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563 Frozen Lake I

 Although Rhode knew that he would be participating in the Dragon Soul Ceremony, he wasn't feeling exceptionally anxious because it wasn't the most important situation on hand. Instead, it was the second 5 Stars Mission in the Cranmore region-Frozen Lake. As long as Rhode completed this mission, his Guild would be safe and sound for the next year. Rhode was reminded of another person... Not sure if Barter still remembers the deal he made with me during the Midsummer Festival-I hope he keeps his promise.

The Cranmore region was located in the glacial land of the Northwest. Although the region wasn't considered to have an inhospitable natural environment, its soil definitely wasn't fertile. The people living there mainly planted cold proof crops, but this wasn't due to the geographical environment of Cranmore. Instead, the Frozen Lake in the region was the main culprit. Rumor has it that the Frozen Lake had been covered in a thick layer of ice, which had never melted, for centuries. Not only this lake, but the entire Cranmore region also had a similar phenomenon. The rivers and wells would be covered in a thick layer of ice whenever the winter season approached. All the people could do was to break the ice into chunks and use them after melting.

This strange phenomenon had attracted plenty of investigators. However, they weren't able to find the source of the problem until a Mage randomly discovered an enormous Elemental Creature hidden below the Cranmore Lake and solved the mystery of the Cranmore region. But the people failed to search for a solution to deal with the Elemental Creature. The only valuable information they had was that this creature lived in the source of water for the entire Cranmore region. Its powers would multiply every winter and decrease to its weakest in summer. This was why Rhode chose to strike now. After all, it was still early autumn and the situation would be troublesome if he waited any longer.

But it wasn't only the Frozen Lake that was strange in the Cranmore region.

A bone-piercing cold breeze blew into Rhode's face as he got down the chariot. It was noon and the hottest time of the day where people would rather rest under the shade of a tree than to head outdoors. However, the Cranmore region was ice-cold as though it had entered the winter season. Moreover, the scene before Rhode left him knitting his brows.

The Greenery Town before him was the nearest town from the Frozen Lake in the entire Cranmore region. Due to this reason, Rhode had arranged for Lize to lead the mercenaries here for preparations. However, Rhode realized that his mercenaries had set up camp on the open space outside the town instead. They gathered in a circle and Rhode couldn't figure out what they were doing. Rhode felt rather strange. There are several pubs and inns in the town, so why did they choose to spend the night in the open instead?

Rhode approached them and he realized that something was off. There were some disputes going on and he witnessed Anne furiously brandishing her shield and bellowing her grievances.

"... They're making Anne mad! Those people are so unreasonable! We shall wait for Leader to arrive and see if they would..."

Anne turned around and revealed a delighted smile as soon as she saw Rhode. She raised her right arm high in the air and waved with all her might. "Ah, Leader! You're here! Those people are too annoying!"

Rhode twitched his brows as he spotted a few strangers and they seemed to be quarreling over something. The strangers didn't appear to be mercenaries and looked more like residents of this town. Although Rhode didn't set any strict rules for his mercenaries, he was unwilling to see his men starting a fight with ordinary civilians. Apart from the bored players, no other players liked to pick fights with NPCs. It wasn't solely due to Rhode and his men's abilities in fighting their way through that Starlight could become the number one guild in the game. Even though he had non-stop conflicts with other Guilds, he didn't chase ordinary players away from their maps just for the convenience of his Starlight Guild. This was one of the reasons why Starlight was able to exist in the game for so long. After all, the game was mainly full of ordinary players and not all players were forced to join a Guild immediately. If Rhode was overbearing against the top and bullied the ones below him, perhaps he would be marked as a bastard even after he conquered the entire server.

Rhode was curious about the situation. He suspected that his mercenaries might have behaved inappropriately and caused the disputes with the residents. However, Anne and Lize were well-mannered people. Although Anne might be a little hot-tempered at times, she seldom stirred trouble with ordinary civilians. Rhode would suspect that this was the sly, fox-eared young lady's scheme, but she wasn't around.

Rhode swept a glance to the residents and asked. "What happened?"

Lize displayed a look of relief after seeing Rhode's arrival and she quickly explained the happenings.

Lize had intended to follow Rhode's instruction to reorganize the team and wait for his arrival. Meanwhile, the residents of the town learned their intentions through the bored mercenaries who wandered around the town. The Frozen Lake was a popular mission in the Mercenary Association and since the mercenaries were here to assist the residents, Lize didn't see any problems with that.

However, things got out of hand. The residents chased them away and even though Lize explained that they were here to accomplish the mission of the Mercenary Association and this mission was also proposed by the residents of the Cranmore region, she was dumbstruck that they continued to turn them away.

The residents had no intentions of listening to Lize's explanations and both sides almost broke into a fight. In the end, Lize left the town with the mercenaries to prevent further trouble and set up camp outside the town while waiting for Rhode's arrival.

However, the residents were relentless. They had been forcing Lize and the mercenaries away and claimed that the Cranmore region didn't welcome them which made the mercenaries flow into a rage. We understand that you may not welcome us into your town. But you still want to chase us away after we have left your town?

Mercenaries were belligerent in nature. Fortunately, Lize managed to calm them down. Moreover, they had traveled over land and water to make their way here and they were chased away even before they had the chance to rest. The mercenaries couldn't hold in their wrath any longer.

Then, the residents bombarded Lize with arrogant claptraps which left Anne fuming. Anne was young and had a straightforward personality. Fortunately for the residents, Anne knew that they wouldn't survive her brandishing shield, if not, she would have sent her shield flying. It was ridiculous...

Rhode puckered his brows. He wasn't aware that the Greenery Town had such a troublesome problem when he gave his command. After all, players weren't aborigines and they wouldn't need to seek shelter in these places. The players would usually follow their Guild Leader into the dungeon to kill the BOSS and leave after they were done. Although the Dragon Soul Continent was a rare virtual-reality game, it didn't mean that it was exactly the same in reality. Most players wouldn't want to spend money on lodging at all.

Rhode turned to face the residents. Judging from their appearance, they seemed to be the Mayor and some law enforcement officers. Of course, they would be completely hopeless if they picked a fight with Rhode's mercenaries and their pale faces exposed that they were pressurized by Anne's brandishing shield. But even so, it was strange that they were unwilling to back down.

Rhode gestured for Anne to stop her threats and strode his way to the residents. "I would like to hear your reasons, everyone. We, Starlight Guild, received the mission announced by the Mercenary Association and came here from a faraway place. We didn't behave inappropriately, so if you wish to chase us away, we hope to receive a satisfactory answer. If not, we will report this matter to the Mercenary Association even if we eventually leave. By then, I guess you will need to explain to the overlord of the Cranmore region with the Mercenary Association."

The residents were starting to feel uncomfortable. After all, they were nothing more than well-behaved residents of this town who would be frightened at the sight of a city owner. If they were to disrupt the mercenaries from completing the mission and resolving the problem that plagued the civilians of the Cranmore region for years, they would be in for big trouble.

A few senior residents felt hesitant. However, one of the younger residents glared at Rhode and waved his fist as he bellowed angrily. "Mayor, Officers, why are we still wasting time with these mercenaries for? After all these years, which mercenaries succeeded? Didn't they all leave with their tails tucked between their legs? And aren't we the ones suffering in the end? No matter what, we will definitely not allow them to continue this! They can complain all they want! We will not be afraid even if they complain to the overlord!"

"You bastard. That's bullsh*t! How would we lose?!"

"That's right! You don't even know our capabilities!"

The surrounding mercenaries blew their top after the young man was so sure that they would fail. After all, the mercenaries were a superstitious bunch. Are you cursing us?!

Moreover, these mercenaries had followed Rhode for a long time and they had never failed before. They were full of confidence in Rhode. But now, this rascal actually doubted their leader!

He's asking for death!

Rhode observed in silence. Then, he gestured with his raised arm and the mercenaries immediately shut their mouths, which shocked the senior residents. From the start, they didn't take this black-haired young man seriously. But he contained the mercenaries with just a hand gesture. This went to show how extraordinary his position in the guild was.

Until this moment, an elderly man among the residents let out a sigh and gazed at Rhode hopelessly. "I'm sorry, Sir. We don't want to do this. But, after all these years, we really can't tolerate it anymore."