"This tube leads down into the actual Settlement of Clearwater. But, I advise all of you to tread carefully. The NPCs in this place are not hostile towards us, however, they aren't exactly welcoming either. As long as we leave them alone, they will not bother us. In order to assure that there are no unforeseen circumstances, be sure not to wander off alone from the main group." Niflheim stated.
After he finished speaking, Niflheim approached the tube as he said, "Now, I'll go down first and-" But, right in the middle of his words, Niflheim received a system message which caused him to halt his words. He was not the only one who received a system message. Asgard and the other seven captains present also appeared to have gotten messages.
"How is this possible? How can he be at this place?" Niflheim said to himself as he furrowed his brows with a frown on his face.
"Of all people it had to be him... How did he discover this place?" Asgard commented with a sigh. He truly wanted to believe that it was just by chance, however, he knew better than to have such naive thoughts. The chances of it being a coincidence were astronomically small; practically nonexistent. This was the last thing they needed before attempting the raid!
"Could they have been followed here?" Nidavellir asked as he turned his gaze towards Izroth and his party.
Everyone besides Asgard, Niflheim, and the other captains of Blue Oasis had confused expressions on their faces. What were they talking about? Who was here? What was going on?
"I can assure you that no one followed us." Izroth said in a carefree manner as he immediately dismissed the idea. Even Aru, a member of the phantasmal race had to maintain a distance of over 50 meters if he wanted to escape Izroth's range of perception. He was confident that even if the player was using an S-ranked stealth skill that he could be able to tell of their location. Not to mention, his Soul Sense had not gone off even once during their travels to the Settlement of Clearwater.
"Then, are you trying to say that it's our Blue Oasis that made the mistake?" Minus questioned as his facial expression slightly darkened.
"Hmph, if my brother says that we weren't followed, then we weren't followed! It's that simple. Besides, are you trying to imply that it's impossible for Blue Oasis to make a mistake? Heh, allowing someone like you to be a captain... Do I need to say more?" Guan Yu said with a smirk on his face. Although he did not say the actual words, those present were not foolish. They knew what he was implying by that statement was that Minus being a captain of Blue Oasis was, in fact, a mistake!
"You dare say that again?!" Minus exclaimed in a furious tone. How could he take this humiliation in front of their core members lying down?
"Mind your words. You're speaking about a captain of our Blue Oasis. The decisions we make are not to be questioned by an outsider." Vanaheim said in response to Guan Yu's insult. Even if she disliked Minus as an individual, in the end, he was still a captain of Blue Oasis. How could she sit back and allow him to be ridiculed in front of their core members? Wasn't he slapping the face of Blue Oasis?
"What? He's allowed to spout nonsense, but I'm not allowed to speak the truth? I don't care if it's a captain of Blue Oasis. If they want to blame us for something we didn't do, then I won't just sit back and allow it to happen." Guan Yu stated without backing down.
The atmosphere was getting somewhat intense and voices were starting to be raised in the process. At this rate, the raid party would fall apart before the raid even begun!
"Enough! Are you all children?!" Asgard roared angrily which instantly caused the members of his guild to fall silent. It was rare to see their guild leader this angry. However, with all the pressure lately of doing everything possible to make the raid a success, it was natural that his current patience was thin.
He then continued, "Captain Nidavellir, we don't have any proof. To make baseless accusations against the guests we invited is unacceptable."
"Indeed, I spoke with too much haste. It was an error on my part." Nidavellir responded in a calm tone.
"Captain Minus and Captain Vanaheim, you two should know the importance of this raid more than anyone. Do you wish to ensure our failure before we even make an attempt? As captains, your first priority should be towards Blue Oasis, not starting some pointless squabble! We already have to deal with an outside force, do you want to start infighting as well?" Asgard scolded.
"It was not my intent..." Vanaheim sighed.
Minus, on the other hand, remained silent and chose not to respond at all. One would think that he was admitting his own faults, however, in reality, he was inwardly smirking. He was finally here!
Asgard then looked towards Guan Yu and then to Izroth. This was a headache! As the guild leader of Blue Oasis, he could not simply ignore the words that Guan Yu spoke a few moments ago. If they had been alone, then he could have brushed it off. But, this happened in the presence of the core members of his guild! If he did not say anything about it, then it may lower morale and others may think that he was a pushover. But, if he spoke the wrong words, then perhaps he risked ruining not only this raid but the already frail connection Blue Oasis had to Izroth.
Even worse, if he was the first to openly compromise for someone insulting a captain of his Blue Oasis, it would make him seem submissive and unfit to be the guild leader of a top ten guild.
It was at that moment Izroth received a system message. He narrowed his eyes as he looked over in Niflheim's direction as he was the sender of that message just now.
'Since you're this generous in your offer, I can only oblige.'
"Guan Yu, the personal affairs of Blue Oasis is not of our concern. Since we were invited as guests, we shouldn't cause any unnecessary trouble. Guild leader Asgard, I hope you can overlook this small matter so that both sides can move forward together and benefit properly." Izroth said in a carefree tone.
Guan Yu was shocked by Izroth's words, but just as he was about to speak up about feeling wronged, Halls placed a hand on his shoulder and shook his head.
"This raid is a source of great pressure. It's natural for some tensions to run high as nerves start to form. This matter- Let's put this behind us." Asgard said as he released an inward sigh of relief. He did not expect Izroth to make the first move, however, it made things much easier for him.
Once things calmed down, Niflheim ordered the core members to proceed down the tube. Along with them, he sent Vanaheim, Peaceful Chaos, Road, and Minus.
Before Vanaheim left, Niflheim pulled her aside and said, "Once you're down there, meet up with the vice-guild leader and explain the situation to him. He'll understand what to do if it comes down to it."
"I understand." Vanaheim replied as she gave a small nod and made her way down the tube. After doing so, Niflheim brushed the palm of his hand up against the sapphire as the tube was hidden once again.
Now, the only players who remained in the room were Izroth and his party, Asgard, Niflheim, Abstract, and Nidavellir.
"Izroth, I know this isn't what you had planned, but I'd like for you to accompany us to meet with an unexpected guest. I hope you aren't opposed to this?" Niflheim said.
"Oh? What guest might that be?" Izroth questioned.
"The guild leader of Cross Haven, Ewan." Niflheim responded.
Izroth remembered meeting Ewan back at the Mystical Realm Palace when it first opened. Out of everyone there, surprisingly, it was Ewan who was the least outspoken. But, he also seemed to be the one most respected by the other guilds.
At the time, Izroth wondered what was going through his mind as he sat there in silence, however, Izroth was able to discover one thing that day. The guild leader of Cross Haven was not a short-sighted individual. That look in his eyes was one that constantly looked far ahead.
"Since it's a request of our host, how can I refuse?" Izroth replied. He wanted to see what this Ewan was up to by coming here unannounced.
"Then, I'll remember this favor." Niflheim stated as he returned control of the situation over to Asgard. After everything was settled, Asgard led the group towards the front of the rainbow-colored coral where they originally entered from. During this trip, Izroth and his party kept some distance between the members of Blue Oasis.
When there was finally enough distance, Guan Yu could not help but ask, "Brother, why did you let them off so easily? They were obviously in the wrong for falsely accusing you." Guan Yu did not understand why Izroth dropped the matter just like that! Did he fear angering Blue Oasis? What a joke! How could his brother be afraid of a mere Blue Oasis? Therefore, Guan Yu believed that there was a hidden reason for Izroth's decision, especially after Halls stopped him from going on.
However, Zi Yi had a different question for Izroth as she asked, "So, what did he offer you?" There was a slight grin that appeared on her lips as she spoke.
"I, too, am curious as to what he offered you." Luna commented.
"Heh, I'm sure Izroth doesn't plan on holding out on us." Valentine stated with a smirk.
"Eh? What are you all talking about?" Guan Yu was confused. What was with their conversation?
While being caught up in the moment, Guan Yu failed to notice the brief exchange between Izroth and Niflheim. It was at that moment Izroth spoke out and naturally, this did not go unnoticed by Zi Yi, Luna, and Valentine who were close by. As for Halls, while he did not understand the specifics, but he had known Izroth long enough to know that he did not do things without a purpose in mind.
"Something that will benefit all of us." Izroth responded as he then glanced over at Guan Yu.
He then continued and said, "Guan Yu, do you feel that I've wronged you?"
Guan Yu had an expression of disbelief on his face as he shook his head helplessly and replied, "Brother, how can I feel wronged by you?" He was not upset at Izroth, just a little confused as to the reason behind his actions. But, now that he understood that there was a reason behind it, he was no longer troubled by it.
"So, what did he offer you? A rare item? Gold?" Halls asked curiously.
"No, something much more useful. The method of acquiring territory." Izroth said nonchalantly.
However, even though Izroth spoke as if it were just something minor, this was a huge deal! If they had the method of acquiring territory, then couldn't they own their own territory one day?!
"This... Isn't this offer a bit too much?" Zi Yi stated in a surprised tone. She knew that it was something useful, but not this useful!
"For the time being, this information can be seen as priceless. However, sooner or later, this method will become widespread and that will be when everyone starts to fight viciously over who owns what territory. Right now, it's safe to assume that besides Blue Oasis, there's probably only a few if any at all who know of the exact method of acquiring territory. With this method, acquiring our own territory won't be an issue. I'm sure there's no need for me to list the potential benefits." Izroth said.
Of course, no one present was that dense as to fail in understanding what Izroth meant by his words. This was a chance that could not be wasted!
Izroth and his party arrived along with Niflheim, and the other members of Blue Oasis at the entrance of the rainbow-colored coral. There, standing only a few meters away from the entrance, was the guild leader of Cross Haven, Ewan. However, there was no one else around to be seen. Did he come to this place alone?
Niflheim and Asgard both furrowed their brows inwardly when they saw Ewan alone. What did he intend to do by coming here all by himself?
"Guild leader Ewan, to what do we owe the pleasure?" Asgard said in a welcoming manner. Even if he was not happy about Ewan's sudden appearance, he would not physically show it.
"I just happened to be passing by and wanted to explore this area, however... I've been told that I cannot enter inside. Tell me, is it that the name of my Cross Haven carries with it such little weight that I cannot go where I want to explore?" Ewan said in an unhurried manner.