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169 Challenge

 When Rhode once again arrived at the Mercenary Association, the place was already starting to get crowded. Although it was still a little bit deserted, it was a lot better than before. After the Mercenary Association got information of Rhode's arrival, they immediately greeted him and brought him to the waiting room. They respectfully told him to wait for a while and then left. Right now, Rhode was leisurely looking at the surroundings. After a while, he saw the Old President and Sereck happily walk toward him.

Looking at the "warm smile" from the both of them, Rhode frowned.

He was really suspicious.

However, he said nothing and relaxedly drank his tea as usual, nodding to the both of them. Both of them seemed not to care about it and kept smiling at him. They sat in front of him and the Old President glanced at Sereck. Sereck helplessly shrugged his shoulder then looked at Rhode and said, "You finally come, kid. Judging from your face, it seems that your mission has gone smoothly? Very well."

"It's alright." Rhode shrugged his shoulder and put down the tea cup in his hand, looking up. Both of them looked expressionless, and it seemed like both of them had something to ask of him. Else, judging from the Old President's temper, there would be no way he would let Sereck praise him. His first reaction would probably be complaining about whatever Rhode did, saying that it made the entire Deep Stone City became not peaceful. Else, he would hold a grudge toward everything that he had done and then signalled Sereck to tell Rhode the reason the he had called him here. Now what? "Why are you two looking for me?"

"Hm... it's like this." Hearing Rhode's question, Sereck stayed silent for a while, after which he rubbed his hands while looking at the Old President then said. "Starlight's point have reached...12 right?"

"If the point from the previous missions are counted there, then that's right." Hearing Sereck's question, Rhode frowned. He thought that the two of them might call him because there was a mission or something. Did he guess wrong? Were they worried about his mercenary group?

"It's not even the early summer, but you guys have already achieved 12 points. Have you ever thought about your next plan if this keeps going on?"

His next plan? Hearing until here, Rhode was surprised, but his expression didn't change. "I think both of you clearly know my next plan. As the leader or Mercenary Association, I think both of you know that the No.1 ranked mercenary group can be promoted to an ordinary guild."

"That's right." Hearing Rhode's words, Sereck nodded and smiled. "Then do you think based on Starlight's current strength, your mercenary group will be able to stabilize your position as a guild?"

"This is my problem, not yours, Mr. Sereck." Rhode frowned, seeming to know where this topic was going.

"I think you guys can just get straight to the point. As a member of Mercenary Association, do both of you need to worry about any mercenary group that's upgraded into a guild?"

What Rhode said was the truth. Usually, the relationship between the Mercenary Association and a mercenary guild was just like boss and subordinate, but it wasn't as clearly shown as the relationship between the Mercenary Association and a mercenary group since mercenary guilds had their own power, stronghold, and could even get outside support. That was why they often didn't obey the Mercenary Association's order. It was a bit like the relationship between the official league organizations and clubs; usually, small clubs had to act according the official league organization, but to the contrary, strong clubs could make the official league organization act according to what they want...

Of course, at first, the Mercenary Association wouldn't be happy about it and even deliberately try to find fault and not let mercenary groups upgrade into mercenary guild. Unfortunately, the Dragon Soul Continent wasn't like earth, where if one's was wronged, they could continue the matter in the court. Because mercenary groups couldn't accept this fact, they got violent with the Mercenary Association and created an organization to oppose the Mercenary Association. This chaos continued for several years until the death of thousands of mercenaries. It could already be considered a small scale war. The chaos had also alerted people who held authority in the Dragon Soul Continent. In the end, under their mediation, the Mercenary Association choose to concess. From that moment on, the Mercenary Association and mercenary guilds were no longer hostile toward each other, but they no longer had any relationship with each other. Until a mercenary group reached a qualified level, they could report to the Mercenary Association and followed their procedure; after the documents had been stamped by the Mercenary Association, they were no longer related with each other. You do what you have to do, I do what I have to do.

That's why Rhode was very surprised when the Old President of Mercenary Association worroed so much about it. From what he had experienced, the Mercenary Association wasn't really that friendly to him.

"Enough! Kid!" When Sereck seemed like he wanted to explain, the Old President couldn't stand it anymore and heavily hit the table. "Anyway, there's nothing to hide now, so I'll tell you directly. Before, we just got news from the Munn Headquarter Mercenary Association because our Paphield region didn't have a stable mercenary guild in the last two years. Under the current Headquarter Mercenary Association's Head, Mr. Drake, other branches have requested the association to cancel our regional mercenary guild quota and distribute the quota to them!"

Hearing until here, Rhode frowned. "Did the Headquarter agreed?"

"Of course they wouldn't agree that fast, since the current Munn Kingdom only has five regions and there's one Mercenary Association per region. The same goes for mercenary guild quotas. Suddenly asking for the regional mercenary guild quota to be abolished isn't a small thing, so the HQ wouldn't agree so quickly." Sereck finally found a room to explain and said. "But it's also a fact that our area isn't stable. In these few years, our situation hasn't been too good and is a lot worse than that of other regions. Frankly, the top 5 mercenary group in other regions could all be No. 1 here... so that has led to their dissatisfaction. That's why the HQ was considering this request."

"Then, do you have any other way?" Rhode was finally worried about this matter. It had to be said that if the mercenary guild in the Paphield area was abolished, all of his hard work would turn into nothing. However, he still didn't understand how this matter was connected to him.

"Although the HQ hasn't made any decision, they are considering this matter. We also received their last ultimatum. We of the Paphield region must send a representative to attend the Midsummer Festival Competition in two months. If we can get a good mark, then the HQ will keep our quota. But if we can't, then..."

The so-called Midsummer Festival Competition was the contest held by the Mercenary Association in the third month of each summer. Mercenaries display their strength to all participating in this festival. The Mercenary Association also displayed their strength through this event. Outstanding mercenaries can not only get huge rewards, but may even win the favor of powerful authorities. For the mercenaries, it was also a good opportunity to show themselves.

"But from what I remember, the Midsummer Festival can only be attended by mercenary guilds, right?" Rhode curiously asked. The Midsummer Festival was divided into three parts, and the two most important parts were the battle between mercenary guilds, including group and a 1v1 battle. Idle mercenaries could only attend the last part, which was a field game. Honestly, every year, the Midsummer Festival was an event for the five regions to display their strength, while the stronger mercenary guilds could earn more support. Weaker mercenary guilds could only serve as the stepping stone of the strong. With maximum of 20 people in each group, in the 1vs1 battle, each group could send out 5 people. Although this competition was a good opportunity for mercenary guilds to display their strength, no one wished to sustain any damage. So the scale of the competition wasn't to big. But even so, mercenary guilds were still elite groups, and would still be hard to face.

Because of that, it could be seen that HQ was really planning to take out the Paphield region mercenary guild quota, since they didn't have any group that was qualified as a mercenary guild. How could they even participate in the competition? It was just like asking a handicapped person to participate in track and field competition. It was simply bullsh*t.

"I already said so, but those damned sons of a b*tch!!" Having said that, the Old President suddenly jumped up and waved his hands in anger. "Those sons of a b*tch! They actually gave us 'special permission' to send a mercenary group to join this competition! Saying that our Paphield mercenary groups and mercenary guild don't really differ much... Those scoundrels! Dragon Soul above, I hope those motherf*ckers will shut their mouth!"

After the Old President finished venting, he sat back and glared at Rhode as if he was his mortal enemy. "Since those stupid fools underestimate us, we also don't have to be courteous. It's you, kid, go and finish those b*stards who only know how to hide behind the tent. Let them see our power!"

Seeing the angry Old President, Rhode didn't show any expression. He extended out his hand to pour tea for himself. After that, he took a cookie and put it in his mouth then asked, "Why me? Aren't Burning Blade or Dark Fang more suitable than me?"

"Hiller won't do." The Old President sighed and shook his head.

"Don't you know what kind of situation the Burning Blades are in? Hiller, those fellows are also strange. He's pretty energetic when he leads a mercenary group, but when he upgraded into a mercenary guild, he immediately wilted even though his mercenary group still maintained ots mercenary guild standard. However, he can't do this kind of thing. It's not like we never looked for them, but those guys knew that they couldn't do it and so he rejected our request. As for Shawn, don't even bring him up. I can't even found him.. Sigh, although it's not difficult to look for them, guessing from his temper, he definitely isn't interested."

Having said that, the Old President stopped and look at Rhode.

"That's why I can only depend on you now. Starlight's performance isn't bad at all, whether it's in the Silent Highland or Twilight Forest, your performance is always very exceptional. Your commanding skill is also above Hiller's, and you know the situation in our Papheld area. It's already lucky enough for the other mercenary groups to be alive, much less the fact that they can help or not. Don't show me your expressionless face; it's not like this competition has no merits for you. If your performance is good, then your mercenary group would be upgraded into a mercenary guild immediately. You'll be even more famous! Other mercenary groups need to struggle for many years, but you will only need months to achieve that position. What do you think? You must be happy inside, right!"

"Everything has to be done in order, step by step. I still know this principle, Old Man." Rhode drank the tea in his hand to cleanup the cookies crumbs in his mouth then said. Honestly, he was indeed interested with it. If the Old President was telling the truth, then he didn't have to try that hard to accumulate points. Especially since the prohibition was about a month, it would be really bothersome. However, he still showed his emotionless face. Since he was requesting his help, at least Rhode needed to con him something.

Rhode's way of thinking was just like that of a typical player. Every mission had to have a benefit. If ordinary missions weren't enough, then take the bonus mission. If the bonus mission wasn't enough, then take the hidden mission. In short, a player will squeeze out every layer of oil until the last copper was pulled out; else, they wouldn't give up. In the Dragon Soul Continent, missions also work like that. There was a commission entrusted to players by a father to rescue the son he had lost in the mountains. For most online games, after the player sends the child back, the NPC will say thank you and pay for it, and the player will accept the reward and the task is completed. But there are in fact many hidden parts. If you could just nicely describe how difficult was it to find that child in such a dangerous environment, then the NPC will increase your reward. If the player still thinks that it wasn't enough, they could show off their strength and tell the NPC that their lives were a lot more valuable than their money. Doing so, the player would be able to accept their family heirloom. In just a mission like that, if the player tried harder, then they would be able to get unexpected rewards and equipment.

He already did this once in High Cliff Village, and he didn't mind doing it again. "Our members are limited, and the time left isn't much. Not only are we a mercenary group, but facing the mercenary guild from different regions will be really difficult."

"Of course I know this." The Old President waved his hand. "That's why the Mercenary Association will aide you. Whether it's equipment or a person, just tell me what you want!"

"Really?!"

"Of cour..." Before the Old President wanted to say "of course," but after looking at Rhode's face, he immediately stopped. The Old President remembered that the kid had been asking him for some requirements! "If it's within our Mercenary Association's strength, then it's no problem!"

"Then, I want some people and some magic equipment. There's no problem, right?"

"It depends on the person and the equipment, kid." The Old President laughed. After interacting with Rhode for sometime, he thought that he had begun to understand Rhode's greedy personality. "If you said that you wanted Sereck, then keep dreaming. This competition will be supervised by the Mercenary Association HQ, so don't be too much. Be careful; they won't let you succeed."

"I don't plan on letting Sereck join me. I only need some idle mercenaries." Rhode shrugged. "I need two smiths and four clerics... Yes, those girls that have accompanied me to the Silent Highland before. That's right, I need to tell you this first. I'm not borrowing them; they will be permanent members. There should be no problem with this point, right?"

"What do you need them for?" Hearing Rhode's request, the Old President was surprised. "I heard about the previous situation from Sereck, but kid, this time we're not facing undead creatures."

"Of course I know, but that's not the reason I want them." Rhode stretched out his hands and made a gesture. "And, I want some magic materials, including ore and woods. Of course, I hope that the Mercenary Association will show me some sincerity. Provide it for free... since I don't have that much money to buy those things."

"... Alright, no problem, I agree as long as it's not too much." The Old President took a very deep breath, reminding himself to be patient. Just think of his words as fart. Be careful not to give him any opportunity... Although the Old President had already made a mental preparation, Rhode's requests still left him a little bit shocked.

"That's right, I want to confirm. Is is considered as a mission from Mercenary Association?"