The NPCs who were previously standing guard and making rounds by the gates of Amaharpe were no longer present. Instead, these new guards made the prior ones seem insignificant by comparison. They wore bright red plated armor and their faces were all covered by a helmet in the shape of a dragon's head.
Each of the guards wielded a mighty halberd that was constantly exuding a heavy aura near its surroundings. They were all extremely disciplined and the aura each guard personally released was astonishing, to say the least. There was the head of a dragon carved onto their left chest plate.
Even from far away, players were able to identify the new NPCs guarding Amaharpe.
NPC Name: Crimson Corps Guard(Elite)
NPC Level: ???
There were many players lingering outside of the gates entering into Amaharpe just to observe the new guards placed there. The players were speaking to one another and speculating as to why new guards had appeared at the gates of Amaharpe.
"Those guards look so powerful! I wonder if it's possible to get their gear from a special quest."
"Bah! You? Getting that kind of high-level armor? Keep dreaming! We're still a long way away from getting to that level. I'm already level 17 and I still can't see what level those guards are. Plus, that gear is definitely at least rare quality."
"Maybe there's some kind of event starting soon."
One of the players shook their head in response. "I haven't seen anything announced on the forums or the official events page that said anything about an event in Amaharpe."
"Still... That doesn't mean it can't be one, right? Not all the events are announced. But... It is strange that the guards just changed out of nowhere."
As players continued to chat away on the topic of the new guards, Izroth, Guan Yu, and Zi Yi headed towards the gates to enter into the capital city.
"Crimson Corps Guard... I've seen the insignia of the dragon on their armor somewhere before. If I recall correctly, there are no more than one hundred Crimson Corps Guards. All of them endure torturous training and very few even qualify to attempt the test to become a Crimson Corps Guard." Zi Yi was explaining her current knowledge about the new NPCs.
"How do you know about that kind of stuff? I've never even heard of or seen any Crimson Corps Guards before this." Guan Yu was curious as to how Zi Yi came across this information. He had been all around Amaharpe and had not come across anything remotely related to them.
Izroth was also interested as to how Zi Yi had access to such information.
"Hmph, it's not luck. It's due to the simple fact that I actually read. As long as you pay a fee, you can have direct access to Amaharpe's library. There's a lot of information accessible there and even some hidden secrets. Of course, all the real knowledge lies in the palace library. Sadly, there's no way to enter the palace library. At least, not that I know of."
"How lucky that you managed to come by such information. But... It's really impressive that you find the time to read and still keep your level up." Guan Yu said.
Zi Yi was currently level 22 and he was level 23. Their current levels were higher than that of the average player. Even some of those who had been playing since RML first officially launched. The further into RML players ventured the more defined and apparent the defined skill gaps between players became.
"It isn't luck. I have an eidetic memory. Reading a few books isn't too difficult." Zi Yi corrected Guan Yu's mistaken choice of words. Though, Zi Yi was being quite modest when she said a few books. In fact, she had gone over hundreds of books in Amaharpe's library in a very short period of time.
"An eye titanic memory? What's that?" Guan Yu asked curiously.
"Not eye titanic! Eidetic memory! It means that I'm able to easily retain and recall information that I've come across in much greater detail than the average person." Zi Yi let out a small sigh. She felt as if Guan Yu was purposely agitating her at times.
"That's so cool! It's almost like a real-life superpower! I've always wanted photographic memory." Guan Yu was a bit envious of Zi Yi.
Zi Yi shook her head, "Not photographic memory. That sort of thing doesn't really exist. It's difficult to explain but... It's definitely not like looking back at a clear picture that I've taken mentally."
"I see... Well, it's still a cool ability. Ahahaha!" Guan Yu gave a cheerful thumbs up.
Izroth, however, knew that photographic memory was actually a real thing. After all, he himself possessed it! But, Zi Yi words were not entirely incorrect. Izroth was capable of cultivating which allowed his mind to work differently from that of a normal mortal mind.
For a normal mortal, possessing a true photographic memory was impossible. But for a cultivator, it was as easy as breathing and drinking water. The ability came to cultivators naturally.
"Is there anything else you can tell us about the Crimson Corps Guard?" Izroth wanted to gather some additional information if possible as it may relate to the world quest that he had acquired. Or, it may even have something to do with the quest that Terminus entrusted to him back when he first arrived in Amaharpe.
Zi Yi was surprised when Izroth asked her a question. He did not speak much ever since the moment he had appeared before them. She could usually read people with ease and get a decent understanding of their character. However, she had no idea how to define Izroth which troubled her for some reason.
She did not leave her thoughts idling for too long and replied to Izroth. "I don't know much else about them. But I can tell you that only one out of ten thousand people can become a Crimson Corps Guard. So that's to say out of 1,000,000 people, only one hundred was chosen in the end."
"Also, outside of an emergency or a potential city-wide disaster, they almost never take action." Zi Yi added.
Izroth nodded his head to show his thanks. Just with those few facts alone, Izroth somewhat grasped the gravity of the whole situation. If he was 99% sure before that this had something to do with the impending disaster coming towards Amaharpe, then now he was 100% sure.
'I still have an ample amount time remaining for the world quest The Beginning of Beginnings. Therefore, this all most likely has something to do with the quest I received from Terminus. Though the question still remains, how much time is left?'
Izroth understood that quests provided by the system were not always absolute. Changes could occur at any given moment, similar to what happened when Izroth was within the dungeon Goblin's Paradise. Not to mention that this was a world quest! Anything could happen in Izroth's opinion.
Izroth, Guan Yu, and Zi Yi entered through the gates of Amaharpe without being stopped by the new guards. When they arrived inside of Amaharpe they noticed that there were more soldiers making rounds than usual.
Guan Yu cupped his fist towards Izroth. "I have some matters to attend to so I must regretfully take my leave." Guan Yu wished that the journey could last a little longer, but there was something that he absolutely had to take care of.
"I'll have to ask that you allow me to repay you. While I may not be skilled in many areas, I'm still confident in combat abilities. Therefore, if you ever need assistance I'll come charging over to repay the favor." Guan Yu had a rare serious expression on his face.
Izroth nodded his head in response. He would not decline Guan Yu's offer when there were no losses to be had after accepting it.
"I don't like owing people." Zi Yi had been waiting for the right moment to bring up the subject. "Therefore, if you deem my assistance as a necessary requirement in the completion of a challenging task, I shall offer my aid." Zi Yi did not mince her words.
Although she spoke in a very roundabout way, Zi Yi was saying the same thing as Guan Yu. That she would repay Izroth's favor.
"Actually, there is something that you may be able to assist me with." Izroth surprisingly had a request to make right away.
"Oh?" Zi Yi was curious as to what Izroth had in mind.
Somewhere located within the main palace area of Amaharpe.
"Sir, he has returned to the city. Should I personally escort him to the palace?" The individual who just spoke was being extremely courteous to the old man before him. It was a Crimson Corps Guard, someone with an incredibly high status that was acting so respectful.
Lying down on a couch in a lazy manner, while constantly drinking out of a flask, was the old man Izroth had met back in Amaharpe. The Combat Master class teacher, Gear.
Gear let out a long yawn as he said, "Sure sure, escort him here to this location." Gear waved his hand to chase away the Crimson Corps Guard.
"Sir." The Crimson Corps Guard bowed before he turned around to exit from out of the room.
"Now, I wonder how much you've improved since our last meeting." Gear sat straight up. As he took another drink from his flask, his appearance began to slowly change, becoming more youthful until he resembled a strong middle-aged man.
A spatial distortion formed in front of Gear, however, he was not on guard since he knew who was coming through. A few moments later, Terminus appeared from within the spatial distortion.
There was a visible look of shock written all over the face of Terminus. "You've regained your old strength?"
"Ahahaha! You have quite the imagination old friend. This is only temporary thanks to the effects of the Imperious Rejuvenation Liquid. I'll convert back to my original self when the dosage runs out." Gear shook the flask in his hands for a brief moment before returning it to his pocket.
"Imperious Rejuvenation Liquid?! You've actually kept such a thing hidden away in mere Endless Flask this entire time?"
Imperious Rejuvenation Liquid was a legendary medicine that was capable of healing all wounds. Even those one step away from death, as long as they were still alive could be completely healed by the Imperious Rejuvenation Liquid.
However, Terminus had a worried expression on his face. "The wound from that time is truly beyond mortal means. If even a legendary medicine like the Imperious Rejuvenation Liquid taken in large quantities can not heal that wound, then I'm afraid only a divine being can do so." He let out a long sigh.
"Cheer up my old friend. If I had to do it all over again, I would not hesitate. This small sacrifice is nothing worth mentioning." Gear smiled as he thought back to his previous days as an adventurer. A few moments later he stopped his reminiscing and got back to the matter at hand.
"I doubt this visit is a social one. Is the realm still closed?" Gear asked.
"It still requires more power if we wish to open it ahead of time. However, in order to do so, we'd have to redirect power from the magic barrier surrounding Amaharpe which as you know is out of the question." A hint of frustration could be heard in the way that Terminus spoke.
"If we have to wait a bit longer then so be it. It's important that the portal is stable, otherwise, even if they were to make it to the realm successfully, getting back would be nearly impossible." Gear said.
Terminus nodded, "On a side note, I assume you have already made your choice as for who you are sending?"
"I was just informed a few moments ago that he had returned to Amaharpe. He should be arriving here at the palace soon. " Gear responded.
"This mission has to succeed. It's the only way to guarantee the survival of Amaharpe and all of its citizens. It's only right that he knows exactly what he's getting himself into." Terminus had a grave facial expression.
"Of course, he has a right to know. After all, even though the rewards from that place are plentiful, the price of failure is not light by any means." Gear started walking towards the door.
"Hm? Where are you heading off to?" Terminus asked as he saw Gear leaving the room.
Gear halted his steps. "It's been a while since I've gone for a little walk. It's not often that I'm able to experience the strength of my prime. Besides, I'll be back before he arrives here." While Gear was speaking, his figure was constantly flickering. His actual body was already over one hundred kilometers away from the palace!
This was the true power of the Flickering Steps and the reason that enemies on the battlefield feared Gear's presence.
Terminus shook his head, "He calls that a little walk?" The space before Terminus distorted as his figure blurred and he took his leave.
Meanwhile at the auction house in Amaharpe...
'It actually sold for such a price.'
Izroth was currently at Amaharpe's Auction House. He needed to see what price the Five Cycles Pill sold for.
'If what she said is really true then I'll have to make a trip to that place at some point in the future.'
Izroth was referring to the favor he asked of Zi Yi before they parted ways.