"Artemius, you may go. This conversation is not for your ears." Examius said as he dismissed Artemius.
"Yes, First Elder." Artemius replied respectfully before taking his leave. There was a sense of relief on his face when the Examius dismissed him as if he wanted to be as far away as possible from the elders' building!
Artemius glanced at the young flame-haired Trephasia one last time as he left the elders' building.
"First, allow me to apologize for our earlier treatment. It is clear that the humans of this era are not the same as those from our own era." Examius stated.
He then looked towards Luna and continued, "High-Born, we hope that you can forgive our deception. It is not that we wished to deceive you, but you must understand that we were only following the oath we have sworn."
Luna glanced towards Izroth, who gave her a small nod as if knowing what she wanted to say.
Luna faced the elders as she shook her head and replied, "I am afraid that I have deceived you all as well. This bloodline was something that I was gifted—not born with. I am not truly a High-Born of your Trephasia race."
"We know—we have always known." Examius stated as a faint smile appeared on his face.
Izroth's group was surprised. They knew Luna had been gifted her bloodline and still treated her like a High-Born? Why?
'These three are hiding more than I originally thought.'
Izroth had been informed about the elders' response to the villagers being attacked by Falcinean and the Sandstorm Walkers. Therefore, he knew that whatever secret the three elders were guarding must be a great one if they were willing to allow the death of their entire village. For Trephasias, such a thing was unheard of throughout all known history!
"It does not matter that your bloodline was gifted to you. It is much purer than that of a Child of the Forest. The individual who gifted you that bloodline must be a High-Born of incredible lineage. If that individual has entrusted you with our bloodline, then you will always be considered a High-Born of our Trephasia race." Examius said.
They even knew that Luna's bloodline had been gifted?! Azalea and Mirage did not know about this event since neither of them entered the Chaotic Dogma Realm. But, Izroth and Luna remembered the ancient Trephasia who guarded the faceless empress, Zelfyrion. It was Zelfyrion who gifted Luna with the Trephasia bloodline as a way to show his sincerity.
Out of nowhere, the entire Millennial Veiled Oasis shook violently!
"What's going on?! An earthquake?!" Mirage exclaimed.
Izroth inwardly furrowed his brows when he saw tiny tears in space appearing throughout the elders' building.
'Is something causing the space within the Millennial Veiled Oasis collapsing?'
The quake only lasted for a handful of seconds, but it caused a grim expression to appear on the faces of the three elders.
"First Elder, we do not have much time left." Nainia reminded.
Examius nodded. The start of the quake was the first warning sign—the Millennial Veiled Oasis would soon no longer exist.
"You must think of us as cruel for abandoning the villagers in their time of need, correct?" Examius asked.
"The action is certainly unworthy of being respected elders." Izroth answered.
"Indeed, if the circumstances were normal, your response would not be wrong. But, what if I were to tell you that everyone in this village has already been lost to the passage of time?" Examius stated.
Izroth's group was startled by Examius' words. Was he saying that everyone in the village was already dead?! But how was that possible? They could see that everyone was alive and well!
Even Izroth was taken aback by this statement. After all, his Energy Vision Sense was able to sense the lifeforce of all living things. From trees to grass, and, of course, people.
'According to my Energy Vision Sense, everyone in this village is alive. It has never misled me. Is he telling the truth?'
"Are you saying that all the villagers that we have seen are dead?" Mirage stated as her eyes widened in disbelief. Did that mean that she had been carrying around a dead person all this time?!
Azalea frowned under her mask and said, "I witnessed a villager die before my eyes and a child weeping over his death—how can you explain this?"
When one of the Sandstorm Walkers killed a villager, Azalea rushed over to save the child before they were also eliminated. Even the quest they were given was to prevent the death of the Trephasia villagers! If they were already dead, then wouldn't they have failed the quest the moment they accepted it?
"I am afraid that you will have to elaborate." Izroth said. The elder's words did not make any sense based on everything he had experienced up to this point. There were too many pieces missing from the puzzle to even begin grasping a solid picture.
Examius sighed, "To be precise, we are alive, but not in the terms one would normally define it."
He then continued, "Many eons ago, a world-ending event occurred. With its vast power, it swept through the world, devouring everything in its path. Trees, people, animals, beasts—the only thing left in was a barren wasteland. It does not know remorse or fear, only destruction. If you have entered the forbidden area, then you have seen this for yourself. That is what 'it' is capable of—the Undying Maelstrom."
Izroth and Luna looked towards one another. During their time in the Chaotic Dogma Realm, inside the Endless Pandemonium Tower, they entered an area with the name Undying Maelstrom. It was in that area that they met Zelfyrion and saw the statue of the faceless empress.
They knew from Zelfyrion that the empress sacrificed herself to quell the Undying Maelstrom and ultimately save the world. But, as a result, the Undying Malestrom completely erased the empress from existence! This meant that every piece of her existence was wiped out! To be capable of achieving such a thing, the Undying Maelstrom had to be something frightening.
As for Azalea and Mirage, the two of them only understood the surface level of Examius words. They never knew that a world-ending event of that scale took place in RML! Also, eons? Just how far back did RML's history go?
"You speak of the Undying Malestrom as if it is a living creature with a will of its own." Izroth commented.
The way Examius spoke of the Undying Maelstrom made it sound as though it was aware of its actions. But, as a natural disaster that was likely birthed by the world, this should not be the case.
The Millennial Veiled Oasis trembled once again, except this time, it was more than five times as powerful as the last quake. There were even pieces of the elders' building that broke off as a result! But, just like last time, the earthquake stopped after several seconds.
"I fear that I do not have time to explain everything. The Great Spheres of Heslin are losing their power." Examius said as the spheres each of the elders sat atop started to slowly shrink in size.
'Sphere of Heslin?'
Izroth observed the spheres beneath the three elders and noticed that they did bear a striking resemblance to the Sphere of Heslin he received at the end of the Chaotic Dogma Realm and delivered to Tererestiaa. The major difference was that these spheres were much larger—at least twenty times larger—and there was not one, but three of them!
"This place has been sealed in time for countless cycles. The moment the Great Spheres of Heslin lose their power, the Time Bound Seal will shatter, and this village, along with all the people in it, will cease to exist." Examius explained.
While others may not understand Examius, Izroth was different. From its name and Examius previous explanation, he arrived at an unbelievable conclusion!
The reason his Energy Vision Sense observed life in the villagers had to do with those Great Spheres of Heslin and the Time Bound Seal. If time was frozen in this place, then it explained everything!
Izroth was unsure what the exact purpose of the Great Spheres of Heslin was, but if he was not mistaken, then they did not just have the ability to seal an area of space—they had the ability to seal a piece of time itself! The power required to achieve such a feat must have taken the effort of several legendary beings and high-grade magic items!
Still, this did not answer the main question on Izroth's mind, what did all of this have to do with the young Trephasia? If she was already dead and would disappear when the oasis collapsed, then what would happen to the Empress Brooch and the other quest he received?
As if sensing Izroth's question, Examius spoke, "While it is true that everyone, including the three of us, does not belong to your era, it is different for that child. After all, the Time Bound Seal was not made to merely preserve the life of this oasis and the villagers. It was made for that child. For countless cycles, she has been in a deep sleep, protected by the Time Bound Seal."
He then continued, "Every villager you have seen has sacrificed themselves to achieve this goal. High-Born, humans—since you have chosen to take this path, it is too late to turn back. This burden... Let us hope that you can carry its weight."
The Millennial Veiled Oasis trembled as the elders' building completely collapsed! However, the material that the building was made from phased right through the elders, as well as Izroth and his group!
But, when the building crumbled and Izroth's party witnessed what was taking place outside, a stunned expression found its way onto their faces.
The entire village and all the villagers within it were turning into particles, drifting towards a vortex above the oasis! However, that was not the most shocking part.
As the villagers turned to particles, their physical appearances changed at the last moment! The children, adults—all of them had become more aged and mature. Even Artemius looked to be in his late-40s to early 50s!
When Izroth's group looked back towards the elders, they saw that the three of them had aged considerably! The youthful appearance that was usually associated with the Trephasia was no longer there. It was as if they were slowly withering away. But, that was not the only thing that changed about the villagers.
NPC Name: Examius(Legendary)
NPC Level: ???
NPC Name: Drowmius(Legendary)
NPC Level: ???
NPC Name: Nainia(Legendary)
NPC Level: ???
NPC Name: Artemius(Legendary)
NPC Level: ???
Not just the village elders, but every single villager had transformed into a legendary existence! That was more than 25 legendary existences!
Artemius looked towards Izroth's group as a smile appeared on his matured face before the rest of his body dissipated and drifted into the vortex.
"I don't understand. Is this place being destroyed? Are we going to be sucked into that vortex too?!" Mirage questioned.
Examius smiled and said, "You will be safe. Since the Time Bound Seal is now broken, everyone is returning to their original states. What you viewed before was simply everyone the happiest moment of their lives. A child running freely, a warrior protecting his village, a mind at peace with nature... The moment exists, but the memory has long been forgotten. Such is the price they paid."
The reason the villagers reacted the way they did when they saw the young Trephasia was due to their missing memories. Examius went on to explain that only he, Drowmius, and Nainia knew the truth. But, they took an oath, which prevented them from disclosing the young Trephasia's true importance.
However, as members of the Trephasia race, it was carved deep into their existence to care for others of their race. Therefore, to ensure that no one attempted to undermine them in a moment of blind compassion, they purposely demonized the young Trephasia.
After Examius finished speaking, Izroth finally grasped what he had been missing.
'So, it's like that.'