After discussing a few more leisurely topics, Niflheim and Bellum started to make their way back toward the 9th Division.
"So? What do you plan on doing after this is all over? Of course, you're always more than welcome to stay with the 9th Division." Niflheim said.
"Who knows? Maybe I'll do just that. I don't dislike this kind of relaxed atmosphere, after all." Bellum replied calmly.
Niflheim abruptly coughed as he moved his hand to cover his mouth.
"Hm? Are you feeling alright?" Bellum asked.
"Yeah, I'm fine," Niflheim responded as he cleared his throat.
He internally sighed as he shook his head. He did not expect to be caught off guard by Bellum's words.
Relaxed? If she knew the things that usually happened while being around Izroth, those would be the last words she used to describe the situation.
"Moving on—do you really not plan on becoming a Lieutenant of the 9th Division?" Niflheim questioned.
"Even if I did, it's not as if we have enough members for another Lieutenant. Besides, I think I'll focus on enjoying myself for once. Perhaps once this is all over, I'll reconsider it. But, for now, this much is fine." Bellum stated with a light smile.
"Then, I won't bring it up. For now, at least." Niflheim said with a playful grin.
He then continued, "That being said, although you want to enjoy yourself a bit, I'll be relying on you in the upcoming raid. The members of the 9th Division have decent foundations and room to grow; however, most of them are still far from being comparable to the elite members of the top guilds, let alone the core players. It'll be our responsibility to oversee their safety, especially if our Captain isn't able to return before the attack begins."
"Don't worry. As long as I'm a part of the 9th Division, if the time comes, I won't hesitate to lend you a hand."
"That's all I ask of you."
Earlier, at Sorkoza's palace...
Izroth and Ranazera followed Sorkoza into the main palace entrance.
Inside the palace was a spacious room with a long hall. Compared to the usual palace decorations, this one was not as lavish and took a more minimalistic approach.
Nevertheless, in its simplicity, there was an air of grace and serenity that lingered throughout its interior.
"Welcome back, Duke Sorkoza!" A chorus of voices echoed the instant the large doors opened.
Lined up in an orderly fashion on each side of the entryway were a total of twenty individuals. These individuals were currently bowing in a respectful manner as they greeted Sorkoza upon his entrance into the palace hall.
"This..." Ranazera was taken aback by the sight she witnessed.
She was not surprised by the attendants that welcomed Sorkoza. After all, she was a princess of the Tempest kingdom, and such things were not foreign to her.
However, what shocked Ranazera was the fact that every last one of the attendants was a Vretis skounae!
'Oh? To think there would be a place in Malentansium with this many Vretis skounae gathered... Is it possible that this entire city is a safe haven for the Vretis created by Duke Sorkoza?'
Izroth was only speculating; however, it would certainly explain why the Duke had such harsh entry restrictions.
If word got out that the Vretis were assembling at one location, it might be viewed as a treasure trove of servants by other skounae.
"Are all of these Vretis your servants?" Ranazera inquired.
It was not common to see so many Vretis together.
Sorkoza halted his steps and, without adverting his gaze, said, "We do not use such a foul word in this place."
Ranazera quickly realized her poor choice of words, given the status of Vretis skounae in Malentansium.
"My apologies, Duke Sorkoza. It was a poor choice of words on my part. I meant no offense." Ranazera said as she conveyed her sincerity.
"So long as you understand," Sorkoza responded indifferently before he resumed his steps.
As the group moved deeper into the palace, Izroth was in the middle of examining the palace and part of the city outside with his Energy Vision Sense.
'I found it strange that this place was built so far away from other Malentansium cities. From a geographical standpoint, it would generally be correct to assume that it was constructed as a safeguard against a potential Tempest assault. However, why go this far to build a fortress in an isolated place already protected by so many natural defenses? Unless there is something, you don't want others to see. Regardless, it's the perfect cover...'
As Izroth and Ranazera trailed after Sorkoza, they could feel the piercing gazes of the Vretis attendants. It did not go so far as them displaying any killing intent, but it was clear that they were not fans of the presence of outsiders. This was even more so after Ranazera's previous statement.
Still, none of them spoke out, despite their discomfort.
Izroth did not sense any traces of fear toward Duke Sorkoza from the Vretis attendants; therefore, their calm behavior, even in the face of discomfort, just went to show the level of respect they held toward Duke Sorkoza.
"Valga, Toreins," Sorkoza called out without slowing his pace.
The moment he did so, two shadows appeared at the Duke's feet before they emerged and took the form of two Vretis skounae.
One of the Vretis was a man with a somewhat rigid appearance, while the other was a woman with nimble grace.
"You called for us, Lord Sorkoza?" The two Vretis said in unison.
NPC Name: Guardian of the Dawn, Valga(???)
NPC Level: ???
NPC Name: Guardian of the Dusk, Toreins(???)
NPC Level: ???
Ranazera was startled by the abrupt emergence of the two Vretis. She had not sensed their presence in the slightest!
Izroth, on the other hand, was not too surprised since he had already detected the two with his Energy Vision Sense from the instant he set foot in the palace courtyard. He did not, however, expect Duke Sorkoza to call them out from their roles as observers.
"After I conclude some business, I will entrust you two with the task of safely escorting these guests to the edge of my territory," Sorkoza stated.
Valga and Toreins silently glanced at each other as if the same thought crossed their minds.
"Is there a problem?" Sorkoza inquired as his gaze swept over the two Vretis.
"...Lord Sorkoza, I hope you can forgive my bluntness, but—why must we leave your side to protect two outsiders?" Toreins, the male Vretis, spoke out.
"I agree with Toreins. I must protest. It does not require the two of us to escort these outsiders to the edge of the territory. Lord Sorkoza, you can send anyone else to complete such a task. However, if it must be us, then I implore you to at least keep one of us at your side. Otherwise, I am afraid we will not be able to complete the mission you have given us with a clear mind." Valga commented.
Sorkoza closed his eyes and said, "Very well. Valga, since it was your idea, you shall escort them. Toreins, you will remain here at my side."
"Thank you for entertaining my selfish request," Valga stated.
Sorkoza nodded, "Make any preparations you need in advance. You will depart the moment we finish conducting our business."
"Yes, Lord Sorkoza," Valga replied as she sunk into the earth and disappeared.
"I shall return to my duties," Toreins said as he also vanished into the earth.
A few moments later...
After walking around for nearly ten minutes in what seemed like an endless maze, Sorkoza stopped before a stone wall.
At first glance, it looked to be just another typical stone wall. However, when Sorkoza placed the palm of his hand against the stone wall, a spatial portal that resembled his Void Curtains opened. This time, however, what lay on the other side could be seen as clear as day.
"Once we enter inside, you are not to touch anything without my permission. Otherwise, I cannot guarantee your safety against the magic formations used to protect the items within the treasure room." Sorkoza warned.
Izroth gave a small nod in return.
Ranazera also made a similar gesture to show that she understood the Duke's warning.
"Then, let's go," Sorkoza said as he stepped into the spatial portal, followed by Izroth and Ranazera.
In the blink of an eye, Izroth arrived in a room that was roughly the size of a small house.
The first thing that caught his eye were the various magic formations encompassing several items lined up neatly on top of a display platform.
Each item gave off a powerful aura that was not inferior to some top-grade treasures Izroth had seen before in RML.
In terms of quantity, it did not come close to Ourami's treasure room. However, when it came to quality, it did not lose.
'This room... There is not a single item here less valuable than an S-ranked magic item.'
"You may choose one item from this room." Sorkoza's voice echoed.
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