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113 Loss and Gain

 "Rho... de..."

It's dark.

"... Rhode..."

A faint voice rang in his mind. The pain was intense as though someone pierced a hole in his brain. It couldn't help but made him feel disgusted and wanted to throw up.

"... Mr.Rhode...!!"

The fuzzy voice suddenly became clear, after that a warm light tore down the darkness.

Rhode opened his eyes.

The first thing he saw was Lize's worried expression.

"Mr. Rhode, are you okay! What happened?"

Me? Injured?

Rhode shook his head trying to regain his consciousness. He held onto the tree and slowly got up. After that, he looked at his surroundings. He could see that Marlene was standing beside him with expression. Although she didn't look as worried as Lize, she still couldn't hide the concern in her eyes.

"After I felt a surging wave of magical energy, I quickly ran here and saw you lying on the ground. What... did you do? The area around you is completely devastated."

What did I do?

Rhode looked around with a strange expression. He could see that the originally quiet forest was in a mess now. The trees that filled the forest were dead and dried leaves were falling like snowflakes. The grasses have also dried up, it was as though this place had totally turned into a lifeless desert!

What... happened?

Rhode was shocked. He had never seen such a thing happening before. Also, if one thought logically, it was impossible for this kind of thing to happen. As a Summoning Swordsman, he had summoned spirits for countless times. Back when he was still level 50, he had awakened a level 80 Soul Core and there was no backlash like this. So how did such an event happen?

"Mr. Rhode? Are you okay? How do you feel? Are you injured?"

Lize's series of questions woke Rhode from his reverie. He quickly opened his attributes information and was dumbfounded.

He found out that his EXP points had reset to zero!

He had about 5000 EXP points left after defeating the Death Knight and just a little more he could've leveled up to 17. But Rhode found his 5000 EXP points missing! Where did they go?!

The series of events left him even more confused. He had never encountered this kind of thing in the game. Could it be that he hit a bug? If it was the game, he would've easily concluded it as such... but what about now?

Rhode's face darkened. It was strange enough for a system prompt to appear in reality, but since he couldn't understand what caused it to appear, he just threw the thought to the back of his mind. No matter whether he liked it or not, it had already happened.

However, what occurred now made him feel quite uneasy. If it was a system bug in the game, he could request for support from a GM. But what about now? If the bug originated from his body, who should he look for an explanation?

Did he have to write 'Pls fix the bug' on a sign and wave it around in the middle of the street?

...

"Mr. Rhode?"

The flickering expressions on Rhode's face made Lize and Marlene a little bit uneasy.

"Are you okay? Are you feeling uncomfortable somewhere?"

"Mr. Rhode, if there's any problem, I think it's better for you to tell it to us..."

"No... there's nothing wrong with my body."

Rhode finally recovered and waved his hand. He was certain that there were no issues physiologically, and based on what he could see, there seems to be no problem with the system. His attributes were normal and his level was still the same. If there was nothing wrong with his skills, talents, and level, why did his 5000 EXP disappear suddenly?

As he was thinking over the matter, Rhode suddenly thought of something.

Why did he collapse?

What was he doing before that?

That's right! What happened to my card?

Rhode's heart sank. After that, he stretched out his right hand.

With a mere thought, a bright red card appeared on top of his palm. Rhode's eyes widened in shock when he saw the card. In the upper corner of the card, there was a large 'I' symbol on it. An exquisite flower engraving outlined the edges of the card like a creeping flame. This made the card look rather ancient and mysterious. However, what puzzled Rhode was the deep red color in the center of the card that supposedly was the icon of the summoned creature.

It's empty...?

What's going on?

Did I summon air?

He frowned and flipped the card over. Soon, a line of text appeared.

[2/10 of Red Lotus Deck has been collected, Gillian]

[Gillian (Fire Commander Attribute): Lord Commander Level, Not Available for Fusion]

[Elemental Domination. Able to burn through anything.]

[Special Skill --- Red Lotus (Causes a sensation that burns as passionately as a flame. Strong enough to cause the entire world to turn mad.)]

[Fire Manipulation (Every element would turn into its Passion)]

[Lord Level Control (Can summon low-level spirits in the deck without limit)]

[Red Lotus (Not yet complete)]

[Warning: The card level exceeds the current commanding limit. Each time the card is summoned, the holder will lose five percent of their EXP.]

[System prompt Summoned number: 1]

So that's it.

Rhode finally felt relieved after looking at the system prompt. His 5000 EXP didn't disappear due to a bug. Instead, it was consumed by this card.

Rhode felt that the loss of EXP was reasonable as the card was above his expectations.

A Commander Level Spirit!

Those three words were enough to make him feel like what he had done was all worth it.

The so-called Commander Level Spirit was a term that humans used to determine a magical beast's level.

After becoming a magical beast, the creature would possess elemental power. According to the ranking, the magical beast would fall into three levels: Special, Master, and Commander.

Special Level Spirits referred to magical beasts who possessed power but is unable to use it freely. For example, a lightning element cat would constantly generate electricity through instinct as it moves. These beasts were often newly promoted and considered the less dangerous type of magical beast. Rhode's Flame Killer is one such example of a Special Level Spirit.

Master Level Spirits could manipulate and control its power according to its wishes. This kind of magical beast is troublesome to handle because they possess a certain level of intelligence. Combined with its natural talent, it would prove to be a dangerous foe to most adventurers.

If a Master Level Spirit was considered to be dangerous, then a Commander Level Spirit would be every adventurer's nightmare. Commander Level Spirits had the power to command the elements. They were apex magical beasts that ruled over the other living creatures and what was even more frightening was that they could be considered as the five elements proxy in the entire continent.

Not only were they able to bend the elements at their will, they could also manipulate the elements to forcibly alter a low-level creature's elemental property.

This meant that if the target had ice elemental properties, but hadn't reached Commander Level, a Commander Level Fire Elemental Spirit could replace the ice element with fire. Sometimes they could even burn the opponent into ashes in a blink of an eye.

Back in the game, there were only five players that had a Commander Level Spirit, and they were all above level 80. Even Rhode's Starlight only managed to obtain a pyrrhic victory after waging war against them. So a summon restriction was totally reasonable for a card that could summon a Commander Level Fire Spirit.

The strength of Commander Level Spirits was not exaggerated. If it weren't for the restriction, perhaps Rhode could've conquered the entire Munn Kingdom. Not to mention a city as tiny as Deep Stone City. It would be completely pulverized into nothingness in a blink of an eye.

However, Rhode was confused because he had battled against the five different elemental Commander Level Spirits before and the Commander Level Fire Elemental Spirit was supposed to be 'Ragris.' So where did this Commander Level Fire Elemental Spirit 'Gillian' come from?

He had the sudden urge to summon this spirit and test how it worked, but he had no choice but to suppress his curiosity as he couldn't afford to waste another 5000 EXP just to satisfy his cravings.

If he wasted another 5000 EXP points, he would be forced to downgrade a level.

Rhode couldn't help but put the card back. After pacifying Lize and Marlene, he finally left.

However, before he had the time to slowly think about the card, Old Walker quickly approached him when he was nearing the base camp.

"Kid, I've found something."

The old ranger said with a serious expression.