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158 Late-night Haunting

 The last ray of sunlight disappeared below the horizon. Deep darkness enveloped the entire village.

Usually, during this time, the villagers would have ended their daily tasks and visit the pub for leisure. Chatting, enjoying the food and alcohol to spend some time after a hard day of work. Afterwards, they would return home after getting drunk and dive straight into bed. Once the next day arrives, they would repeat that action, and that's how they lived their days in a village.

However, it was a pity that they can't enjoy it today. The pub was taken over by the "evil, irritating and terrifying" mercenary group, so they didn't have the chance to drown their weary souls in beer. Moreover, early that evening, they received an indirect threat from a mercenary that was sent by that arrogant noble, 'suggesting' that they should stay indoors for their own safety or else they 'might' end up as bait for the undead creatures.

The villagers could only curse and swear behind the backs of those damn mercenaries and stay home obediently. Although some brave souls thought of challenging the curfew, they were reminded of the moaning guy lying helplessly in bed ---- If they didn't wish to face the same consequences, then it's better to stay out of trouble.

And right now, the members of the Starlight Mercenary Group had already gathered at the square. They started to form a circle around a huge teepee campfire. The flames lit up the square, allowing everyone to see each other clearly. Celia quietly stood in the middle, with both hands on the sword hilt while her eyes were closed. The rest of them gathered together and carefully observed their surroundings. Although the undead creatures were troublesome beings, these people were accustomed to living this kind of dangerous life with Rhode. Besides, with the companionship of an angel, everyone felt emboldened.

"Devil worshipper?"

Marlene opened her eyes slightly wider, revealing some confusion.

"Never did I expect them to appear in such a small village. That's really odd."

"Is it really that odd?"

"Yes, it is. I had a few encounters with the church handling the devil worshipper during my schooling days in the magic academy. According to logic, the devil worshipper should hide in big cities because a bigger population meant that it was easier for them to escape undetected while able to cause grievous harm. To a devil, chaos, death, and demolition were what they wished for the most. A small village like this, to be honest, even if it burned down, the devils wouldn't spare a glance at it."

"In normal circumstances, that's indeed correct."

Rhode shrugged his shoulders.

"However if there's something that the devils wanted from here, then it's another matter."

"You mean..."

Marlene slightly shocked after hearing Rhode's reply. She immediately turned her head to the uncertain and quiet little girl sitting beside Lize.

"She... attracted the devil's attention? Although this little girl has traces of devil descent, since there are countless of half devils around in this world, I doubt the devils would only pay attention to her?"

"As for this, I'm not too sure."

Rhode shook his head as he didn't know much of this.

"However today, I sensed a faint evil presence from where she lived. That presence didn't belong to Christie. Although Celia thought that the presence was left behind by Christie unknowingly, I felt that it wasn't the case. Besides, I have sufficient reasons to prove this point."

After completing his sentence, Rhode opened his arms.

"According to the intelligence we received, it isn't odd that this village got attacked by undead creatures every night. Yet, from the description by the village chief, I realized that there must be a large number of undead creatures, which is very odd. Because, if they want to offer sacrifices to the devils, then the safest way should be through carrying it out privately. Once the matter escalates, it will attract the attention of governors easily; which is why we're here. Moreover, if they truly wanted to offer sacrifices to the devil, they shouldn't have created so many undead creatures. After all, there are much more benefits if they offered the spirits to the devils."

"This indeed makes sense..."

Marlene couldn't help but nod in agreement. Afterwards, she curiously stole a glance at Rhode. Although she had spent a lot of time together with Rhode and had already gotten used to his vast knowledge, at this moment, Marlene felt that Rhode had reached an omniscient level. Regarding matters of the devils, even the mages and clerics with higher rankings could not be certain sometimes. But Rhode had given her an 'always-ready' sensation as if he could immediately give you an answer no matter what you asked him.

Of course, Marlene didn't know that Rhode had been granted the title of 'walking library'. And to him, the Dragon Soul Continent had no secrets. The devils were no exception.

"But if that's the truth, why wasn't Christie kept in captivity?"

Marlene was doubtful.

"And they could also send her away anytime right?"

"There's not enough time."

Rhode shook his head.

"The reason why they created so many undead creatures was to expand the hell chasm. Obviously, the devils ordered them to capture the victim alive, if not, Christie definitely wouldn't have lived til now. As for keeping her in captivity, there is no need for that. In fact, Christie's previous way of life was almost equivalent to being a captive. She had nowhere to escape. Rather than taking unnecessary actions and attract suspicions from others, they're better off maintaining the current situations. Only when the chasm is open, then they would start to capture her for real."

"What a poor child."

After hearing Rhode's explanation, Marlene looked over to Christie. Christie was wrapped in a thick blanket, she raised her head and stared at the starry sky. Her frail appearance made everyone want to give her a warm hug.

"Since the devils are targeting her... Mr. Rhode, the reason you brought her here was to bait them right?"

"That's right."

Rhode simply nodded.

"If that devil worshipper is a villager, then he knows that Christie is under my protection. Even using his ass to think, he can also guess that I wouldn't give her up even if he said 'I will be offering this girl to the devil as a gift, please show mercy to me'. Not to mention, Christie and I look the same, anyone who sees us will definitely have this thought. So, I think he will change his mind and find trouble with me instead. Rather than leaving Christie in the pub to be captured by someone, why not keep her by my side. I don't believe that worshipper has the patience to wait. Although this is only my guess, it's better than it coming true."

"I understand what you mean, Mr. Rhode."

Marlene went silent for a moment and quickly understood Rhode's thoughts. Afterwards, she didn't say anything but quietly held onto her staff, waiting for the battle to begin.

Minutes and seconds passed.

The skies slowly turned dark. The lights within the village had started to extinguish. Soon enough, the serenity of silence became the main melody of the village. The mercenaries began to warm up to prevent any mishaps in battle. They checked their potions and polished their weapons. Even Lize had started to pray softly. It was only Anne who'd laid flat on her shield by the campfire in a deep sleep. Judging by her looks, she intended to sleep till morning.

Rhode raised his head and gazed at the moon.

The night sky under the Light Dragon's Soul was always colorful. But for some reason, Rhode felt that the aura tonight was a little dull. Suddenly, a sharp, cold wind blew which caused the flames to dance. In an instant, the surrounding lights became much dimmer than before.

"... Ah..."

At this moment, Christie suddenly exclaimed. Her eyes snapped wide open with shock as she shot up and looked around in confusion.

"What's wrong?" Marlene frowned and asked.

The little girl's odd behavior attracted the mercenaries' attention.

"... Someone... there's someone... calling for me..."

The little girl's eyes scanned the faraway darkness in fear and spoke softly. Her body was started to shiver, and her voice stuttered.

"... A voice... a voice that I have never heard before... it is so... sinister... makes me uncomfortable..."

"Hu!"

At this moment, Anne suddenly woke and jumped. She instantly picked up her shield and observed the surroundings.

"Something's here!"

"Everyone get ready!!"

Rhode shouted and gave a command. The mercenaries quickly got into position and picked up their weapons and potions, observing the surroundings warily. The darkness remained the same, but the air had an ill-boding chill to it. Celia also raised her sword, engulfing it with a silver-white flame. Marlene spun her staff, causing magical energy to concentrate on the tip, emitting pure and brilliant light. Lize studied the surroundings seriously. Both her hands were flowing with holy energy as she charged a spell to its maximum power.

"I can sense it, Mr. Rhode. The evil aura is spreading. Something is coming!"

At this moment, from the area where the light from the fire couldn't reach, something in the darkness started to move towards them.