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466 The Light Parliaments Scheme

 Rhode sat before his desk in his calm, usual self while tossing about the letter as though he were bored to death. However, everyone who entered this room felt that there was an unusually tense atmosphere.

Canary and Mini Bubble Gum sat by the side quietly. The former was focused on reading poetry while the latter was swaying her legs and admiring the scenery through the window. Like Rhode, both of them knew the developments of the current and future of the Munn Kingdom inside-out. But probably because Canary and Mini Bubble Gum weren't actual humans at this point, they seemed to be disinterested in the fate of the war that was about to start on this continent. Of course, perhaps they chose to ignore this since they knew that they were helpless in these situations.

Meanwhile, Lize sat down restlessly. She didn't know why Rhode gathered everyone because of just a mercenary. Moreover, Rhode rarely revealed such tense emotions and she had seen the wax seal on the letter. No matter what, Lize was once the Princess of the King's Party and she remembered the imprint distinctly.

Lize concluded that this matter must have something to do with the King's Party or Sister Lydia. However, there was nothing else to support her guesses.

Shauna and Walker's arrival broke the silence in the room. \"Hey, Kid. You summoned me right after you came back. Can't you respect your elders a little?\" Old Walker entered the room in big strides and placed the thick layer of papers on the table with a bam. \"This is what you wanted and I've filtered most of them out. To be frank, I don't know what you are gonna do with these. But I can guarantee that these sources came from Shawn and my reliable network, so there are no problems at all.\"

\"Good,\" Rhode nodded before gesturing to Shauna and Marlene to enter the room and close the door. Rhode began to explain after the group settled down. \"I guess everyone must be wondering why I've gathered you here. Also, I think you people are smart enough to know that something has happened... As a matter of fact, there is indeed an emergency.\"

\"What is it?\" Old Walker frowned while Rhode placed the letter on the table. It was a letter written on a fine, white paper and wrapped in a flawless envelope inlaid with golden outlines that formed an eye-catching badge on the surface.

Double-sword Angels.

\"Just a while ago, we've received a mission from the King's Party.\" Rhode picked up the letter. \"And we, Starlight, are going to take over this mission.\"

\"We?\" In an instant, one could cut the air with a knife. Lize held her hands firmly while staring at the letter in Rhode's hand. Marlene's brows twitched slightly while her head was filled with complicated thoughts. Meanwhile, Gillian, Canary, and Mini Bubble Gum remained unconcerned. On the contrary, Old Walker and Shauna's eyes sparkled with passionate radiance. As senior mercenaries, they knew that the King's Party had become a strong supporter of Starlight since they had entrusted them with this mission. Although the King's Party's mission wouldn't be recorded in the Mercenary Association's books due to classified information, the guild would still receive huge remunerations in terms of wealth and political aid. The financially inferior Purple Lily and Cole Falcon were able to stand their ground against the Liberty Wings and Sky Sword all these years due to the political resources received from the King's Party. If Rhode's Starlight could receive equal treatment from the King's Party, this would be extremely advantageous for Starlight.

But one needed to work for it first because it wasn't easy to gain the trust of the King's Party... Old Walker and Shauna gazed at Rhode with much more respect. After all, the King's Party's missions were usually top secrets and unless it was one's trusted aide, one would never tell anyone. Therefore, both Walker and Shauna were more than content that Rhode was willing to let them in on this matter.

This showed that their hard work had paid off.

\"Shauna.\" Rhode ignored their gazes and gave his orders. \"We will leave the Fortress for the time being, so I hope you will manage the Stronghold on the other side well. Also, I heard that the Southerners are getting restless and this isn't a good sign. You can seek help from Canary and Mini Bubble Gum if there's anything wrong.

\"Yes, Sir Rhode.\" Shauna nodded while Rhode shifted his attention to Old Walker. \"Mr. Walker, I need you to head out personally to gather intel in the borders between the Country of Light and the Munn Kingdom. I want to know what the Country of Light is up to all this while... Remember, you need to report back to Canary immediately no matter what happens. You will take her instructions from then on; are there any issues with this?\"

\"The borders between the Country of Light and the Munn Kingdom? This is a huge project, Kid.\" Old Walker pondered for a moment. He lifted his head and gazed at Rhode sharply before shifting his attention on Canary. Then, the old man squinted his eyes and stood up. \"Alright, is that all? I'll head off now and as long as you are not afraid of being crushed to death by all the lies and slanders, I don't have anything to be worried about.\"

Old Walker patted Shauna's shoulder as he spoke. \"There's nothing left for us now; let's go.\"

\"Alright, Mr. Walker,\" Shauna stood up and bowed towards Rhode respectfully before leaving the room.

Rhode paused for a few moments and turned his gaze towards the remaining people.

\"The next matter will be about the mission content.\" Rhode pointed to the letter and knitted his brows. \"This mission will be very troublesome and I will bring forth all my trustworthy aides: in other words, Marlene, Anne, and Lize. All of you must be prepared to head into Soraka Mountain with me.\"

\"What about the Fortress?\" Marlene asked anxiously as she was worried that the operations of the Fortress would be in chaos if both Rhode and herself weren't present to oversee it. However, even so, Marlene sensed that this mission must be unusual because Rhode didn't bring her along for the 5 Star Mission previously. Could it be that the enemies this time were much tougher?

\"Leave the Fortress in Canary's hands for the time being. She was once...\" Rhode paused and gazed at the young lady who was immersed in reading. Sensing Rhode's gaze, Canary lifted her head and smiled gently in response while nodding. \"... my adjutant and she is capable of managing it.\"

\"...\" Marlene felt a tug at her heartstrings as she gazed at Canary while biting her lips subconsciously. At the same time, an unusually complicated emotion filled with frustration, hesitation, pain, joy, and guilt hit her hard. Marlene knew about Canary's past and because of this, she felt exceptionally conflicted after hearing Rhode's words. After all, no matter what, Canary and Rhode seemed much more suitable as a couple. Canary was beautiful, gentle, and extremely likable and even though she didn't have an illustrious family background, she possessed much more strength than Marlene. Judging from Canary's behavior, it seemed that she fancied Rhode a lot too. Furthermore, Rhode's words suggested that Canary had once stood by his side and assisted him greatly. But it was a pity that this young lady was only an illusion of her soul.

But this was also something worth being happy about...

Marlene shuddered. \"I understand, Rhode. I will hand over the operations of the Fortress to Miss Canary after the preparations are done. But... where are we heading for this mission?\"

\"Soraka Mountain,\" replied Rhode.

\"Soraka?!\" Marlene stood on her feet and a look of astonishment was displayed on her face. Lize observed her reactions and asked with uncertainty. \"Marlene, what kind of place is Soraka Mountain? Do you know?\"

\"Of course I know...\" Marlene nodded and calmed herself down before explaining to Lize. \"Soraka Mountain is located on a rare, stable point in the intersection between the Country of Darkness and Country of Light. That place has an abundance of minerals and is filled with magical crystal minerals. The Country of Darkness and Country of Light once broke out in a long war over it and later on, as both sides got into a deadlock, they decided to stop the war after days of negotiations. The Soraka Mountain was then entrusted to the faithful followers of the Light Dragon and at the same time, put into the safekeeping of the Munn Kingdom that maintained a good relationship with the Country of Darkness. Of course, even though the Munn Kingdom was there to safekeep the place, they were only monitoring from the sides. Therefore, both sides decided that Soraka Mountain would be preserved in the form of an independent dominion. Due to this, Soraka Mountain manages to survive between the Country of Darkness and Country of Light... Moreover, armies and officials of both countries can't enter Soraka Mountain territory without prior notice because it would be seen by the other side as the annexation of Soraka Mountain.\"

Marlene paused and turned her gaze towards Rhode with knitted brows. \"Since the King's Party ordered us to carry out a mission in Soraka Mountain, that would mean...\"

\"Yes, there are signs of unrest in Soraka Mountain.\" Rhode nodded slightly, at the same time knocking on the letter that was on the table. \"Royal Highness Lydia has explained the ongoings in this letter. Rumor has it that some people in Soraka Mountain tried to seek protection from the Dark Dragon. Therefore, Royal Highness Lydia demands an investigation and she entrusted Viktor and his Cole Falcon Guild with it.\"

Initially, Rhode was dissatisfied that Royal Highness Lydia didn't choose him for this mission. However, come to think of it, it went without saying that the ruler would trust their closest followers rather than a new strength that had just joined them. Furthermore, it was regarding the important Soraka Mountain and there was no room for mistakes.

\"According to Mr. Viktor's investigations, there was indeed a group of people seeking protection from the Dark Dragon and they tried to put forward this proposal in the parliament of Soraka Mountain. Also, according to the treaty, the proposal will be officially effective once two-thirds of the parliament members approve it. The Chairman of the parliament is a steady and conservative person; therefore, his powerful influences have given this proposal difficulties in obtaining approvals. Coincidentally, the Chairman and his group of members encountered a raid just a few days ago,\" Rhode paused for a moment. \"A raid from the Country of Light.\"

\"What?!\" Lize and Anne exclaimed in shock while Marlene's expression sunk. \"Anne doesn't understand... Didn't that Chairman prevent the entirety of Soraka Mountain from relying on the Country of Darkness? So why did the people from the Country of Light ambush them instead?\"

\"Because this is beneficial to the Country of Light,\" Rhode shrugged his shoulders. \"A long time ago, the treaty that both sides signed stated that Soraka Mountain must remain neutral. Once the Soraka Mountain Parliament decides to seek protection from the Country of Darkness, it will mean that they have violated the treaty. As a result, the bunch of idiots from the Country of Light Parliament will then be able to attack Soraka Mountain and snatch their mouthwatering meal 'rightfully'.\"

\"B-But...\" Lize stuttered in panic. Although she was a princess, she had separated herself from politics and lived as an ordinary mercenary for a long time. For her to be involved in this complicated political conflict that might escalate into a war was too much. \"Since Soraka Mountain sought protection from the Country of Darkness, wouldn't the Country of Darkness protect them even if the Country of Light were to attack? In the end, both sides will start a comprehensive war... Haven't they thought of this?\"

\"They have definitely thought of this, but they insisted to do so,\" Rhode picked up the intel that Old Walker had left on the table. \"Next year will be an election year for the Country of Light Parliament. All this while, frequent problems emerging in the Country of Light have weakened their nation's power to a point that they have to rely on Royal Highness Lydia of the Munn Kingdom to support them financially. Furthermore, there was the Trade Route incident that affected them considerably even though it was resolved in the end. As a result, the Country of Light's Parliament Chairman's reputation has declined greatly and his chances of continuing in office are very slim. If the news of Soraka Mountain seeking protection from the Country of Darkness leaks, he still stands a chance to regain his citizens' trust by toughening out his stance over it. Soraka Mountain contains an abundance of crystal minerals and it will, in turn, resolve the Country of Light's financial problems. Moreover, the new heir to the Country of Darkness has only stepped in for a few years and the Country of Light Parliament is confident that the new heir lacks the guts to take drastic actions against them. Back then, the signing of the treaty for Soraka Mountain between the Country of Darkness and Country of Light was done under the attention of the Judgement & Ruling Twin Dragons. Therefore, during times of necessity, the Country of Light Parliament can use the Country of Law as a trump card to establish their legitimacy.\"

Although this might appear only a possibility to the ordinary person, Rhode was sure that the Country of Light's Parliament plotted the scheme to use Soraka Mountain as the point of penetration. However, the Country of Light's Parliament didn't expect that the situation would develop towards a different direction entirely. On the contrary, it opened a pressure valve for the Country of Darkness that was trying to balance the old and new forces within its country. Thereafter, the Country of Law sunk into a strange silence and they didn't emerge to uphold justice as the Country of Light's Parliament had anticipated. In the end, the Country of Light's Parliament's intentions in using Soraka Mountain to ensure its political status and also crack down on the Country of Darkness and the Munn Kingdom turned into a silly scheme. As a result, the Country of Darkness dominated and the Country of Light even gave their Light Dragon Soul to their enemy... It was rare to see humans this dumb, or perhaps, it was rare for one to even be brainwashed or self-hypnotized to this point.

\"So then, our mission is to...\" Marlene questioned anxiously.

\"Fortunately, the Country of Light's soldiers that ambushed the Chairman's group didn't reveal their identities. On the other hand, Viktor's group seized the opportunity to protect the Chairman's group. But, even so, they are still in grave trouble. Royal Highness Lydia has ordered us to rescue the Chairman's group that is trapped in Soraka Mountain and escort them back before the Soraka Mountain Parliament begins,\" explained Rhode.