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19 The Gargoyles Hear

 "Mr. Rhode! We've found it!"

Hearing this voice, Rhode immediately looked back and saw Matt happily standing at the church entrance. He was holding a beautiful statue. It was the statue of Two Gargoyles in a curled up position, their eyes were made of ruby, vaguely emitting a trace of dark red luster.

That's the controller device!

Matt's action caught the attention of the two Gargoyles. As alchemy creatures, they certainly knew what that statue was. Therefore, the two Gargoyles immediately shifted their attention towards Matt.

"Aaah!"

Discovering that the two terrifying monsters were shooting after him, Matt couldn't help but scream. He wanted to run far away, but at that moment, Rhode yelled at him.

"Throw it over!"

Matt paused for a while when he heard Rhode's voice, and then he glanced towards the two Gargoyles advancing towards him. He had no qualms about their ability to shatter him to pieces, but still, he steeled his mind and threw the black statue.

The fat merchant's throwing accuracy was awful. When he threw it across, while it still it flew in an arc, the direction that he threw towards was totally opposite from his intended target. It can be said that he wasn't even throwing it to Rhode, rather, he threw it toward the two Gargoyles instead.

If anyone was watching this scene at the moment, they would believe that Matt was helping the two Gargoyles instead of Rhode. The two Gargoyles were surprised for a moment as they stared at the gift that was being delivered to them. But they still stretched out their claws to grab that little statue.

Just as they thought that they were about to succeed, a breeze suddenly sped beside them. It was the invisible Spirit Bird! It shot through the air and snatched the statue before the Gargoyles could react.

This move from Rhode was his final attempt at whatever strength he had left. Then, he stored his sword and made a snap with his right hand.

The Spirit Bird homed back towards Rhode when it heard the sound. The two Gargoyles also stopped midway and immediately locked their sights in Rhode's direction again.

"Swoosh!!"

The Gargoyle that was on the ground spun its body and flicked its tail towards the Spirit Bird. While the impact didn't cause much damage, it still distorted the wind element that formed its existence.

However, the Spirit Bird did not give up and kept trying to increase its speed. It flapped its wings vigorously and flew towards Rhode's direction.

But things did not go as expected.

Suddenly, a claw appeared from the sky, smashing through the Spirit Bird's body. The distorted wind elements could no longer maintain its form and turned back to its original appearance, drifting away in the wind. The black statue that the Spirit Bird carried flew a distance because of the impact. In an instant, two large shadows appeared from behind. They stretched their claws and opened their mouth, trying to reach out to the statue --- only to find out that it had fallen into Rhode's hands.

[Obtained The Gargoyle's Controller Device, Identified]

[Command---]

"Aig" (ED: The command to stop)

Rhode spoke in a low voice and the hostile Gargoyles stopped abruptly. The bright light on the Gargoyles bodies gradually turned dim and the incandescent red light on the Gargoyles also disappeared in an instant. Two large shadows flew past Rhode and crashed towards the ground.

Boom!!! Followed by a tremor, the Gargoyles that had lost their power, turned back into a statue. Right now, they were quietly sitting near Rhode. After losing their magic power, they were not as violent as before. Their remains scattered on the ground.

"Sigh..."

Rhode could finally breathe. At this moment, he felt that he had no energy left. And because of the overconsumption of Soul Power, he lost his strength to stand. Even his right hand that was holding on the statue felt powerless. But on the surface, he still wore a calm expression on his face and stood firm. He then put the statue in his pocket.

"Mr. Rhode!"

Lize and Matt ran towards him and stared at him with a worried and anxious expression.

"Are you okay!?"

"I'm okay."

Rhode took a deep breath. Right now, he truly wanted to sit down and rest for a while. In the game, Soul Power overconsumption would also affect the character movements. But to directly feel that kind of sensation on his real body was indeed too much. He could not fall yet.

Fortunately, after scanning the surrounding fog, he found no more Will-o-Wisps in the vicinity. It appeared as though they had given up and moved away.

Nevertheless, while it did not mean that they had given up entirely, it was still good news. Rhode did not have the habit of expressing his emotions explicitly. As the team leader, he must always be calm and not panic just because of trivial things. If he screamed and yelled every time he encountered difficulties, then surely his subordinates wouldn't treat him seriously. Although the current Rhode was no longer the guild leader of thousands of players, this habit of his still affected him.

Due to his calm demeanor, it gave Lize and Matt some relief. After all, when they were still looking for the controller device, they were extremely anxious about the situation outside. Lize was trying very hard, but in the case of item identification, Matt was apparently better than her. Finally, they found this little statue placed in the corner of some room. They had to admit; their timing was impeccable. If any of them were late by just a little, maybe the current situation would be completely different.

Initially, Rhode planned to pass through the Fog Ruins quickly. But because of the two Gargoyles, he had to change his mind. After all, facing those two statues had almost wholly consumed his power. If he did not rest, then the next battle would be more dangerous. Thus, Rhode finally decided to sleep in the church for one night and continue on the next day. He did not have to worry about any ambushes because, back in the game, this church was used by players to rest and organize loots, so there shouldn't be any significant problems.

Despite being utterly terrified of the dark and creepy church, but as always... Matt did not have the right to go against Rhode's decision.

The sky was getting dark.

A thick fog surrounded the church. Peering through the window, nothing could be seen at all. Three people sat in the center of the church. Abandoned and rotting wood from the benches and tables had turned into firewood. The fire lit up the dark sky, creating warmth for the trio. A cold wind was still blowing from the broken windows and cracks in the wall, producing a weird sensation of hot and cold.

Lize carefully stretched out her hand and removed the bandage from Rhode's chest. Her brow slightly twitched when she saw the state of his injury.

"Your wound opened up again, Mr. Rhode."

"I know."

Rhode nodded and did not say anything. In fact, this wasn't the first time. After all, along the way, he was always the one fighting in front. Even though he did spare a thought about his injury, he already tried his best to avoid using his left hand. But since he had encountered many life-threatening situations, he really could not help it. Therefore, this made his wound flare up. According to Lize, his injury was supposed to heal in two or three days. But because of what happened, it seemed that he needed about ten more days or so to recover.

Lize could not complain about his situation because this happened because of them. Thus, the only thing she could do was to help Rhode change into a clean bandage to avoid infection. Fortunately, before leaving the floating ship, as a Cleric, she brought some of first aid materials.

When she removed the bandage, she saw a deep gash on his chest. Matt took a deep breath when he inspected the wound. He even touched his own chest with a lingering fear. There were deep, black claw marks on his chest and other minor scratches everywhere else. Because of the fierce battle with the Gargoyle earlier, many scars were torn open. The oozing bright red blood even mixed with the dark blood clots, just by looking at it could make ordinary people shiver.

Lize took out her handkerchief and poured some water from the pot. Then, she pressed it on Rhode's chest, which made his body subconsciously twitch. Even Matt could not bear looking at it, so he turned his head around, not wanting to see again.

"S-sorry, does it hurt?"

"It's okay."

Lize asked in a panic. Rhode shook his head. Although he did feel some pain, it was still tolerable.

Once she heard his answer, she also felt relieved and continued to wipe his wound. At the same time, she even began to secretly observe the young man in front of her.

Frankly speaking, since the first time they met, he only gave her a very ordinary impression. Since he was charming and his skin was also very white, she thought that he was a noble. But, his attitude was not like the usual young nobles she had seen, which was why she could accept him. But at that time, she had never looked at him seriously. After all, a man that looked like a woman, the first impression he gave was, 'weak'.

But since then, Lize's view slowly changed.

He was different from the usual young noble; his power was extraordinary, he was even stronger than his leader. His character was calm, and following him made people feel at ease. Even if the situation was dangerous, he wouldn't panic. Unlike his appearance, he was a tough man.

Lize knew just how severe his injury was. Since she was a Cleric, she had treated many kinds of injuries before. Men that fought fiercely on the battlefield would also yell when she treated their wounds. But from the start, Rhode had never spoken a word of complaint. Not only that, he even fought with such a massive injury...

Lize's hand suddenly stopped.

What am I thinking about? This is so messed up.

The girl shook her head and pushed her thoughts to the back of her head. After that, she continued doing her job.

Rhode didn't notice Lize's strange act. Right now, he was focusing his attention on his right hand which held two pieces of glowing, dark-red gems.

It was the loot from the battle before, the Gargoyle's heart.