Falcinean brandished his scimitars. His breathing had become ragged, and the fight appeared to be taking a toll on him. After he lost the use of his skills that supplemented his other senses, the blindness that did not previously hinder him had suddenly become a great burden to manage.
Falcinean took a deep breath before he exhaled and controlled his breathing. In his heart, he knew that this fight was over—it was his loss. But, as a warrior of the Pzenium kingdom, he would not kneel down in defeat! After all, there was a famous saying in the Pzenium kingdom, "A Pzenium warrior has never known of defeat outside of death!". This was a testament to the warrior spirit of those born in the Pzenium kingdom.
To them, there was always a winner and loser—nothing else existed. This was why Falcinean was shocked when he saw that Artemius was alive and wanted to finish him off. As a Pzenium warrior, it was considered a great dishonor for the opponent to spare their life—it was a shame worse than death!
"What is your name?" Falcinean asked. His voice was somewhat hoarse and weak, but there was still a clear strength behind it.
Izroth was a bit taken aback by Falcinean's sudden question. But, he had no reason to hide his name.
"Izroth." Izroth responded.
"Izroth... Izroth... I see. I shall remember it." Falcinean stated.
He then continued, "You should know that the Great Duke won't give up on killing you after what you did to his only son. That brat was not worth much, but he was still the Great Duke's sole heir—you have ended his direct bloodline."
Even after hearing Falcinean's words, Izroth did not regret his actions in the selection. If someone wanted to kill him, then let them. As for whether or not they had the ability to do so—that was a different question!
"You have been marked by the Scorching Death Mark. Once you have a Scorching Death Mark, there is only one known way to remove it—death. Izroth, your fate is already sealed." Falcinean said.
'Scorching Death Mark?'
Izroth had never heard of that before, but from the way Falcinean described it, it sounded similar to Soul Mark in the Seven Realms. Upon death, the killer of that person would have a Soul Mark imprinted on their soul. While it was harmless and did not cause any direct harm, it made it so that one could track down the killer no matter where they hid in the Seven Realms! Of course, there were ways to remove it. But, for the average person, those methods were far out of reach.
"Why are you telling me this?" Izroth questioned. Falcinean had no reason to disclose this information to him. In fact, he had every reason not to tell Izroth!
"You are a warrior that I, Falcinean, respect. Your death must be an honorable one; otherwise, my soul will never rest in the Grand Battle Palace." Falcinean answered.
He then pointed his scimitars towards Izroth as the fighting spirit in his eyes became intense.
"Enough words. This conversation shall end the way it started—with our blades." Falcinean charged forward. Although he was clearly fatigued, his movements had become sharper.
Izroth parried Falcinean's blow as an overbearing pressure rushed out from his Sword of the Storm. Then, with one swift motion, Izroth's sword breezed past Falcinean's neck.
The crimson scimitars in Falcinean's hands fell to the ground as his movements stopped. A long and thin cut appeared on his neck as he collapsed lifelessly to the ground.
'First Baneful Sword: Destruction.'
Izroth returned his Sword of the Storm to its sheath as he looked down at Falcinean. If he did not have his Boundless Nullifying Expanse, then this fight would have been many times more difficult against Falcinean, who possessed the Sand Domain.
'I need a more consistent way to deal with domains.'
In the near future, Izroth believed that he would face many strong enemies who were all capable of using a domain. There was no guarantee that his Boundless Nullifying Expanse would be able to suppress them as long as it did Falcinean. There was also the huge cooldown timer on the skill which affected its usability.
After Izroth defeated Falcinean, the colorless ring dissipated. At the same time, Izroth received a stream of alerts from the system.
〈System Alert: 4/4 Eliminate intruders in the «Millennial Veiled Oasis»〉
〈System Alert: 1/1 Protect Trephasia villagers〉
〈System Alert: Congratulations, you have completed the quest «Reserving Life In The Oasis»〉
〈System Alert: You have gained 20% EXP!〉
〈System Alert: You have received x100 gold coins!〉
〈System Alert: You have gained a +5% Permanent Experience Boost!〉
〈System Alert: You have received x1 «Ancient Gate Activation Stone»!〉
As Izroth looked over the system alerts, Luna, Mirage, and Azalea came over.
"You two sure know how to leave the boring things to others and save all the fun for yourselves!" Mirage huffed. While she was stuck babysitting the young Trephasia with Luna, Izroth and Azalea got to have all the fun fighting!
"I am sure that more opportunities will prevent itself in the future." Izroth replied with a carefree smile.
"Alright! But, next time, I get to fight first!" Mirage playfully smirked.
"We have company." Azalea said.
The Trephasias that had gone into hiding had begun to emerge from the buildings they hid in. However, all of them seemed to have terrified and fearful expressions on their faces.
Mirage frowned when she realized this and said, "Why aren't they coming out to give their thanks? Didn't you two just save their village? Or do Trephasias only know how to be ungrateful?!"
Izroth inwardly shook his head. It was partly his fault leading Falcinean and the Sandstorm Walkers to this oasis. Therefore, even if the villagers did not want to give their thanks, he could not blame them. But, that did not explain their terrified expressions.
Were they afraid that he would harm them after seeing his power? Given their distrust for humans, this was the most likely cause.
However, what Izroth and the others did not know was that the Trephasia villagers' fear was not towards them, but the young girl in Mirage's arms!
"Hurry, go tell the elders...! The cursed one has crossed outside of the forbidden area...!" One of the villagers said as another rushed over towards the elders' building.
"Get that flame-haired cursed monster out of here!" One of the Trephasia villagers shouted.
"Ger her out of here!"
"Why did you bring her out of the forbidden area!?!"
"You will doom us all!"
The other villagers soon began to cry out in outrage one after the other. This came as a shock to Izroth and his party. It turned out that they were not afraid of them, but of the young Trephasia who was with them!
"Why are they scared of a little girl? Aren't they neglecting one of their own kind? Also, monster? How can they call such a cute little thing a monster?" Mirage visibly frowned.
'The Trephasias see red-hair as a bad omen; however, they should not be fearful of it to this degree. At most, it should be a mild discomfort. But, more importantly...'
Were any of the villagers aware of this Trephasia's lineage? They were able to tell that Luna was a High-Born right away, so how was it possible that they were oblivious to this young girl's bloodline?
'Is it due to the bloodline lying dormant?'
If the young girl did possess the same bloodline as the faceless empress, then that meant that she was at least a High-Born—perhaps even a Nature Lord of legends! But, since the purpose of the Empress Brooch was the assist one with awakening their bloodline, it was safe to assume that the young girl's bloodline was hidden deeply. Therefore, to others, she may seem like a normal Child of the Forest.
'It looks like I will have to get some answers.'
Izroth had not yet accepted the quest SSS-ranked quest Awakening of The Lost Bloodline. In the end, the failure penalty of an existence wipe could not be taken lightly. Therefore, he wanted to learn as much as possible before he decided on his next course of action.
A few moments later, Artemius stepped out of the elders' building and appeared to be in a slight panic. When his eyes landed on Izroth's group and then the young Trephasia, he had the same reaction as the villagers. He hurried over towards Izroth's group; however, he made sure to maintain a safe distance.
"The elders would like to immediately meet with you at once—all of you." Artemius said with a gloomy facial expression.
'Oh? Are they willing to talk?'
"Very well. We planned on heading there anyway." Izroth replied.
A few moments later, Izroth and his group had arrived back at the elders' building. However, Azalea did not seem too pleased to be there. After all, those elders sat back and did nothing as their villagers were mercilessly slaughtered!
Examius eyes landed on the young girl in Mirage's arms as a troubled look appeared on his face.
"We welcomed you all into our home and only asked that you follow two simple conditions. Yet, you have broken one of the conditions we set. The consequences behind your actions—I fear that you will not be able to withstand them." Examius stated.
"Hmph! So what if we broke some condition? Don't you people pride yourselves in not being savages like us humans?! Then, how can you leave a poor defenseless child out there alone to fend for herself?!" Mirage scoffed.
"Mind your words, human! You speak, but you know nothing!" Nainia lashed out.
"Third Elder." Examius glanced over to his side as he held his hand up to stop Nainia.
He then turned his attention back towards Izroth's group with a serious expression and said, "That child should be not outside of the forbidden area. You must return her at once. Otherwise, it is not just our oasis that will be doomed—but the entire world."
The world would be doomed? How could one child bring about the destruction of the entire world?
"You must listen to my elder brother's warning. You are messing with powers far beyond your comprehension. If that child is outside of the forbidden area for too long, the damage you have caused will be irreversible." Drowmius said in a grave tone.
"Since I have decided to save this girl, she is under my protection. Therefore, I will have to refuse your advice. However, I will give you a chance to explain yourselves. Though if you intend on using force to achieve results, then you will be disappointed with the results." Izroth stated.
Abandoning the young Trephasia was the same as throwing away the SSS-ranked quest, which he was unwilling to do. But, he was still willing to give the elders a chance to explain their situation.
"You really won't reconsider?" Examius' expression darkened. According to Artemius, the strength of just one intruder was enough to overwhelm their squad of warriors. If Izroth's party could defeat such enemies and come away virtually unharmed in the process, then it would not be wise to make enemies with them.
After being met with Izroth's silence as a response, Examius released a deep sigh.
"Since you leave me with no other alternative, then I shall explain it to you." Examius said, which startled Drowmius and Nainia. This was a closely guarded secret of their village for more than a millennium! Was the First Elder really going to disclose it to a bunch of humans outsiders?!
"First Elder, you must reconsider." Nainia warned.
"Elder brother, I must agree with Third Elder. This decision—we will be betraying the oaths we have taken." Drowmius commented.
"I am well aware of that. But, whether I say it or not, the outcome does not change. At the very least, they should know the destruction they will unleash upon this world." Examius said unwaveringly.