"Let's go." Izroth said as he and his group started to walk towards the crowd. However, before Izroth and his party could go any further, they were met halfway by a group of players.
Among these players were Ewan, the Guild Leader of Cross Haven, Wang Qiang, and Zhang Jie—two of the Five Great Generals of Cross Haven—as well as Mariposa, the Guild Leader of Sleeping Gardenia. As for Wang Ping, he stayed behind at the request of Ewan to make sure that Simplicity and Harvest did not try to sneak their way through.
At the moment, the same question was on the mind of everyone who had just approached Izroth and his party—what were they doing outside the raid without Blue Oasis?
Mariposa stared at Zi Yi, who was avoiding direct eye contact with her at all costs. How could she hide such huge news from her own elder sister?! Mariposa would be sure to get an explanation out of her—one way or another.
But, of course, the one who was most curious about the sudden presence of Izroth's group was none other than Ewan. His Ghost General, who was among the Blue Oasis raid members, should have sent a message and warned him if something went awry. But, when Ewan tried to send a message, he received no answer in return. Just what was going on inside of that raid? Perhaps he could get some answers from Izroth and his group. After all, there was a lot at stake.
"You have returned much sooner than we have anticipated." Ewan spoke in a calm tone.
"Why are the members of Blue Oasis not with you? Since you're here, it means they have failed, right?" Zhang Jie questioned.
"Hmph, those bastards from Blue Oasis have no honor! How can they do anything but fail?!" Guan Yu scoffed. He was still upset at the way Blue Oasis treated them. Luckily, his brother did not plan to let them off with a simple slap on the wrist. Otherwise, how could his anger ever be quelled?
Everyone was taken aback by Guan Yu's choice of words. However, from his tone and the way he described Blue Oasis, it was clear that there was some sort of falling out between the two groups. If that was the case, then the chances of Blue Oasis completing the hardcore raid was less than 1%—and even this was a generous estimate!
Both Ewan and Wang Qiang glanced at one another and inwardly frowned. What could have caused a falling out between Blue Oasis and Izroth's group? The first thing that came to mind was a dispute on loot; however, such a thing should have been discussed before the raid, so they ruled that out.
There was also the chance that a verbal conflict took place, and some unfriendly words were exchanged. But, with someone like Niflheim present, he should have been able to deal with such a small matter without it resulting in a severe falling out. After all, if he was that incompetent, how could Wang Qiang consider him a potential rival?
Ewan directed his attention to Izroth and asked, "I have no knowledge of the events that took place inside of the raid; however, I hope that you will not mind clearing up a few things for us."
"A tiger's stare is invariably covetous." Izroth responded in a carefree manner.
When Ewan and Wang Qiang heard those words, they roughly understood what must have taken place. In nature, what did the tiger fear? Nothing! It was born with no natural predator; therefore, if something fell into its sights, why would it not simply take it?
However, the question remained—what could be so valuable that it caused Blue Oasis to willingly place themselves on bad terms with the owner of the Mystical Realm Palace? Did they not fear permanently damaging their connection to the Pill Emperor by offending Izroth? There were still too many mysteries!
"It appears that my Cross Haven has incurred a loss this time." Ewan said. However, despite his words, he failed to display any signs of displeasure towards the situation.
He then continued, "Wang Qiang, order everyone to withdraw. Also, send in an advanced scouting party once everything settles down."
"I already sent out the orders. I will make sure they are properly being carried out. Then, everyone, you will have to excuse me." Wang Qiang responded as he gave a small farewell gesture before he headed off.
"Oh? You don't plan to wait around for Blue Oasis? The chance is small—almost nonexistent. However, they may still finish." Zhang Jie commented.
"No, not to mention a raid group lacking six players—even if they were a full raid group, it would still be a difficult task. They will not succeed. The contract will become void. Go locate General Mao Shoushan and tell him to lead the advanced scouting party." Ewan said.
"Mao Shoushan? That guy's too lazy. He won't want to do it." Zhang Jie replied with a smirk.
"That is why you are going to accompany him." Ewan stated.
"Heh, alright. But, you owe me one." Zhang Jie shrugged as he quickly made his exit before Ewan had the chance to respond.
"Palace Master Izroth, Guild Leader Mariposa, friends—I have some matters to attend to, so I will have to end our conversation here. Palace Master Izroth, when you have some time, I hope that you can visit the temporary headquarters of my Cross Haven to discuss a few things. I can assure you that your trip will not be made in vain. Then, excuse me." Ewan left without another word. He knew that pressing for further information would not change the outcome.
"Blue Oasis... You really let a rare opportunity slip through your fingertips this time. I suppose I have overestimated your foresight, Captain Niflheim." Ewan said to himself. However, how could he know that Niflheim was not the short-sighted one in this matter?
After the members of Cross Haven left to get things organized on their end, only Izroth's group and Mariposa remained.
"Hmph, you dare hide stuff from your elder sister? How should I deal with you?" Mariposa said as her gaze locked onto Zi Yi.
"Who says I have to tell you everything I do? Do I have to tell you every time I blink and breathe as well?" Zi Yi scowled.
"Well-" Mariposa was about to answer when she was immediately cut off by Zi Yi.
"No, don't answer that! I don't want to know the answer!" Zi Yi instantly regretted her question.
Mariposa released a light chuckle as a glowing smile found its way onto her face. She just wanted to tease Zi Yi a bit. After all, how could she ever actually be upset at the little sister she doted on?
Mariposa shook her head as she said, "I was shocked when the system announced the defeat of a hardcore raid boss. I was positive that things were progressing smoothly. So, what happened?"
"It's an uninteresting story. But, it is probably just as you've imagined it to be." Izroth answered nonchalantly.
He then continued, "More importantly, it saves me some trouble that you are already here."
"Hm? What do you mean?" Mariposa inquired curiously. Saved him some trouble? Did he want the help of her Sleeping Gardenia to take revenge on Blue Oasis?
"Aren't you interested?" Izroth asked with a carefree expression on his face as he—without turning around—pointed back towards the entrance of the rainbow-coral building with his thumb.
"That goes without saying." Mariposa nodded. However, she was unsure of the purpose that Izroth's question served. Her Sleeping Gardenia was one of the top 10 guilds in RML—how could they not be interested in a newly discovered raid? This much was common sense to anyone.
She then continued, "I am curious as to what information you are willing to disclose about the raid. Naturally, I do not plan on taking advantage of our friendship and will make sure that you are fairly rewarded for any information you share."
In dungeons and raids, information was more precious than gold—this was even more so for raids. Right now, just the basic information alone that Izroth had about the raid could be sold to other top guilds at a price of 100 gold coins. However, this was before taking into account that he held the secret to defeating the first boss on the hardcore difficulty! Information like that could be worth up to 1,000 gold coins or around 300,000 RMB! After all, if one knew how to defeat the first boss, then the long term rewards would be worth much more than a few gold coins or RMB.
"I have something else in mind. I will personally assist Sleeping Gardenia in clearing this raid; however, I only have one condition—that you follow my orders without question." Izroth said as he held up a single finger.
Mariposa furrowed her brows. One of the first actions she took when the raid revealed itself to the world was to check the Exploration Logs regarding its details. Therefore, she knew that the raid had a re-entry cooldown time of nine days. Even if Izroth wanted to help her clear it, she was confident that her Sleeping Gardenia could do so before the nine-day period was up. To be perfectly blunt, Izroth's assistance may be beneficial, but it was not needed. Not to mention, his condition was an unusual one. After all, most of the members would belong to her Sleeping Gardenia. It would be strange for them to suddenly start taking orders from someone who was not a part of their guild.
Mariposa, however, was not the type to dismiss things so quickly. She did not know Izroth well, but she understood him well enough to know that he was not someone thoughtless.
"I will speak plainly. You are welcome to deny my offer. However, I will not make it a second time. But, you should decide quickly, Guild Leader Mariposa. Otherwise, your window of opportunity may vanish and reappear before another." Izroth said.
"Alright, alright. You don't have to go so far. I suppose it would not hurt to wait nine days before making an attempt." Mariposa sighed as she threw up her hands helplessly. While it would be a loss in the short term for her Sleeping Gardenia, it would not affect them too much in the long term.
"I'm afraid you've misunderstood. I don't plan on waiting nine days. I will send you a list of the type of players we need. Quickly gather your people." Izroth said as he opened his system interface and sent Mariposa a list of player requirements.
"I've only brought around 40 people with me, so the variety isn't too great..." Mariposa was caught off guard by Izroth's words. She was still perplexed. Did she read the re-entry cooldown time wrong? No, she was confident that it was nine days! She looked over the message she received from Izroth regarding the player requirements and found it to be strangely specific.
"Hm... This much should be doable. One of the types of players you requested is a bit unique. Fortunately, we have someone who can meet the requirements. With this, we should have no trouble clearing a Normal raid as long as we proceed with caution." Mariposa stated. While she was still unsure of how Izroth planned to get around the re-entry cooldown, she decided to go along with it as a show of good faith. Even if his plan did not work, it would not harm her Sleeping Gardenia.
"Normal? Hahaha, big sis, you're underestimating my brother too much!" Guan Yu stated with a grin.
"Underestimating is too kind a word. How can there be such small goals when my brother is involved?" Halls commented.
Mariposa had a bad feeling about this after hearing Guan Yu and Halls speak. If it was not a Normal raid they wanted to attempt, then it couldn't be that they wanted to try that?! But it was too late to go back on her word now! All she could hope for was that Izroth was not taking foolish actions out of mere revenge against Blue Oasis.
"You don't mean-" But, before she could finish her sentence, Mariposa was interrupted.
"Your Sleeping Gardenia will be the first guild to clear a hardcore raid in RML. You should be happy, Guild Leader Mariposa." Izroth stated with a carefree expression on his face.
Mariposa, on the other hand, did not know whether to laugh or cry! How could he say that so casually with a relaxed expression? Did he think that hardcore raids were a joke?! What did she just agree to?!