20 minutes? Even Mariposa and the members of Sleeping Gardenia did not think that such a thing was possible. After all, just getting to the first raid boss would probably take longer! Yet, he not only wanted to get there in under 20 minutes but also somehow defeat a hardcore raid boss within that time frame? How absurd! However, Mariposa believed that Izroth only said that to motivate them to move faster. That way, they would not waste any time.
As for the first part of Izroth's plan, it was simple. While Zi Yi used her Enhanced Void Jump: Zero Point Contact to destroy the relics that powered that barrier around the Outer Layer of the Great Sea Palace, the raid group would rush to eliminate Ord and Temp—the elite seafolks who stood guard.
Once they took care of the two elite guards and Zi Yi finished destroying the relics, they would rush at full speed straight towards the entrance of the Sprite Dwellings. After they reached that point, it would be up to Breezing Gladiolus and Shao Qingge if things proceeded smoothly or not. Izroth could only hope that the members of Sleeping Gardenia lived up to their reputation as a top guild.
Just as Izroth and the raid group arrived within assault range of Ord and Temp, they received two alerts from the system.
〈System Alert: You have entered «Phase One: Disharmony»!〉
〈System Alert: 1/8 Destroy «Relic of the Sea».〉
Not even a full breath of time had passed after they activated the first phase of the raid, and Zi Yi had already taken out one of the relics.
'She's moving faster than anticipated. It seems that we can not afford to slack off on our end.'
Izroth unsheathed his Sword of the Storm as he examined Ord and Temp through the system.
Name: Ord, Guard of the Outer Palace(Elite)
Hardcore Effect(s): [Explosion]
Name: Temp, Guard of the Outer Palace(Elite)
Hardcore Effect(s): [Explosion]
'Both have the Explosion hardcore effect; it appears that luck is on our side.'
The worst outcomes would have been for Ord and Temp to have the Bulk hardcore effect that doubled their HP or the Virulent hardcore effect that required patience and would consume too much time. As for Explosion, as long as they were careful and withdrew properly before it occurred, then it was not too much of a threat.
Mariposa tapped her magic staff twice on the ground as tears in space appeared above and beneath Temp. The magic staff in her hands was black and purple. It had three beautiful violet-colored gemstones that emitted a faint purplish hue hovering at its tip—each that resembled that of a throwing knife's blade. In between the hovering crystals and the magic staff's body was a dense concentration of magic energy. This was the epic-quality magic staff she received after completing the first part of the SSS-ranked quest Izroth invited her on. A magic staff this exceptional—perhaps only the magic staff Blue Oasis acquired after defeating Ooudamu was worthy of competing with it!
The skill Mariposa just cast twice on Temp was called Spatial Rift. The spatial rift at Temp's feet sucked him and caused him to be ejected from the spatial rift that formed above him. This made it so that he fell endlessly in a constant loop. However, this was far from enough to keep a hardcore elite guard at bay for long—though Mariposa's main goal was not to restrict Temp's movements with the spatial rifts permanently.
At the same time, Halls charged forward and used Taunting Aura to draw the aggro of Ord. Not too long after he did so, Temp broke free of Mariposa's Spatial Rift and immediately launched an attack at Halls who was the closest. Although Mariposa had just used a spell on Temp, since the skill dealt no damage, it did not generate any aggro.
Halls, however, ignored Temp's incoming attack as he focused solely on Ord. Typically, it would be considered a suicidal act to disregard the attack of any raid monster. Still, Halls was simply following the instructions that were given to him by Izroth.
"All you need to do is concentrate solely on Ord. As for the other one, just ignore it." These were Izroth's exact words to Halls. If it were anyone else, then Halls would be hesitant to do something so unorthodox. But, since it came from someone he called his brother, Halls had complete faith in his words!
Temp swung his mighty trident at Halls with full force. However, just as the trident was about to make contact with Halls, a black aura encompassed Temp. This black aura caused the space around Temp to swirl and distort. The distortion that appeared twisted and pulled in Temp's body until he vanished into thin air. Just like that, the elite seafolk guard was gone!
"I hope he knows what he's doing." Mariposa muttered to herself as the light on one of the violet-colored gemstones on her magic staff dimmed. The skill she just cast was an S-ranked spell called Banish. It was a spell she used before back in the Roaming Village of the Netherworld to banish one of the Puppet Chained Assassins. However, when she used it at that time, it required 20 seconds for her to cast! Even if she improved the skill level of Banish, it still should not have been possible for her to cast an S-ranked spell instantly.
The fact that she was able to do this was thanks to the epic-quality magic staff in her hands. For each violet-colored gemstone, the magic staff allowed Mariposa to store any one spell. Since the magic staff had three gemstones, this meant that Mariposa could store up to three spells. However, this was not the sole use of the staff. It also allowed Mariposa to cast the spells stored in the gemstones at no mana cost and instantly! Not only that, but the spells' original power and effects were not affected in the slightest! A mage that could potentially cast three S-ranked spells without delay—just the thought alone was enough to send shivers down the spine of any player!
Mariposa sighed at the loss of one of her spell charges. It took a full day before the crystal could be reloaded with another spell. However, since she had already agreed to go along with Izroth's plan, she decided not to do so half-heartedly.
Meanwhile, a system alert went off that updated the raid group on Zi Yi's progress.
〈System Alert: 4/8 Destroy «Relic of the Sea».〉
Izroth saw that Zi Yi had just finished destroying four out of eight of the relics and was already on her way to the fifth. At this rate, it would not be much longer until she completed her task.
Fortunately, everything was going well on their end. With Temp out of the picture for an entire hour thanks to Mariposa's Banish skill, they would only have to defeat Ord before charging into the Outer Palace. This saved them quite a bit of time.
Izroth and the raid group increased the pressure of their assault. Ord did not display any unique or abrupt attacks and stuck to an unchanging pattern. As for the damage output, nothing needed to be said for Izroth and those of his main group. But, when it came to Sleeping Gardenia, they were not slacking off and lived up to their status as a top guild. In terms of raw offensive damage, they were weaker than Blue Oasis. However, this could be explained from the absence of their main fighting force—the Lotus Guard. Though they somewhat made up for it with their teamwork and phenomenal control of the overall battlefield.
In just a few breaths of time, a surge of energy gathered around Ord when he reached the 5% HP mark. He was getting ready to activate the hardcore effect, Explosion! But, the raid group was already prepared and had moved off to a safe distance.
A loud explosion caused a large crater to form as Ord dissipated into countless particles.
〈System Alert: Congratulations, you have defeated Temp, Guard of the Outer Palace.〉
〈System Alert: You have gained 85,167 EXP!〉
As if it were rehearsed beforehand, Zi Yi appeared at the exact moment of Ord's defeat.
Zi Yi had successfully destroyed all eight relics and disabled the barrier around the outer layer. Then, she immediately rushed over at full speed to assist the raid group; however, she found that they had already taken care of the guards.
"Remember, no matter what happens next, don't slow down. Follow Halls and head directly into the Sprite Dwellings. Once there, proceed as planned." Izroth stated.
Whether or not the plan was a success would depend upon everyone's performance once they were inside of the Sprite Dwellings.
Without wasting another moment, Izroth and the raid group sped into the outer layer of the Great Sea Palace. The instant the raid group stepped through the gates, an alert sounded off from the system.
〈System Alert: Congratulations, you have completed «Phase One: Disharmony».〉
Although the members of Sleeping Gardenia were excited and wanted to view the rewards they obtained from completing the first phase of the raid, they restrained themselves from doing so. After all, according to Izroth, they could not afford to delay when it came to the next phase.
Not too long after moving deeper into the outer palace layer, the ground started to tremble as a loud explosion echoed throughout the entire outer layer.
A few moments later, a giant tidal wave with an angry face at its center appeared in the distance. This was the Great Tidal Wave of Ooudamu. When the members of Sleeping Gardenia witnessed this, their immediate reaction was to find cover or something to grab onto tightly.
"What is that thing?!"
"A tsunami in the middle of a raid? Are we going to be okay?"
"We aren't just charging to our deaths, right?"
Those from Sleeping Gardenia were quickly reminded by Mariposa to continue onward. Though, to be honest, even Mariposa herself was somewhat hesitant to run into that gigantic tidal wave head-on!
〈System Alert: You have automatically entered «Phase Two: Ooudamu»!〉
The raid group entered into the second phase as the tidal wave slammed down and flooded the town inside the outer layer. But, due to the Resistant To Flow buff they acquired from completing the first phase, the raid group was unaffected by the Great Tidal Wave. The result caused Mariposa and the members of Sleeping Gardenia to breathe a sigh of relief. Just experiencing a towering wave of water coming right at you was a horrifying experience, to say the least.
After the tsunami flooded the outer layer, multiple whirlpools had formed in the distance. When Halls noticed the whirlpools, he understood that they had to make haste.
"Follow me and don't stray too far behind!" Halls said as he led the way to the narrow underwater stream that traveled into the Sprite Dwellings. In just a handful of seconds from now, numerous elite sea creatures would spawn and become a nightmare to deal with if they had to fight their way through. Therefore, they had to make their move before they were overrun.
Every member of the raid group followed after Halls—except for one. This one was, of course, Izroth.
Since the raid group moved at full speed without slowing down and already knew the location of the Sprite Dwellings this time around, Izroth did not need to lure the Great Palace Sharks and Great Palace Seeker Fish away from them. Instead, he had a different use for them. In fact, without them, it would be difficult for this plan to succeed smoothly.
Izroth watched with a carefree expression on his face as the Great Palace Sharks, and Great Palace Seeker Fish swam in his direction. He was the only player around, so naturally, he would become the center of attention for the sea creatures.
'I have not yet used this one in actual combat, but it is ideal for our present set of circumstances.'
"I'll need to borrow your lives for a bit." Izroth said as wave after wave of sea creatures advanced towards him. There were sparks of wild purple lightning could be seen jumping around within his eyes as the presence of the lightning element that encompassed Izroth became fierce and apparent.
'Call of the Thunder God, Third State: Heavenly Arms.'