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641 Two Letters. Two Paths 1/3

 Although Rhode had agreed to Marlene's suggestion, he was clear that the weapons wouldn't be of any use at the moment. The research and development of Mage Equipment required a long, complicated process. Even with Lapis's alchemy knowledge, modifying Mage Equipment wouldn't be that easy. Right now, what he needed was more straightforward battle strength. His requirement for subordinates was to be able to use wide AOE spells and also possess a certain amount of strength in order to have an advantage in close-combat battles. These requirements were easily satisfied by players. Even players like Canary and Mini Bubble Gum would choose various suitable close-combat techniques as player skills and spells weren't learned over the decade, but through the system instead. However, the natives weren't that blessed. They could only focus on one expertise and it was tough enough for them, not to mention cultivating both spells and combat skills.

And it was due to this that Rhode had focused his attention on the Demon Hunter Squad and Battle Mage Group.

Both of these groups were unpopular in the Dragon Soul Continent, where some feared and refused to have dealings with them. The Demon Hunter Squad was basically made up of Half-Demons who were born through the evil transactions of Humans and Demons. It was due to this that many Half-Demons had the distinctive features of the Demons and one of the reasons why people were afraid of their appearances. In that group of people, some had abandoned themselves while some had chosen to challenge fate. They hoped to change the views that others had on them and blend into society. The Demon Hunter Squad was formed with this mission. They gathered the Half-Demons who weren't convinced to abandon themselves and used their sharp senses to detect Demons and evil energy, roamed about the continent, defeated evil presences that threatened the people, and also rescued the other Half-Demons who had their hopes dashed. However, although these people were hardworking, the outside world was unwelcoming of them. But Rhode was clear that the Half-Demons were powerful in strength as they had the tainted blood of Demons flowing in them. Not only did they possess strong constitution, but they also had an abundance of spiritual energy. Some of the Half-Demons even possessed the talent and skills of the Demons. They also could manipulate flames, ice, and lightning, which was what Rhode needed.

As for the Demon Hunter Squad, Rhode wasn't as worried as Marlene about them. He had completed a series of 'The Light of Sorrow and Glory' missions of the Half-Demons. Players had to become the middlemen between the Half-Demons and Humans in Black Fin Coast, resolve the misunderstandings of both sides, and fight alongside them to gain the Humans' trust. The Half-Demons had a perfect ending when the mission ended. They gained the trust of the Humans and gained their own residential area in Black Fin Coast. On the other hand, the players received the Half-Demons' thanks and precious equipment as gifts. Any players who had completed the missions had no doubts about the true hearts of the strange looking Half-Demons thereafter.

However, their blissful days didn't last long. After the Country of Darkness destroyed the Munn Kingdom borders, the Demon Hunter Squad moved out to defend the people and eventually died in battle... Not sure if this could be considered as a venerable or lamentable ending.

Rhode was confident in the Demon Hunter Squad. Moreover, he had dispatched his men to gather intelligence in Black Fin Coast. The information that he had received was similar to that in the games, which pumped up his confidence.

It was the same for the Battle Mage Group. Most people knew that the Battle Mage Group was formed by Mages who had broken away from the Mage Association. Strictly speaking, the Battle Mage Group and Cultists were rather alike. However, Rhode knew clearly the history of the Battle Mage Group. The reason why they were formed was to search for a weapon that had gone missing in the long history and had utmost importance to them. Besides, he also had ways to guarantee that the Battle Mage Group would take the bait.

Rhode was a player, after all, and players were the most sensitive about various legendary artifacts.

After sending out the two letters, Rhode started waiting quietly.

He believed that he would have two power teams of elites in his arsenal soon.

***

The ice-cold wind whizzed.

Sol paced by the entrance and gazed worriedly at the snowstorm. The freezing wind squeezed through the gap between the doors, but he didn't feel the coldness at all. The middle-aged man wore leather armor covered with animal fur while an iron sword hung by his waist. He looked full of dignity with his bronze skin and burly physique, but a single glance was enough to differentiate him and ordinary Humans: there were two black, striking, backward-curving horns sticking out of his thick, messy brown hair.

"Sol, can you stop pacing up and down? I'm feeling dizzy already."

A woman sitting by the fireplace grumbled. Her slender body wrapped in a black armor and beautiful facial features were seductive and alluring. Of course, it was another matter for her fire-red, snake-like eyes and long hair that was burning in flames. This wasn't just a figure of speech. If one took a closer look, one would discover the faint flames twitching between her red, long hair with specks of sparks bursting forth.

"I'm worried about Aboni and Elizabeth, that's all."

The man came to a halt. He turned around and spread his arms apart, revealing a face of innocence.

"They've gone for a little too long. Although winter came early this time, they should have returned by now. Why haven't I seen them yet?"

"Maybe they were captured?"

Another woman curled up by the fireplace and donned in a cloak shivered. She opened her eyes wide and said anxiously. The man shook his head and shifted his gaze around the simple and crude building. This wasn't their residence. Instead, it was merely an abandoned chapel in the wilderness. He had over 30 companions seated in the broken hall and their expressions were filled with fatigue and helplessness. But now, they had nowhere else to go... Although they worked hard, reality was cruel. Most of the people here weren't willing to accept them. Even though the rumored Battle Angel Army didn't appear before them as they had expected to brandish their swords to eliminate 'bastards with tainted blood' like them, Sol was worried that it was only a matter of time.

"Leader, they're back!"

A man yelled out. Sol looked out of the window and spotted two black figures lumbering forward. Shortly after, a young man and lady entered the chapel with a whole bag of items. They patted the snow off their bodies and sucked in a deep breath.

"Woah... It's freezing..."

The young man laid down the large bag and darted for the fireplace. The young lady took down her hood and revealed a sweet smile to Sol.

"Ah, Brother Sol, we're back."

"You two are finally back, Aboni, Elizabeth."

Sol heaved a sigh of relief.

"What happened? Why did you two go for so long? Didn't I give instructions to purchase some rations from Old Carl to get through the winter? Why? Did something happen? Were you two captured by someone? Or perhaps... Old Carl..."

"No, Brother Sol. The snowstorm was too strong and it delayed our trip, so we took more time... Ah!"

The young lady let out a cry as though she had thought of something. She retrieved an envelope from the fold of her clothes.

"By the way, Brother Sol, this is for you."

"An envelope?"

Sol took it over and gazed at the young lady dubiously.

"Where did this come from?"

"I'm not too sure too. Mr. Carl handed the envelope to us and he said that it was a few days ago when someone requested him to pass it to us."

"Oh?"

Not only did the young lady who sat by the fireplace approach Sol, but the others gathered around the fireplace also crowded over. It could be considered an extremely fresh experience for the people of the Demon Hunter Squad. They had never received a letter from anyone and had always been the symbol of hatred and avoidance everywhere. Everyone feared being cursed just from simply speaking to them. And now, there actually was a letter?

"Hahaha. Is this written by Royal Highness Lydia? I heard that the Royal Highness is rather kind. Perhaps she will agree to let us find a job in the Munn Kingdom?"

"What are you talking about? Have you had too much to drinks? Royal Highness Lydia is an Archangel. Even though she is different from past Archangels, do you believe that she will care about people like us?"

"Aiya. Cut the crap, guys. Brother Sol, quickly open the envelope up and let us know!"

"Yea! Do it!"

Under everyone's urges, Sol opened up the envelope and retrieved the letter within. Then, his expression changed instantly as soon as he laid eyes on the letter. He eagerly read the entire content and lifted his head in a daze.

"What's wrong? Sol? What's written on it?"

The red-haired young lady said impatiently while the others gazed curiously. Sol revealed a rather flustered look and swallowed his saliva. After calming himself down, he spoke.

"This... came from the Land of Atonement... The overlord of Grenbell has personally invited us to become his private soldiers..."

"What?!"

Everyone was rooted in their place.