When Izroth traveled through the gateway he was transported to a remote region with nothing but towering trees in sight.
〈System Alert: You have entered the «Towering Oak Forest»〉
'I have returned to the Towering Oak Forest, however, it should be nowhere near the location of where I originally entered into the dungeon.'
Izroth swept his gaze over his surroundings. From what he could tell, there was not a single presence within his range of perception.
He then reviewed his current coordinates to get a grasp on where that gateway had transported him to. When he looked over the coordinates, Izroth noticed that he was deep within the Towering Oak Forest. However, he would have no trouble returning to Amaharpe from this place.
Given the distance, it would take him 30 minutes if he walked at a normal pace to reach Amaharpe. Though he would get there much faster if he sprinted all the way.
'I wonder if the Five Cycles Pill I placed within the auction house has already been sold.'
Izroth began his journey back to Amaharpe. He was moving at a high speed and had no difficulty maneuvering his way around any objects that blocked in his path. After traveling for nearly five minutes, Izroth felt the presence of a single person.
He halted his steps and looked over in the direction where he sensed the presence. Normally Izroth would not bother stopping just to view a single presence, however, there was something peculiar about this one.
'That presence... There's something off about it.'
Izroth furrowed his brows. He could not put his finger on it but something was definitely off about it.
It was as if that single presence encompassed everything in Izroth's surrounding range of perception. As though they existed everywhere and yet, nowhere but the place they were located at the same time.
This feeling reminded Izroth of a similar phenomenon that happened within the Seven Realms. While there were minuscule differences, they were still almost identical.
This made Izroth curious and so he began to head over in the direction where he originally sensed the singular presence.
When Izroth reached his destination, he spotted an old man with his eyes closed shut, meditating on a large tree stump that most likely used to be one of the towering trees within this forest.
There was a powerful invisible force lingering around the entire tree stump that Izroth had recently come across while inside of the Sea Palace Graveyard dungeon.
'He's meditating inside of a gravity pocket. It appears to be much stronger than the one I entered into back in that pathway.'
Izroth stopped just before the tree stump and observed the old man.
NPC Name: Zhi(???)
NPC Level: ???
'As I thought, I'm unable to see his level. I suppose there's not much use wasting time here.'
Izroth was just curious because of what he sensed, but he would not bother disturbing the old man's meditation just to satisfy his curiosity. He then turned and was getting ready to leave before he heard a voice sound out from behind him.
"The pinnacle is unforgiving. Young man, do you care to have a chat with this old man?"
Izroth paused and turned around to see that the Zhi now had his eyes opened. The look in his eyes gave off a deep and profound aura. They appeared untouched by the simplicities of the mundane world.
When Izroth observed the look in Zhi's eyes, he was fairly surprised.
From what he'd understood about this world so far, it should be virtually impossible for something such as this to be replicated within this realm. That was due to the simple fact that this world was severely limited by its lack of spiritual essence.
Without spiritual essence, no matter how talented or philosophical one might be, they would still be limited by the thoughts of a mortal. However, Izroth was able to recognize with a glance that Zhi's thoughts were not bound by the intricacies of the mundane world.
How could an NPC possess knowledge that this world itself does not possess? This is what baffled Izroth.
"I was just thinking that I would like to have a chat with you, so of course, it is no problem."
Zhi gave a friendly smile as he held up one of his arms and gestured for Izroth to come and join him on the tree stump.
Izroth prepared himself before stepping onto the tree stump. The moment he did a crushing force descended upon his body, wanting to drive him into the ground.
〈System Alert: You have entered a Level Three «Gravity Pocket»〉
This gravity pocket made the other two seem like a casual stroll through a park. Izroth estimated that his agility was barely at 15 right now and he could only move bit by bit until he arrived in front of Zhi.
'The pressure is around twenty times that of normal gravity. This old man is meditating under such constant pressure and his movements do not seem at all to be hindered by this force.'
Izroth kept a carefree and calm expression on his face as he sat down in a meditative pose. Sitting still was much less strenuous than constantly moving while inside of a gravity pocket.
"Not many can endure a gravity pocket of this level, at the moment. Your willpower appears to be boundless. To travel through a gravity pocket, willpower is the most important trait one must possess. Tell me young man, who is your greatest enemy?"
"My greatest enemy is myself." Izroth responded without hesitation to his words.
"Good answer... Indeed, a good answer." Zhi had come across a few players already and yet they all answered in a similar fashion.
They judged their greatest enemy to be someone or something else while ignoring the one enemy that mattered the most, themselves. To fight a battle against one's self is the only battle where defeat is guaranteed as the end result every time.
"We seek the pinnacle and yet, the pinnacle is unforgiving. Enlightenment becomes a myth and the myth transforms into reality. We see reality as what is possible and a myth as what is implausible, what becomes of enlightenment that exists as both a myth and reality?"
Izroth stared at the old man when he asked that question. That was a level of questioning that should not be here!
'How is this possible?'
"Your question is one that has no answer that is correct or incorrect." Izroth answered.
Zhi's eyes narrowed when he heard Izroth speak and a look of shock briefly flashed by within his eyes. "Do not all questions have an answer to them?"
Izroth shook his head, "Some questions can lead only to another question. Do we dare to label those questions as answers when they do not provide one? Only a fool would believe they have an answer for everything."
"Only a fool..." Zhi closed his eyes as if he were in deep thought. A few moments later, a golden medallion appeared in the palm of his hand out of seemingly nowhere. The golden medallion seemed plain and ordinary with no special traits about it.
However, there was a symbol placed at the center the golden medallion that emitted an aura of authority. Zhi tossed the medallion to Izroth. Strangely enough, the medallion was unaffected by the gravity pocket.
Izroth caught the golden medallion and immediately examined it.
Name: Zhi's Medallion(Magical Item)
Special Note: Who could possibly comprehend the words of Zhi?
'An S-ranked magical item? However, what exactly is its purpose?'
Izroth read the special note on the item Zhi's Medallion and furrowed his brows as a result. The special note was stating the truth. There should not be any individual within this realm capable of comprehending the words of Zhi. Yet, there was obviously someone who did if this NPC existed.
When Izroth lifted his gaze, the old man had already vanished from the tree stump. The level three gravity pocket had dispersed as if the old man from before was the cause of it being here.
Meeting Zhi left Izroth with even more questions than what he had before his encounter with the old man.
Izroth set the Zhi's Medallion into his inventory before standing to his feet. While he still had many questions, he would not learn anything more by sitting here and pondering about them. He felt that as long as he continued to explore deeper into this world, he would naturally receive some answers.
Izroth once again began his journey back towards the capital city Amaharpe.
Somewhere currently within the Towering Oak Forest...
"Despicable! You had all of this planned before we even left Amaharpe didn't you?!" The person who spoke was a male player known as Guan Yu. Of course, this was not his real name and he was just a fan of the historical figure who was seen as a God of War on the battlefield.
Guan Yu was wearing full plated armor, but even with the armor on, one would still be able to tell that he was well-built. His eyes were dark brown in color and while he was not extremely handsome, he could still be considered as having above average looks.
Guan Yu held a guandao within his hands and was currently standing in a defensive position, surrounded by ten other players. There was one other player who was also surrounded and in the same predicament as Guan Yu, a female player known as Zi Yi.
Zi Yi had long midnight black hair that reached down to her knees. She possessed a lovely pair of emerald eyes and a body that was the true definition of having curves in all the correct places. At the moment, she had a fierce expression on her face and her eyes were filled with anger.
However, even though she was angry it did not do any injustice to her beauty. She was wearing light green leather armor with a skirt that stopped a bit more than halfway down her thighs. She held tightly onto the magnificent longbow within her hands.
"What's the meaning of this, Gripler?" Zi Yi understood exactly what was going on, but she was just trying to stall for time to think of a way out of this situation.
While she did not personally know Guan Yu and had only joined a random party to level up, it appeared as though the two of them were in the same boat. So, they could only team up to deal with the ambush of these players and their so-called party, that betrayed them.
"What's going on? You can't possibly be that oblivious! Hahaha, we're robbing you! What else is going on?!" The player who spoke was one of the many encircling Guan Yu and Zi Yi, the one who she referred to as Gripler. From his sword, shield, and heavy plated armor one could easily tell that he was a tank.
"If you want to fight then fight me fair and square! Why resort to such despicable and dishonorable means?!" Guan Yu was furious. He did not mind a good fight, however, he did not like the fact that they would use an ambush in such a shameful manner.
Zi Yi let out a sigh inwardly, she believed that Guan Yu was not all that bright. After all, why would people who resort to such underhanded tactics bother caring about whether something was dishonorable or not?
"Eh? Are you an idiot? You're in no position to make any demands! You know, it was frustrating having to put up with your headstrong attitude this whole time. Listening to your idiotic sense of justice was driving me insane!" Gripler would not even bother entertaining Guan Yu's suggestion.
"Here's the deal, unequip all of your equipment and hand over all your coins. After that, we'll allow you to leave without killing you. But if you fight back then... Don't blame us for getting nasty." Gripler had a smirk on his face. He was used to having this amount of control over other players.
"You're being unreasonable!" Guan Yu erupted in anger and brandished his guandao taking on an offensive stance. It was obvious that this group would not let them off, regardless of whatever choice they made.
"Bastards...!" Zi Yi was infuriated by those unreasonable demands. She nocked an arrow onto her bow, ready to fight until the bitter end.
'Oh? A fight is getting ready to take place over there.'
Izroth was calmly sitting on a tree branch over 30 meters from where Guan Yu, Zi Yi, and those "bandits" were located.