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686 Mission Reward & System Upgrade 3/3

 Rhode walked to the center of the room and extended his right hand.

"...!"

Dazzling magical radiance flickered from the back of his hand like a soothing stream flowing from along his arm to the ground. A summoning ritual formed by three rings unfolded and the ten Soul Cores gradually hovered in midair as though guided by invisible strings. Rhode stood in the middle while lines of system prompt revealed before his eyes.

[Additional Phantom Guardian Unlocked. Please choose your target.]

Rhode lowered his head and a long list of names emerged before his eyes. He tapped on one of the names and in a dazzling flash, golden rays emanated from between his fingers as though running electric current.

[Target confirmed. To project into Soul Core?]

Yes.

Rhode gave a slight nod.

The spiritual radiance surrounding him abruptly transformed.

Columns of spotlessly white light from the summoning ritual rushed into the sky and enveloped the ten Soul Cores. A twinkling light beam connected them and they trembled like sandstones washed by a strong waterfall, allowing the spiritual radiance to infiltrate them from the inside out. Then, an explosion occurred.

Clink!

The ten Soul Cores surrounding Rhode cracked harmoniously in the crisp sound of rupture and transformed into ten cards that spun constantly on the spot. However, he didn't check their contents immediately. On the contrary, he shifted his gaze to the card hovering before him and a line of system prompt emerged.

[Detected the Core Card]

[Please appoint the card]

Without any hesitations, Rhode extended his finger and tapped lightly on the card with a black base and white edges.

[Core Card appointed-Joining the 10 Strongest Spirit Decks-Success]

Boom!

At the same time, a beam of pitch-black flames burst skyward from the ground. The cards hovering around him vanished to nowhere. The pitch-black flames slowly weakened, faded away, and was replaced with a slim figure.

It was a young lady who was about 20 years in age. She had fair, clear skin and dark, shoulder-length hair complemented her pretty facial features. The black-framed glasses gave her a knowledgeable boost in looks. She wore a black, thin skin tight top with a knee-length skirt, long socks, as well as a dark brown martens boots. Not only that, but she also had a black, red-lined fur shawl. Under the bright lights, strange magical patterns were seen flashing by.

The most eye-catching thing on her was the thick book with a gorgeously patterned hard-cover and stringed together by golden chains. She held it by her waist and she looked more like a scholar than a warrior in the battlefield.

Mini Bubble Gum's first reaction after seeing the young lady wasn't surprise, but utter disappointment instead.

"Ah... Really! Why aren't you naked!"

"Sigh..."

Even though Canary didn't speak, her exaggerated sigh had shown her thoughts.

So, after a long time, you two are only here for that?

Rhode rolled his eyes. It seemed that these two young ladies still remembered how they were fully naked when they first came to this world and now they were expecting the same sort of treatment to her? But it was a pity that she wasn't purely a Phantom Guardian. Instead, she was being appointed as a summoned spirit. This was why, even though her strength was forcefully brought down, the equipment on her wasn't stripped off. Gillian was also clothed when I first summoned her, isn't it?

"Ahh... Rhode, Bubble, Canary, long time no see..."

The young lady stifled a yawn before greeting them in her semi-conscious state. Rhode and Canary nodded in response while Mini Bubble Gum let out a 'tch' and hid behind Canary. Then, she peered out and stuck her tongue out.

"Tch. Sister Heart didn't change one bit!"

"Ahh..."

The young lady didn't have any response to Mini Bubble Gum and she appeared as though she was about to fall asleep anytime after staying up for the whole night. However, the group was long used to this behavior from her. This young lady was one of the vice leaders of Starlight Guild-Orchid Heart.

Just like Canary and Mini Bubble Gum, Orchid Heart and Rhode knew each other in real life. She was Rhode's senior in university and they were also in the same activity club. However, he didn't get to meet her more than ten times throughout his life in university.

The reason was fairly simple. She lived life like a shut-in.

The first time Rhode met Orchid Heart was during the university freshmen party. Back then, this senior of his caused an uproar among the students as though she was a huge star. The freshmen felt ridiculous. Even though she looked decent with delicate and pretty facial features, she wasn't close to being the campus belle at all. Then, Rhode realized from the other seniors about the reasons behind the uproar.

In fact, Orchid Heart had also caused an uproar when she first entered this school. Back then, she entered the school with the best examination scores and was chosen to represent the freshmen in giving the opening speech. However, the school quickly learned about her odd side thereafter. Although she had been chosen to represent the freshmen, she didn't attend the freshmen ceremony at all. Ever since she entered her university dormitory, she never stepped out of her room to attend classes. Perhaps this wasn't too surprising if that was all. After all, many students let themselves go and pigged out after entering university and it was a common occurrence for them to skip classes. However, what astounded the students was that even though she basically didn't step out of the dormitory, the school had never given her any warnings or expelled her before. No one knew about the reason, but Rhode had once heard plenty of rumors. One of the rumors mentioned that she was a genius who came to this university to work on some research, which was why the school gave her the lenient treatment. Moreover, even though her sense of presence was frighteningly low, she always passed all her exams smooth and steadily. This was why she had become a legendary figure in the school.

Then, it was after Starlight Guild became formidable that she joined them. Rhode wasn't especially mindful about her, but he discovered that Orchid Heart was actually that legendary figure in his school after someone reminded him. Orchid Heart had also admitted her identity and that was when they started to know each other.

In the game, Orchid Heart advanced from the Scholar class to the special, hidden class of 'Spellcaster Scholar'. It was a support class within a support class, but unlike a Cleric like Mini Bubble Gum, the Scholar's expertise was in excavating remains, archeology, and analyzing the ancient text left behind in dungeons. It wasn't great in battles-in fact, Orchid Heart's attacking skills were rather average. In terms of battling technique, she was only above average at best among Rhode's subordinates and was totally incomparable to Mini Bubble Gum and Canary.

But on the contrary, she was a total genius in commanding armies and unearthing hidden messages. A Scholar should have been a support class, but everything changed after she excavated the advanced 'Spellcaster Scholar' class. Not only did her abilities as a Scholar improved drastically, but she could also cast some AOE support spells like the Mages and Clerics and possess high level attack techniques. What was the most insane was the unique technique of the 'Spellcaster Scholar'-[Eternal Bibliography]

Through this technique, the Spellcaster Scholar could analyze any techniques being cast before her and once the analysis succeeded, she could store the technique into the [Eternal Bibliography]. Then, she could use the technique for her attacks and defenses, but it would only be limited to one usage. With sufficient time, the Spellcaster Scholar could choose to not cast the technique and undergo deeper learning of it. As long as the learning worked, the Spellcaster Scholar could grasp the technique and use it as her own. No matter if it was the Mage's magic spell, Cleric's spiritual spell, or Swordsman's swordsmanship, the Spellcaster Scholar could imitate and discharge them perfectly and wouldn't be faced with any class limitations.

But this class wasn't all that godlike and the reason was simple. The stronger the technique was, the harder it would be for the Spellcaster Scholar to analyze and learn it. Even though, theoretically speaking, the Spellcaster Scholar could also analyze and learn a BOSS's technique, it would take a long time for her to accomplish it as often times would it require the BOSS to cast the technique a few times before she could fully analyze it, which made the learning part even more challenging. In the past, Orchid Heart had once succeeded in copying the Dark Dragon's technique, but she realized that one and a half years was needed to learn this technique. And it was one and a half years of time in real life.

In one and a half years, perhaps the Dark Dragon would've died eight to ten times already.

Due to this reason and in addition to her low level of mastery, her combat skill only hovered above average even with assistance from Rhode and the other top-rated players.

On the contrary, when one door closed, another door opened. Even though she was incompetent in many aspects on combat skills, she was a talented commander who was rare to come by. Everyone knew that commanding a guild battle in game was tough as players weren't soldiers who strictly abided by instructions. Moreover, chaos was bound to happen when there were that many players in large-scale battles. Therefore, even though the battle tactic appeared doable in large-scale battles, it would often erupt into utter chaos thereafter.

However, Orchid Heart was entirely the opposite. No matter if there were 50, 500, 5000, or even 50,000 players on the battlefield, she could command them perfectly with her exceptional decision-making and quick reactions. Normally, there would be some delays when commanders gave their orders during chaotic warfare, but Orchid Heart was so quick that she could give out accurate instructions even before the situation took a drastic turn. Apart from formidable players like Canary and Mini Bubble Gum who had assisted Rhode's Starlight in dominating the game and unleashing the best of their backstabbing, Orchid Heart's commanding skills had also contributed greatly in that aspect. If it wasn't for her capability in sorting everything out clearly and orderly in the battlefield, perhaps Rhode's tactics wouldn't have succeeded so easily.

However, she was often mistaken for being a person who would be full of zeal whenever she indulged herself in the game. In fact, no matter if it was reality or game, she would always appear sleepy as though she could close her eyes and fall asleep anytime after pushing through several days and nights of gaming without a break. Those who weren't aware of this often advised her to take a break if she couldn't endure the fatigue, as health was the most important. Then, they realized that she looked sleepy no matter if she had just gotten up in the morning, eaten her lunch, or before she turned in for the night. Everyone was used to seeing her sleepy eyes that were without any traces of tension. Not only in group battles, but also when their group was wiped out by the BOSS, she would always seemed to be lacking energy and vigor as though she didn't have enough sleep.

"Senior Heart, I guess you're aware of our current situation, right?"

Orchid Heart looked with modestly downcast eyes and nodded slightly. She held the > in her right hand while her left hand scribbled across the page. She leaned on the wall and her neatly cut fringe swayed along her movements. After a few moments, Orchid Heart gave a firm nod.

"... Yes, I got it, Rhode. Don't worry, I know what to do."

"Good to know."

Rhode heaved a sigh of relief.

"Alright then, Senior Heart, have a good rest while I get Canary to arrange a room for you. I will inform you of my upcoming plans later."

"Sure. I'll leave those kids to you then, Rhode."

Orchid Heart let out a tired yawn before gazing at the card in Rhode's hand. Then, she pushed up her black-framed glasses from her nose bridge. Rhode turned to Canary and Mini Bubble Gum.

"Find a room for Senior Heart. As for the others, I will introduce them to her afterward."

"Okay, Rhode, I'll go get prepared."

"Ah... How boring, but I do want to see their reactions when they meet Sister Heart. Hahaha, it's gonna be fun. Let's go, Sister Heart!"

Rhode shook his head with a bitter smile. He sat back to his table and scanned the ten cards before him. The ten cards had an above average level due to the top-rated Soul Cores used to summon them. Besides, some of them had even raised his spirits.

All the ten cards had black base and white edges and exposed some murderous aura within its solemnity. The ten cards were led by Orchid Heart as the Core Card and on her card showed the > with a black hard cover floating before her widely spread arms and behind her were several metallic pillars.

[Received the Ultimate Army Deck 10/10]

[Orchid Heart. Summoner (Number 1 Position in the Ultimate Army Deck. Human) Offense 3 Defense 5. Rare Spellcaster Scholar. Unfuseable. Analyzes, copies, and learns techniques. Incantation. Techniques Possessed: > (Everything in the world has its own meaning. Follow the footsteps of knowledge and wander into the endless ocean.)

Reverse Time Flow (Time Attribute)

Core Card (Can summon all cards)

Range Reward (Extend effective range of techniques by 3 x 3)

Time Manipulation (Accelerate or delay the technique casting time. Duration increases along with levels)

All in one (No punishment for using techniques from other classes)

Proficiency (Increase the speed of growth for mastery levels by 50%. Increase strength of techniques with max mastery levels by one-tenth)

Rate of Growth: 0%]

Apart from the godlike support techniques, her offense and defense values were unremarkable. But Rhode was able to accept this fact as she was level 0, after all. Moreover, she was more like a General who commanded everyone from the back and didn't need to lead the charge, so it didn't matter even if she had low offensive values. She could respawn even if she died, anyway.

Even though Rhode was mentally prepared, he was stupefied when he glanced over the ten cards. He was confident that the strength of these ten cards would be sufficient to take on an entire legion!