Chapter 565 - Goals Aligned
Izroth regrouped with the players from Sacred Beasts. By the time he returned, the barrier set by Meng Jiang was gone, and the party appeared in a healthier state after having recovered a bit. However, going from one high stakes situation right into another caused them to enter into a state of vigilance.
Nevertheless, the members of Sacred Beasts could not forget what they witnessed just moments ago. To say they underestimated Izroth was an understatement.
They were amazed at how he breezed through an ambush of almost forty players single-handedly! Even if those players were not as strong as the elites from top guilds, it was still an impressive feat. After all, seeing how they had the strength to survive in this part of the Rosentarus jungle, there had to be some decent skill to their names.
"I shouldn't have listened to my friends back then and chose warrior over the combat master class. If I knew combat masters could get this strong, I would not have hesitated at the time." One of the Sacred Beasts players sighed.
"What are you talking about? Combat masters aren't that simple. Anyone can become one, but few can reach a level of usefulness. There's a reason it's considered a trash class despite being the most powerful class on paper." One Shot Brick explained.
He then continued, "Most players think combat masters are weak because the top guilds labeled it a trash class. But, they misunderstood our reason for doing so. It's known as a trash class because of the insane learning curve attached to it. Anyone can be a mage, warrior, or any other class and get by for the most part with the system's guidance. But, combat masters have no such mercy from the system. Every gain has to be earned by their own hands. Therefore, while they have no theoretical, combat masters are too inconsistent and unpredictable. Pair that with having no skill tree to learn from, and you get a class even the top guilds want nothing to do with."
"He's right. Being a combat master isn't all it's cut out to be. I have a few friends who picked it. The majority of them failed to learn a single skill, but a few were able to. However, the highest was a C-ranked skill—that they spent almost a week in-game time learning. Why go through the trouble when you can just choose a class with a stable skill tree?" Banshee commented.
"A week just for one C-ranked skill?!" The Sacred Beast player exclaimed. After he heard that, he no longer regretted not choosing the combat master class. If he had done so, there was no way he would have made it to the status of a Sacred Beasts core member. But that's when it dawned on him.
If it took Banshee's friend a week to learn one C-ranked skill, what ridiculous amount of time did Mr. First Place spend learning so many high-ranked skills?
However, how would the members of Sacred Beasts react if they found out that the majority of the skills Izroth displayed were not ones of his creation, but rather ones he acquired from skill books?!
The entire time during the fight against the Failed Chimera and even in his battle against the players from the Headhunter Syndicate, Izroth had not revealed even 5% of the skills he created!
"I didn't take you for the merciful type, Mr. First Place." Meng Jiang said as she approached Izroth alone upon his return.
"Impressive summon. A skill?" Izroth stated as he glanced over at Acogu'An, who was resting on the ground near the other Sacred Beasts members.
"Nothing so fancy. Just a basic sense of smell." Meng Jiang replied with a smile.
Whatever was previously cloaking the Headhunter Syndicate players' scent allowed them to get close without Acogu'An noticing their presence. However, its effects had long since faded. Therefore, Meng Jiang was aware that Izroth let the last person from their attackers live due to Acogu'An's great sense of smell.
"I don't know why you've chosen to let them escape, but I'm sure there is a reason behind your action. That being said—I assume you know the identity of our attackers, correct? You even seem to have some sort of personal history with them." Meng Jiang questioned as her gaze flashed with a trace of sharpness.
It was not over yet. Whoever those players were, Meng Jiang wanted to make sure they knew the price of attacking and threatening her Sacred Beasts.
"You can say we have a bit of history. Though if I were you, I would not waste my time chasing them—since I plan to remove the Headhunter Syndicate from this event personally." Izroth stated.
"The Headhunter Syndicate... My, how bold they've become in recent times. They always had an aura of arrogance and recklessness. But, they understood who they could and could not afford to offend. After a bit of success, they must view my Sacred Beasts as something they can trample on without consequence. Tell me, if you were in my shoes, would you be able to sit idle?" Meng Jiang asserted.
A carefree smile appeared on Izroth's face as he responded, "No, I suppose not. What do you intend to do?"
"Since our goals align, why not cooperate? If you've come this far from Amaharpe, you must be headed towards the Demilitarization Belt situated between Rosentarus and Tempest. You may be strong, but the Demilitarization Belt is chaotic and unpredictable. The control of territory is continually shifting, and there are multiple high-level NPCs present on both sides. I can help you avoid these troublesome obstacles." Meng Jiang explained.
She then continued, "In return, all I ask is that we cooperate—an alliance of sorts, if you will."
Izroth put some thought into Meng Jiang's proposal. Initially, he planned to face the Headhunter Syndicate alone. However, after hearing about the state of the Demilitarization Belt, Izroth believed that perhaps having an extra hand would allow him to weave through many potential difficulties.
Not to mention, Meng Jiang did not seem like the type to sit back and wait for someone else to take action for her. Regardless of whether or not he accepted her invitation, Sacred Beasts would move against the Headhunter Syndicate.
'If what she says is true, the coordinates given to me by Empyrean and Mariposa can change at any moment. If that happens, searching for their bases one by one would be too time-consuming.'
In the end, Sleeping Gardenia was based in Amaharpe, not Rosentarus like Sacred Beasts. While they certainly had members present at the Demilitarization Belt, it did not come close to comparing with the number of players Sacred Beasts had at its disposal.
'Having another pair of eyes and ears could prove useful. I should make the most of it.'
"It's not easy for one to become my ally, guild leader Meng Jiang. However, as our goals happen to align, there's no point knocking on the same door twice." Izroth said.
Meng Jiang nodded, "Now that that's settled—shall we compare notes while we head to the Demilitarization Belt? You and I have quite a few secrets, Mr. First Place."
After coming to an agreement, Meng Jiang informed Sacred Beasts of her decision over a voice call with its highest-ranking members present.
Some were worried about the timing of Meng Jiang's decision; however, after hearing about the arrogance demonstrated by the Headhunter Syndicate, they were easily swayed.
"We're moving out." Meng Jiang commanded as the players from Sacred Beasts took the lead towards the Demilitarization Belt.
Meanwhile, Meng Jiang kept a safe distance between the group as Izroth accompanied her.
"What we're about to discuss is highly sensitive; therefore, I gave the order for no one to disturb us. This way, we can both be at ease." Meng Jiang stated.
"Oh? What's so sensitive that guild leader Meng Jiang does not trust her own guild members with the information?" Izroth questioned.
"It's not that I don't trust them. Just that, I'm confident you would not want them to hear our conversation." Meng Jiang corrected.
She then continued, "A combat master who possesses 30+ skills—five of which are at S-rank or above, none of which are below C-ranked. In fact, the skills at C-rank number the smallest among your arsenal. You can imagine my surprise."
Izroth narrowed his eyes and, at first, remained silent at Meng Jiang's words.
'That feeling of being watched from earlier... So, it was her.'
"You should know that I don't enjoy others peering at my secrets, guild leader Meng Jiang," Izroth stated coldly.
"Then, to deepen the trust of our alliance—how about I let you in on a few secrets of my own, Mr. First Place?" Meng Jiang said as her lips curled into a delightful smile.