The moment the Sandstorm Walker Leader gave the order, the two individuals at his side dashed forward. However, after taking just a few steps, something bizarre happened. The Sandstorm Walkers started to phase into the earth! Their movement had not slowed down, and in less than a breath of time, the Sandstorm Walkers were no longer anywhere to be found.
"Their presence disappeared again. Is it a skill?" Azalea questioned to herself as she kicked off her back foot and raced towards the group of Trephasias who were escaping. She would have to find some way of suppressing the Sandstorm Walkers long enough for them to flee to a safe distance.
Out of nowhere, an overwhelming killing intent followed by a crimson blade descended upon Azalea from her back.
"Did you forget that I was your opponent? There are not many who have the guts to turn their back on me in the middle of a battle." This voice belonged to none other than Falcinean! The instant Azalea kicked off her back foot, Falcinean had managed to move behind her and attacked mercilessly with his crimson blades.
Azalea was sliced in two as a look of disbelief could be seen in her eyes.
Even though Falcinean did not agree with the methods of the Sandstorm Walkers, he understood the importance of this mission. The Great Duke's threat of him not returning in failure was not mere words being spoken. If he returned without the head of his target, then he could never again set foot in the Pzenium kingdom!
As if reacting on pure muscle memory, Falcinean slashed outward in an arc at his side. However, the object he cut was incredibly light—like a feather. In fact, it was a feather—a raven's feather.
Azalea's figure scattered into a congress of ravens! She had successfully evaded Falcinean's surprise attack!
"Another fake?" Falcinean frowned. He did not believe that his opponent was capable of sustaining such a high-level skill indefinitely. There had to be some sort of limit, and if he had to keep attacking until it was reached, then so be it!
Bzzzt! Bzzzt! Crrrrckle!
Out of nowhere, the sound of thunder could be heard in the distance as the sky above the oasis darkened.
"A thunderstorm in the Pzenium kingdom?" Falcinean furrowed his brows. He had never heard of a rain shower, let alone a thunderstorm taking place in the Pzenium kingdom! How could this storm appear without warning?
Meanwhile, the real Azalea had already entered an advanced mode of stealth and had begun to make her way towards the Trephasia villagers.
That sneak attack from Falcinean was a close call! If she had hesitated even a millisecond later after sensing his killing intent, then that would have been her real body that was sliced in half!
"I only have two more uses left today for my Eluding Ravens Call. I will have to act with more caution." Azalea said to herself.
Eluding Ravens Call was the name of the skill Azalea had just used to avoid Falcinean's attack. It was an S-ranked evasion skill that made guaranteed that the user would avoid the next attack or skill where they were a target. It also allowed the user to instantly teleport to any location within a few meters and granted them a brief massive boost of movement speed after they successfully evaded the attack. The only flaw was a small delay in between uses; however, with the teleportation and movement speed boost, it was not a disadvantage that could be easily exploited. Another downside to the skill was that it could only be executed a total of five times a day! Therefore, unless absolutely necessary, Azalea avoided using it.
As the Trephasia made their escape, they were much faster than Azalea anticipated initially. It turned out that, fortunately, some Trephasia villagers possessed basic wind support magic. This provided the group of Trephasias with a much needed speed gain. Unfortunately, there were still not fast enough to outrun the Sandstorm Walkers.
The two Sandstorm Walkers abruptly surfaced from underground with a bladed-disk in their hand—one on the side left of the Trephasia group and the other on the right side. The weapons in their hand looked as though they were designed to tear their enemies apart brutally!
The Sandstorm Walkers prepared to carry out their assault on the nearest Trephasia villagers! This caused Azalea to immediately exit her stealth as she got ready to accelerate forward to block the blows. However, just as she was about to push off her right foot, she felt a powerful force keeping her leg in place.
"?!" When Azalea looked down, she saw a clothed hand holding on tightly to her ankle. She then glanced towards the area where the Sandstorm Walker Leader was located and realized that he was no longer there!
"Why are you in such a hurry? Stay and play for a while, brat." A voice sounded from beneath the earth as the head of the Sandstorm Walker Leader emerged from the ground.
During that tiny window, when Falcinean attacked her, Azalea's attention was focused solely on avoiding his attack. Therefore, she did not realize at the time that the Sandstorm Walker Leader had chosen to make his move!
Azalea stabbed one of her daggers downward towards the head of the Sandstorm Walker Leader; however, he released his grip at the last moment and sunk back into the earth. Even though he did not stop Azalea for long, that single moment was all he needed! Now, there was no way for Azalea to catch up in time to fend off the attack of the other two Sandstorm Walkers!
With the low-level that the villagers possessed, just one attack was enough to end most of their lives! This was bad!
Crrrrckle! Boom! Boom!
Just when the Sandstorm Walkers attacks were about to hit, a flash of purple light appeared before both of them. This purple light contained an overbearing momentum as it exploded on contact, dealing damage and blowing the Sandstorm Walkers away from the villagers!
The Sandstorm Walkers tried to move their bodies, but found that they had been paralyzed! They glared in the direction where those two attacks originated; however, the Sandstorm Walkers had no idea who was behind them! But, what they could not see was that more than 50 meters away in the forested area and closing in fast was a man with an unusual weapon in one hand and dragging something in his other. The weapon in that man's hand was a sword with a crossbow attached to the lower flat side of its blade near the guard area. But, the strangest thing about this weapon that was a cross between a sword and a bow was the material it was made from—if one could even call it a material. It was formed from a concentrated purple energy that crackled as if it were lightning itself!
'It looks like I arrived just in time. Though I have to say, it seems I have underestimated her.'
The person who launched that attack was, of course, Izroth! He immediately swept his gaze over the battlefield and got a decent grasp of the situation.
When he received an alert from the system that another one of the villagers had been eliminated, Izroth knew that he did not have a lot of time. Since his Sky Steps and Flickering Steps were still on cooldown and he could not carry Artemius while using Shadow Movement, he needed to think of an alternate plan.
Of course, he could have used his Second State: Heavenly Cloak Full Mantle's Compressed Lightning Movement to reach the village in a heartbeat, but the strain generated by it was too great a risk. After all, he did not know the real strength of the opponents he would be facing.
That was when Izroth activated the First State: Heavenly Descent and forged a weapon that acted as both a sword, as well as a bow from the special purple lightning.
This permitted Izroth to infuse his sword skills into the purple lightning arrows that were generated by the sword-bow weapon! The skill he imbued into the first arrow he fired was the Third Sword Form: Collapsing Thunder. As for the other skill, it was the Sixth Sword Form: Double Blooming Lotus. Since the sixth sword form copied the last sword skill Izroth used, it was as if he used the third sword form back to back.
Not only was the power behind the attack strong enough to force the Sandstorm Walkers back, but the paralyzing effect of the skill actually activated for both NPCs, making them unable to take any action for 2 seconds!
Azalea was taken aback by the explosion near the villagers. But, when she saw that the attacks were aimed at the Sandstorm Walkers, she knew that it had to be an ally. Judging from the direction the attack traveled, that ally was most likely her teacher! If he could already attack, then that meant that he was somewhere within the immediate vicinity.
Just as that thought crossed Azalea's mind, Izroth appeared less than five meters away from her!
"Teacher..!" Azalea was startled by Izroth's sudden arrival. How did he appear here out of thin air?!
"Take him to the elders. I'll handle things here." Izroth stated as he tossed Artemius before Azalea. Just now, he used up three out of four of his Enhanced Instantaneous Movement charges. Since each charge could move Izroth instantly 15 meters in any direction, he was able to travel an entire 45 meters and reach the central area of the battlefield.
Azalea wanted to stay and help Izroth fight, but she knew that one of the quest objectives was ensuring Artemius was safely delivered to the elders. Understanding this, Azalea gave a slight nod in response as she grabbed Artemius by his collar and rushed at full speed to the elders' building. The faster she delivered Artemius, the quicker she could get back and assist her teacher! Not to mention, she was curious as to what the elders were doing while intruders were attacking their village. Although the elders had their levels hidden by the system, none of them appeared to be weak or short-lived. If that was the case, why had they not taken action? Did they not care about the safety of their villagers? One way or another, Azalea would get some answers!
"Who said you could leave?" A voice sounded from behind Azalea. It was Falcinean who immediately chased after her!
Falcinean was stunned to see that Artemius was still alive. He was sure that he killed every last one of the Trephasia warriors!
Falcinean slashed out with his crimson blade, but something was not right. The attack collided with something solid, and his strike was parried away!
In the blink of an eye, Izroth had appeared before him using the final charge of his Enhanced Instantaneous Movement and intercepted Falcinean's attack!
Falcinean's facial expression darkened as he became serious. Why? Because the amber gemstone in his possession was roaring! The person who had just blocked his attack was the individual he had been looking for all along—the criminal who killed the Great Duke's son!
"Do not worry. I will be your opponent." Izroth said with a carefree expression on his face.