'Even though this group B isn't that strong and their equipment isn't anywhere near as good as group A's, only a top guild like Blue Oasis could afford to send two raiding groups of level 40 and above players to attempt a raid simultaneously. Not to mention, they even had level 40 and above players outside guarding the surface of the Settlement of Clearwater.'
This showed the amount of dedication and time the members of top guilds, in this specific case Blue Oasis, put into staying ahead of other players and guilds.
After Niflheim finished ironing out some last-minute details, everyone turned towards the massive aqua-colored door with beautiful gemstones embedded into it. There were bizarre symbols carved into its surface and no door handles that one could grab to open it. Instead, there was a sapphire gemstone located on top of a cylindrical stone nearby that resembled that of a platform. It was on the front side of the cylindrical stone that Izroth finally discovered some recognizable text.
At the very top of the text written in bold letters was "Raid: Great Sea Palace", however, it was separated from the actual text. As for the passage below it, Izroth found it somewhat interesting as he read over it.
'An ancient sea empire that was once broken with constant chaos and discord, conquered by one with strength; but brought together by one who sings. After a millennium, the one who sings is birthed into the world bringing along peace. However, while the will of one is the will of many, the will of many is not the will of one.'
Izroth inwardly furrowed his brows when he reached the last few words of text on the cylindrical stone. The words were too broad for a solid understanding, however, he felt that there were still a few things he could piece together from it; even if it was not much.
'Conquered by one with strength, but brought together by one who sings...'
The first thing Izroth thought about when it came to "the one who sings" was the strange voice that mermaid used back during the vision he received in the dungeon Sea Palace Graveyard. When she spoke, at certain times, it sounded as if there was a natural feeling of melody in her voice. Therefore, Izroth wondered if these two things were related to the "one who sings" mentioned on the cylindrical stone.
'The words are too vague. I suppose there's only one way to find out...'
Asgard approached the sapphire gemstone embedded into the top of the cylindrical stone as he placed his right palm onto the surface of the sapphire. The instant Asgard's hand came into direct contact with the sapphire, the underwater cavern shook slightly as the large doors slowly opened inward. What revealed itself was pure darkness that traveled as far as the eye could see and it seemed as though an endless abyss had appeared before the raid party.
As the doors opened, the members of Blue Oasis could feel themselves being overcome with feelings of excitement and nervousness. As for failure... This had no longer crossed their minds once the doors opened. They knew that this was a big step for their Blue Oasis to soar to the pinnacle of the top ten guilds. It would also lay a solid foundation for their future plans and position within RML.
After raid group B entered into the raid on the Normal difficulty, it was finally raid group A's turn to enter.
"Raid group A, move out!" Asgard ordered as the raid group began their entrance through the raid doors.
"Do you think we'll find some epic items here?" Guan Yu asked in a tone bursting with excitement.
"Since we'll be challenging the Hardcore difficulty, it's certainly a realistic possibility." Zi Yi commented.
"I wonder if Cross Haven is going to be alright up there. I don't know much about the top guilds, but it can't be a good thing trying to hold them all off, right?" Halls stated.
"Who knows? But something tells me they wouldn't make the attempt if they weren't confident in handling the situation. Though I can't say I took you as the type that cares about the problems of top guilds." Valentine replied.
"It's not like that guy would follow someone stupid so they'll be fine..." Guan Yu muttered to himself.
"Hm? Did you say something?" Halls asked Guan Yu.
"No, nothing at all." Guan Yu said as he stepped through the raid doors.
Soon enough, only one individual was standing outside the raid entrance. This individual was none other than Izroth. He looked back at the words written on the cylindrical stone one last time. Without another thought, Izroth stepped through the doors that led into the darkness as they closed behind in. Now, there was nothing but a lingering silence that remained in the underwater cavern.
〈System Alert: You have entered the raid «Great Sea Palace»〉
When the doors closed behind Izroth, he was greeted by an unusual mist. There was a slight chill present in the air and the ground felt as if he were walking on a thin film of water. As he proceeded forward, the mist started to clear away and a wave of bright light washed over him. By the time the light disappeared, Izroth had arrived in a place that could only be described with one word; gloomy.
Izroth swiftly caught up to the others as he took in his new surroundings. The first thing he realized was that they were within a massive dome that was surrounded by a large body of water. As for the scenery, although it could be described as paradise, it felt incredibly gloomy and bleak for some particular reason.
In the distance was a colossal castle colored like sand. It was made up of various types of corals, underwater plants, and a multitude of unrecognizable materials. At the moment, Izroth and his party were on a road that led directly to the entrance of that palace. Three gigantic bubble-like barriers formed separate layers around the palace and its immediate vicinity.
"Everyone, I want you to remember that teamwork is essential. Do not try to be a hero. As I'm sure you all know, too many preventable mistakes can potentially lead not just to your demise, but the destruction of the entire raiding party. I don't expect our first raid in RML to be without its flaws, however, I do expect everyone present to give it their all!" Asgard spoke in a motivating manner.
"Yes!" The members of Blue Oasis roared in unison.
"Our first goal is to make it to the sandcastle in the distance. Captain Abstract, take two others with you and scout ahead. If you run into any danger, retreat immediately. If you see something of importance, report back right away. Most importantly, whatever you do, you must not engage in a battle with just the three of you. If you feel something is off, then trust your instinct and pull back without hesitation. Remember, this is nothing like a typical dungeon run." Niflheim stated.
"I know what I can and cannot afford to do. Captain Niflheim, leave this matter to me." Abstract said as he chose two agile members of Blue Oasis and darted off ahead.
"The rest of us will proceed down this path as it seems to lead directly to the sandcastle. Remain alert. Let's move." Niflheim commanded as everyone took on their agreed-upon positions. At the front of the group was Nilfheim and Halls, the two tanks of the raid party that led the way forward.
As they walked down the path, the raid party had yet to run into any monsters or hostile creatures. It was quite peaceful. But, no one dared to let their guard down considering where they were.
"I never thought a raid would be so peaceful and quiet. Perhaps this raid will test our ability to fight off boredom. If that's the case, I'm afraid I'm not its match." Nidavellir said jokingly as he shrugged. This, in turn, caused most of the Blue Oasis members to laugh in response.
"If our mighty Captain Nidavellir cannot defeat this raid of boredom, then isn't the boss too powerful this time?" One of the Blue Oasis players named I Do Zero Quests chimed in. He was the lieutenant of the 2nd squad. So, in other words, he was directly under Nidavellir's command and had been for quite some time.
"What was that? Are you doubting my skills? Let me tell you, I can defeat this boredom in three moves with my spear." Nidavellir said in a serious tone as he held up three fingers.
"Captain, I don't think boredom is something you can physically hit with a spear. Besides... Aren't you a Holy Paladin, captain? How can you have a spear?" I Do Zero Quests commented.
This made the previous tense atmosphere change into one that was more relaxed as laughter spread throughout the raid group. While it was not good to be too relaxed, if everyone spent the whole raid being too tense, then mistakes were bound to become more commonplace, especially ones that could be avoided. Therefore, Nidavellir decided to lighten the mood a bit which could be considered a specialty of his.
As the raid group traveled for a few minutes along the path, Abstract finally returned with the players he left with earlier. The atmosphere had returned to its serious nature, however, everyone was noticeably less tense than they were before.
"Did you find anything?" Niflheim asked.
Abstract nodded and replied, "This pathway is clear of any hostile enemies and we've discovered no traps up ahead. I did see two members of the seafolk race guarding the entrance into the sandcastle that's approximately 150 meters out from our current position, however, I didn't get a look at their information since getting too close could have brought about the risk of our positions being discovered. But, from their looks and equipment alone, they appear to be your typical castle guards."
"You made the right choice. We'll naturally see the information when we arrive at the entrance. There's no need to be concerned about this small matter. Good work - You two as well." Niflheim said to Abstract and the two players who accompanied him.
Izroth, who had been silent the whole time, used his Energy Vision Sense to take a more in-depth look at his new environment. After all, Energy Vision Sense allowed Izroth to "see" things even if they were hidden. Not to mention, his current maximum range was 199 meters! As long as he only kept it open for a few seconds at the max range, then it would not drain too much of his Essence in the process. Besides, it was not that he doubted the skills of this Abstract, but that he was more confident in his own skills.
'Including the two he mentioned at the entrance, I sense a total of ten presences near us, the closest being 35 meters east of here. However, these flames are a bit...'
Izroth inwardly furrowed his brows as he saw the flames being emitted by these eight presences. It was these flames that his Energy Vision Sense used to dictate just how powerful the energy being emitted from something or someone was. But, the energy currently being released was a little ridiculous even for a Hardcore raid. In terms of volume, it was more than ten times that of what the First Blade Izroth defeated back in the Tiger's Mouth possessed!
'Why is it that these flames feel somewhat... artificial?'
A few moments later, Izroth and the raid group reached the entrance of the sandcastle structure. Just as Abstract had said, there were two male seafolk with silver tridents guarding the entrance area.
But, it wasn't until they approached within 30 meters of the two male seafolk that everyone in the raid group received an alert from the system.
〈System Alert: You have automatically entered «Phase One: Disharmony»!〉