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222 Lapis’s Reques

 It was precisely because of this reason, Rhode decided to exclude Marlene, Lize, and Anne when he announced the participants of this mission. Although the three of them could increase the group's combat effectiveness, it would be difficult for Rhode to kill Ophenians that way. The girls were extremely clever, so they might notice that something was off. In order to prevent that kind of thing from happening, Rhode decided to exclude them from this mission. Of course, he was not going to tell them the truth; he told them that they needed to train more for the Midsummer Festival. Hearing Rhode's excuse, Marlene and the others did not feel suspicious and agreed. Of course, Randolf and Joey also did not participate in this mission for the same reason. To the contrary, he brought along Shauna, Kavos, and their subordinates. This time, he still could not bring Kavos's team because it might give them the misconception that their status had been elevated. That was why Rhode decided to split Shauna's team into two and brought half of them to the Unicorn Peak in order to balance the forces. In the Blackrock Depth, Kavos's team had gradually merged into the mercenary group, but it was still not enough. If he could not maintain the pressure, soon they would go back to their former state and all of his hard work would be in vain. The trip to the Blackrock Depth would also be a waste.

However, not everything went as Rhode has planned.

Because this time, Lapis suddenly looked for him and asked him to bring her to the Unicorn Peak.

Rhode had almost forgotten that Lapis was an alchemist. Her job was somewhat similar to an archeologist to some extent. But he did not understand why did she chose to go to Unicon Peak. If she wanted to go to ancient ruins, why didn't she say anything when they went to the Black Pine Ruins and Blackrock Depth?

However, Lapis didn't answer Rhode's question. She only said that she wanted to find something in the Unicorn Peak and that it would be helpful for her alchemy. As for the thing that she was looking for, she refused to say what it was. It was very rare to see this girl, who had always been afraid to fight, this determined. Although Rhode's question had troubled her, she still stayed resolute and refused to disclose the specific content.

This made Rhode feel somewhat curious. He knew that it was not strange for people to have their own secrets, but if Lapis acted like this, it was definitely something out of the ordinary. Perhaps, it could be her personal quest. If that was so, then it would not be a bad thing to let her come along. Lapis definitely placed second to last last in the mercenary group-even the Ophenian scholars seemed to be stronger than her. If something happened, he could use Lapis as an excuse to give up on those fellows and let them face the danger alone. After all, to mercenaries, their own comrades were also very important, right?

Even if something actually happened to those pitiful Ophenians, no one would be able to blame him.

From this point of view, it could be seen that Lapis was indeed a good excuse.

That's why Rhode decided to agree to her request. This time, the participants of the mission were Gillian, Lapis, Shauna's team, and Kavos's team. All of them would be led by Rhode. As for the stronghold's safety, Rhode left it in Marlene's care.

These few days, Gillian had also gotten friendly with the group. She was outgoing, beautiful, and welcomed by everyone. Even though as a Fire Elemental Lord, Gillian was quite proud, she actually got along well with the other mercenaries. In just a few days, Gillian's reputation almost exceeded Anne's, Marlene's, Lize's, and the other old members'.

The only thing that differed her from the other three was that she never actually fought together with them and as a mercenary, although they appreciated her beauty, they did not really think of her as a comrade. They would only acknowledge her as a comrade when she fought alongside them.

And this mission was the best opportunity for Gillian to get acknowledged by them.

Rhode's actions were fast. On the third day, the fully armed mercenaries were ready to walk toward the city gate. Not long after, they finally met the Ophenian scholars. Although the sun had just rose, the Ophenians already came prepared and seemed ready to set out. Soon, the Ophenian elder quickly greeted them.

"You finally came, Mr. Rhode."

"I hope I was not late."

Rhode looked up at the sky. He nodded and greeted back the elder. The elder quickly nodded back, then shifted his sight toward Gillian who stood beside him and was surprised. Clearly, no matter who saw Gillian, they were all attracted to her. However, the elder did not lose his composure because of this. He only looked at Gillian's ears and tail for a moment.

"Then, shall we go now?"

"Yes, of course." Rhode made a hand gesture. "Please rest assured, we will protect all of you."

"Hey, did you see it?"

When Rhode was talking to the elder, the other scholars were curiously gossiping and busily whispering from behind.

"What's with that girl? Don't you think she's a half-beast?"

"It doesn't seem so... According to the record, aren't half-beasts supposed to be just like a human? It was said that they only transform when they are stimulated by something."

"But how do you explain her ears and tail?"

"Perhaps they're just accessories? I've heard that people from some remote places practice such weird behavior..."

"But it looks real."

"Ehem! Enough talking."

When everyone was busy coming up with their own theories, a person walked forward. He stopped and quietly warned them.

"Don't forget; they are the people who will protect us. According to information from the Grandmaster, this mercenary group is very strong. We have to rely on them to complete the mission. Don't cause any troubles, understand? Don't interfere with their personal affairs and just do the things you're supposed to do."

Hearing his words, the other scholars quickly shut up. After that, they followed the mercenaries and walked out from the city.

"Huft..."

Lapis finally felt relieved when they left the city. She uneasily looked around, but she was only able to see crowds. She should be safe here... Thinking of it, she could not help but feel relieved. She relaxed her fingers and looked up toward Rhode.

If leader knew the truth, would he be mad at me? He is such a serious person; if he knew that I was hiding something from him...

"Lapis?"

"Ah!"

Gillian suddenly appeared behind Lapis and scared her off. She quickly pulled her cloak to cover her face. After that, she took a few steps back, anxiously looking at Gillian.

"Miss, Miss Gillian! What's the matter?"

"Nothing, it's just that you seem to be distracted, so I'm curious."

Hearing Lapis's question, Gillian playfully smiled. She came closer and gazed at her. She did not know why, when looking at Gillian she could not help but feel dizzy as if she were seeing a bottomless whirlpool that would devour her completely.

"Lapis, do you have anything in mind? Just tell me; I promise I won't tell anyone."

"I... I'm only worried that..."

Hearing Gillian's enchanting voice, Lapis answered with hesitation. However, she only said that when she suddenly regained her senses. She quickly backed down while pulling down her cloak.

"I, I, I'm sorry, Sister Gillian. It's nothing; I'm just a little bit nervous... I, I'll leave first."

After saying that, Lapis did not wait until Gillian replied and quickly went back to the crowd. Gillian looked at her as she disappeared. After that, she narrowed her eyes, and looking at the distant forest, she quickly went back to Rhode's side and smiled.

"Master?"

"Yes? What's the matter, Gillian?"

"What do you plan to do with that elf?" Gillian casually asked. As for her sudden inquiry, Rhode did not seem to be surprised by it; it was clear that he had long been aware of this matter.

"It depends on her." Rhode said while looking at the road ahead. "I believe this will be a good opportunity."

He closed his eyes. "No matter what you see, just pretend you didn't. Understand?"

"Of course, Master, I understand." Gillian laughed and no longer said anything.

At this moment, in the distant forest, a man wearing camouflage cloak slowly stood up, carefully observing the mercenaries in front of him through the gaps between leaves. He reached out his hand, and soon a bird flew from the air and sat on it.

Then a hoarse voice sounded.

"Inform everyone that the Oriole has appeared."