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517 Paphield Battle 10

 Thon raised his sword to parry Rhode's attack hopelessly. In a blink of an eye, Rhode had disappeared entirely and only a silvery trail of radiance remained. Time had stopped for Thon. His breath hastened and he felt violent pounding in his heart as though an invisible hand had grabbed onto it.

The world before his eyes shattered.

Rhode emerged within the frantically swaying shadow as though it were a part of him. The heavily-geared soldiers stumbled and fell after spotting Rhode behind their Commander. Rhode slashed the Commander rapidly and his severed body parts dropped like collapsing wooden blocks in the blink of an eye.

The soldiers had never seen such an unusual killing technique and they were sure that their Commander was safe within their encirclement from any intruders. But this mysterious man sneaked by and murdered the Commander before they knew it.

Feels good.

Rhode nodded as the final stretch of shadow blended with his body.

Before leaving the Land of Atonement and heading into the Cloud Summit Fortress, Rhode had chosen to input all the Skill Points that he had received from defeating the Duke Fiend into the [Shadow Dance] Swordsmanship. The mastery of the [Shadow Dance] Swordsmanship finally upgraded from Rank 'C' to Rank 'A' and its formidability had broken through the limits of mortals and entered the Legendary Stage. Through this upgrade, he had also received the core swordsmanship skill [Dark Wield].

With the scariest and strongest skill of the Dark Spirit, Rhode could temporarily blend in with the Shadow Plane of Existence and engage in short-distance battle and assault. Furthermore, not only could [Dark Wield] allow Rhode to instant teleport, but there was also a chance to interfere with the enemy's spellcasting and disrupt their defense. To some extent, this swordsmanship technique wasn't purely interfering with physical circumstances but could even affect the Elemental aspects.

Rhode knew that Dark Spirits who fully mastered [Dark Wield] were also manipulation masters of Shadow powers. In the pinnacle of the [Dark Wield] skill, not only could one instantly teleport to assassinate the enemy, but one could also form one's own body shape and summon other creatures living in the Shadow Plane of Existence to engage in attacks using Shadow powers. Once one reached this standard of mastery, one could even be considered as a Mage presence. But it was a pity that due to the class restriction of the Spirit Swordsman, Rhode couldn't upgrade this skill to its peak.

Rhode laughed grimly at this thought. He turned his wrist around and the soldiers witnessed the man before them turning into a shadow once again as though he had lost his physical body and disappeared along with the strong wind.

The soldiers exchanged panicky looks as they couldn't differentiate whether this was reality or just a dream. But soon, they didn't need to consider this question anymore.

"Everyone, get ready..." Marfa raised his sword with an unfazed expression and waved his sword downwards with all his might. "Attack!"

The Southern Legion's Commander was killed and they had lost their pillar and reason to continue this battle. Starlight mercenaries clustered toward the rear camp like furious bulls and the enemy soldiers fled hurriedly. The frontline soldiers attacking the Cloud Summit Fortress decided to retreat after detecting the disaster at the rear. The bugle-horns for retreat sounded and the soldiers fled in disarray, leaving only the pathetic corpses.

2:15 a.m.

Rhode turned his gaze away from the pocket watch on his palm. The rear camp before him presented a ghastly sight-tainted with blood, corpses and burning in flames. The place had returned to its peace and tranquility. If it weren't for the bright flames, perhaps no one would have known that there was a fierce battle just moments ago.

"What a bore." Rhode looked down at a corpse by his feet. It was a blonde-haired young man about the same age as himself. His white face had been drained of blood entirely and his neck leaned against his shoulder which revealed his bone and crimson flesh. The young man's widened eyes were as though glass spheres and blood dripped from his gawking mouth. He was nothing more than EXP in Rhode's eyes. Rhode discovered that as long as he was the one commanding the battle, he would receive the corresponding EXP. However, he could only receive limited EXP from enemies who were level 25 on average.

Lize stood behind Rhode silently.

Her impassioned emotions had faded. The young lady gaped at the aftermath and she felt an unprecedented sense of relief. She looked at the same corpse by Rhode's feet and couldn't speak a word. Even though she was used to seeing corpses, the life story of individual corpses were entirely different.

There are reasons for the existence of these corpses, so what's the reason for all of them here?

Who were they trying to protect? It wasn't their personal dignity, desire, or glory. Why must the people of the same country brandish their weapons on the battlefield and kill one another? What is the purpose of this?

Lize couldn't figure out why the Southerners snatched the authority and sacrificed so many lives. This battle would still continue and by then, the people of the South and North would die. But, no matter how many died, they were still the people of the Munn Kingdom. What was the exact purpose of such a massacre?

At this moment, the young lady heard Rhode's response. "What a bore."

She looked at the man before her in astonishment and she realized that the way Rhode had disregarded the corpse under his eyes was as if it were nothing more than garbage. His expression was so indifferent that it sent chills down Lize's spine. This wasn't the first time that Lize had this vibe from Rhode. Although Rhode was usually polite, prideful, and confident and would put up an expressionless face most of the time, she had noticed the gentleness hidden behind the cold mask after getting along with him for a long time. But Rhode would show his other side occasionally. It was as though this young man didn't belong to this world at all. He was just a passerby who had no interest in the world and the human beings of this world were simply insects in his eyes.

The young lady felt insecure about this realization because she had consciously sealed this rare side of Rhode in her memories. She shivered as she glanced at his eyes and the corpses on the battlefield.

She discovered that she didn't understand this man at all.

"All enemies have retreated, Sir." As Lize was ruminating, Marfa's voice sounded and she let out a soft shriek. However, she cupped her mouth quickly before shifting her attention to Marfa.

"How are the casualties?" Rhode asked.

"Don't worry, Sir. Some of our brothers are hurt, but the injuries aren't grave. They will recover soon with the Clerics' healings." Marfa lowered his head and answered respectfully before displaying a bitter smile. Rhode was a decisive and determined superior to him. However, Rhode had a bad habit of being overly concerned about the injuries of his men. Even though it was natural for a guild leader and Baron to be concerned about their subordinates, Rhode seemed to go a little overboard and he would sound like a nagging granny.

But even so, Rhode gained a lot of respect from the mercenaries. Anyone was capable of showing verbal concerns, however, Rhode was sincerely concerned about their wellbeing because he asked the same question after each and every battle. "Good. Get ready and we will call it a day."

When Rhode returned to the Cloud Summit Fortress and met Garcia, the slipshod Fortress Commander sat cross-legged on the ground and the bloodstains all over him made him more miserable than he was. Garcia greeted with a bitter smile. "Yo, my apologies that I can only greet you in this manner, Mr. Rhode. Haha, what luck for you to see this miserable side of me."

"You've always been looking miserable, Mr. Garcia," Rhode said and scanned the situation of the Fortress. Got to say, the defense around the Fortress performed much better than he had imagined. Apart from the further tattered state of the Fortress, there weren't too many damages. As for the internal Fortress... As this ridiculous place was run-down in the first place, Rhode couldn't see any difference.

"How's the situation?" Rhode said.

"Still alright. Although I lost some of my men, we barely held back the enemy. It was all thanks to you. If not, we would have been in huge trouble if the enemies continued to attack." Garcia gestured and laughed helplessly. Then, he hummed a little tune as he stood up and patted the filthy dust off himself. "What about your end? Although it was my suggestion, I know that the enemies weren't easy to deal with."

"We had decent luck on our side because those guys placed the Lion Legion by the rear and their soldiers were terrified as soon as they met me. I seized the chance and annihilated their Commander and the bunch of idiots fled and surrendered immediately." Rhode shrugged as he answered while Garcia nodded in response.

"It does sound like you guys have it easier, Mr. Rhode. Frankly speaking, I'm really envious of you. If I could have that many formidable men, perhaps I..." Garcia paused for a moment. "I guess it's about time I reorganize my men. See you later, Mr. Rhode."

Rhode gazed at Garcia back as he left the room. It was apparent that there was something strange about his sense of contentment.

Afterward, there weren't any more movements from the Southern Legion. According to Joey, the remaining troops that retreated eventually split up due to their internal conflicts. Rhode had also received news from Garcia about the three big legions. Not only were the three big legions incapable of taking down the Fortress, they had also suffered severe losses. Right now, they must be pushing responsibilities onto one another and no longer had the strength and energy to launch another wave of attack on the Cloud Summit Fortress, which was great news for both Garcia and Rhode.

However, it wasn't all good news.

Although the Southern Legion had retreated, the garrisons of the Cloud Summit had taken a huge hit. One-third of their manpower had been sacrificed in the battle last night and if it weren't for Rhode's Clerics to save their lives, perhaps half of their manpower would be gone by then.

If the Southern Legion gathered their forces and launch another wave of attack on the Cloud Summit, perhaps Rhode and Garcia wouldn't be able to resist them due to the lack of manpower. Therefore, Garcia sent his men to Golden City to report on the situation and seek reinforcements the next day.

Royal Highness Lydia responded to Garcia's request swiftly and mobilized 2000 soldiers to the Cloud Summit. Even though this was naturally good news for Garcia, it wasn't entirely great for Rhode.

Because he saw a name on the mobilization name list that he didn't want to see.

Gaya.

This was a unique name that was rather different from the people of the Munn Kingdom. Rhode wished he could leave the Fortress instantly and get away as far as possible. It wasn't because this person named Gaya was terrifying... Or perhaps, she was basically harmless to most people.

In the game, she was Lydia's musician and that was only her facade. On the surface, Gaya didn't have any official military rank. However, as the proudest assistant of Royal Highness Lydia, Gaya was the Captain of the Guards 'Pure Sword' and was also a Holy Sage. She possessed the strength of the Legendary Stage at a young age and it could be said that in terms of strength, the Mist Sword Saint of the Country of Light's Parliament might not even match up against her. Gaya's talent attribute was 'Sound' and in the game, it was an extremely weird variant attribute.

Of course, this wasn't the worst for Rhode because that had nothing to do with him.

It was Gaya's background that he feared the most.

She was born in the Eastern Plains and was also the only representative figure of the Eastern Plains in the King's Party. She knew everything about the Eastern Plains.

And it wouldn't be difficult for her to expose Rhode's identity.