Chapter 573 - Niflheim's Regret and A Wager
"That's not a good sign," Niflheim commented in regards to being provided with 100 lives. He understood that if the system felt it fit to give them such a large number of lives, then this challenge had yet to truly begin.
Suddenly, the golden puppets were teleported back to the north gate entrance as they reset to their original state.
"Not only can these puppets copy our skills, but each of them holds an abundance of combat experience. The further we go, the more noticeable it will become." Izroth stated.
"Then, care to make a friendly wager?" Niflheim asked calmly.
"Oh? I'm never one to turn down a challenge—what did you have in mind?" Izroth inquired.
"Whoever has the most lives remaining or is the last one standing by the time this is over will be declared the winner. The loser will have to accept one request from the winner within their means." Niflheim explained.
"Interesting. What might your request be?" Izroth questioned.
The Resseki and Kiren puppets dashed forward, changing up their tactics from their last battle. This time, the Resseki Puppet switched its target to Niflheim, while the Kiren Puppet turned its attention to Izroth.
As for Niflheim's suggestion, Izroth did not mind lending him a helping hand when he was free, provided he gained some benefits of his own in the process. However, he had a fairly good idea of what Niflheim really wanted to request of him.
"I won't ask that you forgive them for their actions and behavior-" Niflheim said as he lifted his shield to block the Resseki Puppet's cerulean sword. When Niflheim's shield stopped the Resseki Puppet's blade, it instantly slipped past the weapon's edge and struck the golden puppet in the face with a mighty force.
The skill Niflheim just used was known as Shield Counter. It stunned the Resseki Puppet, and Niflheim capitalized on this opportunity to follow up with a Shield Bash, pulling back his shield and smashing it into the golden puppet's face once more!
The Resseki Puppet was harshly thrown to the ground by Niflheim's Shield Bash. Right when he was ready to continue his chain of attacks with a Shield Smash, Niflheim halted his movement as he noticed the Resseki Puppet's eyes dim. This was a clear indication that the golden puppet had been defeated and powered down.
At the same time Niflheim conquered the Resseki Puppet, Izroth dealt with the Kiren Puppet. Utilizing the burst movement from his Light Feather Footwork and a well-placed Phantom Strike, he swiftly disposed of the golden puppet.
〈System Alert: Your score has increased by +5! [Score: 125]〉
〈System Alert: Resseki Puppet and Kiren Puppet current state [Power: 2.25%]!〉
"To finish what I was saying earlier—I'll speak plainly. My request is that you do not bar Blue Oasis from purchasing items from your Mystical Realm Palace as a result of what happened during the Great Sea Palace raid." Niflheim said as the golden puppets were teleported back to the north gate in preparation for the next round.
'At least he knows what to ask and what not to ask.'
In truth, Izroth no intention of going so far as preventing Blue Oasis from entering his Mystical Realm Palace. Their debt was one Niflheim settled with his decision at the Great Sea Palace raid. However, even if Niflheim had requested it, Izroth did not plan on becoming friendly with Blue Oasis. Once someone betrayed his trust or the trust of those under his protection, they would never get the chance to do so a second time.
Niflheim understood this trait of Izroth's personality, which is why he started by clarifying that he was not asking for forgiveness on their behalf.
"To make such a request—can it be that you still have some lingering sentiments of loyalty towards your former guild?" Izroth asked.
Niflheim remained silent for a few moments before he released a deep sigh.
"As much as I want to believe that to be true, it's not. Blue Oasis made their choice, and my worth only amounted to that of a mere Guild Order." Niflheim hid it well with his words, but the pain and feeling of betrayal that stung him inside could not be concealed within the depths of his eyes. He had given a lot to Blue Oasis over the years, and so to be tossed away in favor of a Guild Order by those he thought were his friends—those he considered to be like a second family to him—it hurt.
However, Niflheim had already come to terms with what happened. It would be a lie if he said he was completely over it, but Niflheim was finally moving forward on his own path away from Blue Oasis. But, despite how Blue Oasis treated him, there was still one lingering regret in Niflheim's heart.
"Back then, as Blue Oasis' strategist, I should have seen through your intentions to test us with the Guild Order. If I had done so, then perhaps I would still be in Blue Oasis, and you would still be on friendly terms with them." Niflheim said.
He then continued, "Ultimately, I can only blame my own shortcomings for this error. Nevertheless, it was my responsibility at the time, and I failed. I do not wish to see Blue Oasis suffer due to a blunder made under my watch. Of course, my request only applies to the events that transpired during the raid. As for future grievances, I have nothing to say. I just know that I want to have no regrets on the path I choose to walk."
Several seconds passed. Soon, the golden puppets' eyes glowed as power returned to their lifeless bodies with even more vigor than before.
"Very well. I can accept your request." Izroth stated as he gave his answer to Niflheim.
He then went on to say, "However, should I emerge the victor of this wager, you will become an official member of my guild."
"?!" Niflheim was taken aback by Izroth's words. Become an official member of his guild? Did he even have a guild? More surprising, Niflheim did not think that Izroth was the type of person to associate himself with a guild on personal terms. However, when he thought deeper into things, it made perfect sense.
Izroth was the owner of the successful Mystical Realm Palace, a powerhouse in terms of strength, and had several capable individuals within his reach. Everything was lined up perfectly for him to start a guild of his own. But why did he choose now to do so? What changed between the raid and the present that caused Izroth to suddenly decide to form a guild? Niflheim was curious just as much as he was shocked.
However, one thing was for sure. If a player like Izroth created a guild, it was only a matter of time before it entered the top ten rankings.
"Since you are willing to accept my request, how can I deny yours? If you win, then I will join your guild. But, you should be warned, Izroth. Even if it's you, I have no intention of losing." Niflheim declared in a serious tone. His competitive spirit had been ignited!
"It's been a while since someone has given me that look," Izroth said as his carefree smile disappeared, and his gaze became unmoving.
There was no skill involved, but somehow, the aura around Izroth had transformed into one of absolute dominance.
"Seeing how serious you are about it, I will let you witness firsthand—how I am when I become serious." Izroth asserted.
"I wouldn't have it any other way," Niflheim responded calmly as he felt a cold shiver run down his back. However, he remained unwavering in his resolve in the face of Izroth's aura. This was far from enough to deter him!
Izroth and Niflheim sprung into action as the golden puppets made their move. Thus began the fierce competition!
Approximately 29 hours later...
〈System Alert: Current Time is [29 hour(s) 59 minute(s) 30 second(s)]!〉
〈System Alert: Warning! Resseki Puppet and Kiren Puppet has entered «Overheat Mode»! Their power will be increased by 100%! Puppets will no longer reset after being defeated!〉
〈System Alert: Resseki Puppet and Kiren Puppet current state [Power: 200%]!〉
'He's holding on longer than I anticipated. I underestimated him. Still, to think those brothers left behind a trick like this. How amusing.'
Izroth stood tall as his body was riddled with numerous wounds and bruises.