The sound of footfalls, clattering armor, and numerous hearty conversations echoed down the lower slopes of Cloud-Burst mountain as the group of adventurers steadily made their way back to Ot'e Nill.
At the group's head was Thail, whose dark-brown eyes were sweeping the ground looking for the safest route down the rocky, moss-covered slope. He had been leading the adventurers around groups of resting Stone-Shelled Armadillos on the slopes, and occasionally checking the sky for severe weather, or any Qetzes that might be trying to stalk them.
Following two steps behind him to his right was Curnniliert, who was chatting with Pert, and Erulien, who was carrying Pert on his back due to his abysmal endurance.
"Pert, have you heard from Mesquet about his experience with the crossing?"
Pert was glad to see that Erulien seemed to be coping with his sister's disappearance, but he could feel that underneath Erulien's liveliness and enthusiasm was a deep feeling of regret for having allowed his precious sister to join an adventurer's group of her choice.
"No, boy, I haven't asked Mesquet about his prior experience with the crossing, and I hope you haven't either. You should remember what happened the last time you thoughtlessly pried into Mesquet's past..."
Erulien chuckled briefly before looking over his shoulder at Pert with a smug expression plastered across his face.
"I coaxed it out of him with my charming looks and subtle questions this time, leaving no way for that geezer to discern that I was intentionally trying to dredge up his past." Pert leaned back and let out a weary sigh as he shook his head in exasperation, causing Erulien to stumble slightly.
"So, what did he say about the crossing? Was it different from what the books tell us?" Curn's voice drifted up from just ahead of Erulien after he regained his balance.
"He didn't say much more than what the history books say. Only that the mental and emotional influence caused by seeing the World Titan itself is severely underrated within the books." Curn knitted his brows in dissatisfaction as he brought his gaze back onto the rugged path, resolving to ask Mesquet about his complete experience with the crossing later.
"Boy, where did you see Mesquet last?" Pert's unexpected inquiry into Mesquet's location tingled Erulien's sense of amusement, "I don't know old man, maybe you should hop off of my back to go have a look?" Erulien cheekily suggested with a small grin on his face.
Pert quietly mumbled in annoyance, as he knew that if he got off of Erulien's back, he would have to finish the remainder of the trek on foot. He wasn't confident in being able to do that, and so he didn't budge, his grumblings quickly fading into the mountainous winds.
Curn turned his attention away from Pert and Erulien, who had begun bickering over inconsequential matters, to Thail, who was quietly listening to the conversation.
"Where do you think we should guard during the crossing?" Thail pondered over Curn's question, "We'll be arriving from the northern hills, and I think a vast majority of the monsters making their way down the slopes will also come from the north, so we'll guard the hills with the imperial regiment that should be present during the crossing."
Curn concurred with Thail's decision, and turned his attention back to Pert and Erulien's continuous bickering.
At the tail of the group was a bald man with ears shaped like sword blades, smooth skin, a short, pointy nose, faded eyebrows, and a face that looked no older than twenty-five years old. Yet, this elf was a witness to more than a century's worth of history, making him ancient compared to average humans, but young for elven standards.
Walking beside him to his left was a beautiful woman with long, amber-colored hair that fluttered freely in the cool gusts of wind billowing down from the mountain's looming peak. Her hair flowed around two tall, fox-like ears of the same color sprouting from where a human's would normally be, cascading past a generous bosom, and nearly brushed the belt of her dark emerald green robe. Just below that, a long, fluffy tail that faded to white at its tip extended from the loose waves of silky fabric.
Her long and slight eyebrows were carefully trimmed, blunting some of the animalistic nature of her appearance. The predatory smirk playing on her lips revealed a mouth full of tiny, sharp teeth, and most prominently, four interlocking canines that gave most of the tempting expressions she made have a threatening air about them. However, her threating atmosphere is almost entirely blown away by her enthralling pale-blue eyes that seemed to reflect the sky above. Further increasing her almost unearthly appeal was her sharp cheeks, slender jawline, and snub nose.
Vuveai's silken robe loosely clung to her voluptuous figure, while her unsecured breasts bounced with every step she made.
Her beauty was dreamlike, but most certainly real, and one that ran strongly within the glamorous Silc family.
"You sure love messing with that kid, don't you?" Vuveai coyly asked with her right eyebrow raised in an alluring manner.
"I don't..." Muttered Mesquet with an exhausted expression before placing his right hand against his temple, and hopelessly cast the most effective restoration spell he could without accidentally erasing his memories. As he expected, the migraine Vuveai had given him persisted.
A quiet, playful laugh came from the beauty walking alongside him, further increasing his headache and desire to be off this mountain and away from this seductress.
"It didn't look that way to me..." She leaned towards him and cooed softly into his ear while crossing her arms, which pushed her breasts dangerously close to popping out of her robe.
"Please... just stop, it won't work, not in a hundred years." Mesquet slightly sped up his pace, putting some distance between him, and that demoness that was annoyingly trying seduce him at every opportunity she got.
The soft giggling coming from behind him made his right eyebrow twitch in irritation. He sped up further, hoping to ditch her entirely, regardless of Thail's order of having to work together.
Abruptly, everyone among the group could feel the hairs all over their body standing, and the sudden increase in pure Mana density and pressure made some simply cough, others retch up their breakfast, and more than a few lower-level adventurers collapse from the sudden decrease in wind element Mana.
The whole group had come to a halt, while healers moved about helping those who had collapsed from the shift in Mana levels. Most of the group was tense, believing they might be under attack, but Mesquet, and a few others knew the actual cause of the shift.
"Old man is that...?" Erulien's question didn't seem to register in Pert's mind as he scratched nervously at his goatee.
"Old man!" Pert was startled by Erulien's shout, and nearly fell from his back, "W-what is it?" Erulien looked over his shoulder and into Pert's eyes, which seemed agitated, "Why are you so jumpy old man, it's not like beasts will suddenly rain down from the mountain, at least, not yet."
Pert frowned, "I'm 'jumpy,' you fool, because I was startled!" Erulien laughed off Pert's small fit of anger and turned to Curn, "Do you think by this point the World Titan is rising out of the expanse?"
Curn sent an unworried glance to Erulien, "I think so. The pure Mana density here wouldn't rise by such levels and so quickly on any other occasion."
A loud clap rang out from Thail, causing many tense and nervous adventurers to jump in surprise, "Everyone! The crossing is likely going to occur within the next three to four days! As such, we will be guarding the north of Ot'e Nill along with the Imperial regiment for the duration of the crossing!"
Thail's voice resounded across the whole group, and excitement washed over a majority of the adventurers whose faces now shone in anticipation at being able to experience a downright legendary centennial event. Most will only be able to witness it once in their lifetime. However, some dreaded the troubles and horrors the crossing brought along with it.
Having finished his announcement, Thail briskly fell back into a steady pace towards Ot'e Nill, with the rest of the adventurers trailing behind him.