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145 Internal Reform

 Shauna knocked on the door and heard Rhode's voice calling her to enter.

"Come in."

The red-haired female mercenary hesitated a little before pushing the door open and entered the room.

"Master, you were looking for me?"

"Yeah."

Rhode nodded briefly. The red-haired female mercenary swept her gaze around the room and noticed she wasn't the only one being called for. Old Walker, Lize, Anne, and Randolf were already sitting by the side, focused on a piece of paper on their hands.

"Ever since our time spent in the Twilight Forest, I have been tracking your performances."

Rhode glanced at Shauna and handed a piece of paper to her.

"Now I can be sure that all of you here have the qualifications to join my mercenary group. So then... this is the last step. Carefully look through it."

Shauna curiously reached out for the paper in Rhode's hand. "This is..."

She carefully read through and furrowed her beautiful eyebrows.

"What is this?" asked Shauna as she lifted her head to look at Rhode.

"This is a contract."

Rhode remained expressionless and spoke seriously.

"As long as you have read all the conditions and accepted them, then you can proceed to sign on them."

"Contract?"

"That's right. This will bring us a lot of help."

Rhode said, seemingly confident in his tone.

This was the method that Rhode had thought of.

He did not utilize much of his previous playing experience to think of this method. Instead, before making this decision, Rhode spent a lot of effort in observing other mercenary groups. Afterward, he found out a problem that he hadn't realize when he was in the game.

Even though mercenaries and soldiers were somewhat similar because their primary duty was to fight, both were totally different vocations. A soldier must follow the commander's orders. For example, if an army was being pursued by a monster. If the commander ordered them to be bait, they had to follow the instructions whether the liked it or not. Whereas mercenaries would not do anything that puts their lives at unnecessary risk. Sure, they might earn money for being in the group, but if they lose their lives in the process, how would they be able to spend their wealth?

Also, there is another very important point to mention. Mercenaries are afraid to get injured. They don't care about superficial wounds, but when it comes to breaking a leg or blinding an eye, then they would be worried about their future in the mercenary group. If these accidents befall upon those senior and old mercenaries, it wouldn't be as bad as they could still stay and contribute to matters that require their experience. But for those young guns, they would either be kicked out, or isolated from participating in missions, unable to collect any income.

This caused the mercenaries to subconsciously put themselves first and it resulted in them not giving their 100%. From the few times when they rescued other mercenary groups, Rhode observed that even though when the opponents didn't seem to be that dangerous, his mercenaries did not put in their best effort to turn the battle around. Only when the mercenaries realize that if they don't go all in, they would lose, and at that point, it might already be too late.

This reminded Rhode that players weren't afraid of death. Therefore, in the game, he could give orders without any pressures. He wasn't afraid of his men not following instructions. But now it was vastly different. Currently, they did not have situations that require them to put their lives on the line, but if these incidents happen, and if the mercenaries decide to disobey orders, it would be too late. Not even crying could help save the situation.

Jade Tears mercenary group's plight was the perfect reminder for Rhode. The mercenaries had unstable income. Players farmed money and bought equipment because they did not have any stress in the game; purely because they just to show off. But the mercenaries' money was for their own living. In order to live, they need to do everything they can. Look at the Jade Tears mercenary group, they actually sold their mercenary group for the sake of money. What's there that they can't do?

Besides, Rhode also found out that mercenary groups seldom recruit and kick members. Unless one of them committed an unforgivable crime or grave mistake, they would almost be guaranteed to stay. This way of living allowed those people to give minimal effort. They just wanted to peacefully pass their days and finish simple missions.

When there were no competitions, there will be no pressure. No wonder these mercenary groups could only complete 2 to 3 missions.

These people weren't permitted in Rhode's group. He didn't want his men to be like that because it would be a huge obstacle to the growth and development of the mercenary group.

However, Rhode was always good at coming up with countermeasures. Rhode, being the guild leader of the strongest guild in the hugely popular online game, Dragon Soul Continent, was very familiar with all the different jobs the players could change into.

The contract that Rhode drafted was the result of all the experience that he accumulated in the game as well as observing the current world.

In the contract, Rhode clearly stated each mercenary's duties and deadlines. According to the contract, they could go on for years and after the years are up, he would re-evaluate their value in order to extend the contract. If these mercenaries were unable to meet Rhode's expectations within 3 years, then they will be brutally kicked out of the mercenary group. If they met his expectations, they can continue to stay. Moreover, if they manage to extend their contract 3 times, they will earn the rights to have a lifetime membership within the mercenary group.

Of course, in this contract, Rhode naturally addressed the main problem that mercenaries were most concerned about. If there were any wounded during missions, the mercenary group will pass them a certain amount of compensation. Every month onwards they would receive a fixed reward even if they didn't participate in any missions. When the mercenary recovered from their injury, he or she will be assigned a new duty within the mercenary group.

And it was clearly indicated in the contract that if they outperformed themselves and reach the set targets every year, they would receive attractive rewards as well as an increase in their remunerations.

Using this method, he could prevent his men from being as laid back as before - And at least some pressure would be unavoidable. This would definitely erase some problems within the mercenary groups such as the uneven distributions of loots. Rhode heard of these problems from Shauna and Anne when they were grumbling about their past experiences within other mercenary groups. Loot distribution was always difficult to strike a balance. Thus, now everything was written in black and white, so it could at least remove some unhappiness caused by the perception of unfairness.

But Rhode wasn't dumb. Although he liked to poach members from other mercenary groups, he wouldn't want others to do the same to him. In order to prevent this, he added a clause on liquidated damages in the contract - If any mercenary wanted to leave the mercenary group before the contract end date or headhunted by another mercenary group, he or she needs to pay the penalty first before further discussions.

Although there were laws in the Dragon Soul Continent, they weren't perfect. In this game, the laws respected and supported contracts. However, there were no classifications. In other words, as long as both parties agree and sign the contract, then even if the content was to agree to prostitution or arranged marriage, they will still be protected under the law. Once violated, it would be "defaulted" as punishment. And until then, either party can bring the contract to seek justice and it will be enforced. The defaulted party would be captured and serve jail time.

Although there were no technologies to identify other people identities in the Dragon Soul Continent, which was similar to the real world. People do not have to worry about forged contracts due to the power of magic. If anyone thinks that they could resist the strength of the 'mysterious power of magic' then they could give it a shot. The consequence of forging a contract is capital punishment

Rhode thought long and hard before arriving at his current solution. The only way to increase the mercenary group's cohesion and strength would be this.

As for contract deadlines, Lize received an 'unlimited' deadline. Rhode trusted her feelings for the Starlight mercenary group. And not to mention that she was the senior of the mercenary group, so she definitely wouldn't quit.

One rank below her was Anne, who received the second-longest contract. Rhode was quite optimistic with this Shield Warrior and he was confident that she would remain in the group. Anne's contract was five years, but her default penalty was also really harsh - Fifty thousand gold coins. With this amount, let's not even mention about mercenary groups, even the four biggest mercenary guilds wouldn't be able to pay that sum.

The rest of the team received a three years contract with a more lenient default penalty. The highest penalty was only thousand gold coins.

Indeed, this method was a refreshing idea. Lize didn't have any opinions on her contract. She didn't have any intentions to leave anyway. Also, as a cleric, she played a crucial role in the mercenary group. Not only that, she had always been very serious in her duties, so she wouldn't be too worried about herself violating anything.

Anne seemed like she didn't have many opinions about this as well. She had always been carefree, so regarding such matters, she didn't care too much. After inquiring some details with Rhode about the "as long as she performed well then she could stay", she signed her name without any hesitation. For Anne, it seemed as if as long as she could stay here, even if it were to sell herself, she would be fine with it...

Initially, Old Walker had some hesitation, but he eventually agreed. Besides, this old man clearly understood that he could only remain active for a few more years, so the contract conditions were more beneficial to him than disadvantageous.

The one who took the contract most seriously was Shauna. After all, she was once a mercenary group leader. The moment she glanced through the contract, she knew that this was going to affect the future of the mercenary group. Even though there were similar such contracts in the Merchants Association, nobody ever thought of implementing it on mercenary groups. Now that Rhode pioneered the usage of these mercenary contracts, it seemed to be quite shocking. She didn't sign immediately, but instead turned to Rhode and highlighted points that she needed to discuss with her companions. She couldn't be blamed, besides, to implement contracts within a mercenary group was a first which had never occurred before.

Randolf was left with no choice. Lapis also received a rather agreeable contract, so other than signing, he had no other choices. These newbies had the most pressure as they weren't as experienced as the Shauna and others. Also, they weren't like Anne, a genius. If they don't give their best, they would be a living joke if they were kicked out of the mercenary group.

However, not everyone received their contracts.

Knock Knock Knock...

Just after Rhode sent the rest of the members away, hurried footsteps could be heard coming from the hallway. Marlene barged into the room.

"Mr. Rhode! Why don't I have a contract too?!"