Chapter 570 - Sword & Shield Part(3/4)
Seventeen seconds swiftly went by as the four passageways opened once again.
〈System Alert: Stage 1 Training Puppets are spawning!〉
Just like last time, a total of four training puppets appeared. Their weapons did not change, nor did their appearance. However, the Stage 1 training puppets' movements were slightly above the Stage 0 training puppets in terms of combat experience.
Nevertheless, it was not enough to influence the end result. Izroth and Niflheim made quick work of the Stage 1 training puppets. This time, they were even faster, destroying the wooden dolls in a mere 11 seconds—two seconds less than their previous battle.
〈System Alert: All Stage 1 enemies have been eliminated! [Time: 0 Minute(s) 41 second(s)]〉
〈System Alert: Time remaining until Stage 2 enemies spawn: 19 seconds!〉
Briefly, after the alerts sounded and the seconds ticked by, the Stage 2 enemies spawned and were promptly defeated. During this wave of enemies, Izroth made an important discovery.
The quest was not kidding when it mentioned the sword could only attack, and the shield can only defend. Izroth attempted to parry one of the training puppets' incoming strikes, but it passed through his steel sword as if it was not even there!
Though the fact that his Eighth Sword Form: Formless Sway was one of the skills disabled by the room, Izroth expected it would turn out like this. Still, not being able to do something as simple as parrying a strike was bothersome.
Luckily, the training puppet's mobility was limited, so he did not have any trouble evading its attack at the last second.
Izroth and Niflheim breezed through the first few stages of enemies with little change to the amount of time it took to eliminate them. Each stage seemed only to spawn a total of four training puppets with the same weapons in hand.
It was not until they reached Stage 11 enemies that they started to see a noticeable change to the training puppets.
〈System Alert: Stage 11 Training Puppets are spawning!〉
When the Stage 11 training puppets stepped out of the passageway, their appearance had undergone a transformation.
The training puppets were no longer made of wood-like material. Instead, they were shiny silver in color, and their bodies seemed to be created from an unusual metallic alloy.
In addition, the new training puppets took on a more humanoid form. While they still did not resemble humans in an exact sense, their limbs were much closer to real humans than that of the wooden dolls.
"It's unfortunate that taunt-type skills have no effect against these puppets. Though it seems like things are about to get interesting. I guess that the welcoming party is over." Niflheim stated.
"That being said—you noticed it too, right?" Niflheim spoke with a thoughtful expression.
"Yes. Although it's slow, these things are learning our movements and starting to adapt to our skillset." Izroth replied.
'The Magic Core that powers these metal training puppets contains even more energy than an Advanced Magic Core. Are they receiving their energy from a High-Grade Magic Core?'
A High-Grade Magic Core was one step above an Advanced Magic Core. But, in terms of energy output, the two were nowhere on the same level. If Izroth had to make a rough guess, he estimated that the High-Grade Magic Core generated at least four times more magical energy than an Advanced Magic Core!
To put it into perspective, it was enough to fully charge Izroth's Twin Lasting Epoch Sentinels and still have plenty of magical energy to spare!
'If Stage 11 training puppets require a High-Grade Magic Core to operate, does that mean the higher stages will have training puppets using Exceptional Magic Cores, or perhaps even Heart of Magics?'
Now, this room caught Izroth's attention even more so than before. If he could walk away from this place with an intact Heart of Magic, the benefits would be huge! That alone would make this trip worth it.
"A battle is not always about might versus might. There are some enemies you will not be able to overpower with brute force alone. Then, how do you overcome these enemies? Your technique, your environment, and more important than anything—your mind. You must learn to use these three components in unison and to your advantage." A voice rang throughout the room.
This voice differed from Resseki's outgoing and headstrong tone. There was a soft undertone to it with a certain level of calmness.
"I am called Kiren, and whether you remember or forget this name of mine is irrelevant. But, no matter what transpires, may you never disregard the words I have spoken to you on this day—this is my only advice to you." Kiren's voice echoed before fading.
The moment that final word left Kiren's mouth, the earth beneath Izroth and Niflheim's feet trembled, and in the blink of an eye, the room underwent a few alterations.
There were small puddles of liquid on the ground scattered throughout various sections of the room, along with patches of grass. Then, something unexpected happened to the metal training puppets.
As Izroth was analyzing them with his Energy Vision Sense, the metal training puppets disappeared into thin air!
'Oh? Something's shielding their magic energy.'
Since the training puppets were not alive, his Energy Vision Sense could not see through their disappearance. After all, it relied heavily upon the energy in a person's body to function properly. Having no energy or lifeforce to sense, Izroth turned to his natural sense of perception to locate the metal training puppets.
"A stealth skill?" The metal shield in Niflheim's hands released a radiant light.
"Assimilated Shield: Radiant Illumination. Reveal all that's hidden before me!" The metal shield morphed its shape to match that of a golden and purple buckler.
The radiant light soon receded into Niflheim's shield. Simultaneously, four humanoid outlines moving towards Izroth were exposed! The metal training puppets were indeed using a stealth skill and were still technically invisible.
However, Niflheim's Assimilated Shield: Radiant Illumination placed an outline around invisible targets within his range. The higher ranked the stealth skill, the thinner the outline that formed, and right now, the outline was extremely challenging to make out.
"The effects of this shield won't last for long. Let's hope every future stage doesn't involve stealth training puppets. The cooldown to this shield isn't high, but it's certainly not low enough to be available for every new batch of training puppets that spawn." Niflheim stated.
"There is more than one way to face a foe that you cannot see. The environment has been modified with commonly found details for a reason. Once you understand that point, it simply becomes a matter of execution." Izroth explained as he lowered his steel sword to his side.
Niflheim silently listened to Izroth's words as he observed one of the metal training puppets. However, rather than observe with his eyes, he did so with his ears. As he concentrated on the sound element, Niflheim heard the light footsteps splashing in the puddles and shuffling through the grass. Then, when he examined the area with his gaze, Niflheim saw tiny fluctuations in a puddle from being stepped in, as well as an impression left behind on the surface of a grass area.
"Indeed, one does not always need to see something to know it's there..." Niflheim muttered to himself as he came to a sudden realization.
'He picked it up faster than I anticipated.'
Izroth discovered that most of the players in RML, including those in the top guilds, shared a common trait—they relied too much on skills or the effects of items.
That was not to say that using skills or items was a bad thing; after all, never doing so would be considered foolish and unreasonable. However, certain things did not require such a heavy-handed method.
Of course, while it seemed simple, in reality, it was not easy for someone to use every one of their senses at all times.
But, if a person could learn to regularly utilize all their senses simultaneously, their overall combat power would grow exponentially!
As the metal training puppets closed in on their location, the tip of Izroth's steel sword made contact with the ground. At the same time, a perfect circle formed in the earth around Izroth as a rippling effect appeared in several of the liquid puddles close to him. But, these ripples were not caused by the training puppets.
The ripples soon came to an abrupt halt, and the circle in the earth disappeared as nothing happened—this caused Izroth to inwardly frown.
'It's still no good?'