'It looks like Niflheim and the others were in a hurry.'
By the time Izroth reached the end of the tube, there was no one in sight. However, Niflheim had been sure to give him correct instructions on how to proceed after arriving in the True Settlement of Clearwater. Of course, Izroth understood that there was something internal going on within Blue Oasis that they probably did not want to expose to outsiders. Therefore, he decided to wait a bit before entering the tube to grant them some time to go on ahead.
As Izroth swept his gaze over his new environment, the first thing he realized was the amount of light present underground. It was hard to believe that sunlight did not reach down into the True Settlement of Clearwater as it was just as bright as any normal sunny day. The main difference was, of course, the fact that this light was mostly coming directly from some of the corals and plants.
Izroth reached out and touched the transparent bubble that was placed around him. It reminded him of the bubbles back within the sea region of the selection. They were incredibly durable and did not pop when he exerted some force. This meant that he did not have to worry about it suddenly popping on him out of nowhere.
As he read over the environmental skill, Izroth received a solid understanding of the bubble's main purpose.
Skill Name: Bearing of an Oversider
Skill Level: None
Skill Rank: Unique*
Passive: Every player that enters «True Settlement of Clearwater» receives this passive until they set foot outside of the region. The user with this skill is surrounded by an air bubble for up to 30 minutes after entering a water area inside of the «True Settlement of Clearwater». After 30 minutes, the air bubble will automatically pop and the user will be unable to survive for long if they cannot breathe underwater.
'I figured it would be like this. However, this also takes away one's combat ability underwater.'
Izroth remembered back when he jumped into the Boundless Sea region of the selection and his movements were immediately impeded by the water. Not to mention, he did not go that deep underwater and so the pressure was not too bad. But, it appeared that being exposed to the pressure generated at this depth, even for a brief moment, may be unsafe if one lacked the ability to breathe underwater.
Izroth opened his inventory as he searched for a specific item he acquired a while back. As he was doing so, Luna, Zi Yi, Halls, Guan Yu, and Valentine all arrived safely at the bottom. They were amazed by the sight that emerged before their eyes of the underwater world. Just like Izroth, everyone checked over the skill given to them by the system after entering the region.
"This place is amazing. Do you think we'll see a water dragon or something? I've always wanted to fight a water dragon and have a manly underwater battle!" Guan Yu said in an excited tone.
"I doubt we'll run into any actual water dragons down here. At most, we may run into a sea serpent with a strand of dragon blood within its bloodline. If we ran into an actual dragon, then even if we fought together with Blue Oasis and Cross Haven we wouldn't be able to defeat it with our current level of strength." Zi Yi explained.
If what she read was true, then Zi Yi knew that even new born dragons with true dragon blood were already equal in strength to someone or something in the epic realm of power. Therefore, even if they were fighting a newly born water dragon, it would be a great struggle. Not to even mention fighting a young or matured dragon.
"The mana in this place is almost as dense as the mana in the magic capital city. Proximus was willing to give away such a valuable place so freely?" Valentine questioned as he examined things through the view of his Eyes of Magic. Unlike the surface area, the underwater world was filled with a vast amount of mana in the atmosphere.
"It could be that they were unaware of it when they made the original deal with the seafolks. After all, the seafolks can explore a region like this freely given that water is their natural environment. They are able to explore places like this with great ease, especially when compared to the humans of Proximus." Zi Yi stated.
As everyone took in the sights and discussed some matters, they heard the faint sound of something popping. When they turned to look towards the source of the noise, they saw that the bubble that was around Izroth had disappeared! What was going on?! Why did Izroth's bubble pop?! Without it, wouldn't be unable to breath underwater as the skill stated?
However, when the others saw that Izroth did not appear to be struggling or losing any HP, they were left dumbfounded.
"This is..." Luna was ready to immediately heal Izroth if he lost any HP and if it came down to it, she was even willing to use one of her high cooldown lifesaving skills. But, she was able to maintain a calm and collect mindset as she observed the situation properly before taking any unnecessary actions.
'Just as I thought. It works here as well. With this, it should be easier for us to move around freely.'
"Brother, are you okay?! What happened to your bubble?!" Guan Yu asked.
"Hurry, we have to find a safe zone or else-!" Halls was suggesting, however, he was quickly interrupted by Izroth.
"I'm fine. Right now, I'm under the effects of a Merfolk Scale. With it, I no longer have any use for the air bubble." Izroth stated in a carefree manner.
Item Name: Merfolk Scale(Reagent)
Item Rank: None
Usage: A single scale belonging to a Merfolk that releases a fishy-smelling special chemical when heated to a high temperature. The effects of this special chemical are unknown, but it is thought to give the user a stronger affinity with water-based techniques. This scale can also be placed, in its natural state, on one's skin to grant them the ability to enter the Underwater World and breathe freely underwater until they exit from the Underwater World.
Special Note: When the user comes into direct contact with air for more than 5 minutes, the effects of the Merfolk Scale wears off.
Luna released a small sigh of relief as she said, "Next time, you should warn us of your actions beforehand."
"I will remember these words." Izroth replied with a carefree smile on his face. Although he was talking, his lips were not moving and it seemed as though the voice was sounding directly within the minds of his party members.
"Merfolk Scale?" Valentine questioned. Since he was not with Izroth and the others during the Sea Palace Graveyard dungeon run, he was unaware of its existence.
"Of course..! I had nearly forgotten all about it. Since Cross Haven monopolized that dungeon, it's possible that Blue Oasis never even knew such an item existed. Otherwise, I doubt they would have failed to include it in the items they've given us." Zi Yi stated.
"Eh? You mean those fishy-smelling things? I think I still have some..." Guan Yu said as he checked his inventory and sure enough, he found a few Merfolk Scales. After using one, the air bubble around him was also popped as he no longer had any use for it.
Following the actions of Izroth and Guan Yu, the others also opened their inventory and used a Merfolk Scale. As for Valentine who did not have any within his inventory, he was given one by Zi Yi and so, he too could move about with ease underwater. Not only that, but their speed and mobility were much greater than when they were inside of the air bubbles.
'It's a good thing we cleared the Sea Palace Graveyard dungeon a few times and acquired some additional Merfolk Scales.'
With their newfound mobility underwater, Izroth and his party swiftly traveled towards the meeting coordinates while following the directions Niflheim had given them. Along the way, they saw dozens of seafolks. They were a bit different than the seafolks Izroth was used to seeing as they looked more human than sea creature.
Unlike normal humans, seafolk had different colored scales ranging from blue to yellow that grew on the side of their limbs and traveled along the side of their body from head to toe. Their ears were similar to that of a trephasia, except there were more ridges present. Although they had a nose to breathe air on land, the seafolk also possessed a pair of gills on their necks. Their toes were also webbed which was, without a doubt, to increase their mobility underwater.
'Their bloodline must be incredibly diluted for all of them to resemble humans this closely.'
Back in the Sea Palace Graveyard, the closest to their appearance was one of the bosses named Calder, the Seahorse Knight. However, Izroth believed Calder was a special case when compared to the others. Either that or he was one of the first generation of seafolk with a diluted bloodline. Of course, this was only Izroth's speculation.
The seafolk usually ignored those who passed by, however, their attention could not help but lock onto Izroth and his group as they swam around without trouble. How could it be possible that oversiders could survive at this depth, let alone have such high mobility? The shocked expressions on the faces of the seafolks told it all, however, none of them approached Izroth and his party members. In the end, they were unsociable creatures when it came to dealing with oversiders of any kind.
However, in the distance was an old male seafolk with a young female seafolk who looked to be around 14-15 years of age appearance wise. The old man had long gray hair, and his scales were silver in color. Even with the wrinkles that came naturally with age, one could tell that he used to be handsome when he was younger.
But, there was something surprising about the young female seafolk by his side. Her lower body was that of a fish. In other words, she was an actual mermaid! She had long violet-colored hair that matched with that of the scales on her tail and her appearance was cute to the point that those around her may feel the need to naturally protect her from any dangers. There was also this look of purity and innocence that lingered within her eyes along with a hint of curiosity.
"Grandpa Cal, how come those oversiders can move like us underwater? I thought oversiders couldn't move around without the help of our environmental magic." The young female seafolk asked curiously.
"Hm... I can sense the faint aura of our ancestors within them." Cal replied with his brows furrowed.
"Eh? Does this mean those oversiders are our ancestors?" the young female seafolk questioned.
Cal shook his head as he gave a helpless smile and replied, "Lady Shymi, how can oversiders possibly be our ancestors? Besides, while the aura I sense within them surely belongs to our ancestors, it is not truly a part of them. To put it simply, it is only a power being borrowed."
"Borrowed power? Does this mean they've come into contact with our ancestors?" Shymi, the young female seafolk, asked.
Cal released a deep and troubled sigh as his facial expression saddened. He truly wished that such a thing was possible. If it were, then perhaps the seafolk would not be so scattered, divided, and weakened to their current pitiful state. How long had it been since he could roam the great seas and look upon it with pride?
When this memory resurfaced in his mind, Cal felt a tight pain in his chest. However, he maintained his overall composure so as not to worry the young mermaid by his side.