The wind blows gently tonight. The grass rustles as Sofia and Azief arrived in front of the cave. Waiting for them in front of the cave with a smile, is Loki.
He was clearly relaxed, and carefree, even whistling.
‘You’re late’ he said the moment his eyes spotted Azief and Sofia. In his hand he is playing with his dagger throwing it up and down.
‘And you are still here’ Azief said. His eyebrows creased as eh believes that this pointed to a very disturbing conclusion
What is Loki playing at? He asked himself inwardly. What is his scheme? Azief did not understand. And the things that he did not understand and knows….scares him.
It is outside his probability and outside of his control. Azief call this his Joker. The card in the sleeve. The anomaly.
He became even more vigilant towards Loki but his face did not show it. His face remains as it is before: Impassive.
‘Did you succeed with my instruction?’ Azief asked. He needs to probe.
To see more. To feel more. Soaking even more gestures. Focusing even more than before and revising his old deduction.
Because right now, Azief is feeling that he has made a mistake in his previous deduction.
‘Got hundreds of pills of every kind, a few skill books and many herbs and potions. I guess skill book didn’t drop that many. Well, I guess farming low level skill books is not really profitable.’ Loki said, not realizing Azief expression which becomes more complicated by the seconds.
Azief face darkens even more than before.
One might thought hearing Loki success in infiltrating the stronghold and robbing them blind, that he would become happier but on the contrary he become more alert and guarded against Loki
If Loki just left with all that he had looted then his motive is nothing more but profit related.
If that was the case, Azief will find it easier to deals with Loki. People who want profit have their own baseline. Their motive is simple.
If it was profit, Azief would be more comfortable dealing with that kind of person.
But he stays. Who would do that? What possible reason that Loki would stay after taking that many resources?
He is not friends with Loki. He is not even enemies with Loki. But this man stayed regardless.
There is something else. Azief feels this deeply in his heart.
And then he reminded himself of the mutilated face and after revising his theory this kind of man that is fill with calculating measures does not seem to be the type of guy that would mutilate a face without any reason whatsoever.
This is about something else. There is a reason why he is here. There is a reason why this Loki follows them.
Azief unsheathe his sword and then he pointed it straight almost at the speed of sound as the sword arrive inches away from Loki throats, and then coldly he said.
‘What are you planning?’ Seeing this sudden change of attitude not only Loki was surprised, Sofia was too.
The daggers that Loki was playing with fall to the ground with a thud.
‘What are you doing!’ Sofia yelled in alarm
‘You….are not the man you purported yourself to be. Why are you here? On Malaysia. Tell me the truth or I will sever your head.’
Azief was serious. His tone was cold, severe and if one could hear clearly, there is even nervousness.
Loki glares at Azief . For a few moments it seems like any movement would spark a battle but then Loki sighed.
And then, contrary to the due expectation, he smiles like nothing is happening. The guts on this guy!
His life is being threatened, a sword inches away from his throats, his lies has been seen through, with one swing, his head would be separated from his body and he still has the nerve to be so carefree.
Sofia could not understand the confidence that Loki exuded. It was almost like he is sure that he will survive this.
‘How did you know?’ He asked, and at the same time acknowledging that he has other plans for coming here to Malaysia.
Hearing this confession, Sofia is shocked once more. Loki really has other intention of following him.
‘You story has holes in it.’ Azief replies calmly, his sword is still pointing straight at Loki throats.
Azief was surprised that he could not see even a trace of fear inside the man eyes.
‘Which part?’ He asked, likes he couldn’t care less Azief has found out his lies.
‘500 people could not catch you. This is your words. If this is true and I’m betting it is true, then why do you even need to run so far from your country to country like Malaysia? Even if you want to run you could run to another country in the EU. If not, the more famous country like Greece, America, Argentina. Why would you pick a country like Malaysia? I’m not degrading my country but I have to admit not many people know my country especially people in Europe. It occurs to me then, that if you run here, you run here for a reason.’
‘What if you are wrong? What if I’m not someone with ulterior motives and I simply needed your help like I said I was?’
‘Then I’m wrong and your death would be missed’ Azief said coldly.
‘That is ruthless’ Loki said, contemplating and then chuckles.
‘Well, I guess that is to be expected from you’ he said under his breath
‘Had to be.’ Azief replies curtly, not hearing what Loki said under his breath
‘Ok. I guess, I need to tell you the truth now right? If not you will torture me or kill me, right?’ Azief was about to say something but quickly cut off by Loki.
‘Spare your breath. I will cooperate. After all, I couldn’t do it alone. Having you as my ally is the first phase after all.’
And then quickly before Sofia and Azief could say anything else he quickly admitted.
‘Well, yes, I did come here with an ulterior motive.’
Practical Azief mused. Since Loki is not beating around the bush, he will not too. He quickly asks his question to Loki.
‘And what are your motives?’
‘How about you lower down your weapons and we talk about this inside.’
‘How do I know you’re not going to run?’ Hearing this Loki chuckles.
‘I’m not going to make an enemy out of you and what I’m about to tell you would give you more benefits then you could imagine.’
Then he slowly moves back and said
‘I’m just moving back to enter the caves.’
‘Wait’ Azief said.
‘Sofia, check the inside of the caves. See if there is any trap.’ Sofia nodded and enters the cave first.
‘Aw, you don’t believe me. That hurts’ he said mockingly, smiling all the time. For some reason Azief decided he doesn’t like Loki smiles.
It is full with mischief if he would describe it.
Sofia then come out of the cave and then said.
‘It is clear. Other than the two prisoners, there is no trap or anyone else.’ Azief nodded. And then he lowers down his weapon when Loki enters the cave.
Even though he lowers his weapon his back is always toward the entrance of the cave so if Loki tries to escape he needs to pass through him first.
Loki also realizes this and he smirked.
‘You are a very cautious man, Lord Shadow.’
Then Loki sits down on the ground. It was weird that Loki did not resist. It almost like he almost expects Azief to make the connection and uncover his lies.
‘So, now you will tell us.’ Sofia said.
‘I’ll do you one better. I’ll show you.’ And then he warned.
‘Don’t do anything rash. I’m not attacking you or anything but there will be some light show when I activate this thing.’
Then he shows his arms towards the duo and suddenly a mark appears on his arms.
The mark resembles a book and then the cave shines with lights as something came out of small portal and then in front of them was a book.
A large book with thirty nine pages.
‘The Book of Artifacts.’ He said proudly.
‘It is Blood bound Artifact.’ He explains.
‘What is it?’ Azief said clearly he look at the book.
‘Try touching it’ Loki said. Azief touches it and it pass through him.
‘I made it holographic.’ He said smugly
‘You want to know how I know so much about what is happening, right? You want to know why I came to Malaysia, right? It is all because of this book’ he said.
‘What do you mean?’ Sofia asks.
‘The Book of Artifacts informs me of the location of artifacts. Each artifacts possesses power beyond that of a level. Having even one of them puts an advantage between you and the other levelers out there.’
‘So, you came here searching for an artifact?’ Azief said as he began understanding Loki scheme.
‘Yes and no. I have two reasons to come here actually.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘First, I need to find you. And then we will search the artifact together.’
‘Wait. That doesn’t make sense. You said this artifact possesses power that would put you ahead of many levelers right? Why would you share it with me?’
‘Hehehe’ he chuckles.
‘Because I know the dark truth behind the World Orb. Let me explain to you something about the Book of Artifacts. Every ten levels, an artifact is revealed to me. In those other blank pages, I could ask anything I want except the location of other artifact which will only be revealed every ten levels. And I ask the book when my level were 21…why is the World Orb protecting humans? And the answer was shocking. It was then I decided to find allies. Powerful allies. It also helps that this particular artifact I’m searching is not blood bound artifact but Unbound Artifact.’
Unbound artifact? Blood bound artifact. Azief could guess what it means since it is pretty self-explanatory but what Azief is more interested about is the truth that Loki discovers.
‘What truth have you learned?’ he quickly ask.
‘Earth will be razed to the ground and humanity will become extinct’ and saying this even Azief who always remains emotionless could not help but show some emotion.
‘You think this is bad?’ Loki said as he open up his arm.
‘Wait until the Weronians come. Then you will see bad’
‘Weronians?’ Sofia asked, not understanding
‘A barbaric race that came from the Heroian system. They have pillaged great cities in the galaxy, burn and destroys planet. Of course that was until their planet itself was destroyed under the Kreionic Treaty by the Intelligence Construct of the Menians. And they are coming to us…..to invade our planet and claim it as their own. The World Orb is preparing us for that war decided by the Council of Quon. Presided by the Olympians and Asgardian.’
He explained. Azief is intently listening.
‘How do you know all this?’ Sofia said as she unconsciously feeling weak in her knees.
Weronians. Heroian system. Barbaric race from the universe? This is too much for her.Intergalactic forces trying to invade earth?
She thought she has heard everything. This is too much she said inwardly.
Azief also showing some disbelief in his face. Aliens? But then remembering all that he has seen on his journey, maybe it is not that ridiculous.
He calms himself down again and said.
‘How did you hide from my divine consciousness before?’ For some reason Azief began understanding some things about why he could not detect Loki.
‘This’ he said as suddenly Sofia and Azief could see a helmet of bones on top of Loki head.
‘The helmet of invisibility. It was the first artifact I found. It was in China in Mount Taishan. If not for the book of Artifact guiding me, I would not survive the dungeon. And China is not really a place you want to go right now. Monsters everywhere and zombies by the millions. Japan however is pretty peaceful. The monster mostly went to hibernation. The helmet doesn’t have any offensive power, but it can hide me from everything. I could even hide all the smells and my footsteps with it. The only reason you could have found me, was because I wanted to be found’ he said, smiling apologetically at Azief.
Azief just nodded.
He finally understands why it was so easy to find his footsteps and why his smell was not erased, so much so, that it almost seems like Loki wanted to be found and detected.
Now he understands a bit.
‘If that was the first artifact, what was the second?’ He asked
‘Houyi Bow’ he said.
‘It is a weapon. Instead of appearing in China it is on the top of Mount Everest. I might search for it later.’
‘What does it do?’
Sofia asked as she has regained her composure and standing straight. There was also the fact that the weapon Loki said is a bow, and considering she is an archer she is quite interested.
Loki look at Sofia and chuckles.
Then he inwardly thought.
Is this how the Divine Archer is born? Well, I guess it is a bit – and then he remembers what That Man said and he shakes his head.
Focus on the mission. Don’t meddle too much. Then Loki explains while looking at Sofia with interest.
Azief notices this and his expression hardens.
‘The bow has the power of the sun. It is said it drain the user of his or her energy if using the most powerful attack of the bow which is the Ten Sun Slaughtering Arrows. It could destroy the sun, melt the strongest steel, and evaporate an entire ocean and much more. One need to have the pillars of bows and arrows to use it and need to have it upgraded to the last rank of mastery.’
Sofia hearing this could imagine herself having the bow, imposing and powerful. With one strike she could kill the sun, evaporate the oceans, to act like a God.
Looking at Azief, she is determined to search for that weapon later.
She feels that she is completely lacking as a partner for Azief….and she didn’t want to be left behind.
‘Houyi Bow’ she said under her breath, almost a whisper….but her eyes shows untold determination.
‘And the third?’ This is what Azief wanted to know the most.
‘The Universe Orb’And saying this Loki looks at the ceiling of the cave and said.
‘Using the Universe Orb we could go to other universe…or to be more exact, another earth. Another version of this earth’
And hearing this explanation suddenly something struck Azief.
‘Something like that’ Loki replies.
‘And where is it?’ Sofia asks.
‘Malaysia. In Batu Caves. Where it is now becomes a dungeon. With all of them Unique monsters. Of the three artifacts, this is what I want the most.’
‘Why?’ Azief ask.
‘Because we can enter other earth and……there we could get a lot more quests. And time there and time here, is different. With each level we are given more time to stay there. We might even be powerful enough to defeat the Weronians later if we train in other universe.’
Dilation of time Azief inwardly thought
‘How much difference of time?’ Sofia ask.
‘For level 40 you could stay inside the other universe for 4 months before you have to return and have a cool down for the Orb. Those 4 months is equal to 4 hours in our earth. All of this has been explained in my Book.’
Saying this he waved his hand and the book flipped around like a gust of wind flipping it right to the page of the Universe Orb.
It shows a spherical orb with clouds inside of the orb and if Azief is not mistaken he could see countless of miniature Earth inside the tiny orb.
‘This is why I wanted allies. This is why I wanted you. This is bigger than just being stronger. This relates to the survival of mankind.’
Loki finally tell him the reason…the true reason why he seek him.
‘And we are your team?’ Azief said
‘No. I am your team. I could not do it alone. I am invisible. Not invincible. You, Lord Shadow is probably the strongest person on earth right now. And after I give you the resources I robbed from the stronghold, you would become even stronger. How about it, Lord Shadow? Don’t you want to become a savior?’
‘Three of us?’
‘Four of us’ he said as a woman appears from the darkness of the cave, phasing from the cave walls and Sofia quickly targeted the woman.
One thing after another. This Loki is really prepared. Azief inwardly thought as his hand is itching to throw a dagger at the woman.
Loki then uses his hand to lower Sofia weapon and he said.
‘She’s a friend.’ Azief on the other hand coldly looked at that woman and said.
‘Introduce yourself’ The woman chuckles but she was not afraid. She looks at Loki and nodded.
Loki shows an apologetic expression on his face and the woman just sighed.
‘My name is Sina. People call me the Mad Alchemist Sina’ she said, smiling with eyes full of madness.
‘Nice to meet all of you.’ Then she looked at Loki and said.
‘I owe him something. This is me repaying him for that debt. Hearing what he said to you, I now know why he really helped me. I accept Loki.’
‘That is good to hear!’ He exclaimed. And then he turned to Azief and Sofia
‘How about you Lord Shadow? Sofia? Would you like to join?’
‘Becoming savior. I am not that important’ Lord Shadow said and then he looked at Sofia and then he spoke.
‘But, Universe orb? Now, I might not be able to save the world and I don’t know whether you are lying to me right now, but I am interested in getting stronger. I’ll join if you join.’
He said as he left the decision to Sofia. Sofia looks at Loki, look at that woman with the white robe and look at Azief.
She didn’t know what’s what anymore. But one thing remains unchanged as he look at Azief back.
‘Do what you need to do, Azief. I’ll always got your back’ she decided. Azief smiles and then he said.
‘Loki, you have to explain your plan. All of it.’
‘Of course’ he said smiling as Azief approach the white robe woman and begun introducing himself while Sofia sit on one of the stone, her eyes was ever watchful and then Loki looking at this lineup proudly thought
Prince of Darkness, Azief. Divine Archer Sofia. Genius Alchemist Sina. If one could see the lineup, even That Man would not be able to complain.
I will fulfill the mission and open a new era for humanity he thought inwardly as he joins the group and tell everything that he knows, telling them about what happens when you level up to 40, the limits of pillars forming, and most importantly his plan to get the Universe Orb.
‘This time…it would be different’ he said silently as he looked in front of him the three people who shines brightly as the sun and he smiles a bitter smile full of regret and longing.
‘This time it would be different’ he said again. He promises That Man that he would succeed.
And holding on to that promise, he has taken the first step.