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139 Frank’s Countermeasures

 Without a doubt, Gillian, the in-game assistant was pretty useful. Although she was unable to display her powers, at least she was still able to assist in other ways. She could observe his environments and would lessen Rhode's burden.

Of course. This was only limited to the immediate surroundings. There was no way for her to see or hear a thousand miles.

For Gillian, this was more than enough. She wasn't a human, however, her senses were much better than a human. In this narrow and dark tunnel, she could easily detect the enemy distance, direction, speed and quantity with her ability.

Rhode was unable to do this himself, of course. But his ability to focus was top notch. Although his actions were fast, each movement he made all contained his elaborate planning and preparation.

>. This particular mission was always triggered by players unknowingly. When they explored the underground mine, the players would randomly meet a crazy, and aggressive shorty. After killing him, the player would then detect some abnormality within the corpse, triggering a mission. Players would then bring these abnormal pieces of information back to the surface. After speaking to various mine workers, churches, and the Mercenary Association, they would discover a secret.

Deep within the mines, there was a shaft that led directly to hell. This ancient shaft was situated there eons ago, long before the Deep Stone City was built. Because of the shaft, the entire terrain around the mines became a haven for demons and devils, who attracted humans inside. In the end, justice eventually triumphs over evil and the shaft was re-sealed.

However, the evil ritual sites within did not disappear after the sealing of the shaft. Many years later, some greedy humans were naturally attracted to the ores within the mines and had long forsaken the warnings in the legends. They raised their excavating tools and dug into the sealed shaft. That shorty was one of those workers. He accidentally managed to discover the evil ritual site and drank the unholy spring water.

Once humans drank the water, they would obtain a boost in their strength, but that would fade as time passed. When that happens, it would cause an irresistible urge to drink it again to maintain their strength. It was quite similar to drug addiction, one could never give up the lust for power once one experiences it. Losing the power would be unbearable for them.

After the mission was activated, the Mercenary Association in Deep Stone City would collaborate to form a strong investigation team to locate and seal the place once again.

From then on, the mission had a time limit. If the players were able to destroy the site within the time limit, then they would be awarded generously with plenty of experience points, rewards and equipment. However, if they failed to complete it, the consequence would be disastrous.

A third of the people living underneath Deep Stone City would be lured by the shorty to taste the power of the spring water and they would transform into frightening devils soon after. These people would receive the Demon Lord's beckon and proceed on to unseal the shaft. The investigation party and the players would be the targets of these devils.

Within the narrow tunnels, countless of demonic creatures would overwhelm their prey. At this point, the investigation party and the players could still work together to destroy these creatures. If they were unable to succeed, the mission would then move on to its 'third' phase. The investigation team would be completely wiped out and the demonic beings would proceed on to the surface, occupying the whole of Deep Stone city.

The mission was ignored by many players because the time limit was a hidden factor. Many players received a notice saying: "Finish this mission quickly, if not there will be undesirable consequences." As this was 'just another mission' to many players who had already played countless of other similar games, there were few who took this warning seriously.

Furthermore, during investigations, there were many troublesome sub-missions that seemed like a waste of time. Therefore, many players gave up after noticing the amount of effort required to complete it. They would rather use this time to gain some levels. Why would they coop themselves in such a creepy place?

Fortunately it was just a game. Players who died could be resurrected. If it was reality, who knew how many courageous men would had lost their lives to complete this mission.

Rhode was able to complete this mission due to luck. After finishing the mission 'Demonic Shadows of the Haunted House', he had been prompted on other hidden missions. And also at that time, he did not know why players ignored this mission.

The demons went on a rampage on the surface and killed humans in Deep Stone City. Not long after, the matter was escalated to such a high level that it sparked off retaliation from Golden City. As Rhode got caught in the middle of this incident, he became curious and decided to participate. Eventually, he accomplished the mission successfully.

That was why Rhode was very clear of this situation. These mercenaries that were under the "buff" from the unholy spring water should be roughly around level 20. Their current innate element would be demonic. Thus, Celia a pure battle angel, who had the holy element would weaken them significantly. That was why Rhode chose this battle strategy: Firstly, command Celia to weaken enemies through a sneak attack and he will keep them busy with his own sword skills. Secondly, Celia would take advantage of the opportunity to follow up with an attack. Although she faced the risk of getting hit by Rhode's sword attack, ultimately she was still a summoned spirit which could be re-summoned again using spiritual energy.

Those mercenaries definitely don't take death as easily as Celia because they only have one life.

Rhode's timing was perfect.

Once Rhode and Celia retreated into the darkness, the other mercenaries rushed over to the scene, their eyes red with fury. It was obvious that they were filled with hatred. All of them emitted a murderous intent, coupled together with the pain in their bodies and the pressure of the baffling deaths of their comrades transformed into hatred. They couldn't wait to find the culprits and teach them a lesson.

However, reality was cruel. What they could only recognize were the aftermath of the battle. The ceiling of the tunnel was falling apart, but there were nothing left of their fallen comrades.

The mercenaries yelled in anger and fear. How could they even fight a battle if they couldn't even find any traces of the murderer? Should they leave this place and come back later?

As for revenge for their fallen comrades? They were barely acquaintances. Even remembering their name was considered to be good enough.

Thus, at this critical juncture, it was better to rely on oneself.

After a while, some of the mercenaries that had managed calmed down slightly suggested to leave the place.

However, Frank rejected this suggestion.

Frank had his own thoughts about the situation. It seemed as if this mysterious assailant wasn't as strong as he thought. Only during a one on one situation would this assailant be able to finish them off cleanly. But against three enemies, the assailant evidently could not do it in total silence. This meant that his ability was limited.

"Oh? Seemed like they aren't that dumb." Rhode's eyes widened slightly when he saw five fully armored mercenaries joining in the search.

Frank's response to the situation was simple. He merely changed from a three-man team to a five-man team. That was all.

However, this spelled trouble for Rhode.

Rhode's goal was not to just kill these bastards - If it was only this, he wouldn't even need Celia's help. He could do it himself. However what Rhode wanted to accomplish is to "Kill these enemies swiftly and cleanly in the shortest time."

In order to do this, he couldn't do it alone.

These five men did not exceed Rhode's expectations. Of course. He could kill them without any problem. However, he could not guarantee that he could kill them off cleanly and leave without triggering suspicions.

Even if Rhode decided to separate them using certain means, these five mercenaries were "intimately" sticking really closely to each other. Rhode suspected that their initial response towards an attack was to avoid confrontation and back off to call for reinforcements. If that happened, his plans would be voided.

Concealment was Rhode's top priority. Although the psychological pressure on these mercenaries was at its peak because they did not know the amount nor species of enemies they were facing, the unknown would always be the largest source of fear. The less they knew, the better for Rhode. But once Rhode reveals himself, all the mysteriousness he built up since the start of the battle would be for nothing, and from then on it would be much harder for Rhode to handle them.

"Should we attack, Master?"

Celia followed closely behind Rhode's back and whispered.

Rhode considered for a moment before eventually shaking his head.

"Let us observe first."

As he spoke, he retreated further into the tunnel silently.

With regards to the familiarity of the terrain, Rhode was not in a way any inferior to these mercenaries. He had memorized every path, tunnel and dead end. And after surveying the enemy, he now understood their deployment strategy. The Jade Tear mercenary group split themselves into three groups. Each group consists of five mercenaries. After covering a certain amount of distance, they would report back their status by shouting to their comrades before continuing the search.

This is troublesome.

But Rhode did not consider giving up at all. Giving up was more dangerous than trying. In the underground, he still had the ability to stop these guys. However, if they somehow made it to the surface, chasing and hunting them one after another once they split up is going to a problem. If he let any one of them escape, who knows when will they come back for revenge?

Finishing them off once and for all was the only solution.

But what can I do in this situation?

Rhode knitted his brows as he deliberated for a solution.

Just as he couldn't think of anything, Gillian's voice echoed in his mind.

"Master, I don't think you have to worry too much about these trash. They are just a bunch of walking trash. So why worry? If it was me, I would just fight them and finish them all at once!"

... All at once?

All of a sudden, an idea struck his mind.

Maybe I could try...