Azalea reached the entrance of the elders' building just as her Dance of Phantoms movement skill wore off.
When Azalea entered inside, the eyes of all three elders landed on her. She noticed that the three elders sat atop of their spheres with darkened expressions. However, the fact that they had not taken action when their village was under attack made Azalea somewhat annoyed.
She tossed Artemius before the group of elders and said, "Will you sit back and watch as your village is destroyed?"
Examius sighed at Azalea's words as a light-green mist rushed out from the palm of his right hand and washed over Artemius. In just a few seconds, the wounds on Artemius started to close off and heal. His complexion also began to look better as his deathly pale skin had some life restored to it.
〈System Alert: 1/1 Deliver Artemius' safely to the village elders to prevent his death〉
Although Azalea had completed her task and wanted to rush back to help her teacher, she believed that there was something strange going on in this village that the elders were hiding. Perhaps even the other villagers were unaware of it. But, whatever it was, Azalea had a feeling that it had something to do with the "forbidden area" and the young girl they discovered.
The elders stated that the forbidden area was cursed, but her teacher and Mirage both returned without a scratch. However, Azalea's primary focus was on the inaction of the three elders. Even though the system hid their exact status, none of them appeared weak. Did they fear or detest the thought of fighting?
"First Elder—brother, maybe we should tell-" Drowmius began to speak; however, he was quickly cut off by Examius.
"No, you should understand better than anyone what that would mean. The three of us all have a duty that we have sworn to. Even if every villager were to die, while it would sadden me greatly, it would be a small price to pay." Examius stated as he shook his head.
Azalea's eyes seemed to turn to ice as she listened to Examius. There was nothing she despised more than hypocrites! Were they not a race that cared for their own kind above all else? If that was so, then how could they turn a blind eye and sit back in silence while strangers fought their battles for them?!
"Disgusting...!" Azalea glared at the three elders with a look of disgust in her eyes. She was wasting her time here with these cowards!
Without saying another word, Azalea took her leave from the elders' building. Since Artemius' life was no longer in danger, she had accomplished her mission.
After Azalea left, the Third Elder Nainia's expression became filled with grief.
"Maybe we should have informed the High-Born. If anyone can do anything about it, it would be her." Nainia sighed heavily.
"No, even if she is a High-Born, I fear she is too young to have the power to do anything. Do not lose your determination before the face of adversity. The empty opinion of one human who knows nothing should not be enough to sway you. For now, all we can do it hope that the 'thing' in the forbidden area remains undisturbed." Examius stated in a serious tone.
Izroth kicked off his back foot and avoided an incoming crimson flash that slammed into the ground, causing the area around it to tremble from the impact.
'His speed is not fast, but his movements are quick and accelerated. Though his reaction time is a bit troublesome.'
At the moment, Izroth was locked in a battle against Falcinean. In terms of speed, Falcinean could not be considered someone fast. However, there was something unnatural about his movements. There was always this initial burst of speed that erupted from out of nowhere. Using this initial burst of speed, Falcinean would launch a series of devastating attacks with is crimson scimitars. With that aggressive and ruthless fighting style, it did not surprise Izroth that Artemius and the other Trephasia warriors were unable to do anything against Falcinean. This was a fighting style that belonged to a seasoned and experienced warrior!
'These guys are also annoying.'
The moment Izroth's foot touched the ground, he immediately kicked off the ground and accelerated to the right. Not even a full second later, a hand reached out of the ground right where his foot had stepped. This hand was covered in tattered cloth and belonged to one of the Sandstorm Walkers!
The strange technique that the Sandstorm Walkers used made it so that they were undetectable through typical methods. That's why Izroth had to depend on his Soul Sense and a limited version of his Energy Vision Sense.
By compressing his Energy Vision Sense to a range of 1 meter, Izroth could maintain it for a longer duration. But, the sole downside was that this did not leave a lot of room for error—at least this should have been the case.
One of the Sandstorm Walkers phased up from the ground and slashed Izroth across his back with their circular-blade. However, the shock could not be hidden in the eyes of the Sandstorm Walker when he realized that his attack that was a direct hit did not inflict any damage! This was due to the Greater Physique passive from Izroth's Heavenly Golden Body. Since the damage of the Sandstorm Walker's attack was not higher than 10% of Izroth's total HP, the attack against him was rendered useless!
At the same time that the Sandstorm Walker's attack failed, the sword-bow in Izroth's hand disappeared as the First State: Heavenly Descent had come to an end.
The Sandstorm Walker, who had just attacked Izroth, witnessed this and saw it as a chance to take advantage. This time, the technique he used was more powerful, as a soft yet dangerous glow encompassed his circular-blade!
The moment the sword-bow vanished, Izroth placed his hand on the hilt of his Sword of The Storm.
Before the Sandstorm Walker could carry out his attack, his movements came to a grinding halt. He felt something cold brush past his neck. At first, he believed that it was just the wind, but there was this unique coldness that was familiar to him—it was the coldness of a blade.
'Seventh Sword Form: Motionless Killing Stroke.'
Skill Name: Seventh Sword Form: Motionless Killing Stroke
Skill Creator: Izroth
Skill Level: 1/4
Skill Rank: A
Requirements: Sword Equipped, Sheathed Sword
Active: The user's attack speed is increased by [1 Percent Per 6 Agility] (360%) for the duration of this skill. The user quickdraws their sword from its sheath as it releases a high-pitched screech and cuts its target, dealing 120% of the user's attack as lightning damage after a 1 second delay. If the user hits a vital point, the target is stunned for 1.5 seconds, the damage of this skill is increased from 120% to 600% of the user's attack, the damage delay is decreased from 1 second to 0.5 seconds, and the cooldown is reduced by 75%.
Special Note: This skill can also be leveled up through repeated usage and proper execution.
Cooldown: 20 minutes
〈System Alert: Congratulations, you have defeated Sandstorm Walker〉
〈System Alert: 1/4 Eliminate intruders in the «Millennial Veiled Oasis»〉
Thanks to the previous damage he dealt with his first attack on the Sandstorm Walkers, along with the damage from the Lightning Chain effect of his First State: Heavenly Descent, the Sandstorm Walker could not survive the blow.
'As I thought, their health and defenses are nonexistent. Also, if I were to judge them based solely on their flames from my Energy Vision Sense, I would place their level at the mid-40s range.'
Even though the Sandstorm Walkers had their status hidden, it did not mean that they were stronger or a higher level than Izroth. Most likely, it had something to do with their clothing or the unique skill they used to move around through solid surfaces.
Though with a skill like that, it was no wonder they were lacking when it came to their defensive capabilities. With such a terrifying offensive/escape skill at their disposal, why would they waste their time increasing their defense?
Meanwhile, after his last attack ended in failure, Falcinean fell back and observed Izroth's fight against the Sandstorm Walkers. The rhythm of Izroth's steps was chaotic and unpredictable, and yet somehow, everything remained in perfect order. While it was not his first time fighting against a strong opponent, he remembered the Great Duke's warning about underestimating those who survived the selection.
All of a sudden, just as the other Sandstorm Walker was about to make his move, a hazy blur emerged next to him, followed by a wave of dagger attacks! This hazy blur was, of course, Azalea!
The Sandstorm Walker, who was already weakened from Izroth's attacks, suffered critical damage from Azalea's surprise attack and joined his companion. Now, there was the Sandstorm Walker Leader and Falcinean who remained!
〈System Alert: 2/4 Eliminate intruders in the «Millennial Veiled Oasis»〉
"Teacher, I have safely delivered Artemius to the elders building." Azalea reported.
Izroth gave a small nod in response and said, "Good work. Since you have returned, I will leave the last Sandstorm Walker to you."
"Yes." Azalea cupped her fists respectfully as her figure faded away. She had entered into stealth mode!
As for the Sandstorm Walker Leader, his gaze had turned cold. Two of his subordinates had been killed! The enemy this time was more troublesome than he was initially led to believe. If he knew it was going to be this difficult, he would have asked for more gold upfront. But now, he had no choice but to work together with Falcinean!
"Controller Falcinean, I will take care of the brat that just arrived—can you handle the other one?" The Sandstorm Walker Leader asked with his head sticking halfway out the ground.
"His strength is not greater than mine; however, when it comes to skill execution, I am afraid that I am not his equal." Falcinean admitted. He noticed that the skills within Izroth's arsenal were nothing to scoff at.
He then continued, "But, that will not be an issue. If I am unable to win with skill alone, then I just have to overpower him with raw strength. Your plan—we will go with it."
A light gust of wind appeared around Falcinean as a myriad of tiny grains of sand could be seen forming in the atmosphere. The number of sand grains continued to increase at a terrifying pace, and soon, there was so much sand in the surrounding air that the grains were visible to the naked eye.
"Sand Domain: Passage of the Desert." Falcinean's body crumbled apart as it turned to sand and became one with the sand in the atmosphere!