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564 Frozen Lake II

 Rhode quickly understood the happenings from the elderly man's explanations. Actually, the situation wasn't that complicated. Many Guilds had tried their luck with this mission in the previous years. However, the Ice Devil was extremely troublesome and hard to deal with. This wasn't strange because they wouldn't need Starlight's help if the previous Guilds succeeded, right?

The main problem lay in the mercenaries that had failed from their attempts.

The mercenaries failed to annihilate the Ice Devil and left irresponsibly, leaving the residents residing near the Frozen Lake to suffer from the consequences. Although the mercenaries suffered crushing defeats against the Ice Devil, they had, after all, awakened it from its deep sleep. No living being would wake up in a good mood after being disturbed from its slumber. As a result, the residents had to face the Ice Devil's wrath. Although the Ice Devil couldn't leave the sealed Frozen Lake, it could summon low-level Water Elemental Creatures to harass the nearby towns and its miserable residents. Not only that, the Ice Devil would absorb the water source to repair itself, which led to the residents without usable water from a month to half a year. Although they could break chunks of ice from the Frozen Lake, they were worried that the water would be contaminated by the terrifying monster living below.

From the start, the residents tolerated because, no matter what, everything would return to normal after the Ice Devil was defeated. However, after all these years, no mercenaries succeeded and the residents couldn't hold it in any longer. The residents' attitude toward the mercenaries coming to slay the Ice Devil turned from warm to ice-cold as they were no longer hopeful and they had had enough of such torturous days. Since that monster has been living under the Frozen Lake for that many years and it didn't do anything apart from sleep, isn't it better if we tolerate our days? It's better than those barbaric mercenaries angering it and leave us to suffer from the consequences, right?

The mercenaries revealed awkward expressions after listening to the elder man's description. Mercenaries were mainly the lowest-class civilians and they could empathize with their feelings. Previously, they had different standpoints and the mercenaries were focused on receiving remunerations after completing the mission. As for the residents, the mercenaries had never thought much about them. After all, the residents were just 'employers' and the mercenaries were the ones doing the dangerous job while they hid behind them. What problems were there for the residents to worry about?!

At this moment, Lize was also knitting her brows and feeling conflicted. Although she was born in the King's Party, she, after all, had left the Golden City at a young age and understood the feelings of the lowest-class civilians. If it were Marlene, perhaps she could never understand why these people chose to stay and suffer rather than leaving this horrible and dangerous place.

Rhode muttered to himself irresolutely. He sympathized with their feelings, but he had to complete this mission no matter what. This mission was the simplest among all the 5 Stars Missions for Starlight and he would be in big trouble if he gave up on this.

The mercenaries who failed to defeat the Ice Devil couldn't be blamed for being too weak. Guilds would typically have two to three powerful beings and it wouldn't make sense if no Guilds managed to get rid of the Ice Devil after so many attempts. The ultimate reason was that the Guilds didn't bait out the Ice Devil from the water source. The Ice Devil was considered an intermediate monster in the Water Plane of Existence and its strength shouldn't be belittled. Moreover, it possessed the ability to manipulate and create lower-level creatures of the Water Element. Furthermore, the Ice Devil conquered the Cranmore region's water source and it could create an infinite amount of Water Elemental Creatures. It was only logical that the mercenaries had lost because they weren't able to lure the Ice Devil out of the water source. Mercenaries were humans too and they couldn't possibly dive into the ice-cold water. The style of defeating the lower-level creatures first before facing the BOSS was also meaningless because it could continuously summon Water Elemental Creatures.

However, Rhode had more than enough solutions to counter the problems.

But before that, he had to resolve the problem before him.

"Please follow me," Rhode beckoned for the elderly man and both of them whispered to each other at the side. All the bystanders looked on curiously and no one dared to eavesdrop.

No one could infer from Rhode's expression because he had always been putting up an expressionless face. But the mercenaries knew that this odd and powerful leader of theirs was in a decent mood and it would mean a bad omen if he were to smile warmly.

On the other hand, the elderly man seemed to have faced a difficult situation. He shook his head before puckering his brows and responded. Rhode gestured firmly and rejected the elderly man's words. Then, he lifted his head and stared at the elderly man sharply. The elderly man flinched, but he plucked up the courage to shake his head once again. This time, the elderly man seemed less determined and after a while, he lifted his head and spoke. In response, Rhode raised his right hand and extended three fingers. The elderly man pondered in silence and gaped. However, he simply nodded while Rhode patted on the elderly man's shoulder in return. Then, the elderly man returned to the group of residents and whispered. The residents revealed looks of astonishment and the young man who yelled out earlier jumped on his feet, swinging his fist and shouting. But a middle-aged man beside him smacked on the young man's back to get him to shut his mouth. Then, the residents said goodbye to the mercenaries and took their leave.

Rhode returned to the center of his mercenaries. Anne was the first to hop forward and grabbed Rhode's hand, swinging excitedly from left to right. "Anne knew that Leader has a solution! Those irritating people have been chased away by Leader! They don't dare to stop us now, right?!"

Rhode nodded and turned to the mercenaries around him. "That's right, they have agreed to try it once more. I have also promised them that we will accomplish this mission by defeating the Ice Devil."

"Oh-!" The mercenaries broke out in cheers.

Even though the residents weren't wrong with such thoughts, the mercenaries were still angered and dissatisfied that those weak people looked down on them. After all, they had been through training sessions with Mini Bubble Gum and Canary and their strength had improved tremendously. However, since the residents were unarmed, the mercenaries didn't wish to teach them a lesson and show them how capable they were. Now that Rhode had resolved this problem for them, they were elated.

The mercenaries had also decided to show this bunch of country bumpkins how powerful they were by completing this mission. Let's see if you'll look down on us by then!

Rhode looked on silently at his roaring men and said plainly. "Have a good rest today. We will head into Frozen Lake tomorrow. I hope you will show me your results of the training."

The mercenaries responded loudly in unison. Then, they left one by one to prepare themselves for the battle tomorrow. Rhode shook his head and turned to Anne and Lize. "Have you heard of anything regarding Frozen Lake?"

Rhode didn't bring along all his manpower. Instead, he used the same formation he had in the game. A team of 35 men. 30 of them would be dealing with the Ice Devil while the remaining five would be substitutes and preventing any accidents. This was also a small cheat that Rhode had made with the little difference between the game and reality.

Rhode felt strange. Why did the Guilds full of aborigines fail to defeat a BOSS with over a hundred men?

In the game, players needed 10 to 25 members to defeat these BOSSes. From the beginning, he thought that this was due to the difference in strength between aborigines and the players and that was why they chose the 'human wave attack' to attain their goal. However, Rhode realized that he was utterly wrong. Apart from the difference in their strength, the number of people was the most important factor which led to their failures. Most of the dungeon BOSS for team engagements possessed technique in AOE attacks. In the game, due to the small number of players in a team, it wasn't difficult for them to dodge the BOSS' attacks. However, it was different for the aborigines because they weren't powerful, to begin with, and they fell right into the BOSS' trap when they launched their 'human wave attack'. Most players wouldn't dare to resist most BOSSes' AOE attack and they would choose to avoid them instead. There was no doubt that the aborigines with weaker strength died in the AOE attack. Moreover, they didn't have enough space to dodge the attack due to their large numbers.

Due to this reason, Rhode had commanded Gillian to lead most of the mercenaries back into the Fortress after the battle by the Paphield defensive line, leaving a small number of them to complete the Frozen Lake Mission. Rhode didn't bring Gillian along because he intended to train his mercenaries' individual abilities. No matter how powerful Gillian, Canary, and Mini Bubble Gum were, they were only his men. In other words, summoned beings like them would disappear if Rhode got into any trouble. It wouldn't be a good thing for the Guild if they relied solely on them. Rhode wouldn't even need to deal with the Ice Devil himself if its level was lower and his men's damage output was higher.

Lize took half a step forward and revealed a bitter look. "Mr. Rhode, I've heard from the residents... It seems difficult to make the Ice Devil appear. The previous Guilds didn't even manage to see how it looked like and they... I'm worried that..."

"Don't worry, Lize," Rhode gestured.

Of course, he knew what Lize was about to say. In the game, the Frozen Lake was labeled as a dungeon on the map and it wasn't divided into different floors like other dungeon maps. On the surface, the Frozen Lake was simply a lake frozen into a layer of ice while the lower-level creatures would emerge continuously from the ice surface. If they failed to figure out the trick, the mercenaries would die from exhaustion from dealing with the lower-level creatures even before they caught a glimpse of the BOSS. There were a bunch of stupid players in the game, not to mention NPCs.

"I have found an expert who can awaken the Ice Devil and force it to battle us," said Rhode.