hourglasses. He flipped the hourglass upside down as the flow of scattered particles reversed itself. As it did so, a human figure began to form on the ground in front of the mysterious man. A few moments later, what Izroth saw caused him to be shocked.
The moment the scattered particles finished pouring from the top to the bottom of the hourglass, the hourglass itself shattered. The human figure on the ground was covered in a bright white light, however, that light vanished the instant the hourglass was shattered. Lying peacefully on the ground was none other than Sage! But, how was this possible?
Named NPCs were different from common monsters within RML. Once a named NPC died, there was no reviving them. This was a well-known fact provided by the beta players who personally tested this theory. Named NPCs were not like players that could simply respawn after death. Once they were dead, that was it.
As if sensing Izroth's bewilderment, the mysterious man said, "This little one cannot die yet. There is still a purpose that she must serve. Do you still wish to kill her again?"