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405 Provocation or Declaration of War

 He really did it!

As Little Rosen collapsed to the ground, the surrounding mercenaries stared blankly before instantly exploding into enthusiastic cheers. Mercenaries usually wouldn't think about the long-term but would only care about a moment of excitement. Furthermore, it was Little Rosen who started the taunts and the mercenaries cheered at his failures and pathetic consequences. However, some senior mercenaries with relatively broad knowledge were worried about what the Rosen Family was capable of. Rosen only had one son all his life, and he didn't have any grandchildren. This blow by Rhode could be said to have instantly ended their lineage. To a family, this meant a never-ending vengeance and the senior mercenaries could imagine the reactions of the Southerners once they heard this piece of news.

But... What was the point in all that now? The dead couldn't be revived. Now that things had ended this way, what was the point of regret? Besides... There were two powerful helpers in Starlight, so there was no need to worry at all, right?

After defeating Little Rosen, Rhode swept his glance towards the crowd and stared callously at a man dressed in a black cloak from head to toe who was hidden in the crowd. Sensing Rhode's gaze, the man shuddered and quickly fled.

It seems that my intentions have been conveyed.

After the man in black cloak escaped, Rhode withdrew his gaze and beckoned for the mercenaries to carry those corpses to the Security Department and also report this matter to them. Rhode wasn't worried that this matter would blow up even though the Rosen Family was influential in the South. Once this news spread, the Southerners would definitely be enraged, but could they do anything about it? Although the legal system in the Dragon Soul Continent wasn't as rigorous as the ones on Earth, it still provided certain protections for legitimate rights of various regular organizations. Rhode had the legal rights to conduct self-defense and counterattack in a case where an idiot like Little Rosen injured Rhode's men for no apparent or logical reason. In this aspect, Rhode wasn't in the wrong at all. With the abundance of human testimonies and material pieces of evidence available, everyone could confirm that Little Rosen and his gang were the ones who started the fight first. Rhode would only need to send a few men to clarify the situation with the Security Department and toss them the corpses.

Of course, Rhode knew that the death of Little Rosen would definitely incite the anger of the Southerners. However, he still did it-on purpose.

The South had been the base camp for the Reformist Party, and whenever their higher-ups pressured Golden City, they were best at inciting the masses to apply pressure on the government. This had become a common occurrence for them in order to reach their goals. On the other hand, Rhode was clear that once the news of 'Little Rosen murdered' spread to the South, the civilians would definitely blow their tops and seek revenge for the Rosens. That was the typical behavior because standpoint decided everything for humans. Even if Rhode's actions were reasonable and lawful, the civilians, blinded by hate and prejudice, would treat everything that he did as evil, and every single strand of hair from his head to toe would scream 'sins'. This was why they wouldn't accept Rhode's reasons for self-defense and counterattack but would only treat them as a despicable and shameless trick by the young man. The young man purposely murdered Rosen because he knew this would force Little Rosen to avenge his father in order to uphold his honor. With this, the young man used this opportunity to kill Little Rosen. The levels of his shamelessness made one's hair stand in anger. This bastard that's worse than a beast must be killed. You see, that bastard even plotted this scheme to defend himself.

If this were in the past, the Reformist Party definitely wouldn't mind exploiting the anger of the civilians to make things worse. But this time, they didn't dare to do so.

The reason was fairly simple because the situation had reached the juncture of life and death for the Southern Reformist Party.

Monarch Lydia had reached her last phase in annihilating the Reformist Party. Using war as an analogy, the Reformist Party was entirely trapped in the castle. If they kept themselves in and didn't take any actions, they might survive a few more days and perhaps the Country of Light Parliament's military assistance would come to save their worthless lives. However, if they got out of the castle and counterattacked now, only death awaited them.

After the Midsummer Festival, along with the death of Rosen and the disbandment of Liberty Wings Guild, the Southern Reformist Party had taken a huge toll. However, they were slightly fortunate because that stopped Monarch Lydia from temporarily having any reasons to deal with them so the Reformist Party could hide in their shells and regain their forces for the time being.

But now, Rhode gave an aggressive push to their backs. Since the Reformist Party had been claiming themselves as representatives of the civilians' interests, they definitely needed to give an answer and put up a tough stance while facing the enraged Southerners. If they continued to hide in their turtle shells, they would lose their civilians' support, which they relied heavily on, and death would also be one step closer.

But if the Reformist Party responded to the civilians' concerns and showed an unyielding stance, they could even incite conflicts between the regions. As a result, the determined Monarch Lydia would definitely suppress this bunch of people in the shortest period of time. By then, the Reformist Party's foundation would be uprooted and it would only be a matter of time before they got wiped out.

It wasn't true that Rhode didn't have any idea why Little Rosen would come to provoke him in his turf. Ever since he heard from Shauna that some people from the South and Country of Light visited, he had vaguely figured out their intentions. It was obvious that those people came scouting for intelligence on the strength of Starlight and Little Rosen's provocation must've been planned much earlier on. Although Rhode didn't know the backgrounds of the Bull warrior and Mage, it seemed like the opposition spent large efforts in gathering them. They must have observed Starlight's matchups in the Midsummer Festival and gotten two pretty decent helpers. Although they were unable to withstand a single blow from Canary and Bubble, Rhode knew that they were at least in the middle-level Master stage and were slightly lacking compared to Barter and almost similar to Mobis. According to the performances that Rhode and the others displayed at the Midsummer Festival, although these few people wouldn't be powerful enough to defeat everyone in the stronghold, they were still sufficient to probe the strength of members in the guild.

The plan seemed to go smoothly for them, except for them not expecting the presences of Canary and Little Bubble Gum. After all, it was only logical to not believe that these two teenage ladies were in the Legendary stage and even much more powerful than that.

But, after this lesson, those guys should understand how powerful they truly were now.

"... A bunch of crap."

Mini Bubble Gum dismissively snorted as she stared at the mercenaries lifted the corpses away. She turned towards Rhode, Lilia, and the other emissaries and revealed a dissatisfied frown.

"Why are these people here again?"

"Did they look for you before?"

Rhode curiously asked and Mini Bubble Gum nodded lightly while gazing at Lilia and the others with a complex expression.

"They did come before... But their over politeness made me sick so I chased them back. Besides, I'm a member of Starlight, so why must I train the members of the Church? What if these people turned their backs against us after they learned the techniques? Aren't we brewing troubles this way?"

That indeed was Bubble's style.

Rhode bitterly smiled at her response before extending his hand to pat on her bubble head.

"Okay, stop saying such wilful words. I have reached an agreement with the Church and they will be sending some of their people to be under your guidance. But don't worry, I will not request you to teach them everything. You just need to teach them some dungeon techniques for Clerics, that's all."

"..."

Bubble puckered her brows and fell into silence. After a few moments, she lifted her chin and said, "I'm ok with teaching them dungeon-clearing techniques, but PVP techniques are my inventions that only I can use."

"No problem."

Rhode nodded in acknowledgment before leading Mini Bubble Gum to Lilia.

"Ah... That's..."

Even though Mini Bubble Gum was much younger than Lilia, Lilia immediately lowered her head respectfully and tightened her posture as if she met someone of utmost importance. Not only Lilia-even the other Clerics and Holy Knights behind her were dignified and solemn in their expressions. Although they had heard of Mini Bubble Gum's reputation, seeing once was definitely better than hearing a hundred times. When this young girl displayed such formidable strength in their very eyes, Lilia and the others were flabbergasted. Those skills weren't anything extraordinary. But, when the skills were combined, they became a force that was stronger than offensive spells and that was the most crucial.

"For the sake of Leader, I agree to your conditions. You can send your people to the Fortress, but I don't wish to see too many of them because it'll irritate me."

"No problem, Miss Bubble."

Lilia lifted her head and her eyes were filled with pleasant surprise. After witnessing Mini Bubble Gum's battle personally, Lilia was confident that this was the best decision the Church had decided. If this young lady was willing to pass on her battle skills and knowledge to the Church, it would lead to a revolutionary revamp.

After listening to Lilia's reply, Mini Bubble Gum turned around and nodded complacently towards Rhode.

"So then, Leader... Big Sister and I shall head back first?"