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98 Sign Of Chaos

 When they arrived in Deep Stone City once again, Kudla and his subordinates felt as if they had been cut off from the outside world for ages. When they curled up in Silent Highland's narrow cave, no one would have thought that they would once again see this familiar scene. Some of the surviving mercenaries burst into tears, sobbing and lying on the ground.

Kudla only dozed off for a while; then he felt frustrated and depressed. On the way back, there have been two or three subordinates that spoke with him privately; they were trying to leave the mercenary group and quit being a mercenary. It's something often happened in a mercenary group. Mercenaries were still humans; if they were put near death situations regularly, naturally some would fear for their future. This time they were lucky because the reinforcement from Mercenary Association made it in time. But how about next time? And the next?

It's not surprising for them to succumb to fear. Although Kudla tried many methods to keep them, it didn't seem to be working out anymore. What worried him was the number of mercenaries in his group. It was decreasing faster than the replenishment rate. After this incident, some people chose to leave. This meant that there were only three to four people left. Not to mention, Kudla also found out that even among them, there were some people who thought of quitting too...

The problem before Kudla wasn't only the lack of people in the mercenary group, but it was whether the whole team could continue to exist.

Unfortunately, for now, he didn't have any practical way to stop all of this.

"Sigh..."

Kudla sighed and lifted his head, observing Rhode and Marlene discussing something privately. Their eyes were looking towards the carriage where the half-beast girl was resting at.

Thinking until here, Kudla could not help but glare at the half-elf girl behind him. This time, he was very clear about Rhode and his mercenary group's ability. Although the number of members was rather limited, according to Kudla's experience, under Rhode's command, the power that these people had displayed could rival two fully armed mercenary group. Kudla who was dissatisfied in the beginning also begun to admire him, although he still doubted as for why Rhode had such rich experiences and such a skilled commanding ability, at least he knew that this young man was powerful.

If it was before, he still hoped to be able to discuss with Rhode to let his defeated mercenaries join his group. But now, even that last trace of hope was shattered, because the matter regarding Anne, the atmosphere between them had been reduced to the freezing point.

Along the way back, it was clear that Rhode was ignoring them as if they didn't exist. That mage girl was even more terrible; she would even glare at him and his subordinates. Anyone could see that she was quite offended, even that gentle spirit master was also cold towards them. Kudla had requested to have a chat several times but was still politely rebuked.

What made him worry the most wasn't Rhode and his group, but rather it was Sereck and the other spirit masters from the Mercenary Association who were fairly dissatisfied towards them. One must realize that the Mercenary Association was an essential organization to them. Once blacklisted, their future days would be miserable.

Thinking about it carefully, another reason they were trying to quit was also because of this.

"Leader Kudla."

When Kudla helplessly sighed, Sereck came before him with a serious expression.

"Rhode and I will return to the Mercenary Association since the mission is completed and all of you have safely returned. Right now all of you can go back to rest, but I hope to receive the detailed report tomorrow morning, I think it won't be difficult for you."

"Yes, Mr. Sereck!"

Kudla nervously replied. After hearing his reply, the swordmaster expression eased. Then he looked at the people behind Kudla and smiled wryly while shaking his head.

"You've also suffered a great loss this time. Forget about it, I won't say anything more, but Mr. Kudla, I hope you can restrain your own mercenaries. After all, we, the Mercenary Association spent a lot of effort to find someone to help you, but now the relationship between the rescued and the rescuer... made the Mercenary Association feel awkward. Frankly, Mr. Kudla, I hope to see your sincerity, I think it's something necessary for a mercenary group."

"Yes, Sir, I understand what you mean. I will definitely deal with this problem!"

Kudla naturally understood that Sereck was dissatisfied and immediately made an answer. After accepting his answer, Sereck nodded satisfyingly and turned around to leave.

Meanwhile, on the other side, Rhode finished speaking with Marlene. According to the process, after they completed the mission, everyone should return to the Mercenary Association to accept the President's rewards. But since Anne was still sleeping, Lize wanted to stay by her side. Moreover, Marlene didn't care about a mercenary's glory, which was why she was uninterested in the reward. For some reason, Old Walker apparently didn't intend to go to the Mercenary Association to accept the rewards, for him, it's better for him to take a rest.

That was why Rhode had let them go back to recover and followed Sereck by himself.

As for Celia, after they left the Silent Highland, Rhode withdrew her back and told the others that she left after completing the mission. It wasn't because that the summoning spirit had a time limit, but rather it was because Rhode's soul power wasn't enough to sustain her manifestation permanently...

But before they left, Marlene pulled him aside, asking him about Anne. As a mage, she knew the fate that would befall Anne after exposing her identity. Right now she was worried because once people spread her true identity, the people from Deep Stone City would ask them to expel her from the mercenary group. Marlene was quite careful about things like this.

But Rhode didn't think as much as Marlene, he comforted Marlene and told her that people's opinion about half beasts wasn't as strong as other places in border cities. Especially in Deep Stone City, as long as Anne didn't make any trouble, no one would do something to her. Moreover, if something did happen to her, he could ask the Mercenary Association to intervene, as long as Anne wasn't in the wrong.

After hearing Rhode's answer, Marlene finally calmed down, then she got into the carriage and left with the others. Without a doubt, it seemed like this girl resembled more and more like a vice leader...

"Mr. Rhode?"

When Rhode looked at the carriage that was getting further away, a voice sounded beside him. Rhode turned around and saw a beautiful girl standing there. She fidgeted with her hands as she raised her head and stole glances at him. After meeting Rhode's eyes, she once again lowered her head.

"Is there any problem?"

Facing Rhode's question, the girl hesitated for a moment. She trembled and backed down, then Rhode discovered a few spirit masters not far away, smiling at the girl in front of him. The girl turned around briefly, and as if she regained her strength after looking at her comrades, she turned back to Rhode and bravely lifted her head. Bits of her face was still flushing red.

"It's... It's like this, that...before in the Silent Highland, you rescued us from those terrible undeads. I haven't yet to say thank you, and it's really rude...that...so I'm very grateful that you saved me..."

Saying until here, the girl once again lowered her head.

Looking at the girl who was embarrassed, Rhode couldn't help but sigh. It seemed that it was because of the difference of life experience between them, even though they're both spirit masters, and Lize sometimes was also weak, at least she wasn't timid. But this girl absolutely looked like a greenhouse flower... the two of them really couldn't be compared.

"You don't have to thank me."

Rhode waved his hand.

"I just did what I should have done. Moreover, if you want to say thanks, Anne should be the one that should accept it,"

"I understand what you mean, Sir."

Hearing Rhode's reply, the girl smiled. It seemed as if she wasn't as nervous as before.

"I have discussed it with the others. After Anne wakes up, we will go to see her. No matter what, she had done so much for us, and all of us have to thank her for that."

Saying until here, the girl paused for a moment before continuing to speak slightly shyly.

"That... Mr. Rhode, regarding Ms. Anne, all of us were quite shocked, but we can assure you that we are not afraid of Ms. Anne because of this! We are spirit masters, so we must heal any type of patients, that's why we are very clear that half beasts aren't as terrible as the legend said. And... If you need our help in the future, please call us at any time. As long as we can be any help, we definitely won't decline."

The girl flushed and bowed towards Rhode, then spun around and ran back to her comrades. At this time, Sereck smiled wryly and appeared before Rhode.

"Having good looks is great and all, but I have to tell you that the spirit masters from our Mercenary Association cannot be taken away as you wish, or else that old fellow definitely won't let you off."

Upon hearing Sereck joke, Rhode rolled his eyes at him, shrugged his shoulder then shook his head.

"If it's truly mine, then I wouldn't let it be taken away by anyone. If it's not mine, then even if I want it, I still won't have it. I don't really care about it, Mr. Sereck."

"If those kids heard what you said it'll definitely cause a misunderstanding. Anyway, let's drop the nonsense, don't we have more important things to do?"

From the exterior, the Mercenary Association seemed to be no different from the usual.

But when Rhode and Sereck walked into the hall, they immediately found that the atmosphere within the Association changed dramatically.

At this moment, the lively hall was no longer crowded. Those mercenaries that sat in front of the table were no longer as energetic as usual. They were either sighing or drinking liquor. When they discovered the presence of Rhode and Sereck, they only looked up and bowed their head, seemingly lifeless.

Rhode and Sereck glanced at each other, although they didn't say anything, both of them could understand what they were thinking.

The matter had become more serious.

They wanted to get confirmation from the Old President.

"We looked into it, but it was too late."

Sitting behind the desk, the Old President seemed a little older than usual, the liveliness from before has disappeared.

"Since then, I've sent an urgent notice to all of the mercenary groups, informing them that there was a problem and requested them to stop every mission, of course, without incurring penalties. But we were still too late. Of the 32 mercenary groups, including 'Victorious Wine,' 21 mercenary groups had a significant reduction in members, 3 mercenary groups were dissolved. And as for the last 5 mercenary groups... there is still no news on the situation according to the members that stayed behind, but I think they're a hopeless cause. Now in the entire Paphield area, including your Starlight mercenary group, there is only four mercenary group left that didn't suffer any loss."

Old President frowned and his face turned serious as he delivered the bad news.

"According to the news report, this time... it's a big disaster. Ever since the Deep Stone City Mercenary Association was built, until now, there had been no such situation! This really... Sigh...!!"

Saying until here, the Old President face turned gloomy. Clearly, the situation was not good for him.

"What's their benefit from deliberately trying to ruin us?"

Sereck stroked the beard on his chin, spoke and muttered.

Rhode didn't answer his question; he almost grasped as to why the Deep Stone City would encounter an attack from Country of Darkness. But now there's no use saying these, it was impossible for Sereck and the Old President to believe him. He didn't care about it though; many people thought that they could only stop the enemy as long as they could find the motive. On the other hand, Rhode knew that obstructing the enemy and finding the motive afterward wasn't too late... Like the story in many novels, where the prisoners couldn't be identified because there's no motive was only an exaggeration. Of course, Rhode wasn't interested in following along these two to add the artistry.

"What happened to those 21 mercenary groups?"

Rhode asked quietly.

"Half of them united themselves to form a new mercenary group. Some of them hadn't given up yet and planned to recruit more people. No matter what, vacancies in these 32 mercenary groups were inevitable,"

"What will happen to these vacancies?"

"According to the rules, we must bring forward a few names from the existing mercenary group to fill the vacancy. And the other mercenary group is also having a hard time, frankly..."

At this time, suddenly there's a knock on the door, interrupting the Old President. His face turned even darker, but even so, he still resisted his temper and spoke.

"Come in."

A young man aged around 27 years old walked in.

He was wearing a red armor that emitted a weak magic light; it was evident that the armor price was extraordinary. A green sword and a black dagger hung around his waist. His handsome face showed a confident and proud smile. He narrowed his eyes and showed a trace of calmness.

The young man walked in towards the three people in the room. He was surprised for a moment, but still smiled and came before the Old President before respectfully bowing and handing him a scroll on his hand.

"Dear President, I represent the 'Jade Tears' mercenary group. I am applying for my group, and this is our draft."

"Oh?"

Hearing the man's words, the Old President took the scroll from his hand and took a look at it. He nodded before taking out the quill pen beside him to sign his name on it.

"Yes, there's no problem. The Mercenary Association will now officially recognize the 'Jade Tears' regrouping. From now on, you can recover your identity as a mercenary group. I hope you can work according to mercenary rules and not doing anything that will ruin our reputation."

"Please rest assured, Mr. President. We will try our best."

Saying until here, the man respectfully bowed towards him, then turned around to look at Sereck with a serious expression.

"It's my pleasure to see Mr. Sereck. I never thought that I could see you here. If you have the time, please come to the 'Jade Tears' mercenary group to have a look. Right now, our mercenary group is very depressed; if you could appear in front of them, I think their spirits would rejuvenate again."

"I will consider your invitation."

As for his words, Sereck only nodded and didn't say anything. The man also seemed to be unaffected by it. He then turned around to look at Rhode, thinking for a moment before warmly reaching out his hand to him.

"You must be Mr. Rhode, that rumored mercenary group leader that went to the Silent Highland to assist in the rescue operation. It's nice to meet you, my name is..."

"Mr. Frank Chelis."

Rhode stood up to shake his hand. Rhode was emotionless, in contradiction with the man face that smiled warmly.

"It is rather surprising to see the third heir of the dignified Chelis family here. Aren't you suppose to stay in Barce, what are you doing here in Deep Stone City? I remember that your family is famous for business, since when they were interested in mercenaries?"

Hearing that last sentence, the man expression changed!

(Author: To be continued. If you like this work, welcome to Qidian (qidian.com) Please vote, monthly vote. Your support is my greatest motivation.)