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350 Rhode’s Accomplice

 "And the winner is... Starlight!"

The president of the Mercenary Association lifted both of his hands high, grandly announcing the winner of the competition. During such an occasion, normally, the crowd would be cheering wildly for the winner. However, the entire arena was in utter chaos - Waltz's monstrous appearance was naturally their primary concern, and the two beautiful women that appeared beside Rhode were as equally eye-catching. Although the Spirit Bird and Flame Killer attracted most of their attention in the beginning, their presence wasn't all too surprising since summoning spells weren't rare on this continent. Therefore, when Rhode summoned a few odd creatures, it was still within their expectations.

But... It was a whole new ball game to summon a humanlike individual. These humanoid creatures held strong powers and intelligence that weren't inferior to humans. Unlike the spirits that acted largely on instinct, these creatures were naturally harder to summon and would consume a considerable portion of energy where only the top summoning masters were able to afford.

Furthermore, as everyone knew, the summoning spells were cast using one's resonance of strength to summon beings from another plane of existence. However, at this moment, the two women standing beside Rhode didn't seem to originate from another world! For an angel like Celia to appear in this place... it raised an uproar in the entire arena!

Almost everyone knew that an Archangel governed the country; thus, the term 'angel' was a sensitive word. Not only the normal civilians were left utterly speechless, but even the company of battle angels guarding the arena were also ineffably stunned by the fact that a battle angel could become a human's summoned creature.

Furthermore, the spectators were doubly surprised when the company of battle angels flew down and surrounded the Liberty Wings Guild after the Mercenary Association's speech. The angels immediately demanded the rest of the guild members to drop their weapons and surrender, causing further unrest within the spectators. Thus, what was supposed to be a joyous occasion, turned into this awful, chaotic hodgepodge.

Fortunately, the closing ceremony would only be held two days later after the group battles, and side-events concluded. Therefore, this disturbance didn't affect Starlight much. And as a matter of fact, Rhode wasn't concerned by the commotion at all. After getting rid of Waltz, Rhode stepped down from the arena and beckoned the rest to follow him to the exit. Unlike many others, Rhode's expression was as calm as ever; it was as though winning the tournament was something insignificant.

Indeed, there was a reason for Rhode not to celebrate.

Currently, he was troubled by Anne's condition, and he didn't know how to tell her the truth when she woke from her coma. Not only would the weakness effect from the Awakening Potion harm Anne's body, but it would also even reduce her fighting prowess drastically. Moreover, her she might end up even worse than Lapis after the expulsion of the debuff - and that would be a real tragedy.

Right now, Rhode's only hope was to entrust it to Lydia. Fortunately, the Royal Highness had personally guaranteed to grant a wish for the winner. As long as Anne requested Lydia's assistance, she would be able to get rid of the debuff. It was not a difficult task for an Archangel. Rhode could only hope that Lydia would also be able to remove the residual effects of the debuff with her power.

Once they exited the arena, Rhode swept his eyes over the group. Then, as if reminded of something, his eyes lit up, and he turned his head to Lize.

"Go and gather with the rest before returning to our encampment. There may be unrest within Golden City after this tournament, so make sure they stay alert... Lize, I want to know how many members are left in our mercenary group. I'll need you to inform Shauna and Kavos to gather these stats. I will analyze it when I get back."

"Okay, Mr. Rhode."

Lize nodded in acknowledgment, "What about you, Mr. Rhode?" she asked out of curiosity.

"I have something important to attend to."

Rhode pulled down his hood and nodded towards the rest of his group before quietly vanishing into the crowded street.

After making his way out, Rhode arrived at a secluded alley. Old Walker leaned on a wall, rubbing his hands in glee, waiting for Rhode's arrival. From the old man's flushed expression, it was evident that he enjoyed the matchup. Indeed, when Rhode appeared in his view, Old Walker immediately waved his arm.

"Yo, Leader. Well done. Oh Holy Soul, I thought I was dreaming... Are we really the champion of individual matches?"

"That's right." Rhode nodded.

Old Walker punched his fist into his other palm and burst out in laughter.

"Hahaha, great...! That's excellent! I've never thought this day will come. Now those bastards in Paphield can shut their traps! Hahaha, I can't wait to see how will those bastards kneel down and welcome us back!"

After a moment, Old Walker suddenly sighed and said, "But... Kid, even though we've won but your methods were kind of... unpopular."

"Oh?" Rhode pricked his brows, "Is it that bad?"

"Of course it was." Old Walker frowned as he spread his arms out in a helpless manner. He should've been 100% excited about the victory, but his mood dampened instead.

Throughout the entire tournament, the spectators beside Old Walker had been criticizing Rhode and Starlight which made him annoyed. However, he could see that after the tournament, many people eventually had the same sentiments... Old Walker didn't take these people seriously as he didn't think that Rhode's method was wrong, but after hearing incessant complaints about his mercenary group, even he couldn't tolerate it.

Furthermore, he understood that having a negative reputation could impact Starlight in the long run. No matter if it was a mercenary group or guild, reputation was extremely important. Although Rhode emerged victoriously, the spurns from others led Old Walker to think that this wasn't the right method after all.

However, Rhode waved his hands, assuring him that it was nothing.

"Don't worry; it won't last long."

"Eh? Kid, you..."

Old Walker raised his brow and prepared to retort, however, he quickly thought of something which surprised himself.

"Kid, could it be that you have a good idea?"

"Of course, why do you think I called you here for?"

Rhode sneered at Old Walker's doubt.

"How are your men doing?"

"Good. I've been secretly observing them. These people are loyal, and they don't ask redundant questions when they are given their missions. Heh heh, you don't have to worry at all, Kid. These men were handpicked by me, so if there are any problems with them, you can look for me directly!"

"Are they aware who they are working for?"

"Most of them didn't care, but some seems to have guessed it..."

"Good. Bring those trustworthy ones to me after the mission ends."

Then Rhode beckoned Old Walker to come closer with a soft tone, "I know what those people will say after our victory. But don't worry, they have nothing to fear. I need you to act accordingly like what you did, and continue with the next mission..."

Rhode's voice became softer as he continued to whisper something to Old Walker.

After several minutes, Old Walker had an odd expression on his face. It was an expression mixed with shock, delight, then astonishment, and even with some fear. After nearly half an hour, Rhode moved a few steps back before speaking in his normal voice.

"Do you understand everything?"

"Ah, uh... I understand."

From the moment Rhode started whispering until now, Old Walker stared at Rhode as if he was a monster and trembled before wiping off the beads of sweat on his face. He already knew that Rhode wasn't a saint, but after hearing his plan, Old Walker realized that this man was a hundred times eviler than he thought!!

"Is... Is this really fine?"

"It will mostly be fine and I'll leave the details for you guys to decide. However, remember to avoid sounding too closed up as it will not be beneficial for us. Also, remember to swap all the members to avoid detection - In other words, do your best and go with the flow."

"Okay..."

Old Walker nodded in a daze. He couldn't figure out what kind of brains this young man had. In the end, Old Walker stopped probing and let out a long sigh.

Nobles are indeed ruthless people.

Old Walker shook his head and departed listlessly.