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596 Confused Heart V

 How strange.

Rhode brandished his dagger and smashed a Chaos critter into nothingness. He couldn't help but furrow his brows. They had entered Emerald Valley for about two hours and they should have covered half the distance by now. The spread of the Chaos here wasn't that rapid and the critters that were tainted by the Chaos were low-level creatures which didn't pose any problems. Although the journey had been smooth, the most crucial Mind Devil hadn't been discovered yet. He suspected if his over-cautiousness had prevented the Mind Devil from showing itself. He had indeed felt traces of spiritual-probing slipping by him and Anne when they entered the valley. However, nothing happened afterward. Back then, Rhode thought that as long as they moved forward, the Mind Devil would surely strike for them. A human's mental strength and thoughts were its best food and he believed that it wouldn't let this delicious meal slip.

But now, Rhode didn't detect the same mental interactions from before as though the Mind Devil had lost its interest.

Or perhaps I've behaved too prudently?

Rhode let out an inward sigh. Of course, he couldn't be blamed because the Mind Devil focused on mental attack, which was unlike magic or any other physical attacks. Rhode certainly didn't wish to be outplayed by it, which was why he acted more cautiously. But now... What's going on?

Rhode didn't believe that the Mind Devil would obediently wait for someone to annihilate it. If that was the truth, Rhode would have a much easier time and it would be as easy as having a meal to fight a level 30 BOSS that didn't use any mental attacks. However, Emerald Valley wasn't a path that would lead to a dead end and the Mind Devil naturally wouldn't be waiting at the end... Rhode had even considered tricking the villagers into being bait for the Mind Devil.

"Leader, something isn't right."

Anne said and Rhode came to a halt as he had also sensed the unusual environment. Thick white fog was spreading and enveloping everything. It was so fast that they almost couldn't even react in time.

"Stand beside me, Anne. Hold my hand and don't let go!" Rhode yelled out.

Anne nodded hurriedly and grabbed his hand... At this moment, the fog shrouded them completely.

"W-What is this? Leader?"

Anne gazed curiously at the murky smoke that had masked their vision of everything within two meters of their sight. If they weren't holding hands, they wouldn't be able to confirm each other's position. However, the duo didn't stop moving forward.

"This isn't fog."

Rhode swept glances around him. He didn't feel any water vapor from it and the little mermaid's skill failed to disperse it. This proved that the fog was just an illusion to conceal their vision.

Rhode took large strides forward while holding onto Anne's hand. In the white fog, no one could verify time and distance accurately. However, Rhode continued to move forward regardless until the fog disappeared before his eyes.

"This is..."

Anne widened her eyes in astonishment. It wasn't the picturesque scenery of a valley. Instead, it was a long, dozen-meters wide corridor with a pitch-black ceiling. Tall, round pillars of stone lined along the corridor supported the dome. Anne turned back and realized that the path that they had come through from turned into an ice-cold wall.

"Hu..."

Rhode let out a long breath, but Anne didn't know if he was relieved or felt helpless.

"Alright, we've found it, Anne."

"Eh? Is this the 'something Devil' that Leader mentioned?"

Anne turned around in surprise and Rhode nodded firmly.

"That's right. The place that we're in now is a mental world created by the Mind Devil and as long as we walk into the core of this world, we can find that fella and annihilate it. It's that simple, but..."

Rhode paused for a while. At this moment, he was rather doubtful of the situation. It wasn't strange of the Mind Devil to call upon a mental world, but neither of them seemed to be affected by it at all. As for the little mermaid, Rhode could understand her every action since she was his summoned spirit and there weren't any signs of her being attacked mentally.

However, this phenomenon didn't appear to be an 'illusion spell' used by the Mind Devil when capturing prey. Instead, it was a true mental world, which was the most powerful part of the Mind Devil. Although it had weak strength, it could materialize its prey's mental world and receive powerful strength from it. Or perhaps, the Mind Devil wasn't powerful itself, but it could borrow its prey's mental strength to create such things, which was the most terrifying.

But this was where the problem presented itself. Whose mental world did this belong to? Rhode wasn't affected by it and it was impossible for Anne to have such a strange mental world. The mental world was built from the deepest scenery in one's heart and it wasn't possible that Anne was interested in such quiet and lifeless buildings. But now, it meant that someone had been affected by the Mind Devil, which was why this mental world existed. But who exactly was that?

"Let's go. Be careful."

Rhode shook his head and beckoned.

The stone corridor seemed never-ending. Rhode scrutinized the view as he sought out some features of the mental world owner. However, what took him by surprise was that this mental world wasn't as simple as it seemed.

This corridor resembled those in lofty palaces and the Church. As a matter of fact, the spotlessly white, round pillars and oval dome proved this point. Moreover, the dignified and gorgeous floral patterns added a bit of a solemn atmosphere to this place. Rhode's first impression of this place was that this was a mental world which belonged to a serious and noble person.

Yes, that's right. First impression. However, it was entirely different after he scanned the details.

And the reason laid in the statues on the round pillars.

In the Church, these statues were Angels carved on the round pillars. They widened their arms and spread their elegant wings apart, posing magnificently. However, the statues on the pillars were rather... Hmm... How should I put it...

Rhode turned his gaze away from an Angel statue that was hugging the round pillar tightly as though it was 'rubbing it for electricity' to the other end. Another Angel statue that had her hands rubbing her chest and legs tightening with each other while exposing an infatuated expression... Yes... This is... How should I put it... In other words... Undignified. Yes, really undignified.

Compared to the stern, elegant patterns on the corridor, the statues were frivolous and obscene, which was unbearable for Rhode to look at. On the contrary, Anne made a big fuss.

"Woah, Leader. Those two are hugging in a weird head to leg position. How strange!

"Woah, Leader. Her legs are wide open. What is she doing, anyway?

"Woah, Leader. That statue's legs have split into a straight line.

"Woah, Leader. Look at that..."

Rhode felt that he had made a great decision in bringing Anne with him. If it were Marlene, Canary, or Gillian, perhaps they would be so embarrassed that they couldn't even move. Even Rhode couldn't bear to lay eyes on the ridiculous statues. After all, they were far worse than those movies prohibited for under 25 years old. Rhode had seen lots of adult movies on the web, but he had never seen such creative poses. If this happened in the game, he would surely record them down and show it to everyone. It would definitely cause an uproar and possibly change human views on sexual positions.

Fortunately, there was still an end to the corridor where a heavy wooden door presented itself. Rhode stepped forward without hesitation and pushed it.

A round hall, which wasn't as indecent as the corridor, revealed itself. The entire hall was spacious and tidy with a round fountain in its middle. Clear spring water sprayed from it and covered the entire hall while plain, simple black and white stone stelae were erected in the surrounding.

As Rhode and Anne stepped into the hall, a voice sounded in their ears.

"You're finally here, Mr. Rhode."

"Lize?"

Rhode and Anne lifted their heads to the source of the voice. They widened their eyes in astonishment.

Lize stood above one of the black stelae. However, she was totally different. Her smile wasn't as warm and she lifted her chin to look down at them with a proud, arrogant smirk. Not only that, but her dressing was also shocking. She wasn't wearing her usual Cleric robe. Instead, she wore an extremely revealing two-piece leather clothes that covered her most feminine parts like a set of bikini. She also wore long boots and black leather gloves that extended to her elbows. Lize lashed the whip in her hands and gazed at Rhode.

"I've been waiting for you, Mr. Rhode. Ah... You're finally here. I thought I had to wait for you forever. But now, you're finally by my side. Fate has proven that you're eventually mine and you can only return to me... Huhuhu. Come, Mr. Rhode. Come to me and follow my orders. As long as you're willing to, I'll give you the paramount award in this world. You shall indulge in never-ending happiness and become my most loyal servant forever!"

"L-Lize?"

Anne shrieked in horror.

"What are you doing here? And why are you dressed like that? You..."

Lize's expression darkened and she lashed out the whip at Anne.

"Shut up, you bitch."

"Huh...? Huh??"

"You thought that I was unaware? You oestrus bitch are always pestering Mr. Rhode for his attention to satisfy your shameless desires. Hmph. How daring of you. Let me tell you clearly. Mr. Rhode belongs to me. Don't touch him with your dirty hands, or you'll be sorry!"

"Ah..."

Anne was left speechless. Then, at this moment, Rhode disappeared in a flash and two blade rays emerged beside Lize, striking for her neck. Lize instantly sprung back and lashed her whip forward, colliding with Rhode's twin daggers. Then, she somersaulted backward using the recoil and landed steadily on another stela. But this time, her face had distorted.

"Mr. Rhode, how can you attack me because of this bitch. I'm really disappointed. It seems that I must teach you a lesson... I must make you mine and you will listen to all my orders. This is your duty as my servant! I will make you understand this!"

Then, Lize vanished in the blink of an eye.