"In that case, I suppose I should start off by telling you a story." For a brief moment, a look of sadness flashed within Gear's eyes. The memories were far from pleasant and too much had been sacrificed. Gear gestured for Izroth to take a seat at the couch positioned opposite of him.
Izroth sat down on the couch, sitting face to face with Gear. The sadness that surfaced for that small instant did not go unnoticed by Izroth.
After a moment of silence, Gear finally began to speak. "Many years ago, creatures known as the Shadahi were able to freely travel throughout our very own world."
Izroth nodded, this was something he had already figured out during his journey to the Shadahi Realm and by meeting with the Seer Tererestiaa.
"There is something you should understand. All monsters, without exception, are born with an innate talent. Some have much higher talent than others, but it's how the weak are separated from the strong. When a monster is born their strength cannot exceed a certain level, no matter how hard they try." Gear explained.
'It seems as if monsters within RML are similar to the weaker ferocious beasts within the Seven Realms. Judging from what I know about the Shadahi, they would be comparable to the sentient beasts.'
Back in the Seven Realms, sentient beasts did not have a limit to the strength they could gain. In fact, they were similar to cultivators in that aspect. However, it was exceedingly difficult for a sentient beast to be born.
Gear continued, "However, for the Shadahi things were different. They were capable of learning, adapting, growing, and becoming increasingly deadly with every encounter they survive. The Shadahi are creatures with infinite growth potential. I should not have to further elaborate about how dangerous they are."
Izroth had fought against the sealed Ekquilore and met with the sealed Syxirius while within the Shadahi Realm. He had also seen thousands of Shadahi located just within that one area. The Shadahi Realm was seemingly boundless and so who knew how many more powerful creatures existed?
"All Shadahi are creatures which are birthed from the same lifeform. In other words, their very existence is linked to only one being." When Gear mentioned that being, his facial expression darkened. There was a hint of fury and rage, two emotions that Izroth had never seen Gear express before.
'Now there's something interesting.'
Izroth was referring to the fact that all Shadahi came from the same lifeform. Wouldn't that make the being who created them the equivalent to a God of Shadahi? A being that could create a seemingly endlessly amount of Shadahi that were all capable of growing stronger by natural means... How terrifying!
Of course, Izroth was viewing it from the perspective of the world of RML. There were obvious limits to this world and so he could only imagine the amount of blood that was spilled during the struggle with such a being.
Gear managed to calm himself down. To Gear, it was very personal which caused him to lose his usual calm demeanor. "In the beginning, the Shadahi were not numerous by any means. We simply thought that they were a new breed of monsters, created by the natural order of the world to balance out good and evil."
"However, we were wrong. By the time we realized our mistake, it was already too late. The problem had grown into something that affected and threatened our entire way of life. After deploying hundreds of thousands of soldiers to deal with the situation, we realized just how dangerous these Shadahi were."
"They could learn as they battled our soldiers. Unknowingly, we had created an even stronger breed of monsters. By the time we reached the source, there were only seven of us remaining. Myself, Terminus, Jiox, Wave, Felicia, Nova, and my beloved wife, Asteletiaa." When Gear mentioned the name of his wife, sorrow could not help but find its way to him.
"It was even more powerful than we imagined. The result..." Gear lifted up the shirt he was wearing and revealed a deep wound that was dark purple in color and emitted a foul aura. The energy being released by that large and deep wound across Gear's torso was even more powerful than the aura of Syxirius.
'He actually survived this entire time with such a wound? I could not feel even the slightest bit of aura from it.'
Izroth narrowed his eyes to examine the wound. One could see cracks formed all around the wound as if Gear himself was breaking apart into different pieces. It was an extremely unpleasant and sinister sight to take in.
What was even more shocking was that Gear was wounded to such an extent! Izroth had felt the power of the Flickering Steps for himself. It was safe to say that the system gave him the watered down version of the skill as was common in games.
However, Gear could most likely use the skill at its full potential. If that were the case then the skill itself was most likely at the SS or even SSS rank!
How terrifying would a creature who could keep up with Gear at that speed and even wound him be?
Gear put down his shirt before letting out a long sigh. "This wound has reduced me to a weakened state and I am forced to constantly drink medicine just to suppress its effects. However, such a small wound cannot come close to comparing what I lost during that fight..."
"Although seven of us fought against that being, only six of us managed to escape with our lives. My wife, Asteletiaa, had perished to reserve our lives... To reserve my life. Trading such a pure and magnificent life for my own insignificant life...!" Gear shivered slightly as he clenched his fist.
Gear was angry at himself for being so weak. He was not strong enough to protect the most important person in his life. She sacrificed her own life, so full of promise, just to save him after he was wounded by that being. How could he ever forgive himself?
Izroth remained silent, however, he inwardly sighed. He could see just how much Gear loved his wife from the amount of frustration he displayed. Izroth was also able to see just how pained Gear was at losing the love of his life.
'Love... An eternal feeling birthed by a fleeting moment. The only fleeting moment which lasts an eternity.'
Izroth was reminded of someone he too failed to protect back when he first stepped onto his path of cultivation, because of how weak he was. It was one of the few regrets in his life.
After a few moments, Gear collected himself and reorganized his thoughts. "Ahahaha, alright enough about the sad parts!" He smiled, but any fool with eyes could see that Gear was just suppressing the thoughts and the pain which accompanied them.
Izroth knew that it was bad manners to linger on a topic of such sensitivity and so he did not mention anything about it and simply listened. After all, sometimes a person was not necessarily searching for answers, but rather just wanted to speak freely.
"That bastard sure was tough." Gear took in a breath of cold air. "In the end, we barely succeeded in escaping with our lives. I don't remember much since I eventually fell unconscious due to the pain from the wound, but that's pretty much the gist of it."
"The being was able to survive, although in an incredibly weakened state. However, if it could recover its power then it would all be over. After fighting against the seven of us, there was no mistake that its power would grow beyond our means by the time we ourselves managed to recover from the fight."
"As we feared, we were correct in our assumption. The being was about to step into the divine realm and its power could be felt throughout the entire world. However, just before taking that step, the divine beings finally decided that they could no longer sit back and allow the being to reach the divine level. They broke their own rules and intervened, imprisoning the being and splitting the planes to create a realm just for the Shadahi."
Izroth had personally seen the seal placed on the Shadahi Realm which was located underneath the temple next to the Lake of Tears. In order to cross over at the moment, one needed the Boundary Sealing Sphere, an S-ranked item.
"As for my request, I believe it will not only benefit me, but it will benefit you as well." Gear saw the potential within Izroth from the moment they met back in Opal Town.
"My request is for you to journey into the Chaotic Dogma Realm and reach the very end of it. Only by doing this can we guarantee to stop the impending disaster set out to happen against Amaharpe and all of its citizens." Gear explained.
"However, while it is true that the rewards in the Chaotic Dogma Realm are plentiful, the cost of failure is not light. You must know what you are agreeing to." Gear observed Izroth's facial expression, however, there was almost no noticeable change during the entire time.
"Those who travel to the Chaotic Dogma Realm... If a person dies inside of that place, they will experience an existence wipe." The threat of an existence wipe alone was enough to make most individuals stray away from accepting the task.
"Can you elaborate a bit on this existence wipe?" Izroth was curious as to what Gear meant by that. It was a term he had never heard used before or seen anywhere within RML.
Gear nodded, "Naturally, it is only right that you know all the details. An existence wipe is just as its name sounds, you will cease to exist. Although you are immortal and blessed by the divine beings, you will return to nothingness instead of being reborn if you die while within the Chaotic Dogma Realm."
Izroth furrowed his brows.
'Isn't that the equivalent of a character wipe?"
Izroth understood that there was no possible way the system would do anything to threaten a player's actual life. Such a game would not be permitted to exist and would be shut down immediately. However, having to recreate a new character from scratch if you were to die inside of the Chaotic Dogma Realm was extremely harsh punishment.
'Such a huge risk... Surely the rewards will match.'
Izroth was never worried for a moment about taking a risk. He knew that if he truly wanted to reach the top he would have to take on a countless amount of risks. Given Gear's character, he must have thought it was likely for him to succeed. Otherwise, he would not willingly send Izroth to his inevitable demise.
Though, Izroth was curious about something else entirely.
"This appears to be an important task. Why is it that you or Terminus do not personally go?" Izroth did not know their exact strengths, but fighting against a being that was one step away from the divine level meant that they were incredibly powerful. At least, much more powerful than he was at this current moment.
Gear shook his head, "If that were possible, we would do so. Unfortunately, the Chaotic Dogma Realm has a powerful restriction placed upon it that will not allow anyone above a certain level of power to enter."
Izroth nodded his head. It must have been a legendary or divine level restriction if even Terminus and Gear could not bypass it.
"Now that you know all the details of my request, I ask you Izroth, will you accept?" Gear set his gaze upon Izroth and awaited his answer. Gear would not blame Izroth if he decided not to go through with his request. After all, an existence wipe was too much to demand of anyone. While he would be disappointed, he would understand Izroth's choice.
Without hesitating, Izroth responded. "I accept."
Gear had a shocked expression on his face, but it was soon replaced by one of joy. He did not expect Izroth to accept without the slightest bit of hesitation. "Ahahaha! Of course, you never disappoint in your actions! Good, good!"
Immediately after Izroth accepted the request, he received an alert from the system.
〈System Alert: The quest «Journey To The Chaotic Dogma Realm» has been added to your quest logs.〉