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580 Tit For Tat 2

 Rhode didn't move an inch after he swept a glance at the potion bottle on the table. "What's this?"

"This is the bottle that stored the poison, Mr. Rhode. I can guarantee you that this is the result that our Alchemist Association came to after thorough investigations."

"Oh."

Rhode's short reply was as though a reaction of a civilian who didn't strike the lottery; apathetic and completely indifferent. Rhode remained in silence as though he was waiting for the senior to continue his sentence. However, Dasos was feeling incomparably awkward at this moment. Because he had said all that he was supposed to and he imagined that the young man would at least have more reactions than this. He didn't expect Rhode to remain this calm even with the evidence laid clearly before him. It seemed that this young man didn't rely on luck to have such a massive backing and powerful strength... Rhode's silence made Dasos increasingly worried. He didn't know if Rhode was unconcerned because it had nothing to do with him or he was simply feigning innocence to get himself out of the situation. However, no matter which was the truth, neither was a good scenario for Dasos. He let out an awkward cough and forced himself to continue. "We found an Alchemist logo on the potion bottle and it's the exact same logo as the one on the potion bottles that your Starlight Guild sells in Paphield. It is because of this that we have arrived at your Fortress. I hope to seek your cooperation with it."

This time, the drawing room fell into complete silence. Rhode looked at the senior without batting an eye. If Rhode's eyes weren't opened, they would've thought that he had fallen asleep. Dasos didn't feel frustrated over Rhode's silence. No matter what Rhode wished to do, Dasos had to make his intentions clear. Although the Alchemist Association wasn't as powerful as the Mercenary Association and the Church, they wouldn't allow themselves to be bullied.

Of course, it was another matter about how much courage was behind Dasos' determination.

Seconds passed and the atmosphere was strangely depressing. Apart from Dasos, the other Alchemists were beginning to feel restless and were about to stand to their feet. However, the mighty senior glared at them and they sat still obediently.

The sun had set and scarlet radiance spilled through the clear, french windows. After an unknown amount of time, Rhode twitched his brows, shook his finger, and shifted his position slightly as though waking up from his nap. But this time, he swept a glance at the crowd before him and said lazily, "No wonder there was a bunch of idiots who trespassed into my Guild's alchemy workshop and demanded us to hand over the murderer. So it was for this matter?"

"...!" Dasos' expression sulked slightly. He had long suspected if Rhode had some opinions about him. If not, why would they be stopped by the mercenaries when they first tried to enter the Fortress? Moreover, Rhode had even sent out a Grand Mage in the Legendary Stage to display his strength. And now, Dasos finally realized why the Guild Leader had paid no attention to this!

Dasos laid down the cup in his hand. Although he appeared calm, his heart was pounding. Initially, when this incident happened, there were two extreme attitudes toward this incident in the Alchemist Association internal department: radical and conservative. The extremists believed that Starlight Guild was nothing more than a tiny organization formed by crude mercenaries and didn't require their permission to investigate them. If these mercenaries dared to reject, they would show the mercenaries the powers of the Alchemists!

Most of these extremists were the members of the headquarters. They lived far from the Munn Kingdom and didn't understand the strength of Starlight. Judging from the information listed on paper, it was simple to be misled that this Guild was only lucky to have succeeded in the Midsummer Festival and there was nothing worthy of their concerns. The other conservative group led by Dasos mainly lived in the Munn Kingdom. Due to the advanced technologies in the Munn Kingdom, the Alchemists had occasional interactions with the higher-ups of the King's Party and they were aware that Starlight wasn't just lucky and acting rashly would surely bring them loads of trouble. Of course, this was only a problem between the two internal parties. While the Chairman was in a comma, there were also power struggles between the Alchemist Association. However, none of these had anything to do with Rhode.

Dasos heard that the headquarters formed an investigations team and they headed to Starlight for investigation. He also knew about their bossy and domineering attitudes, which was why he quickly formed an investigations team on his own and rushed to the Land of Atonement, with hopes to reach out to Rhode earlier. This way, he hoped that his reputation in the Munn Kingdom would allow a more efficient and peaceful discussion and stop the headquarters from taking over the case. However, he didn't expect that he was too late. It had exceeded his expectations that those normally lazy fellows would take actions this quickly. If the Alchemist Association was this hardworking most of the time, perhaps they wouldn't even be worse off than the Mercenary Association...

Dasos puckered his brows and let out an awkward cough. Then, he said. "Mr. Rhode, I think there may be some misunderstanding..."

"I don't care if it's a misunderstanding, Master Dasos. I respect your Alchemists, but this doesn't mean that I can allow them to cause a ruckus in my turf. That bunch of idiots has been chased out by me and I don't wish to see them again..." Rhode interrupted Dasos' words harshly and stared into his eyes. "If they continue to stir trouble on my territory, I can't promise that I will treat them nicely. I hope you can understand what I mean."

"..." Dasos' expression turned ashen.

However, Rhode gestured before he responded. "But those idiots have nothing to do with us. Master Dasos, I respect you a lot and that is why I have invited you into the Fortress. Can you tell me... How do you intend to carry out investigations with my Guild?"

"We..." Dasos felt relieved after hearing Rhode's assurance.

It was apparent that this young man had seen through their internal problems. Besides, Dasos also understood what Rhode had meant. Dasos heaved a subtle sigh of relief after gaining Rhode's support for them to carry out the investigations instead of chasing them away.

As for those guys from the headquarters... Dasos only hoped that they would be smart enough to not provoke this dangerous young man, who definitely wasn't a compassionate person. Dasos was also present during the Midsummer Festival and he had personally witnessed how Rhode crippled the Sky Sword and Liberty Wings Guild. He didn't want the Alchemist Association to end up in the same predicament as them.

"This... If it's possible, I hope to speak to the Alchemist who concocts potions for your Guild."

Rhode didn't answer immediately. Instead, he pondered for a few moments and looked to the side slightly. Shortly after, he contacted Canary, who was sipping on tea in the workshop, using his spiritual communications. "Canary, bring Lapis to the drawing room. Tell her that the Alchemist Association wants to meet her. Ask her not to be nervous and she just needs to repeat everything that has happened."

"Alright, Rhode," said Canary.

Rhode faced the senior and nodded slightly. "No problem, Master Dasos. But I do have a request. I hope that I can be around with her during the interrogation in order to prevent any misunderstandings."

"There's... no problem with that." Dasos was rather hesitant when he heard Rhode's suggestion. However, the situation wasn't advantageous enough for him to disagree. Although the senior seemed to be in a difficult position, he was actually somewhat proud. Even though it was disadvantageous for Rhode to stay behind during the interrogation, he could use this opportunity to sound out Starlight's attitude. If Rhode pointed fingers of blame or secretly pressurized them using his authority, this matter would surely be related to Starlight without any doubts. If Rhode really made this suggestion only for the purpose of protecting his subordinate, then the possibility of this being just a coincidence would be much greater. As for Dasos, he would be glad to see it happen.

However, even though Dasos was mentally prepared, he was still astounded when he met Lapis trembling with fear as she appeared through the Teleportation Door. She seems about 16 to 17 years old and a little, innocent child... Is she really capable of concocting that alchemy potion?

"S-Sir Rhode...!" Lapis felt immense pressure on her shoulders as soon as she spotted the Alchemists. She clasped her cloak nervously and turned to Rhode with tears rolling down her cheeks. Lapis had no idea what happened before teleporting to this place. She even thought that Rhode had decided to abandon her to the terrifying Alchemists. "I-I didn't mean to..."

"Alright, Lapis, don't be so nervous," Rhode gestured and said. "The Alchemists are here to investigate about the potion. You know that you're the only one responsible for concocting the alchemy potions in the Guild, so don't be nervous. I asked you here to answer their questions and I don't intend to chase you away or punish you. Alright, relax. I'm around, so they won't dare to mistreat you."

"Ah..." Lapis heaved a long sigh of relief and turned to the Alchemists simultaneously with flushed cheeks. Lapis had always been bashful and after displaying a blunder to the outsiders, she felt even more embarrassed. However, she knew how important this matter was and she calmed herself down quickly.

There wasn't anything special that was worth mentioning for the interrogation process. With Rhode around, the Alchemists didn't dare to be too aggressive. Besides, Lapis was also being truthful. Initially, she was concerned that she would be punished for concocting a potion for an outsider privately, which was why she was that nervous and cautious. However, she revealed the rare calm side of herself before the Alchemists and she was even a little furious. If it weren't for you people from the Alchemist Association who got me to do it, I wouldn't be this on edge.

Lapis had no intentions of hiding the truth because it was just an ordinary job for her. The Alchemists were stunned that this young lady had the advanced skills to complete the poison where even an Alchemist Master like Dasos would have a difficult time concocting it successfully. Initially, Dasos thought that Rhode had paid lip service and randomly picked Lapis to fill in the spot. But he realized that this timid young lady actually answered his difficult alchemy questions easily, ones that most experienced Alchemists needed to ponder for a long time. Besides, Dasos had also gotten the information about the recipe from Lapis which was extremely beneficial to them. This unexpected gain allowed this senior alchemist with virtue and prestige to lay his burdens down. Although there were many suspicions regarding the Chairman being poisoned, he realized that this matter indeed had nothing to do with Starlight.

The interrogation ended swiftly without any hiccups.

Dasos verified the young lady's skills and a fresh idea popped up in his head. "Miss Lapis, I would like to receive your help for something."

"I-I..." Lapis tensed up immediately.

Once bitten, twice shy. After she had been duped by the people of the Alchemist Association, she instantly entered her nervous mode whenever anyone from the Alchemist Association needed her help. The young lady took two steps back frightened before turning to Rhode and looking back at the senior. Dasos was caught between laughter and tears by her behaviors. However, he let out a bitter laugh and sounded his request.

"Through your descriptions, we learned that you're innocent in this incident, Miss Lapis. But I know you're aware that the poison is very harmful and difficult to get rid of. No matter what, since you're capable enough to concoct the poison, could you please concoct the antidote for us?"

"I..."

Lapis was a little hesitant while Rhode let out a soft cough. Even though Rhode didn't respond, Kasos understood what he meant. Shortly after, the senior unrolled a wide smile. "How about that. I know that concocting the antidote will be really tough. I will provide you with the materials that you need in order to complete the antidote. Our Alchemist Association will do our best to provide the materials for assistance."

"If that's the case..." Lapis' eyes glimmered and gaped immediately.

The leopard can't change its spots. As she was about to agree, Rhode let out another cough and interrupted. Then, he stood up and held his hand on her shoulder while looking straight at Dasos. "Master Dasos, I respect everyone here, but I have some objections."

"Please speak your mind, Mr. Rhode," Dasos kept the smile on his face and displayed a stern expression. He knew that this young man wasn't easy to deal with at all.

"It's simple, Master Dasos. I guess you're aware now that my subordinate has no intentions of harming your Chairman. She merely complied to the request of someone in your association to concoct a bottle of potion and our Starlight has nothing to do with whatever happens to the potion. Don't tell me that you will find trouble with the bladesmith when someone uses a sword that he had forged to kill someone?"

"That..." Dasos was left speechless. However, Rhode wasn't graceful enough to give them a chance for explanations. He simply gestured and continued. "That's why I'm discontent with your way of saying that 'It is up to her to make up for her mistake'. Even if the bottle of potion was made by Lapis, she doesn't have the call as to what it is used for. If your people used it to water the plants, wouldn't there be no problem at all? So, this isn't the responsibility of my subordinate. If you wish for her to concoct the antidote..." Rhode paused and gazed at Dasos proudly. "You will need to pay the corresponding remuneration."

"T-This...!" The group of Alchemists including Dasos exchanged bewildered looks with one another. They didn't expect this young man to righteously come up with such fallacious reasoning. They thought that they were being polite for not finding trouble with them by coming to Starlight personally for the investigations. They didn't expect that he would take advantage of their kindness. Not only did he deny his responsibility, but he also requested for the Alchemist Association to pay him for it!

This is ridiculous!

A few of the Alchemists wanted to rebut, but they didn't know what to bring up against Rhode... Indeed. If the things that happened were as Lapis described, the responsibility didn't fall on her even if she was the one who concocted it. Most importantly, if they insisted that Lapis was responsible for the antidote, wouldn't it mean that they were implicated with it as Alchemists too?!

Dasos forced out a bitter smile. He knew that this young man wasn't easy to deal with and the so-called remunerations perhaps would bleed out the association. But now, he had no other choices. "Alright, I agree with your opinion, Mr. Rhode. Let's get down to the details."

Knock knock knock! As Rhode and Dasos were about to enter the next stage of the discussion, there were sudden loud knocks on the door. Rhode twitched his brows curiously and said. "Come in."

The door sprung open and Joey panted his way into the drawing room. He spotted Dasos and the group of Alchemists and he smartly dashed toward Rhode to whisper into his ear. "Boss, the bunch of Alchemists that we are tailing are up to no good."