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326 The Match against Purple Lily

 The bustling crowd filled the arena.

Barter leaned against the chair while crossing both hands. He closed his eyes as he heard the noise that echoed beside him. His subordinates were sitting around, drinking, and laughing. It looked like they didn't even put this sacred competition in their eyes. Seeing his subordinates' behavior, Barter also didn't plan on stopping them. He only closed his eyes, waiting for the next battle.

Although Barter was a crude person, as a veteran mercenary that had experienced life and death many times, he had never underestimated his opponents. Even if the audience was cheering on them, saying that Starlight only won because of luck, Barter still couldn't fully agree with this statement. Indeed, the arguments that circulated in those taverns seemed convincing, but he believed his instinct more. When he met Rhode the first time, he felt a strange and dangerous aura around him. Rhode was like a lofty, proud, and powerful wolf lurking in the dark, waiting to unleash a fatal blow on careless prey. That kind of person definitely didn't win just by relying on luck.

Let me have a taste of your strength.

The horn sounded. Barter opened his eyes and stood up.

"Alright guys, keep your spirit up! This is Purple Lily's first battle; if those b*stards eliminate us, I shall pound you guys into minced meat! Understood?"

"Yes, Boss!!"

Hearing Barter's words, the others immediately raised their hands and replied loudly. From their actions, it was really hard to imagine that they were the elites from one of the strongest mercenary groups. Judging from their performance, they looked more like a group of bandits who were going to be mobilized for robbery.

Only the ugly girl who quietly stood behind Barter didn't answer him. She took a white mask and put it on her face. After organizing the daggers and knives on her waist, she followed Barter quietly like a shadow and left the lounge.

Barter originally thought that this battle would be a very difficult and decisive battle.

At least, he thought so.

But when he walked out to the ring and saw the lineup, he immediately frowned.

Rhode, Anne, Lize, Joey, Lapis, and Randolf who were standing before him. Even though they didn't express it, but almost everyone could discern the problems.

Gillian and Marlene weren't there.

What happened?

Barter frowned. Everyone knew just how important those two mages were in this competition. If it wasn't because of Marlene and Gillian, then Starlight would have been eliminated from the start. That's why when they were training, he warned his subordinates to be careful of those two girls. But now, they actually weren't participating? What happened?

Are the two of them exhausted because of the first battle?

Barter shook his head. This statement wasn't too convincing. He watched their battle against Sky Sword, they looked as if they had defeated those elites easily. Especially Carter-he seemed to have been fooled by that wolf-eared girl and got played around like a puppet. He was defeated so easily, there was not even any chance for him to struggle.

So what's going on here?

At this moment, not only Barter, but the audiences also noticed the oddity. Various loud noises immediately enveloped the entire arena. Many of these people had not been able to watch the first battle. They only heard the story of Gillian and Marlene from their friends. They also wanted to witness their magnificent magic battle with their own eyes.

Reality was indeed cruel. Gillian and Marlene's absence had made them felt disappointed. It was as if the audience was expecting famous stars at the concert, but the ones who appeared were third-rate stars.

Such a disappointment wasn't a very good experience for them.

Of course, Rhode noticed their dissatisfaction, but he couldn't do anything about it. He also didn't want this to happen, but the incident Marlene encountered yesterday had destroyed his plan. Although they had arrived safely yesterday, Marlene was still unable to unleash her power stably. In addition, she just recovered, so it was not a good thing to force her to fight.

As for Gillian, she didn't come because she was guarding that pair of scums. The truth, when he had castrated that b*stard, he had already figured out his identity. That person couldn't be easily provoked, but what made him surprised was that he actually dared to harm Marlene.

It seems that they can't wait anymore.

Thinking until here, Rhode finally realized why Marlene's personality was different from hers in the game. Carefully thinking about it, if the same incident happened and no one saved her, then Marlene would have fallen into their trap and it would be naturally unacceptable for her. So it would not seem strange if she set a mercenary group with only female members and discriminated against men.

But if so, then the potion should have controlled Marlene's body and soul. How did she escape from that? There's no way that there would be another person like him who was able to get the antidote from a high-level demon, right.

Well, he was only curious about it.

Although Rhode made them drink a potion made by Lapis to put them asleep until tomorrow, he still told Gillian to guard them for insurance. Since they were the biggest culprit of this incident, as long as they were in his hand, everything would be alright. However, if they escaped, it was going to be a big problem.

Between conspiracies and competition, Rhode naturally knew which one was more important.

Now, he couldn't help but face the current awkward situation.

Even though Rhode's main goal was the Liberty Wings, but it didn't mean that he didn't put Purple Lily in his eye. Barter's 'Executioner's Greatsword' was very powerful and couldn't be blocked by just anyone. He couldn't even guarantee that he could block it in short range battles because his swordsmanship style wasn't fit for melee attacks. In addition, his subordinates, the 'Snow Woman', Paris and the 'Storm', and Hayman weren't easy to deal with either. Without Gillian and Marlene, this battle was basically a gamble for him... and that was naturally not something that he liked.

Frankly, even Lize and Anne couldn't concentrate on today's battle. Yesterday, Rhode came back really late, and Gillian helped him hide some part of the truth. Everyone only knew that someone wanted to harm Marlene and Rhode had saved her. As for the details, they weren't clear about it. Even so, they still couldn't let this matter go. Lize was Marlene's childhood friend and best friend, after all. They both had a good relationship; naturally, she was really worried about Marlene. Although Anne only knew Marlene for a while, the relationship between them was also good. When she heard that someone wanted to harm Marlene, she was really furious and even wanted to pound the other party into minced meat. Lapis also felt uneasy and didn't know what to do. Everyone felt a bit panicky. Even if Rhode himself was calm, there was no way everyone could be like him. Moreover, the second battle was in the morning, so he also couldn't find the time to resolve this matter. He could only bite the bullet and act according to the flow.

Damn it.

Thinking until here, Rhode clenched his teeth. His head hurt thinking that he needed to abolish his original plan and come up with a new plan. Fortunately, it was not his first time encountering such a problem. There were many times where he had to work hard in order to organize and cooperate with the team in order to successfully conquer a dungeon. However, on d-day, there were always people who couldn't come because of various reasons, forcing him to modify the original plan. So for him, it was not much of a trouble,

As for the results, he could only see how it would turn out.

Right now, there was a lot of discussion on the sidelines. However, the horn sound echoed without any disturbance. As it sounded, the original noisy arena turned quiet. Then, the mercenary who served as the referee raised his hand and gestured both sides to start.

A burly, eye-catching figure walked onto the stage and everyone couldn't help but catch a glimpse of him.

Barter strode to the ring. He was holding a huge sword and smiled as he walked to the center. He waved his hand and his greatsword suddenly flew up to the sky, heavily landing in the ring. At the same time, Barter held the hilt with one hand and raised his head. With a proud smile, he looked at Rhode. Then, he turned his head to the referee.

"I want to change the rules... I want a brawl!"

Hearing his words, everyone was shocked, but soon, they understood Barter's intentions. Rhode also frowned; naturally, he knew what Barter was thinking about. Clearly, he must have investigated Starlight beforehand. From the time he walked to the ring, Rhode already figured out his intention. He wanted to gain the upper hand and win this competition.

Not to mention now, Marlene and Gillian weren't here. As for the others... Lize and Anne weren't even Barter's opponent, let alone the others.

Then...

Thinking until here, Rhode looked up.

It seems, this time, I can only rely on myself.

"Lize."

Rhode made a decision and quickly waved his hand. Hearing that Rhode had called her, Lize quickly walked to his side.

"I will go first; you guys should make some preparations... If I can't beat him, make sure to back me up. Until then, Anne, you shall go first and Lize will be the last. Also tell Randolf to prepare, understood?"

"Yes, Mr. Rhode, I understand."

Hearing until here, Lize was a little bit surprised, but in the end, she still nodded and turned around to inform others. Rhode glanced at everyone and nodded. Then, he walked to the ring while holding the sword.

"Hey, kid, you finally came."

Looking at Rhode's figure, Barter said while smiling wryly.

"I thought that you would back down. Since you look like someone who only knows how to plan petty tricks from behind."

"I'm still a man and a man cannot back down, after all."

Rhode's face sank; he knew that Barter was intentionally mocking his girly face. If this were Marlene and Gillian, he wouldn't have to face this pointless provocation. But since the opponent had seen through his weakness, then he had no choice but to give it a go.

"Great! A real man! I like it!"

Hearing Rhode's reply. Barter laughed and gave him a thumbs-up. This made Rhode, who tried to face him, seriously feel somewhat helpless. He had heard the rumor that the leader of Purple Lily was lacking common sense. But only when he faced him did Rhode finally realized that it wasn't as simple as lacking common sense.

"But I'm going to say this first: I won't give up victory."

Rhode bent his back and looked at him indifferently. He took out his sword, coldly glared at Barter, and said, "Me too. Let's see if you have the strength to defeat me!"

Facing Rhode's cold glare, Barter laughed loudly. Then, he flipped his right wrist and lifted up his heavy sword single-handedly

Not only that, he stretched out his left hand and pulled out part of the hilt behind his right hand.

Swoosh!!

The greatsword that was originally about tens of centimeters thick was divided into two and the ends of the sword were linked with chains. The sword looked dim and dull, like an old weapon that had been buried in the ground for long.

Executioner's Greatsword.

In the game, this greatsword was one of the favorite weapons of a Great Swordsman. It gave extremely high damage, but its requirement for strength was relatively low. Before the player's attributes were sufficient to use a highly demanding weapon like the Mountain Sword, the Executioner's Greatsword was a very good transition, not to mention its special ability to divide into two. That meant its damage would be doubled. Certainly, because most players in the game weren't able to use any martial arts techniques, it was impossible for their right and left hands to move flexibly, so when they used this weapon, at most it would just add a little bit more damage.

However, to the real owner of this sword, there wouldn't be any problem in using it.

The Executioner's Greatsword was able to increase physical attack by 30%, defense by 100%, and had one-third chance for a critical attack. All of these attributes were troublesome for him, but fortunately, he had the Composition Adornment.

Thinking until here, Rhode lowered his body as he locked sight with Barter. Barter could feel the fighting spirit that radiated from Rhode at this moment. He smiled as he held up his sword with both hands and crossed them in an X-shaped symbol.

The entire arena was silent.

It was not that the audiences had suddenly learned how to appreciate civilization, nor that they could finally comprehend what it meant to be friendly competition. It was just that they felt an unprecedented pressure and impact when they both arrived in the arena. The audience behind Rhode could feel the coldness in the air. The whistling wind blew like the north wind, cold enough to freeze everything. The audience behind Barter was also no better. If Rhode gave off a cold feeling, the feeling that Barter gave off was like being buried alive. Their bodies felt heavy and they felt they couldn't breathe, like a fish on the shore, unable to make a sound. It was as if there was a huge mountain above them. If they dared to make a noise, then that mountain would fell upon them and turn them into mincemeat.

"Holy, holy spirit..."

Seeing this scene, Kavos and Shauna couldn't help but hold their breaths. They were once mercenary group leaders, after all. Naturally, they were more knowledgeable. As they felt the chill in the air, they realized what was happening before them.

It was a Sword Intent!! It could only be used by Swordmaster who had reached the peak level!!

They looked at Rhode who was standing in the ring unbelievably. Although they knew that Rhode was amazing, but many times, his battles were often done by his summon spirits, so they had the impression that even though Rhode's swordsmanship was very strong, but it was stronger combined with his strange summoned spirits. They usually focused their attention on Rhode's summoned spirits and unconsciously neglected Rhode's swordsmanship. They only guessed that Rhode's swordsmanship level was close to the Swordmaster level or had just entered the Swordmaster level.

Until today, when Rhode unreservedly demonstrated his strength before them. They were surprised to find out this young man wasn't the kind of genius who would have a promising future, but one who already finished the road. To be able to show such a strong sword intent that broadly influenced everyone meant that Rhode's swordsmanship level was completely beyond their imagination. Even Hiller, the leader of Burning Blade mercenary group, had the strength of a Swordmaster, but he still hadn't reached the point where he could display a sword intent.

Thinking until here, both of them glanced at each other. They felt really lucky and happy to be able to serve under such a strong man. Surely their future would be unthinkable...

Very well!

Faced with such an overwhelming;y cold aura, Barter smiled. He was very happy because he could actually fight with such a powerful opponent. He only expressed his attitude, but he didn't expect that Rhode would respond to it unreservedly and he was really satisfied by it. In that case, he didn't have to communicate verbally with him anymore.

Barter narrowed his eyes. He looked at Rhode from the gap of the two swords before him with a serious expression.

Rhode could feel a strong aura coming from Barter, just like a mountain's. No matter how cold the wind that blew past him was, he still didn't move an inch. This showed just how strong Barter was.

At this moment, the referee who had long stood between their sword intents could no longer tolerate this strange feeling and escaped to the side. Then, he lifted his right hand and swung it down.

Swoosh!!

Rhode's figure instantly disappeared. Barter shouted while lifting both of his swords and thrusted them to the ground.

The ground shook, and an intense vibration echoed through the entire arena. The solid slate was also shattered under this powerful force. The cracks quickly spread around and the whistling air crossed over. The X-shaped sword aura aimed toward the sides of the ring, sharp cracks spurring along the way like waves and scattering in all directions.

At this moment, a red light flashed. Then, it turned into a flash of lightning, piercing towards Barter's eyes.