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665 Between Light & Light III

 In the game, there were two military campaigns that left the deepest impression in Rhode's mind. One of them was when the Disaster Army retreated, leaving Lydia to withstand the attacks from the Four Legendary Generals and Dark Dragon herself, leading her to dying in the battlefield. From that moment on, Rhode loathed the Country of Light and set off the beginning of using the players' strength to change the history of the entire Dragon Soul Continent.

The other military campaign was the Diamat Campaign before it.

Back then, the Munn Kingdom was a mess both domestically and abroad. The Undead Army leading the battlefront of the Country of Darkness came in strong while the Country of Light backstabbed from the rear. Even with the help of the Battle Angels, the Munn Kingdom's front and rear defense was shaky under the violent, storm-like aggression. In the end, the northeast defensive line crumbled due to the lack of manpower and millions of Undead Creatures swarmed like a broken dam and flooded the Munn Kingdom.

At that moment, Rhode and 200 more other players who had the highest reputation in the Munn Kingdom were summoned by a special mission. They had to work together and head into Diamat while boarding the First Fleet of the Royal Magic Fleet to stop the enemies and buy time for the Munn Kingdom to rebuild their defenses. Back then, it was this Heavenly Class Magic Warship that Rhode and his fellow players had boarded.

It was the largest floating magic warship on the entire continent. The Saint Lady Vessel was 333 meters in length, 39.6 meters wide, and 22 meters high. Its deck was 332 meters in length and 71 meters wide, equipped with a total of 3500 siege magic cannons, almost equivalent to a hovering fortress in the air. Two Battle Angel Armies boarded the warship. But, in fact, no one had heard about this magic warship. It was the top secret of the Munn Kingdom and even players like Rhode only got to know about its existence after boarding it. Their mission was to protect the warship from enemy destruction. Back then, the average player levels wasn't too high, only about level 45. They felt powerless against the terrifying creatures of the Country of Darkness.

If the scene where Lydia died in battle left Rhode indignant and sorrowful, the Diamat Campaign had brought him overwhelming fervor. He still remembered the scene until now.

They stood on the deck and watched the massive magic warship sail along the tide like a heavy, razor-sharp sword slicing through the clouds. When the white cloud layer vanished, the view left them astounded. Millions of Gargoyles like migratory locusts had shaded the entire sky. Looking down from the edge of the deck, countless of Undead Creatures could be seen flooding forward like a raging tide. This spotlessly white warship flickering with sacred radiance was like a canoe that had intruded into the black tide alone and only an instant was needed to devour it entirely.

This scene left the players trembling while some could hardly stand on their feet. Even though they were players and could respawn unlike the NPCs, the shock and terror perceived from their sense of sight was enough to freeze them to the spot.

Then, everything changed completely.

A deafening horn sounded. The warship shook as rays of brilliant light beams erupted from its hull, converging into a river of light that shone upon heaven and earth. Then, a series of brilliant explosive sparks dazzled before their eyes. Countless Gargoyles were shattered by the artillery fires and the concealed sky once again revealed its azure base as though the filthy dust had been wiped off in a single swipe. The Undead Creatures on the surface turned into dust as flames blazed through the land. A glaring magical radiance blasted in a loud rumble and ignited a series of explosions that burst skyward - This scene was deeply imprinted in Rhode's memories. If the Munn Kingdom could create a few more ultra warships like the Saint Lady Vessel, perhaps they wouldn't be in that miserable state.

The strength of a single warship was enough to last them 5 days in Diamat and the amount of Undead Creatures destroyed during this period was countless. The players had taken turns on duty on the deck and assisted the Battle Angels in annihilating the Undead Creatures that descended from above. However, no matter how formidable a warship was, it wasn't a match for the existence of rules. It was the end for this most formidable warship when the Four Legendary Generals formed an alliance and attacked. No matter how strong the warship was, it was still a man-made product, after all and was no match for the creator of rules. Under the attack of the Four Legendary Generals and even with the desperate struggles of the players, the Saint Lady Vessel fell from the sky and crashed on the surface.

After the Munn Kingdom was destroyed, several players, forces, and guilds had tried to get their hands on the design diagram of the Saint Lady Vessel because they knew that even though this powerful warship could only operate in the tempest areas, it would be more than enough to threaten their enemies. But players returned without attaining any of them. Not to mention an ultimate warship like the Saint Lady Vessel, they couldn't get their hands on even the information of ordinary floating magic warships.

Never in the world that Rhode had expected to have the chance to step onto it once more. And this wasn't even during war.

Rhode stood on the flat, spacious deck and gazed meaningfully at Lydia. This was simply thought-provoking for him. The ruler of a nation would normally take an ordinary plane and train when they went on a visit in an official capacity. But, have you ever seen a ruler boarding a fully-armored aircraft carrier or fighter aircraft for this purpose?

Moreover, the Dragon Soul Ceremony wasn't only a matter between the Country of Light and Munn Kingdom. As this was related to the Light Dragon Soul, the guild leaders and overlords of various territories protected by the Light Dragon Soul had to participate. This could be considered as an 'international' ceremony.

Under such a circumstance, Lydia actually boarded the Saint Lady Vessel into the Country of Light?

Rhode knitted his brows. The development of history had changed once again. In the game, he had never heard of Lydia boarding the Saint Lady Vessel to participate in the Dragon Soul Ceremony. If this had happened, the massive size of the Saint Lady Vessel would have created a big disturbance among the players in the Country of Light. And now, Lydia actually decided to do this?

Interesting.

Rhode took a good look at the hull and there wasn't a single weapon at all. Magic crystals and exquisite, gold-embossed relief sculpture in picturesque disorder were as though a part of the ship. But Rhode knew that this warship could strip off its elegant and beautiful veil and reveal its malevolent side. Perhaps the entire Country of Light capital would need to be rebuilt if this warship blasted all its magic cannons...

"I didn't expect to see you here, Mr. Rhode."

As Rhode was gloating over the disaster of the Country of Light's capital, razed down to a sea of flames by the magic cannons, a voice dragged him back to his senses. He was surprised when he turned around.

"General Garcia? Long time no see... I've never thought that I would see you here."

Garcia was still presenting the same sloppy look. However, he wore a much more formal attire compared to back when they were in the Cloud Summit. He wore a straightly-ironed military uniform and pinned with various shiny badges like an honorable soldier. However, his lazy posture exposed his idle personality.

"Not only me. Look."

Garcia smiled in response and pointed over. Rhode turned around and quickly spotted the other group of people. There was a dozen of them which included male and female nobles and soldiers. They looked like an ordinary representative team at first glance. But Rhode took a closer look and realized that they were mostly young adults who weren't older than 30 years old. Apart from Grand Mage Amund and a few others, most of the participants joining Lydia were young people with an average age of 20, which was rather strange. Besides, from Garcia's introduction, Rhode realized that these young people had extraordinary identities. Most of them were famous among their generation. Some were future stars whom Rhode had heard of while some were unheard of. However, no matter what, they were outstanding talents from various regions and were well appreciated by Lydia.

Although these people had enjoyable conversations with one another, their attitude toward Rhode was rather cold. However, Rhode wasn't too surprised. According to Garcia, most of them were famous talents and were usually proud and arrogant, which was fine as they had their own opinions. However, Rhode had sprung up too quickly, where most of the people in the Munn Kingdom weren't even aware of his name just a year ago. Then, Rhode rose abruptly to a towering position, gathered a whole lot of attention, and even received Lydia's recognition. It seemed that Rhode was the first person among them to have received a feudal rank from Lydia personally.

Rhode knew that it was understandable that these people remained at a respectful distance from him. Just like in the game, there were several other top-rated players in the Dragon Soul Continent apart from him. Perhaps they had incompatible temperament, but it was inevitable for the players to sympathize with one another after being the top players of their class in the world's most popular game. But no matter what, their reputation was built up and accumulated from dominating countless dungeons and arenas. If a mysterious person who the top-rated players hadn't heard of emerged out of nowhere and was termed by the officials and players as the 'Number One Player of the xx Class', nobody-including Rhode-would be pleased about that. In order to maintain their reputation, they would confront that fella and shatter his legacy as this didn't conform with their rules.

Although young, rising stars had heard of Rhode's well-known reputation, Rhode had been in the border regions most of his time and wasn't around the central zone like Golden City, after all. Therefore, the young rising stars were rather concerned when this 'newcomer' appeared out of nowhere. But, fortunately, they understood the current situation and didn't naively look for trouble with Rhode. After all, some idiots had personally experienced that finding trouble with Rhode wouldn't end with a great result. Besides... They didn't have benefits that were worth disputing for.

Rhode knew what was going on in their heads. Even though he had a reputation that spread far and wide, it wasn't anything impressive in their eyes. After all, they had never personally seen Rhode unleash his potential. Although he had performed well in the Midsummer Festival and celebration feast, this could only prove that he was powerful individually. So what was the point? This group of young people here was the future of Munn Kingdom and their strength naturally wasn't in individual capabilities in slaughtering and killing. Unless Rhode could be as impressive as Grand Mage Amund who could turn about the situation in a battlefield alone... If not, there was no purpose with his strong individual capability.

This was why he didn't bother socializing with them. He was clear that he needed to display his skills to them. And that wasn't only referring to his individual capabilities because it wouldn't be enough for him to be a member who would be accepted by the ruling class. During such times, he could only go with the flow and observe the situation first.

"Everyone! Welcome aboard the Saint Lady Vessel!"

A voice so loud that even the chilly winds couldn't resist sounded. Rhode turned around and spotted an old Dwarf striding toward them. A thick, whitish long beard had covered half his face and almost touched the ground. The group watched on, worried that the old Dwarf would trip on his beard. However, the old Dwarf was surprisingly nimble. He took large strides forward and chuckled before bowing respectfully to Lydia. Got to say, it wasn't easy doing this motion with his stature.

"Hi there, Your Highness Lydia. Welcome to Saint Lady Vessel! I guarantee that this ship will send you and everyone to wherever you wanna go!"

"I'm glad to see you're doing fine, Mr. Gunter."

Lydia showed a gentle smile while Gunter burst into laughter. He raised his right foot and stomped the deck thrice.

"Your Highness., I haven't been feeling much better than now. Frankly speaking, I would've preferred to step on solid ground than this rocky thing! You see. The sky..." Gunter let out a shiver, "... I suspect that once I leave the surface, I will be sucked into the sky immediately! But I feel relieved whenever I'm on board this ship! It's like a reliable mountain with a pair of legs!"

Pfff.

Anne couldn't help but burst into laughter. She leaned to Rhode and chuckled.

"Leader, that Grandpa Dwarf speaks funny. He doesn't have wings, so how is it possible that he will fly into the sky..."

"Hey hey hey, that girl over there!"

Gunter rolled his eyes and glared.

"Who are you calling a Grandpa? Call me Uncle! I, Gunter, haven't reached the age of being called a Grandpa yet!"

"Anne won't call you that."

Anne replied without any fear of consequences before hiding behind Rhode and peering out to look at the old Dwarf.

"Anne knows it. You are surely a Grandpa with such a long beard. You're already so old but you're still pretending to be young! Shameful! Shameful!"

"You... You..."

Gunter raised his arm furiously and pointed at Anne with a trembling finger. Anne stuck out her tongue and put up a comical face while hiding behind Rhode. The crowd around the amusing duo laughed up their sleeves. Lydia even turned around and couldn't restrain a smile.

"Hmph!"

Perhaps sensing that he was wasting his breath, Gunter let out a groan and glared at Rhode.

"Watch your tiny wolf cub, young man. This isn't a damn zoo. I, Old Gunter... Damn it. I'm not old at all!"

"Mr. Gunter."

Lydia gazed playfully and spoke.

"We're all here and ready to move out. Could you please..."

"Oh, sure! Your Highness! Don't worry! We can move out anytime!"

Gunter bowed respectfully to Lydia before making eyes to the group around him. But his expression turned solemn instantly as soon as he spotted Gaya who stood quietly beside Lydia. The thick beard on his face concealed the drastic change in his expression so that even Rhode didn't notice.

Then, Gunter turned around and scuttled to the gigantic bugle horn. He sucked in a deep breath and blew with all his might.

Ooo... Ooo....

The deep bugle horn filled the atmosphere and the massive magic warship emanated an incomparable magical radiance.