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57 Unlucky Barney

 Rhode stood up.

The necromancer who had acted all high and mighty laid before him as a corpse once more.

But Rhode wasn't smiling. His face was dark and gloomy while he stared at his left hand.

While the Angel's Wings was able to block most of the negative energy, in the end, the level gap was just too big. Currently, his left hand had become a sickening green color, and a tingling discomfort spread to the rest of the body.

If it weren't for his abnormal stats, then perhaps his arm would end up being fractured.

"Sigh..."

Rhode sighed, then he focused on the ring on his finger. The original white luster on the stone had dulled considerably. With careful observation, he noticed that the darkness within appeared to have a self-consciousness as it swirled steadily.

The soul binding succeeded.

Though there were some unexpected events during the process, he still managed to procure his objective. However...

Just thinking of the previous mishap made him furious. He was absolutely confident about this mission when he chose it. The reason why Pavel Cemetery was a four Star-Ranked mission was not due to the difficulty of the BOSS, but rather, the negative energy that the undead passively emitted was naturally effective against living beings. Before the invasion, the peaceful era under the Light Dragon's reign didn't expose its people to fighting the undead. As such, their experience fighting the living dead was almost nil. NPCs were unlike players, who could restart the battle once more by respawning if they died in battle. This was the reason why the Mercenary Association regarded missions involving the undead as a higher tier compared to others.

But as for Rhode's opinion, since he had a Spirit Master in the party, he knew that her positive energy would be a natural counter against the undead. Furthermore, with Marleen as the recent 'talented' addition to the team, his chances of victory soared over 90%. That was if she obeyed his orders, of course. The positive development in the tunnels reinforced Rhode's opinion as the undead easily overwhelmed melee combatants but were felled in droves when faced with magic. So, judging by all of these advantages, it was just a matter of time before their victory was assured, but he did not expect...

Rhode shook his head and kept the Soul Binding Stone before turning around.

He walked towards the crowd when he realized the situation was becoming rather troubling.

Lize treated the heavily injured Shauna who was lying on the floor while the fool that caused this entire debacle watched at the side. Old Walker was cleaning the battlefield, and Marleen stood beside him with a cold expression on her face. Even the Red Hawk mercenaries didn't look too good when they anxiously surrounded Shauna, worried about her injury.

"I'm sorry, Leader... I'm sorry, Leader!! I wasn't trying to..."

Barney knelt beside Shauna with a pale face; he could sense that the others were staring at him with anger. This kind of situation hadn't happened to him before and it made him frightened and wronged. Obviously, he felt that it was unfair that Rhode was made party leader and his comrades were all dragged into a bitter struggle while Rhode merely stood behind. Therefore, he was trying to help, why were these people mad at him? Didn't they realize how dangerous the situation was back then?

While Barney was in distraught, he discovered footsteps behind him and found the 'culprit' walking towards him.

Barney felt his blood boil inside. His Leader was injured for the sake of the group but apparently, Rhode did not care.

The nobility is a bunch of cold-blooded snakes!

With that as his basis for his anger, Barney immediately jumped up and stretched his finger at Rhode, cursing him openly.

"IT'S ALL BECAUSE OF YOU!!! If not because of your--"

Before Barney could finish, a fist flew towards him.

"Bang!!!"

Rhode punched the young man's face mercilessly. Barney screamed as he fell to the ground and rolled a distance while grabbing onto the side of his face. Then, he glared icily at the man standing before him, completely oblivious to his bleeding nose.

"Why didn't you follow my command?"

Rhode's voice was calm, but everyone was shocked; even Lize who was in the middle of bandaging Shauna's injury.

Because Rhode actually laughed!

The people who were acquainted with Rhode knew that he had a beautiful face, but he was always serious and never smiled. Many people thought it was a pity, even Old Walker joked about it, saying that if he smiled more, perhaps he could bewitch people.

But now, Rhode really laughed, and it was the bewitching kind of laughter. However, everyone somehow felt a chill down their spine.

"Answer me."

Rhode shifted his arm, smiling while walking towards Barney. Next, he lifted his left foot and stomped hard on Barney's chest, forcing him back to the ground.

"Ugh!!!"

"I remember, before the start of the battle, I've made it clear we are responsible for surrounding the Necromancer. Without my command, no one was allowed to act... Are you stupid? Or do you have a problem with hearing?"

"....Bullsh*t."

Facing Rhode who had a condescending smile on his face, Barney instinctively felt dread as though he was coiled up by a python. But he still did not succumb to his fear and spat at Rhode's feet instead.

"Don't think that I didn't notice how you hid behind the Necromancer. You want us to be your meat shields? How can I listen to your commands? Or are you saying that you didn't hide on purpose? Everyone here had seen your cowardly acts, right Henry?!"

Henry was a swordsman who fought beside Shauna. At first, Barney thought that Henry would back him up, but he never expected him to tilt his head and avoid his gaze.

In fact, Henry was somewhat dissatisfied because Barney ruined their flawless plan. Although they appeared miserable, as long they followed Rhode's command correctly, they would be able to dodge the Necromancer's attack. These instructions mid-battle were extremely crucial for mercenaries. But in the end, at the direst moment, it was screwed by this damn kid!

It was akin to two people trying to tango. They put in countless hours in practicing and finally grasped the rhythm, but it just took a single drunk to appear to destroy everything.

No matter what, anyone would certainly be unhappy if those kind of things happened.

But because Barney was his comrade, he did not say anything. Even though that was the case, he still didn't stop Rhode from venting his anger.

"Hen, Henry..."

Seeing how his comrade reacted, Barney clenched his teeth. In his mind, he didn't think that his comrade was dissatisfied with him. On the contrary, he thought that he must be afraid of that noble!

So that's why he didn't say anything...

But I'm different!! I will not yield and I will never give up!

"Hmph, say whatever you like. I am absolutely not- AHHHHHH!"

Barney wasn't able to finish before a sharp sword pierced through his palm. The sudden pain made him swallow his words and replaced it with a yell. Then, Rhode pulled out the sword and kicked the young man at his waist, flinging him a distance before finally losing consciousness.

Hearing the mournful screams from Barney, Marleen couldn't help but tremble. She recalled what Rhode said when she came to look for him. At that time, she did not put Rhode in her eyes, but fortunately, after that duel, she never doubted Rhode's strength again. If she maintained her previous haughty attitude, then the one who laid on the floor right now would be her.

Recalling that duel, Marlene was sure that Rhode would not show any mercy.

After kicking the lights out of Barney, Rhode clasped his hands and removed the smile on his face. He ignored the surprised and frightened expressions from the people around him.

"Clean the battlefield."

This time, Rhode received a bumper harvest. Since the Necromancer had made his home in the Pavel Cemetery for many years, naturally he had plenty of hidden treasures. After scavenging for a while, a large bag full of magic crystals, gems and plants laid before him. Of course, Rhode also attained what he came here for.

He lowered his body and fished out an old, dusty holy grimoire from a wooden box. He nodded in satisfaction and turned his head towards Lize.

"Mr. Rhode, what's the matter?"

Realizing Rhode's intention, Lize ran over in a hurry. Her expression was a bit complicated as she wanted to treat Barney's wounds, but Rhode said 'leave him be.' So she could only awkwardly leave him behind. Frankly, Lize was quite unhappy with Barney's performance as well, but as a Spirit Master, she could not disregard the lives of others just because of her personal preferences.

"This is for you."

"This is..."

Lize received the Holy Book which Rhode handed over and flipped a few pages curiously. Then her expression immediately lit up when she realized the value of the book.

"Is this the Holy Book?"

"Yes."

Rhode patted the girl's shoulder.

"With your power, I believe that learning the spells on it should be no problem. Good luck."

"Of course! I will work hard! Thank you, Mr. Rhode!"

Embracing the Holy Book, Lize exposed a broad smile. Of course, she knew its worth. In the church, only a selected number of people were qualified to learn about high-level spells. Typically, Spirit Masters were only allowed to learn basic spells, from here, one could infer the value of the Holy Book which recorded high-level spells. Lize was confident that as long as she could learn half of it, then her strength would increase further.

At the same time, Marlene walked towards the both of them. But compared to Lize, who was overjoyed from receiving the Holy Book, her expression was absolutely mortified. Because just now, Rhode told her to take care of the Necromancer's corpse. This is undoubtedly a challenging test for Marlene as she had never done such a thing before. Although Marlene voiced a protest in the name of righteousness, facing Rhode's 'since you are also one of the members of the mercenary group, then you also must follow the command' argument, this genius young mage could only surrender and execute the command while holding her breath.

"I have finished the task, Mr. Rhode."

"Oh?"

Hearing Marlene's words, Rhode looked at her with a slight surprise.

"Did you find anything good?"

"Everything is here."

Facing Rhode's question, Marlene made a robotic reply, then she stretched out her hands, handing out the equipment that she found.

But she did not think that Rhode wouldn't take it immediately. On the contrary, he quietly stared at a ring on her hands and did not speak for a while.

"Mr. Rhode?"

Seeing Rhode's reaction, Marlene reminded him again. Rhode finally responded and nodded his head.

"Yes, I know... You've worked hard."

Rhode said while looking at her.

How lucky was this young miss... she could even find the legendary Dark Soul Ring...