Chapter 524 A Shift In Landscape! The Pink Cloud of Mysteries
Not even a full breath of time passed as Izroth reached the destination the silver thread pulled him to. This place was close to the area of Izroth's initial escape from the Night Lord Zarolas; however, the environment was nothing like the last he was here. It had not been that long since he left this location—how could the surroundings have undergone such drastic changes within that short amount of time?
'The coordinates are not too far off from this location. Just what occurred after I left?'
Everywhere within one kilometer was concealed by a pink haze. When Izroth was in the sky, he saw that this haze had the appearance of a colossal pink cloud. The "pink cloud" did not separate despite its constant movement. Instead, it was as though it were being held inside by an invisible container.
Izroth felt a familiar energy emanating from the haze. This energy matched Commander Aurie's; however, it was mixed in with an unknown source.
A silver streak of light fell from the sky and landed a couple of meters away from Izroth. But, he was not startled by this sudden impact, nor did he take an offensive stance. After all, this silver streak was the reason why he could reach this place so swiftly.
'With this, my largest worry can be eased.'
The silver streak that descended near Izroth was none other than Empyrean, his Soul Avatar.
'When I get the chance, I'll have to test just how far his limits go.'
Since the event was starting so soon after Empyrean was formed, Izroth did not have the time to see exactly what he was capable of. As for the skills and traits Empyrean possessed, Izroth could not see the details through the system as he could with his own skills. Therefore, outside their names, Izroth had no other clues.
In the beginning, he even tried to use Mind Link, but there was no real response from Empyrean, and his mind came up blank every time.
Izroth compared this "mind blanking" phenomenon to asking someone how they learned to breathe. To Empyrean, those skills were born with him and carved into his very existence. In other words, it was something that came naturally to him.
"Where are Maeva and the Commander? Why are you not with them?" Izroth asked as he observed the pink cloud using his Energy Vision Sense. However, even it was incapable of peering through the mystical haze.
"They are trapped inside... Can't enter..." Empyrean said as he pointed to the pink cloud. He then walked forward and stretched his arm out, but just as his hand approached the pink cloud, it opened up and retreated. It was almost as if it did not want to be touched by Empyrean.
Empyrean then briefly explained the events that transpired and led to him losing sight of Maeva and Aurie at Izroth's request.
According to Empyrean, not too long after Maeva, Commander Aurie, and Captain Gritt entered Malentansium, they ran into Zarolas and Essirie. Since he was ordered to watch from afar unless it was an emergency, Empyrean did not act immediately. However, after sensing the hostility between the two sides and Zarolas' monstrous aura, Empyrean decided to move into action.
But, soon after he arrived to lend a helping hand, things had already progressed to a point beyond an exchange of words. Aurie, realizing who she was up against, unleashed the might of her domain. When this happened, Empyrean was forcibly ejected from the pink clouds as though it was spitting out something that tasted bad.
After that point, no matter how many times Empyrean tried to enter the pink clouds, it would make way for him. The issue was that even after flying and searching through every corner of the pink cloud, Empyrean could not find a single person.
Maeva, Aurie, Gritt, Zarolas, Essirie—they all disappeared into thin air!
Izroth was unsure why the haze refused to accept Empyrean; however, he figured it had to do with one of three things. The first being that Empyrean was considered a half-player. But, Izroth gathered this to be the least likely reason.
The other two reasons had to do with Empyrean's traits and skills. Innate Anti-Magic Body, Quasi-Divine Body, Crowd Control Immunity, Poison Immunity, Debuff Immunity—any one of these skills or traits could be the cause. If one could not be controlled or influenced, then the next best course of action was to prevent them from entering. Whether or not Aurie intended to do so, Izroth did not know. However, he had a hunch that there was more to it than that.
Back on the battlefield, Izroth remembered what Earl Salokin mentioned regarding Aurie not being able to use her domain because of the presence of her allies.
'It's similar to my third baneful sword. Something that does not differentiate between ally and foe. The range of this domain is bigger than I envisioned. Still, to use it with her allies present...'
Izroth knew that Aurie had not anticipated running into an Antumbra Night Lord. For this, Izroth felt partly at fault since he informed them that a Penumbra Inquisitor was on the way.
Izroth could not have possibly foreseen Zarolas' unexpected visit, but that did not change the fact that he provided false information. Therefore, he knew that it was his responsibility to see things through till the end.
"Can you use your Heaven Connecting Tether to bring them out?" Izroth asked.
Empyrean, however, responded by shaking his head and replied, "Nothing to lock onto... No one is in there."
"Then, I suppose the only way to find out what's taking place within is to go in myself. Follow me immediately after I enter the mist. If we lose contact, stay out of range and in the skies until I return." Izroth said. He unsheathed his Sword of The Storm and took his first step into the pink cloud.
Instantly after Izroth walked into the haze, Empyrean made his move and followed his exact steps. However, just like the times before, the pink cloud opened itself to make way for him. When it did so, Izroth, who had certainly not taken more than a step or two into the haze, was nowhere to be found!
Maeva slowly opened her eyes as she regained her consciousness.
"What happened...?" Maeva muttered to herself as she swept her cloudy gaze around her new surroundings. A few moments later, her eyes widened from shock as her vision cleared up. This place—was she even near Vostracane anymore?!
"Where am I? Where is this place? What is this? When did my equipment change?" Maeva exclaimed. She immediately checked the side of her waist; however, even her weapon was gone! Maeva tried to access her inventory, but that too had vanished.
After seeing that her inventory and system interface was not showing up, a frown appeared on Maeva's face. Was this some kind of bug?
"Open emergency logout," Maeva said.
〈System Alert: Would you like to force an emergency logout? [Please Note: You may incur severe penalties when you logout.]〉
Maeva breathed a sigh of relief. Since the emergency logout still seemed to be working, it meant that the system was running fine. Most likely, not being able to access its functions was merely a result of her location.
"Cancel emergency logout," Maeva stated as the system complied.
She then sighed, "It is rather uncomfortable being in such a frilly outfit."
Maeva sighed as she looked in the mirror placed upon a small table next to where she sat. She was wearing an elegant cyan dress with frills, and on her hands was a pair of gloves that perfectly hugged her skin. These gloves stretched to just below her elbows.
Attached to her ears was a glimmering set of jeweled earrings, and around her neck, a magnificent necklace riddled with valuable gems.
But, if one item truly stood out, it was the silver jeweled tiara arranged snugly above her forehead. There was a cold aura being emitted from the tiara; however, it did not bother Maeva. Strangely, it even felt somewhat comforting.
Maeva peered down at the throne in which she was seated, and then looked to the side and saw an empty throne at least twice the size of her own. Without a doubt, this was a kingdom's throne room!
But, Maeva knew that it could not be Vostracane's throne room as it had been destroyed by a massive explosion. So, the question remained; what was this place?
As if hearing her thoughts, the system sounded off in Maeva's ears.
〈System Alert: You have been given the role [Queen Nixpera].〉
〈System Alert: The final role [Dreamer] has been filled.〉
〈System Alert: The tale «The Snow That Falls In Summer» is in full effect! 〉
〈System Alert: The «Dream Domain: Absolute Fiction, One Thousand Tales of Tragedy» has begun!〉
Right after she received the stream of system alerts, Maeva heard the doors to the throne room creak open.
What stood on the opposite side of the doors was a set of shining blue-eyes that revealed themselves in the darkness.