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442 Underground Maze V

 Rhode's guesses were proven to be true after the trio entered the ruins entrance. In the huge underground cave, the remains of the Undead Soldiers were scattered visibly under the burning pale flames. It was apparent that there was a fierce, long battle.

"Why would there be traces of battle?" Anne curiously asked after noticing the hideous sight. She gripped her shield tightly and scanned the surroundings vigilantly as they progressed. "Did someone come in earlier than us, Leader? What should we do?"

"Let's see who has the guts to do so," Rhode answered without turning around. "I think Barter isn't one who would do such things behind our backs. But I can't confirm it either. Although adventurers and mercenary groups may have stumbled upon this dungeon, they can forget about snatching this mission away from us."

Although Rhode said it confidently, his expression showed otherwise. At this moment, they entered the tunnel through the entrance of the underground city. Rhode was expecting various kinds of undead creatures, however, there were all kinds of corpses instead. This definitely wasn't something that ordinary adventurers or mercenary group were capable of achieving. Only powerful guilds could deliver such standards: this discovery wasn't good news. If there really was a guild that entered before them, there would only be two possibilities. The first possibility would be the Purple Lily Guild and the second possibility would be a guild from the other regions. However, Rhode felt that the latter was impossible. The Liberty Wings had been forcefully disbanded and they had no reason to be here. The Sky Sword Guild suffered huge losses in the Midsummer Festival and it didn't make sense for them to bring trouble on themselves. But, what should I do if it was Cole Falcon or Purple Lily?

Rhode lifted his head and gazed at the city ruins. It was unlike the underground chamber below Eagle City. This entire city had sunk into an underground cavity. The roof over the city was an arc-shaped cave wall, and the pitch-dark, bottomless abyss below the city was clearly evident under the illuminating flames. If it weren't for the thick stelae supporting the city from below, perhaps the city would have submerged into the darkness of the abyss entirely.

However, this abandoned city wasn't painted in total darkness. Lanterns hung on the eaves of the buildings and both sides of the main street were lit with flames. Those flames represented the burning flames of dead souls. The flames weren't warm and were avocado in color. However, even so, this forgotten city was brilliantly lit. Looking from afar, it seemed like this city was functioning normally.

However, there was total silence.

Rhode slowed his pace as he moved deeper into the city through the granite street. The remains of Undead Soldiers were everywhere. However, for unknown reasons, Rhode was somewhat familiar with the wounds on them.

It was too strange for this place to be this quiet.

Rhode beckoned for the young ladies behind him. He refused to believe that a guild was capable of breaking through the non-stop waves of monster attacks. And if there was such a battle going on, the entire city must have been filled with war cries. Furthermore, Rhode knew about Barter's earth-shattering battle techniques that could even tear the entire city down. It wasn't Barter's nature to act like an obedient child when he entered someone's home quietly.

"Follow me," Rhode gestured.

This city ruins weren't much different from what he recalled. The path to the central area had been buried in the ruins completely and it was impossible to climb over them. The solution was to head towards the supplementary road in the north or the alleys hidden behind in the buildings. With Rhode's experience, he quickly found the road that would lead to their destination in the shortest time possible. As Rhode led the others around the corner and entered the alley, he abruptly stopped. Anne widened her eyes curiously and exclaimed softly.

A man dressed in a thief outfit laid on the wall with his back towards the trio. Sharp sword blades had pierced and nailed his body to the wall and even death wasn't able to rescue the Thief from the terrors that overtook his face.

Rhode sucked in a deep breath and approached the Thief cautiously. More doubts arose in Rhode's mind as soon as he examined the corpse. "That's odd. He doesn't seem like someone from a guild."

Rhode searched the corpse from head to toe. The headwear, belt, earrings, daggers, and boots didn't reveal anything that he wished to see, like a guild badge. A guild badge was mandatory for every guild member. The badge was capable of displaying one's identity and rank, and most importantly, it strengthened one's sense of belonging in the guild. Furthermore, almost every badge was unique and this was to avoid identity thieves. Ever since Starlight was established, Rhode had modified the badges. The Starlight Badge was shaped in a quadrilateral star with a white halo around it. Without a doubt, badges came in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Rhode's badge was a ring on his finger while Gillian's was a pair of star-shaped earrings. As for Anne, her badge was embedded on the surface of her shield. With these marks, anyone could recognize which guild they belonged to at a single glance.

However, there were no indications of this Thief belonging to a guild at all. His dagger and armor were low-grade equipment purchased from merchant shops and usually, these equipment were common in solo mercenaries or those in small groups of three or four.

A small group of mercenaries who were capable of defeating the first line of defense of the Necromancer and entered the underground maze? Who had such abilities?

"Let's go." Rhode was curious and dubious at the same time as he continued to pass through the alley.

As they advanced, the narrow alley gradually grew dimmer. In an instant, the trio stepped into the darkness once again. However, under Rhode's lead, they passed through the narrow, gloomy alley smoothly and just one more corner would lead them to the central area.

At this moment, Anne stopped abruptly and widened her eyes. "Leader, I think I heard somebody battling."

"Oh?" Rhode stopped his footsteps swiftly while Gillian twitched her ears and nodded. "That's right, they are nearby, but not too close too... They should be in the depths of the central area... And there's plenty of them."

"Great!" Rhode relaxed as his instincts seemed to be right.

In the deeper central area was the location for the so-called 'Enforcement Banishment'. That place was filled with an unending stream of undead creatures and terrifying Constructs. These creatures would patrol all over and launch attacks at any signs of life. In gamer terms, that map was the best for EXP farming. Once a player starts battling the creatures, the other masses of undead creatures in the entire city would swarm towards the player's location. Furthermore, the Undead Army would be triggered and the player had to eliminate them all before he could move on.

The only solution was to use the 'equipment' from the underground chamber to activate a defense barrier in the city so the Constructs would turn their attacks on the undead creatures instead. The defense barriers that the 'equipment' activated could also guard against the attacks of the Undead Army and separate Rhode from them completely. This way, the entire dungeon would enter the 'normal' difficulty, which made it much easier.

"Let's have a look," Rhode suggested.

Perhaps the undead creatures had all swarmed to the central area, which was why Rhode's group didn't find any of them on the way here. Without a doubt, Rhode wouldn't let this great opportunity off since this selfless person had taken the initiative to attract the attention of all the creatures. Soon, the trio arrived at the public square on the central area.

As the three of them glanced over, they spotted the masterminds. They were in battle and as expected, their enemies were the terrifying undead creatures. The undead creatures howled unbearably as they flooded towards their enemies, seeming to want to shred these intruders into bits. Rhode widened his eyes curiously at the pathetic group struggling to fend off the undead creatures.

The group was less than ten people and was clad in armor no different from ordinary adventurers. Perhaps these pitiful humans would be dead even before taking down this first wave of attacks. However, someone was the reason why they were able to stand there.

That man stood in front of his group. He held his sword with both hands and silver-whitish flames were surging on the blade, shaping into a thin layer of barrier that kept the undead creatures away. It was apparent that this barrier was on the verge of disappearing as the flames began to fade.

To Rhode's surprise, he noticed a pair of extended, white wings behind that man's back: Battle Angel.

No wonder Rhode was familiar with the wounds that were inflicted on the Undead Creatures. Battle Angels were experts in annihilating Undead Creatures with their holy flames.

A corner of Rhode's mouth lifted. "Let's go, Anne, Gillian. Go according to plan."