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30 Asking Casually

 The party only caught a glimpse of Rhode raising his hand, and in the next moment, his body immediately disappeared. The unsheathing of the white sword broke the silence, piercing through Orlando's right hand.

Such speed!

Facing Rhode's surprise attack, Orlando was shocked. He thought that he had mentally prepared to receive the attack, but experiencing the attack himself was a completely different feeling from observing it. He could feel his vision was starting to blur when the sword pierced through his hand.

Due to this sudden attack, he could only retreat and temporarily forget about kidnapping Helen. As for his mission, he had no expectations of completing it now. The gap between him and Rhode was too far apart, so he could only attempt to escape. Thus, Orlando immediately twisted his body and jumped into the bushes.

But Rhode did not intend to let him off.

Upon noticing Orlando's retreating figure, a grin flashed across his face as he rushed forward.

A brilliant light erupted from his sword and spilled towards Orlando as if it was ready to attack from the start.

However, there was something different with Rhode's attack. His Blade of Destruction did not directly chase toward his target, but it shifted slightly upward. It appeared as though he missed and Ben, Lize, and Matt revealed a puzzled look on their faces.

However, what happened the next moment surprised all of them.

Because at this time, Orlando suddenly jumped into the path towards the Blade of Destruction.

In truth, when he decided to jump, he already had a bad premonition. For thieves, these movements were akin to their bread and butter. Usually, when they retreated, they would instinctively execute an escape technique. That was why Rhode could exploit his knowledge to predict which direction Orlando would escape to. On the other hand, Orlando had jumped out from the frying pan, into the fire.

When Orlando finally figured out Rhode's attack trajectory, it was already too late. He tried to alter his direction in mid-air, but it was to no avail.

Due to his 'generous and selfless cooperation,' the Blade of Destruction managed to puncture his right shoulder successfully. The disheveled thief only had the time to emit a crisp scream before being flung towards the nearby bushes because of the impact.

Rhode shifted his sword downwards and walked towards Orlando.

"Ugh... Ah..."

Lying in the bushes, he could only grit his teeth while enduring the pain from his shoulder and back. When he heard the approaching footsteps, he attempted to escape but did not have the time to recover before a sword pierced through his wounded right hand.

"Ahhhh!!!" Orlando screamed.

Rhode was still calm as usual as if it was nothing which doubly assured everyone that this young man wasn't ordinary.

However, Rhode did not think himself as a mindless, cruel being. He did not deliberately try to torture Orlando; it was just that it was an of his old habit in the game. Back in the game, some players used despicable and shameless ways of attacking. The more professional they were, the more vicious their attacks. Furthermore, they were not afraid of getting hurt in the game. Thus, the only way to prevent them from escaping or logging out was to keep them in constant combat mode. Because of this, Rhode instinctively employed the same exact tactic to an escaping individual by nailing his sword into the opponent's hand, preventing them from logging out.

But the moment he heard Orlando's shrill voice, he was reminded again that this wasn't a game --- However, it did not matter anyway.

Rhode walked to the side of the black-cloaked man and stretched out his hand, slowly retracting the sword out from Orlando's hand.

"Aaa... Aaa!!!!!"

At this moment, Orlando was in extreme pain. The burning sensation on his right hand went past his pain tolerance level and began to twitch. His left hand wasn't able to stop Rhode, and could only slam it continuously on the ground to alleviate the pain. Looking at this scene, the others couldn't help but shiver. Even though they were not the ones facing this torture, but watching Orlando suffer made them terrified.

Lize stood from afar, silently observing the indifferent Rhode. A trace of complex emotions flashed in her eyes. She once again recalled the words that he said to her at the hotel.

I did not say this to repay your live-saving grace. Since I have brought you guys back safely, I already do not owe anything, and you too. I can only tell you I have my own purpose and it was not to repay you. I need strength, that was the reason I made this proposal. I can assure you that in less than two years, I can transform your mercenary group into a strong mercenary guild. But I would also like to remind you that I will use some means that you might find difficult to accept. So I hope that you can consider clearly. If you are willing to accept my proposal, then you must mentally prepare for what is to come. Because I will not allow anyone to hinder me or block me from achieving my goal. I have my own reason, but you do not need to know it now... I can understand your feelings, so I will not force you to agree, but I will still remind you the consequences of your promise -- Since it would most likely exceed the range you could accept.

At that time, Lize could not fully understand what Rhode was trying to say, but she was still shocked by his words. Ultimately, she was still relieved that Rhode decided to speak to her about his future methods. Although it might sound rather unacceptable, it was more convincing than if he would merely assure her that everything would be alright. At least she knew that there was something for Rhode, after all, everyone is driven by their own motives. However, she still did not understand what he saw in her mercenary group which was almost disbanded, but since he didn't want to explain, then she would not take the initiative to ask.

At this moment, after observing the scene, Lize's heart began to loosen up. Previously when Rhode attacked Helen, she was still quite uncertain. Not mentioning about herself, even Ben and the others did not see it coming. The reason why she cast protection shield over Helen was purely based on her instincts, not because she was trying to cooperate with Rhode. But from this battle, she could finally understand what Rhode was trying to do.

In her mind, as long she recruited members and finish the mission, then she would be able to maintain the mercenary group. But was it really that simple? Lize was already a veteran mercenary, she understood how merciless the world was, and everybody would do anything to survive. The Crescent Bow mercenary group was once considered to be a medium-sized group, but now it had turned into this. Moreover, she was the only one who personally witnessed how this guild declined.

Can I do it? Rebuilding the mercenary group?

Lize immediately answered her own question.

I can't.

Even the previous leader, Carter, who was usually easy-going, had his cold and firm side. It wasn't that she was unable to do it, rather, she just did not want to force herself to become what she wasn't.

Her sight once again fell upon Rhode.

He did not tell her what he wanted to achieve. But his expression was firm, without a trace of confusion or doubt.

How about herself? For her own dreams and goals, what would she do?

While Lize was deciding her future, Rhode leisurely removed his sword and flicked it to a side, removing the blood stains on his sword. As for the black-cloaked man, he was busy rolling on the floor in pain.

"I think you should have anticipated what I want to ask, but just in case you forgot, it's still better for me to remind you." Rhode said with a nonchalant look on his face,"So... who are you? And what are you trying to achieve?"

"Ugh...ugh..."

Orlando's body curled up, the pain from his right hand made it difficult to complete a sentence. With much difficulty, he looked up and watched the young man in front of him. How could he have such bad luck to provoke this kind of person?

"I... I... I am..."

The fear of his enemy combined with his physical pain had already worn out his caution. Right now, he already lost the power to resist and could only answer Rhode's question. As much as he tried, he couldn't finish his sentence because of the searing pain from his right hand. But Rhode took this action of his in another perspective.

"Oh... you do not wish to say? Nevermind then, I'm not really interested anyway."

Orlando immediately panicked, and a sudden surge of adrenaline overtook his sense of pain.

"I, I work for vice president Claytor!!"

If he chose to die unyieldingly, then he could still accept it, but if he was killed because he wasn't able to finish a sentence then it was totally unfair... He did not want to die so fast.

"Vice president Claytor?"

Hearing this name, Rhode's sword stopped its descent.

"Merchant Association?"

"Yes, it is."

"What is your purpose?"

"Kid, kidnap Miss Helen. I only know these..."

The Star Mark was on Orlando's face, and the cold blade on his skin made him subconsciously swallow his saliva. Now, he had completely lost all hope, and he could only wish that the young man would show some leniency.

At that moment, when he saw Rhode nodded his head and said, "I know."

Orlando suddenly felt a cold sensation on his neck. His vision began to spin and darkness completely engulfed his world.

After unsheathing his sword, he turned around and returned to the carriage. Due to his seemingly cold and heartless actions, the stares from the party were completely different from before. Helen sat beside her guards and stared at Rhode with a complex expression. After a while, Ben coughed and walked forward to address Rhode.

"This... thank you for helping, Sir."

Although Rhode's actions and the word 'help' weren't too similar, the end result was good for him after all.

"No worries, it's nothing difficult."

Rhode nodded and did not say anything more. On the contrary, Ben was hesitating, but after a moment he opened his mouth and asked.

"Excuse me... if I may ask, what was their identity?"

"They said they were sent by the Vice President, Mr. Claytor to kidnap Miss Helen."

"What?!"

Ben was shocked. He had been working as a family guard for so long, so he understood this kind of things.

"You mean that the Merchant Association sent these people?"

"He said so. But I don't really care if it was a lie."

Rhode waved his hand and turned away.

"I was just asking him casually."