Around a breath of time later, a voice sounded out from behind the group, "Halt!"
Swoosh! Swoosh! Swoosh!
All of a sudden, the Izroth's party was surrounded by ten people. While these people looked human, there was one trait that stood out the most—their slightly longer and pointed ears. They were members of the Trephasia race!
"How did you enter this place? Speak!" the person at the front of the group spoke. Their looks were above average—even when compared to others from the Trephasia race. They had fair skin with hair that was verdant green. A pair of calm eyes that matched that of a wisteria emitted a gentle radiance. In their hands was a white longbow with golden outlines that was pointed directly towards Izroth's party. The other Trephasias also possessed either bows or magic staffs. There was not a single fighter or warrior among them! But, this was not uncommon. The Trephasia looked down on warriors and fighters and viewed them as barbarians.
Mirage and Azalea immediately went on guard after being surrounded. But, Izroth held up his hand and caused them to halt their actions. After all, they were here to deliver the Empress Brooch, not start a fight. Of course, if the other party acted unreasonably, then he did not mind using a bit of force to show that they would not be bullied.
Izroth examined the individual, who was the apparent leader of the group of Trephasia that encircled them, through the system.
NPC Name: Artemius(Rare)
NPC Level: 46
'Oh? A rare NPC. It's not something you see often.'
The number of rare NPCs Izroth had run into, not counting those who participated in the selection, could be counted on his fingers alone!
Artemius swept his gaze across the intruders. But, when his eyes landed on Luna, his eyes shone with a hint of wonder and curiosity. However, he did not lower his guard against Izroth and the others for a second. It had been thousands of years since a non-Trephasia last stepped foot in this place, so naturally, he was startled when he discovered their presence. If they had ill intentions, then they could not be allowed to roam free—and from what he heard about outsiders, their intentions were seldom well placed!
"We are here to-" Mirage spoke out; however, a voice immediately resounded over hers.
"Silence, human! Know your place! I am addressing the High-Born, not the likes of you!" Artemius stated as his gaze fell upon Luna.
Luna blinked a few times from the slight confusion. High-Born? Was he referring to her?
Mirage, on the other hand, almost coughed up blood from anger. This NPC was too arrogant! Was there a need to be so disrespectful to someone they had just met? But, just when she wanted to give Artemius a piece of her mind, she was stopped by Izroth.
'It looks like I was right to bring Luna along. Since our main purpose here is to find the descendant of the empress, then we cannot afford to start a battle. For now, let's play along.'
If they accidentally killed the descendant of the faceless empress, then their quest was bound to end in failure. Hence, they had to proceed with caution.
If one observed Artemius and the other Trephasia, not a single one of them had directed their weapon towards Luna; and based on what Artemius just called her, it appeared that he had mistaken Luna for a High-Born.
Izroth had read in the Amaharpe library that there were three types of Trephasia bloodlines. The first was the purest and belonged solely to individuals like the faceless empress—they were referred to as Nature Lords. Unfortunately, such a pure bloodline had long been lost to the passage of time. This was why Zelfyrion entrusted Izroth with the Empress Brooch and Isolation Compass. If someone with the faceless empress' bloodline did exist, with the assistance of the Empress Brooch, they could surely awaken their Nature Lord bloodline!
The second bloodline belonged to those like Zelfyrion and the Wiseman of Everpeak Kryxelsia. Their bloodline was still considered extremely pure compared to other members of the Trephasia race. Those who possessed their bloodline was named the High-Born.
Then there were those like Artemius and the remaining 99% of the Trephasia race with the third type of bloodline. They were simply called Child of the Forest.
Technically, Luna's bloodline fell somewhere between a High-Born and a Child of the Forest—leaning more towards that of a High-Born. This was due to Zelfyrion's powerful High-Born bloodline. Otherwise, Luna's Trephasia bloodline would have been incredibly thin and closer to the lower end of a Child of the Forest.
Izroth discreetly sent Luna a message via the system, and after she finished reading it over, she understood his intentions. Since Izroth wanted her to play along, then she would do her best to ensure that they did not view her party members as a threat.
"My name is Luna. My companions and I have journeyed here in search of a certain individual. We come bearing no hostile intent." Luna said.
Artemius frowned, "You call humans your companion?" he lowered his bow, and soon after, the Trephasias followed his actions.
He then continued, "I have heard rumors that some of the High-Born have the unusual habit of taking humans as comrades. But, this is the first time I have witnessed the sight in person. Forget our offense, High-Born. We have that you understand that we were just performing our duties." Artemius and the other Trephasias bowed respectfully to Luna.
Mirage looked at the scene of the bowing Trephasias shock. Was that the same person who was so arrogant just a few moments ago? Why were they suddenly being so respectful after Luna said a few words?
What Mirage did not know was that the Trephasia lived by a strict code of hierarchy and trust. Unlike humans who could lie through their teeth to anyone, the Trephasia race was incapable of doing so. That's why when Luna stated that they held no hostile intent, Artemius did not hesitate to lower his weapon. Since the words had come from a member of his own race, he had no reason to distrust them.
"I do not know who you have come to search for; however, it will be nightfall soon. We should return to the village and inform the elders of your arrival. As long as you are with those humans, then there should be no issue with them entering the village. However, I ask that you keep them under control. Follow me." Artemius said as he placed his longbow upon his back and began to walk forward. As for the other Trephasias, they retreated into the forest. But, they remained nearby just in case.
Luna led the way with Izroth, Mirage, and Azalea trailing not too far behind.
"Do Trephasias hold some sort of resentment against humans?" Mirage questioned Izroth in a low voice.
"Generally speaking, no. Among all the races, Humans and Trephasias have the best relationship. It is just that this case is a bit unusual." Izroth explained.
"Unusual? How so?" Mirage inquired curiously.
"If I am correct, this place has been isolated from the outside world for hundreds, if not thousands of years. The views and outlook of these Trephasia should be consistent with the ones from that time period. If that is the case, then their opinions of humans should be from that time period as well." Izroth stated.
From what Izroth knew, Humans and Trephasias did not exactly see eye to eye back then. In those times, it was the Trephasia who was considered the most influential race and ruled over the entire world. Hence, it was not uncommon that someone like Artemius, who had probably never ventured to the outside world, saw humans as a lesser species.
"I see... Well, I'm glad that we're not set in that time period." Mirage sighed. If all the members of the Trephasia race were that arrogant during that time period, then she wanted nothing to do with it!
The sky began to darken as the stars started to reveal themselves, and after almost 25 minutes of walking, Izroth's party reached the outside area of the Trephasia village.
There was nothing extravagant about the village. Everything had a simplistic and natural feeling to it. Every building was made from the earth itself, and the serene atmosphere caused one to feel relaxed.
Children were running around happily playing with a small ball made from twigs and leaves. The adults were either meditating with nature, practicing their archery and magic, or tending to the nearby plants with great care.
〈System Alert: You have arrived in «Lost Trephasia Village»!〉
When Izroth's party entered the village, they immediately drew the eyes of every Trephasia in sight. There was a multitude of expressions on their face that ranged from curiosity to fear. However, when their eyes landed on Luna, they all seemed to be in awe of her presence.
"Miss Luna, you are an honored guest of our village. Please, make yourself comfortable and treat this place like your own home. As for the humans, I am afraid that they will have to wait here until I inform the village elders of their arrival." Artemius stated.
Luna, however, shook her head and replied, "That's okay. I do not mind waiting here until you return."
"If that is your wish. Then, excuse me." Artemius said as he walked towards the building located near the center area of the village.
Luna gave a weary smile as she noticed that the gaze of every villager was on her. They looked at Luna with a look of wonder and reverence.
"Bear with it a bit longer. Once we meet with the village elders and can roam where we please without being hindered, then you no longer need to continue this little charade." Izroth stated.
Luna gave a small nod in response. She did not enjoy deceiving others. Even though she never technically stated that she was this High-Born Artemius spoke of, that did not change the fact that she was not truly one of them.
Several minutes later, Artemius returned to lead Izroth's party to the building he had gone into earlier.
"The elders will meet with you now. Humans, I caution you to mind your words and restrain your barbaric tendencies. The elders are not as polite and forgiving as I." Artemius warned.
Mirage was surprised. Someone like Artemius was considered polite and forgiving?! In what world?!
Izroth's party followed Artemius into the building. Once inside, the first thing that could Izroth's attention were the three individuals sat upon hovering spheres—two men and one woman who were all members of the Trephasia race!
NPC Name: Villager Elder Examius(???)
NPC Level: 49
NPC Name: Villager Elder Nainia(???)
NPC Level: 50
NPC Name: Villager Elder Drowmius(???)
NPC Level: 51