The world at this time was a grim place with a dull sky, its land parched of anything that could be called a spiritual entity, much less sacred life. The soil was black, as was the grassed that grew of a pale color, painting a dark mood across the atmosphere.
Still, though much of this land was dry, there were areas with marshes causing a foul stench lingered in the air. Occasionally, one could hear the calling of a savage bird or the shuffling of an unknown creature in the distance giving this place and even wilder, untamed edge.
Carefully observing this forest, one would notice that a ruined city rested at the core of this land. A myriad of tree branches cascaded its ancient pathways and various broken structures, as its high walls built into the mountains had succumbed to the ravages of time, destined to remain as such for eternity, or so it had seemed.
Suddenly, six streaks of white lights had descended into this unknown world. The lights fell to the exterior of this ancient city, coming to rest within a field of dying trees and ruined earth.
Soon, the lights vanished, revealing the figures of six individuals. Out of everyone, three amongst them were wearing fantasy equipment while the others wore modern casual wear.
This trio looked around their new surroundings with in-depth looks on their faces while others remained silent as they showed a weary look.
"It's a lot different compared to the place I had awakened... it lacks that holy aura," Rick said as his eyes gazed at the dim sky and dark woods.
"Indeed, the energy here has an inherently gloomy aura compared to the world I've been to," Breya added while inspecting the area.
As the two spoke, Layla and the others also shared their opinions of the environment.
"Such a strange place... it truly does look like a world from high fantasy," Layla muttered as she looked around, her eyes flashed with mostly curiosity despite her innate fears.
Fatty Joe felt slightly uneasy when he saw the marshes in the distance, he spoke, "There wouldn't be another of those crocodiles, right?"
As Emilia heard this, her face turned even darker as she spoke, "Brother, I don't know why, but I am getting a bad feeling from the forest as if it's warning me about something."
"Hmm... what's this?" Both Fatty Joe and Layla said as they looked at Emilia.
Rick and Breya also looked over, Emilia looked at them and shook her head and replied, "I don't know, I feel a strange connection to the forest itself as if I can share its feelings."
While everyone was a bit surprised at this, Evan, who had been observing couldn't help but look at Emilia as he thought, "Hmm, she can sense something that Layla cannot? It seems that this must be due to her Spirit Power. If I were to recall correctly, this was said to be a world of old elves. They, too, were naturally born with spirit power."
As Evan thought to here, he cleared his thoughts and decided, "This world had been rumored to be ruined by the armies of reptile and his partner. They were said to be not only savage but also cunning beings; it's better to start the preparations…"
After thinking here, Evan was about to address everyone, but before he could say anything. A sound was heard by everyone, followed by a string of text that popped up to their faces.
[Welcome! Your party has been given exclusive access to the Ascenders Raid Trial. You have two missions; complete these tasks, and you will each earn the right to awaken as an Ascender.]
[First Mission - Kill the Twin Conquerors of the Fallen Kingdom] [Rank - Apex]
[Second Mission - ???] [Rank - ???]
[Location - The Ruins of Belanore]
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[The time coefficient of both worlds is 2:1]
[Your party has twenty days to complete these missions, failure to do so... is death.]
[Scanning the body of candidates... scan complete.]
[Three candidates have already awakened; as such, the current mission shall be updated.]
[Update complete. All monsters and bosses shall have their limiters removed by 1.]
[Calculation possibilities of success... calculation complete.]
[Possibility of Success - 30%]
Evan, hearing this nodded as he thought, "So they were called the Twin Conquerors, hmm... rumors only stated that they were called the Reptile King and Goblin Sorcerer. Since this is a Raid Space, they should've been strong even before the Lesser Space has evolved, but with current strength, it should be manageable. If anything, I should only be concerned about that second mission as since this is the first attempt of a Raid Space, it will be of an insane level of difficulty."
As Evan wrapped up his thoughts, his eyes couldn't but fall onto everyone's faces noticing the looks of worry.
Fatty Joe then asked, "Evan, is this real? Will we be subjected to such a penalty if we fail?"
Emilia and Layla also looked worried, Rick and Breya, however, remained indifferent to these concerns. Evan looked at them and spoke, "Yes, everything has its price. To acquire power, one must be prepared to pay the equivalent price. Are you scared?"
The faces of the trio paled, but as they heard Evan's last words, they paused for a bit recalling their previous experiences. Soon, they gripped their fists as a look of stubbornness showed in their eyes.
Fatty Joe shouted, "Even if I'm scared, that doesn't mean I'll run away from a challenge, humph!"
"T-That's right since we came here, it's already too late to turn back now," Emilia said, trying to gather her courage.
"Me too, I won't be a burden to anyone," Layla added as her eyes flickered with a purplish light for a moment.
Evan nodded at this and replied, "Oh, each of your spirits is good, but sadly, now is the time to test it."
Fatty Joe, Layla, and Emilia looked at Evan with a puzzled look as they ushered, "Eh?"
Evan smirked as he turned around and looked at the dark forest that carried a gloomy air, his eyes flashed when he spoke once more, "It's time to test your convictions against our enemies..."
Rick and Breya also seemed to have noticed something as they readied their weapons. Now, the bad feeling Emilia had previously felt grew more prominent, causing her face to turn pale as if the forest warned of imminent danger.
Layla having her unique presence, was now able to sense an intense amount of hatred around her, the rich killing intent causing her sweat as she became nervous.
"This... Evan, what's going on?" Layla asked with a dark expression.
Evan replied with a casual smile, "It's simple. We've already been surrounded."
Before Layla, Fatty Joe and Emilia could react, there was a change. As if they heard Evan's words, the tall bushes and trees limbs began to shake as few heavy and light stepping sounds could be heard. Soon, a few dozen figures had appeared before everyone; they each had varying shades of green skin, some being small like children with fat bellies, large noses, and broad ears. Looking at their bodies, one would notice that they sported simple cloth with wooden shields and large clubs.
Within their ranks were three large crocodiles no inferior to the ones found in Hell's Swamp, they had similar-looking large bellied creatures with green skin seated on their backs, as they held small bows with quivers on their backs.
As everyone saw this enemy who had surrounded them, they each showed different types of looks, as Evan, Rick, and Breya looked at this with indifference. Layla, Fatty Joe, and Emilia, however, had looks of shock.
"These... aren't these goblins?! Are goblins capable of taming and riding those vicious crocodiles? Weren't they normally a weak race in fantasy?" Fatty Joe bellowed in shock.
Evan chuckled at this and replied, "Haha, Fatty, fiction isn't always as we humans strive to make it appear. Yes, goblins are a weak race, but that's only in perspective to other races, in comparison to every other kind, the ones who fall at the bottom of the food chain is none other than our human race."
"Well, no shit!" Fatty Joe shouted as he showed a look of discontent.
Layla and the others also didn't like how Evan had worded that, but sadly it was, in fact, the truth. At this time, one of the archer goblins that rode on the back of the crocodile stirred the beast forwards as he looked at the humans before him with intelligent eyes, he then spoke clear and concise words, far different from the predicted 'screech-like' speech.
"Excellent, a human with such intelligence is a first. No wonder we're connected to this world as the next hunting ground. Haha, in the name of the Great Goblin Sorcer Gragtaasz and Reptile King Dreadtooth. I, Srieq, will claim your life sources..." The Goblin which identified himself as Srieq said with pride.
Evan paid him no attention, he casually turned to Rick and the others and spoke, "Well, as you see, we've been surrounded, but neither I, Rick or Breya will lead this battle. Fatty, it's time to be the leader you were born to become, you will lead Layla and Emilia into battle and strive for victory."
"What? You want me to lead!" Fatty Joe exclaimed in horror.
"Indeed so," Evan said as he took a few steps back, arriving at the positions of Layla and Emilia, who looked at him in shock.
Rick and Breya also did the same, Fatty Joe was angry as Layla and Emilia grew a bit worried, but Srieq who saw that he was ignored, showed a sinister expression.
His large eyes turned red, as veins showed above his forehead when he glared at the others with unbridled animosity as he shouted, "Dare to ignore me? Kill them right now!"
The air blew wilder as the mood became tense, welcoming the start of an epic battle in these ancient but ruined wilds.