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193 Imperfect Ending

 Blades of light flashed.

The spiritual energy reached its peak. Akin to the Grim Reaper's scythe of death, the sword reaped downwards. The mercenaries could only stare blindly with no way out. They watched in fear and trepidation, struggling helplessly before their impending death. Then, everything went silent. As death swept through, their corpses fell in droves like harvested wheat.

Carmen stared blankly at the bloody massacre, losing any thoughts of resisting. He was regretting ever so badly.

How did this happen?

Why did things turn out this way?

He asked himself. But what did he need to understand? He had already failed and this place appeared to be his grave.

Those were Carmen's final thoughts. Then a bright golden light pierced his body and tore his chest apart.

Rhode let out a sigh of relief.

He put down his sword and felt slightly giddy. To utterly destroy the enemies at one go, Rhode had spent all of his remaining spiritual energy. At this moment, he was running on reserves in order to support the summoned spirits. But Rhode wasn't the least bit worried as all remaining threats had been cleansed.

Or perhaps that was just what he thought.

A bright, golden beam swiftly shot towards him.

Rhode suddenly tensed up, lifted his head and looked ahead. And at that moment, an arrow that appeared to be enveloped in a bright golden light flew towards his chest. His sword that absorbed all of Rhode's spiritual energy wasn't enough to defend against it. And soon enough, that shimmering golden arrow had already arrived at his chest.

Rhode felt a sudden chill all over his body.

Time seemed to have stopped at this moment. He stared right at the arrow, watching as it flew towards his chest.

But Rhode did not panic at all.

All his PK experiences with many other players came into good use. Although Rhode wasn't thinking of anything now, with just his instinct, he raised his sword in front of himself and at the same time, retracting his left hand and drew a dark colored card on his chest.

The Centaur Knight's figure instantly disappeared and reappeared in front of Rhode. Everything took less than a second, and for Rhode, this was the fastest he could achieve just by relying on his instinct.

And at this moment, the golden arrow pierced through the Centaur Knight's image and smashed into the Crimson Blade.

"!!!"

Rhode felt his body tremble as if an invisible pair of gigantic hands were tearing his body and soul apart. Everything turned white. His teeth collided with the drastic impact and spread to his chest. At one point in time, he even thought that he was already dead. As much as he tried to, he couldn't feel anything at all. All he could do was to hold that sword in front of him with his dear life. Then he blacked out.

After an unknown period of time, Rhode began to rouse.

His obscured, and blurred vision gradually became clearer and Rhode finally saw the ceiling of the Mystery Hall once again. He noticed that the previously mystical and beautiful room had turned into a pile of debris. Those mysterious runes carved on the walls faded and appeared as broken tiles.

What happened?

Rhode shook his head and tried to stand up. He groaned and crumbled back down. The pain in his chest didn't allow him to move recklessly. Rhode guessed that he had many broken ribs.

That wasn't all; he realized that his right hand was twisted at a weird angle. His clothes were torn and ragged. From the tips of his fingers to his elbows, all his skin had been separated, revealing his flesh and blood. When faced with such an overwhelming force, this could even be considered normal.

When Rhode turned his head to survey his surroundings, he was shocked that he wasn't lying on the ground, but instead, he was pinned to the wall. This caused Rhode to gulp in fear. He knew that the impact had flung him to the wall, but if it weren't for his mixed race that strengthened his physique, he'd undoubtedly be turned into a bloody mess on the wall. After all, Rhode didn't have the confidence to survive after getting run over by a huge truck.

Corpses were strewn everywhere. No mercenaries survived. Anne was on the other end of the room. Her undulating chest meant the maiden was still alive, but just passed out. Celia and the Centaur Knight had disappeared long ago, which was pretty reasonable since the summoner lost consciousness, the summoned beings would also vanish.

What in the world happened?

Rhode started clearing his mind. He glanced at his waist, and to his relief, he discovered that his spatial bag was still safely attached. There weren't any mercenaries left. Rhode frowned as he couldn't understand what had just happened. He did consider the possibilities that this was the doings of some mercenaries. Although they didn't possess such might, with the help of magical equipment, they pull off something like this. But considering their capabilities, the probability of that happening was just too low. Besides, if the enemy could easily overpower his sword, then it would mean that he had somehow survived. But now, there was nothing. He didn't detect any surviving mercenaries, and he wasn't taken captive or locked up, which proved this possibility didn't exist.

So perhaps they had triggered some hidden traps?

Rhode shook his head and felt like this guess was also illogical. He was very familiar with this place and knew that there were no traps. And on the other hand, if there really were any traps, then it would be to protect the Sphere of Mystery from being taken. Nothing happened when he kept it, but only activated later? If it weren't for the Diamond Mercenary Group, they would've already left. Could it be that they assumed that people would stay here just to get hit by the trap? Was this trap naturally stupid?

One of the only reasons that Rhode accepted was the possibility that someone else stalked them and seized the chance to murder him. This was the only logical guess because Rhode had always been alert all the way and did not detect anyone following. If the other party could hide from his detection, it means that they were stronger than him. For a stronger being failing to kill him during an ambush, Rhode was considered lucky.

However, the results in front of his eyes didn't support his thoughts. If the other party harbored such thoughts, then he should already be dead by now. If the enemy immediately left afterward, then perhaps the least he could do was to check if his target was dead...

Besides, for some reason, Rhode felt that the attacker didn't have the intention to kill himself.

Then what did this mean?

Rhode mused for a while and shook his head, deciding to put this thought on hold for now. There was no point thinking about it anymore. And at this moment, he heard a groan. Anne, who was slightly disheveled, slowly stood up.

"Argh... what exactly happened here..." She shook her head and stumbled for a little before glancing at the wounded man at the end of the room."Ah! Leader!!"

Anne, who recovered from her daze quickly discovered that it was Rhode. She leaped towards Rhode's side with an extremely shocked expression.

"Are you okay?!" Anne asked in a panic.

Ever since she arrived at Starlight Mercenary Group, she had never seen Rhode injured before. This scene brought a considerable shock to the maiden. However, she quickly raised her shield and guarded Rhode's front, silently observing the surroundings.

"There isn't anyone around. I think we're safe."

Rhode stopped Anne and glanced at the surroundings again. There was really nothing.

As time passed, the severe wounds recovered quickly, and soon enough, he could move again. While stumbling slightly, Rhode eventually made his way to the middle of the hall. After thinking for a while, he shook his head. He still couldn't understand what exactly happened. But at least he was positive that they were safe at the moment.

"Let's go, Anne. Don't forget the loot while heading back."

After a moment, both of them disappeared from the Hall of Mystery. The place returned to its tranquil state, albeit slightly morbid with the dozens of corpses on the ground.

And suddenly, a bright light shone out from nowhere.

"I still don't get it, Miss. Why did you suddenly attack him?"

The old man appeared out of nowhere while stroking his long white beard and asked curiously.

"Because I had the sudden urge to."

Accompanied by a laughter, a lady also appeared soon after. She avoided the corpses delicately, as if dancing. On her face, she had a gentle and joyful smile.

"True beauty is defined by how well they can survive in any circumstances. Although fragile, a glass-like artwork deserves mercy, but they usually lack admirable qualities. To answer your question, it was because I suddenly had the urge to see how the flower-like gem could live up to the test."

"Haa..."

Facing the maiden's response, the old man sighed and held his right hand to his forehead.

"So you used your 'Holy Arrow' on him? Miss, not that I want to nag, but if it was any other normal human being, they would have already been in pieces... If this man also... what do you intend to do?"

"I'm someone who knows what's important, Teacher."

The lady laughed cheekily and gracefully twisted her body before jumping to the center of the Mystery Hall.

"If he can't pass my test, then that's too bad. Although it is a pity for me to lose a precious collection... but the brilliance that bloomed right at the moment when I lost that precious object... would be kept forever in my memory... not a bad trade, isn't it, Teacher?"

"..."

The old man had nothing else to say. He grabbed his wooden staff and looked to the center of the Mystery Hall.

"But is this fine? To let them have the Sphere of Mystery?"

"What's there not to be fine? Those who strive for success are bound to be rewarded."

The lady stopped moving and observed the corpses on the floor. She frowned slightly and revealed a slight sense of disapproval.

"But it's another matter for failures. To think the remunerations and rewards blinded them, and to steal such a precious Sphere of Mystery to the Country of Light, was enough to punish them for treason. But since Mr. Rhode had carried out the punishment on my behalf, then I have nothing to complain."

The lady hummed a light tune. Later, silver, holy flames immediately erupted from under her feet. In an instant, the whole Mystery Hall transformed into a burning sea. When the fire disappeared, there nothing left.