Izroth removed all three of the gemstones he collected from within his inventory. He took a brief moment to closely inspect the circular discs and the shapes of the slots located at their centers. He had to make sure he knew which gems would fit into their respective slots.
He then moved over to the stand holding up the circular disc that was positioned on the right side of the room. The slot at the center of that disc had the shape of the Sapphire Gem, the first gemstone that Izroth obtained after defeating Calder.
Izroth placed the Sapphire Gem inside of the slot and immediately after, he dashed towards the direction of the next stand. However, when he was around a third of the way there, he received an alert from the system.
〈System Alert: The gemstone sequence has failed. x1 «Sapphire Gem» has been returned to your inventory.〉
'A little more than 10 meters. That was to be expected.'
Izroth understood that it was unlikely for him to close 30 meters in under one second using only his base agility alone. Based on his attempt just now, he would need approximately 900 agility to successfully make it to the next platform within a one second time frame.
However, his movements had to be incredibly accurate or else there was a chance that he would miss the gem slot and have to start over again.
'With Flickering Steps, my agility will increase to 1,200. It should be more than enough to arrive at the next two stands in time. However, the slots are only a few centimeters in size. To be safe, I should use the initial few seconds of Flickering Steps to attempt some test runs.'
He did not want to have to wait three minutes for the cooldown on Flickering Steps to reset to try again in case he happened to be unsuccessful. After all, the sign outside of the three pathways did not have every single detail of information listed, so maybe what he read on the hologram was only a section of the true requirements. Of course, this was just a speculation.
Izroth removed the Sapphire Gem from his inventory before he walked back over towards its proper circular disc. His figure began to flicker, seemingly in and out of existence, as he activated the skill Flickering Steps. He traveled swiftly from one platform to the next in the blink of an eye.
He made sure to match the correct gem with its respective slot. The results were that on his first attempt, he was slightly off and missed the second gemstone slot.
'I'll have to adjust for the increased weight of the Aquamarine Gem.'
The second slot, which was located more towards the center of the room, belonged to the Aquamarine Gem. When Izroth tried to place the Aquamarine Gem into its slot, the mass of the item was having constant fluxations at the final moment just before it was about entered into its slot. This caused Izroth to be slightly off in its placement.
He still continued onward towards the third and final slot which belonged to the Moonstone Gem. It did not appear to have any issues and went in without any trouble.
After all the gemstones were successfully returned to his inventory, Izroth quickly moved to his starting position by the Sapphire Gem's circular disc slot. He still had ten seconds left on his Flickering Steps as he set the Sapphire Gem into its slot.
Immediately after doing so, Izroth accelerated to an unimaginable speed and instantly closed the distance between the first and second stands in less than one second. This time he was prepared for the constant shift in weight of the Aquamarine Gem and did not have any mishaps.
He succeeded in placing the Aquamarine Gem into its slot as he pushed on to the final circular disc. Fortunately, nothing unexpected occurred and he was able to successfully set the Moonstone Gem into its slot with some time to spare. The entire process took Izroth less than a total of two seconds!
The afterimages formed from Izroth's Flickering Steps still remained, lingering at the locations at each stand. But, his real figure had already appeared in front of the large metallic door. There were various unlocking mechanisms that sounded from inside of the door.
The magical symbols embedded into the door began to light up one by one as the gemstones which Izroth placed into the circular disc started to emit brilliant lights. Each gemstone released a concentrated beam of energy and all three of them struck a colorless gemstone that was located at the top of the metallic door.
The whole room was filled with a breathtakingly beautiful aurora light as the colorless gemstone slowly floated into the air. The Sapphire Gem, Moonstone Gem, and Aquamarine Gem all began to gravitate towards the colorless gemstone. When the three gems arrived in its immediate vicinity, they began to orbit the colorless gemstone.
The rotation of the orbit was becoming faster and faster as every second passed until eventually, the three gemstones that were circling the colorless gemstone had appeared to vanish. The colorless gemstone started to gain some color to it. It was not just a single one, but rather a myriad of colors.
The now rainbow colored gemstone, crashed into the large metallic door creating a loud sound that resembled that of a gong. This sound resonated constantly throughout the entire room as the large metallic doors started to open.
Izroth could not see clearly what was on the other side, as a luminous rainbow colored light blocked his sight. He felt as if he were being pulled into a portal similar to the one located at the dungeons entrance area. Izroth was dragged into the door, as it soon closed shut and the gemstone lost all its brilliance.
"Where is she?! Where is Kashysh?!"
Izroth heard a loud voice as he slowly opened his eyes. When he took a look at his surroundings, he realized that he was in a situation similar to last time when he came across Scagmag. The people around did not seem to notice him and he was unable to access his character window.
'Is this another vision?'
As he observed the room he was in, Izroth soon discovered the source of the voice. It was the middle-aged man Izroth saw during his last encounter, Scagmag, in his human form. However, the real question was what exactly did Scagmag or whatever was causing these visions, want him to see?
What grabbed Izroth's attention more than anything was a figure lying unconscious inside of a giant clam filled with gorgeous sea anemone. The sea anemone was glowing with a light green color as if it were trying to rejuvenate the figure inside of the giant clam.
However, no matter how much it tried to, there was some kind of dark and corrupted energy that repelled its attempts. This corrupted energy was covering the figure lying down in the giant clam and Izroth realized who it was with a single glance.
'Kashysh... Her appearance has changed since the last time I saw her.'
The individual lying down unconscious inside of that giant clam was indeed Kashysh, the ruler of the Great Sea. She was engulfed by a dark and invasive cold energy. There was a large claw mark across her stomach region and her once dazzling pure aqua-colored scales were now tainted and had turned pitch black.
Although Izroth could not feel the dark energy coming from Kashysh, its appearance matched the same corrupted aura attached to the pink scale that he recovered inside of Nerita's Cavern. More likely than not, that dark energy unmistakably belonged to the Shadahi.
'A Shadahi powerful enough to injure Kashysh has to at least be as strong as Syxirius.'
If he took her words at face value, then Kashysh and Scagmag should be equal or at least close in strength. For someone to injure her meant that they must have been at least a legendary Shadahi that was around the same level as the sealed one Izroth met during his journey to the Shadahi Realm.
"Sir Scagmag, her majesty is in no condition for visitors-" The one who spoke was Glekan, however, before he could even finish what he was saying, he was blown away by a powerful invisible force. Glekan flew back coughing up a blue liquid which was probably his blood.
Scagmag had a cold look in his eyes, "Those who block my path will not be forgiven. This is my final and only warning!"
Who would dare to bar his path after that powerful demonstration? No one interfered as he approached the giant clam which the unconscious Kashysh was lying in.
After staring at her for a period of time. He suppressed his anger while asking, "What happened...?" Scagmag made a promise to Kashysh's father who was like a brother to him, to take care of her. But, even if he did not make that promise, he already considered Kashysh as his only family. For her to be injured under his protection... How could he not be infuriated?
Everyone was silent as none of them knew how to answer that question. When her majesty returned, she was alone and in bad shape. Trestix, Nerita, and Sakod were nowhere to be found. Their current locations were unknown, however, everyone knew that if her majesty was in such a terrible condition, then the chances of those three surviving were...
"Answer me!" Scagmag was growing impatient as everyone present remained silent.
Glekan's facial expression darkened as he was severely injured from a single aura attack. However, he managed to struggle to his feet. "Her majesty... Was attacked in the Overside World...!" Although he was unhappy at being assaulted, after that display he was sure that he could not risk angering Scagmag any further.
"Where are the three who journeyed with her?" Scagmag placed two of his fingers onto Kashysh's forehead before furrowing his brows. The corrupted energy was already too deeply rooted. It had completely integrated itself with Kashysh's entire physiology. Even if he were to take her to the Dreaming Wave Pond, it would have little effect.
"Her majesty returned alone... The fate of the other three are still undetermined but it's most likely that..." Glekan stopped speaking for a brief moment. He did not want to say it as he was afraid it may become a reality. After all, he may disagree with some of the others, but he still respected their strength and undying loyalty to her majesty.
Glekan finished his sentence, "It's most likely that those three have perished while securing her majesty's retreat. Knowing them, even if they had to die, every last one of them would be unwilling to let this harm befall her majesty. Their deaths are the only plausible outcome."
Scagmag appeared to be lost in deep thought as he continued to examine Kashysh. "Where are the others?" Scagmag turned to look at Glekan.
"They have gathered their troops and prepared a march to the Overside World. The only reason I did not join them was that one of us had to look after her majesty. Otherwise... I would have gladly rushed to eradicate all of those vile surface dwellers!" Glekan had a look of endless hatred in his eyes.
"Fools... All of you, fools! Did every last one of you lose your mind now that her majesty is unconscious?!" Scagmag was furious, however, he could not blame them completely.
Compared to him, they were all young and inexperienced. None of them had actually fought against the type of vile creature that inflicted this wound before, and so none of them had any clue who was actually behind this.
"Are we to just sit here and do nothing while we let them get away with this?!" Glekan tried to hold back his anger, however, it was becoming increasingly difficult to do so. He was already upset that he could not personally join the battle and this was only reminding him of his helplessness.
Scagmag shook his head before looking back towards Kashysh. "Her majesty has tried her best to ensure that war does not happen with the Overside World. She could foresee the disaster that would take place soon; a disaster that no race would be safe from. Yet all of you..."
Scagmag managed to calm himself down after a while before heading towards the exit of the room. "I will try to catch up with those fools. Let us hope that I am not too late and the war can still be avoided. I will find a way to cure her majesty. If any additional harm should befall her while I am away, then don't blame me for taking your life."
Scagmag then vanished from out of the room. There was an eerie silence that lingered in the room. A beautiful mermaid was still lying unconscious within the giant clam. There was a strange beauty to her resting face. At that moment, she appeared to be... Peaceful.
Before he knew it, Izroth was no longer at the same location. He had arrived in a completely unfamiliar environment. He was also now capable of accessing his character window without any issue.
'Scagmag, Kashysh, those 14 individuals, the Shadahi, and the people on the surface. Something happened between all the involved parties that Scagmag or someone must be trying to show me.'
Izroth had a feeling that whatever took place here or in the Overside World, was something that changed the fate of the entire Underwater World.