Chapter 511 Land of The Skounae, Vostracane City
Maeva understood that Izroth did not owe her an explanation for his actions; nevertheless, it was not a good feeling to be kept in the dark. Fortunately, worst-case scenario, he would die and respawn in Xanaharpe, the nearest allied outpost. Since he had two lives, although it would put him in an unfavorable position for the remainder of the war, it was better than being completely knocked out of the event.
Aurie stood to her feet. After thinking it over, she had come to a decision. As a Commander, Aurie would not rearrange the War Brigade border defenses on a gut feeling or one man's words alone. That being said, on the off chance that he was successful, she could not let that chance go to waste.
"I will send word to Xanaharpe informing the General Support Unit of their Captain's missing status. Commander Baut, I am sure that you have things to attend to back at the Rosentarus border, so I won't keep you. As for us, Lieutenant Maeva, you will accompany me along with my unit's 4th division to the Unsanctioned Zone in approximately two hours. I want to see if your Captain is a man of his word or not with my own eyes." Aurie declared.
Meanwhile, somewhere near the Unsanctioned Zone within Malentansium's territory...
'This Captain rank is more convenient than I gave it credit for.'
The Monster Clearing Party war objective was still active since it was interrupted by the sudden enemy invasion. Typically, if he entered Malentansium territory, Izroth would have suffered the failure penalty of losing ten contribution points.
But, since he was a Captain, Izroth himself could deem the situation an "emergency" and freely cross into Malentansium territory without losing a single contribution point! What more valid excuse was there for an emergency than being a war captive?
'If I had to journey here the traditional way, it would have been somewhat inconvenient. Who would have thought that fate would present me with this opportunity?'
The Night King's Rite—it was possible that the players who knew of this ritual could be counted on one's fingers. In simple terms, it transformed the bloodline of an individual and improved it.
Usually, the Night King's Rite was used to enhance the bloodline of the Skounae, but not in the way one would think. Not just anyone could receive the Night King's Rite.
Izroth read that only those with a noble bloodline could undergo the ritual. It was not a way to make weaker Skounae stronger, but rather a method to increase the strength of a Skounae who already possessed a strong bloodline. However, there was a rare second use for the Night King's Rite—conversion. The ritual could transform one, regardless of their original race, into a Skounae!
Of course, Izroth had no intention of becoming a Skounae. With their race, there was a natural fear imprint embedded into them. This made it difficult for those with a weaker bloodline to ever oppose those above them, and even more impossible for anyone to go against the Night King's commands.
Izroth speculated that Salokin wanted to use the Night King's Rite to convert him into a Skounae. At that point, Izroth would have no choice but to obey the Night King's every command. However, this was unacceptable to Izroth for a myriad of reasons. Though what Izroth did not understand was the reason behind Salokin's decision.
So then, why did he willingly accompany the Skounae into their territory? It was not his interest in the Night King's Rite itself, but for one reason and one reason only—the source of the Night King's Rite power. It was that source of power that Izroth wanted to get his hands on.
The Night King's Rite's location was a closely guarded secret of the Skounae and continuously shifted from place to place. Therefore, Izroth brushed it off back then due to having no viable leads. But now, an Earl of the Skounae wanted to lead him directly to it! If this was not luck, then what was?!
"Behave yourself, human brat. If you cause trouble here, you can consider your life forfeit." Essirie warned.
A few moments later, Izroth received an alert from the system.
〈System Alert: You have discovered a new location!〉
〈System Alert: Warning! You have entered the enemy outpost city, «Vostracane»!〉
Vostracane was the Malentansium equivalent of Amaharpe's outpost city Xanaharpe. It was situated close to the Unsanctioned Zone border and served as a base of operations for the Immortal Umbra Horde.
The city itself was built like a war fortress with towering walls, sentry towers, and even two magic cannons that were usually only found in capital cities—excluding a magic kingdom like Proximus, that is.
Compared to Xanaharpe, Vostracane's defenses were a step well above it. However, this was to be expected, seeing as how Amaharpe and Rosentarus were allies. If the two of them decided to join forces to launch a full-scale attack, the Skounae were ready to respond!
Not too long after Izroth received the first wave of systems alerts, he was greeted by two additional messages.
〈System Alert: Congratulations, you are the first player to discover «Vostracane»!〉
〈System Alert: You have been rewarded 150 World Fame!〉
'As I thought, I'm the first player to step foot into this city.'
Izroth scanned his surroundings and quickly discovered that there was not a single human, or any other race for that matter, in sight! Even though Malentansium sided with Tempest for the war, the Skounae were a very tight-knit race and did not readily accept outsiders. It may be acceptable in some common cities, but an essential outpost like Vostracane was usually off-limits—which was why everywhere Izroth passed by, he could feel the cold stares of the Skounae in the city.
"What is that thing? It's hideous...!"
"Fool, have you never seen a human in person before?"
"I heard they enjoy the sunlight more than moonlight. What strange creatures."
"I wonder what its insides look like."
Izroth overheard a large variety of conversations going on among the Skounae. Several about his bizarre physical appearance, and others about some less than friendly topics.
'I suppose in their eyes; I am a unique creature.'
Izroth was slightly amused by the Skounae's reaction to his presence; however, it did not bother him. He was here for a purpose and had no time to put those Skounae in his eyes.
Salokin halted his steps, and Izroth, as well as Essirie, followed suit. A few seconds later, a shadow appeared on the ground at his feet and emerged from the dirt. This shadow soon morphed into a Skounae and kneeled before Salokin.
This Skounae was different from the those Izroth had seen thus far. Its eyes were not a shining blue but a dull red instead. Its skin was a much deeper blue than that of regular Skounae, and there was a black marking on the right side of his face of unknown origin.
NPC Name: Nameless Vretis Skounae(Elite)
NPC Level: ???
When Salokin saw the Vretis Skounae, a look of disgust revealed itself on his face.
"Speak," Salokin spoke coldly.
"Earl Vespera and Earl Sogard have departed for the Netherworld." The Vretis Skounae said without lifting his gaze from the earth.
"What?!" Essirie exclaimed. Earl Vespera and Earl Sogard were the two Skounae sent to attack the Rosentarus border defense troops. Of course, their primary mission was to eliminate the Panther Battalion Commander. With the strength at their disposal and the power increase gained from the night, dealing with a single Zensana Commander should have gone smoothly. Even if they could not defeat the Zensana Commander by some chance, they were more than capable of escaping with their lives.
Salokin frowned and asked, "What happened?"
The Vretis Skounae described the events that led up to the deaths of the two Earls. By the time he finished, Salokin and Essirie's facial expressions darkened. Losing a few Barons or Viscounts was not a problem. However, the death of not one but two Earls meant one thing.
"What are we going to do? It was your idea to call off the attack and retreat! Now-"
"Silence. Don't forget your place, Essirie." Salokin's gaze turned cold as he interrupted Essirie and delivered a meaningful look. They may both be Earls, but she was not his equal.
Essirie fell silent as she felt a shiver run down her spine—it was her bloodline reacting to the pressure of Salokin's.
"Send down my orders. Viscount Asema and Viscount Versum of the Immortal Umbra Horde will temporarily take over for Earl's Vespera and Earl Sogard accordingly. Now, leave my sights, abomination of the day." Salokin commanded.