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245 Awakening 5

 Dark clouds roamed the skies.

Heavy thunderstorms roared.

A human figure stood up in a shrub in the distance, carefully staring at the pitch-black cave.

"There are no signs of mercenaries," he said.

Suddenly, another man leapt down from the tree branch above. The rain was pouring. Both of them were naked and their beards and hair had grown wantonly over their faces.

"From the situations nearby, it seems like they didn't stay for long and have entered the historical remains? How ignorantly daring of those mercenaries." One of the man said in disdain while the other man let out a snort. Then, the latter went silent for a moments. Both of them stared silently at the pitch-black cave. Other than the sound of rain, there was nothing else.

"What should we do next? Return and report this to Elder?"

"Go ahead."

The other man seemed to have different ideas. His eyes were filled with burning determination which the rain wasn't able to extinguish. He gritted his teeth and both his clenched fists were slightly shaking.

"I will bring the rest of us in to check on the situation. You go report to Elder and bring more support will do."

Hearing his answer, the other Druid revealed an uncertain expression.

"But this wasn't what Elder wanted. Besides, you have previously..."

"I know what I'm doing."

Although the man's voice was calm without any sense of violence, the Druid, who heard his answer, couldn't help but shut his mouth. From the words of his companion, he felt as if this man was a cold, fearsome beast, revealing his teeth and ready to destroy everything.

Everything returned to the heavy sound of rain.

But, at this moment, it was another scene in the historical remains.

The sound of bonfire echoed in the spacious area. Kavos sat by the flames worriedly, staring into space with a cup of alcohol in hand. The mercenaries gathered restlessly and nobody had the mood to start a conversation. The disappearance of Rhode was a huge blow to them, especially at the end when many of them witnessed the endless abyss. They couldn't imagine how anyone could survive the fall.

However, the only thing these mercenaries could do now was to wait in confidence. On the other side, the battle angel maiden sat quietly on the statue erected on the edge of the tall platform. No matter what, Celia was the real deal. Moreover, she had a close relationship with Rhode and most mercenaries knew that. That was why Celia was able to console them while they panicked at the disappearance of their dear leader. No matter what, an angel wouldn't lie like a demon, not to mention that Rhode was her master. Since Celia said that Rhode wasn't dead and was still alive and proper, the only thing the mercenaries could do was to believe in her and wait patiently.

Although they didn't spend much time together, the mercenaries' attitude and feelings toward Rhode had major changes. To them, Rhode was a great mercenary leader who was rare to come by. He was brave, kind, generous, smart, and decisive. Anyone would wish to work for him and not only that, but Rhode had also led them in battles, which made him earn their respects.

As for the Ophenians, they found a random excuse that allowed them to rest on the tall platform after the discussions with Shauna and Kavos. After all, ever since entering the historical remains, everyone was rushing for time and Rhode's group exerted even more energy as they had engaged in battles. On the contrary, the Ophenian researchers expended less energy. However, after such a long period of time, they were eventually exhausted and decided to rest for the night on the tall platform.

Although it was easy persuading the Ophenians, the worries deep within Kavos' heart grew as he didn't know what to do next. What if Rhode didn't return? What would happen to the Starlight Mercenary Group? Kavos was afraid to face the truth. He could imagine the faces of Marlene and the rest when they heard this news.

But... Was Rhode really coming back? Where were they now?

Clink!

A clash of steel sounded.

Rhode drew his sword and retreated, once again drawing some distance between the Runes Guard.

The Runes Guard laid its hands down and its ten fingers extended to form long runes lines that hung above the ground. Rhode kept his guard as he knew that those flowy lines could turn into long whips through the previous battle, which could be a real trouble to deal with.

To be frank, the Runes Guard wasn't too powerful. If this were Rhode back in his days, he would have long defeated it.

However, it was a pity that half of Rhode's powers were sealed and he was unable to summon spirits. The only help he had was from Gillian, who was watching the fight from the sidelines with no intentions to help. Although Rhode's Dark Brandish technique was powerful, the Runes Guard didn't any lethal weaknesses. Therefore, after exchanging several blows, there was no winner yet.

"Tch... troublesome."

Rhode let out a snort as he faced this translucent, bandaged mummy. He tightened his grip on his sword hilt while carefully sizing up this enemy. He finally understood its strength. But it wasn't easy to search for a way to defeat it. Although his Starfall Swordsmanship was formidable, the long charging time would make it too easy for the Rune Guard to dodge. As for the Moon Shadow Swordsmanship, even though this initial sword skill could damage the Runes Guard, it wouldn't be effective.

Rhode had no choice but find an opening.

Lapis bit her lips and watched worriedly from the side. Gillian watched her master and the enemy fight as if no life and death was involved. She excitingly admired this battle and constantly cheered for Rhode.

"That's the way, Master. Go for it!

"Ah, just a little more. That was a pity, Master! Go and give him death!

"M-Miss Gillian..."

Gillian's actions were probably over exaggerating to which even Lapis couldn't stand.

"L-Leader is trying his best to fight. It's not too nice of you to say..."

"What's the matter? Master asked for it anyway."

Gillian obviously didn't take her words seriously. She continued to swing her tail and revealed a rejoiceful smile. However, after seeing Lapis' expression, Gillian smiled, narrowed her eyes, and lifted a finger to her lips.

"Don't worry, Lapis. Master will definitely win. Besides... Isn't that what you hoped for?"

"Eh?"

Lapis curiously lifted her head and looked at Gillian. However, before she could reply, Gillian interrupted her.

"I heard it clearly when the protector spoke just now...'Gain the recognition of the heir.' Miss Lapis... wasn't that your wish?"

"... I... I..."

Lapis' expression changed and lowered her head, not knowing how to answer. But it seemed that Gillian was unconcerned.

"Don't worry, Miss Lapis. Master will be fine. Since you have chosen him, shouldn't you trust him too?"

"Trust him..."

Lapis lifted her head again and devoted her focus at Rhode's moving figure as her eyes revealed a complicated feeling.

"Of course I... trust Leader..." Lapis replied softly.