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...

Meanwhile...

The mood inside the crafting room became lighter as things finally settled down.

"It is a little late; however, allow me to properly express my gratitude, Apothecary Izroth—no, since you saved the life of a Holy Maiden, I suppose now it is Saint Izroth," Seina said with a blossoming smile.

Just like with the Thousand Blossom Maiden, saving the life of a Holy Maiden had its benefits. But, instead of simply being an Honorary Saint of the Order of a Thousand Blossoms, one would become an Official Saint!

Although it was only a difference of one word, the two could not be compared.

An Official Saint would receive the same treatment as a Thousand Blossom Maiden; however, they held no direct responsibility for the Order of a Thousand Blossoms. In other words, they were treated as a great benefactor!

"No one has received the title of an Official Saint since the founding of our Order. Back then, our ancestor was close friends with a member of the trephasia Great Clans. That benefactor saved our ancestor's life. They are the reason why our Order can exist until this day. And, the reason why whoever saves the life of a Holy Maiden is considered an Official Saint of our Order." Seina explained.

She then continued, "Ah, but please do not worry. Even though it seems like a title that comes with a heavy burden, it is actually quite the opposite. Think of it as being our honored benefactor to whom we owe an unpayable debt of gratitude."

Due to the somewhat grandiose name of the title, Seina was afraid that Izroth may misunderstand her intentions and was trying to forcibly restrict him to her Order of a Thousand Blossoms.

Of course, after seeing his skills as an Apothecary firsthand, Seina would like nothing more for Izroth to officially join their Order.

Unfortunately, because of the unique nature of their skills and origins, their Order only accepted female disciples.

"It's a shame. Truly, a shame." Seina thought to herself as she inwardly sighed.

'A benefactor, is it? That's fine by me. As long as it does not interfere with anything, it is only advantageous for me.'

Izroth knew that the reward from an SSS-ranked quest was nothing to scoff at.

How many players would kill to have max favor with a strong group like the Order of a Thousand Blossoms? And, how many of those same players would die a thousand times if it meant they could acquire max favor with a person at the peak of the legendary realm?

For the vast majority of players, even speaking to a peak legendary realm figure was neigh impossible. As for gaining their favor, it was easier to clear a hardcore raid than to do so—let alone earn max favor with one.

"I see. Since the Holy Maiden is so sincere, how can I turn down her gratitude? I will happily accept your kindness." Izroth said with a carefree smile.

Seina shook her head and replied, "It is I and my Order who are happy to accept you. I owe you my life. The price of a life owed is not cheap. That's why..."

Seina leaned in and whispered in Izroth's ear, "If anyone dares to trouble you in the future, come look for me. I will be sure to give you a satisfying result."

The next moment, Seina stood up straight and began to walk towards the door.

The Holy Maiden suddenly stopped and said, "Feel free to use my name if it helps. Even those old monsters will have to think twice about laying a hand on you. Ah, also, take this. Although it is a bit old, it should still hold some weight."

Woosh!

Seina tossed a small object at Izroth as he caught it in his hand.

'Hm?'

Izroth examined the item as its system information popped up.

Name: Twin Blossom Crest(Soulbound)

Rank: S-Ranked

Usage: Whenever the one in possession of this item reveals it, those who see it must treat their presence and words the same as the Thousand Blossoms Holy Maiden. Authority granted by this item does not supersede or overrule that of the Thousand Blossoms Holy Maiden.

Special Note: This item cannot be replicated, traded, or sold and is soulbound to the user.

'Oh? It hasn't been long, but it seems like I've already managed to get my hands on something useful.'

This was not a reward mentioned in the quest. Instead, it was an item given to him directly by Seina.

Izroth placed the Twin Blossom Crest into his inventory.

"What do you plan on doing now?" Izroth asked.

"Unfortunately, any celebration will have to wait. There are some matters that must be settled without delay. There is no longer room for compromise. Also, it would appear that I have some unexpected visitors to greet." Seina replied as a cold gaze flashed through her eyes.

Due to her declining health, for the sake of her disciples, Seina made a lot of compromises. As a result, her disciples had to suffer and endure due to no fault of their own. But, no more. No more would she remain idle as the guardians abused their authority in the name of the Order and the greater good. No more would she silently tolerate the constant oversteps of her authority.

Sychia frowned, "Master, you have just recovered. You should at least rest before-"

"Sy, I have rested enough for several lifetimes. Besides, it is time I remind everyone who is the Holy Maiden of our Order," Seina stated with a serious expression.

After hearing those words, Sychia could no longer find it within herself to protest. She was still concerned about her master, who had just recovered. However, she was aware of the current fractured state of the Order of a Thousand Blossoms and its out-of-control guardians.

If things continued on this path, then it was only a matter of time until their Order reached a point of no return.

"Allow me to accompany you," Izroth said calmly as he stepped forward.

"Hm? It's not that I mind, but—is there any particular reason you wish to accompany me?" Seina inquired.

"You could say I have a bit of history with your guests," Izroth answered.

A bit of history was an understatement. Even though his history with the Fifth Great Clan was brief, he was still viewed in a negative light after he decided to cure Sychia of her poison back in the Secret Realm.

But, Izroth's history with the Eight Heavens was far from small.

During the second team's selection, he killed one of their most prized and talented disciples, Roudin. Then, in the Secret Realm, he eliminated another one of their treasured disciples, Zouren.

With their talent, those two were individuals who were guaranteed to reach a high stage of the legendary realm in the future. Even for a powerful organization like the Eight Heavens, losing two talents of that degree was no small blow. This was even more so considering the vast amount of resources they must have received to reach their strength at such a young age.

As for why Izroth wanted to accompany Seina, he was simply curious as to how the other party would react to his presence. If they showed no reaction, it would be clear that they did not come here searching for him intentionally. In other words, he would have just happened to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

However, if they really were here to settle matters with him, then...

'I will make sure they know that I, Izroth, am not so easy to bully.'

...

Inside the Thousand Blossoms Peak main hall...

At the moment, several disciples from the Order of a Thousand Blossoms were dancing elegantly at the center of the main hall.

With every step they made, a new cherry blossom formed. And, as their steps quickened, it was not long before the main hall turned into a scene that could typically only be seen when the cherry blossoms were in full bloom.

As the disciples danced, at the head of the hall with a lavish banquet displayed on the table before them were Yuveil, Balugon, and Avia.

The remaining few guests stood silently behind their respective leaders.

"It has been quite some time since I have last had the honor of witnessing the Dance of the Blossom Festival," Avia said as she took a sip of tea.

"Not bad. Not bad. Your female disciples are not only talented at the dancing arts, but their looks are also a step above most others. I have a few young disciples I'd like to introduce to them sometime. Perhaps over time, it will help connect our two groups as more than just acquaintances." Balugon stated.

"It would be our great honor, High Enforcer Balugon. I am sure our disciples will get along quite well." Yuveil said as she was barely able to hide the gleeful expression on her face.