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703 Nightfall I

 Rhode let out a long sigh and tossed the letter on the table. Then, he lifted his head and looked at everyone before him.

It had been two days since the end of the battle. After annihilating the 'Sinister Death' and driving off the Undead Army, it appeared that there would be peaceful days for the time being. However, Rhode kept his guard on. He quickly engaged in an inquest on Simon and received first hand intelligence on the Undead Army.

Got to say, Simon was thoroughly pitiful. Even though he couldn't create a phylactery like the Liches to live for eternity, he also had some backup plans as a Necromancer. In a place full of mutual deception like the Country of Darkness, no one knew when they would die. Therefore, as the patriarch of the family, it would be too pathetic if he didn't have any means to 'restart' his life.

However, it was a legendary artifact in Rhode's possession that had defeated Simon. Rhode had gotten his hands on this artifact from the Duke Fiend's corpse, thanks to Marlene's lucky hand: [Spirit's Prisoner] could choose a target and extract its spirit. Even though, strictly speaking, Necromancers couldn't be considered alive and they were more like magical creatures that lived on spiritual energy, they still had spirits, after all. Moreover, Simon was also gravely injured and couldn't resist the binding of the [Spirit's Prisoner]. As a result, his spirit was instantly captured by Rhode and forced into the necklace.

Soul Cores for Necromancers were as though the phylacteries for Liches: the source of their presences. Necromancers and Liches were different. The latter used magical powers to engage in life and death transformations to turn themselves into Undead Creatures. However, Necromancers were mainly Undead Creatures with spellcasting talents. From this aspect, their Soul Cores were more important than the phylacteries, which could also be treated as the Necromancer's CPU. Whoever grasped it could grasp its presence. Therefore, as long as the Soul Core was in Rhode's hands, Simon wouldn't be able to hide any secrets and couldn't even lie...

Although Simon had limited knowledge as the patriarch of an intermediate family, Rhode managed to uncover a lot of useful information.

The Undead Army came in strong this time, led by 'Angel of Sorrow' Charlie and 'Spirit Chaser' Balende. The latter was responsible for the development toward the Munn Kingdom, while the former was in charge of the battle lines in the Country of Light. Frankly speaking, Rhode wasn't surprised at all when he heard this news. In fact, he knew that it was definitely Charlie's responsibility in conquering the Country of Light. This wasn't based on his knowledge as a player, but it was based on Charlie's past.

Many weren't aware about this, but Rhode knew that Charlie's identity wasn't only as one of the four legendary generals. He also had another identity. Previously, he was one of the three Archangels. Charlie spent more time being an Archangel than being one of the four legendary generals. Besides, he was loyal to the Light Dragon and made heroic contributions in the Creation War. It could also be said that most of the credit had to be given to Charlie for the vast land in the Light Mainland.

But everything changed after the battle ended.

Charlie was worried and resentful that the Light Dragon handed her authority over to the Humans. He had similar thoughts with the Dark Dragon that Humans were just a flock of sheep who had lost their way and needed a shepherd to guide them ahead. If not, they would surely become prey of the wolves.

Of course, Charlie's loyalty made him give up on his opinions and failed to convince the Light Dragon. He grew increasingly enraged as the Light Parliament flourished because he learned of their wild ambitions, as well as their arrogant and offensive views. But he could only watch on from the sidelines. No one had noticed the wrath burning underneath his facade.

As a result, the Light Parliament seized the authority and that was the day they established the Lighthouse of Liberty. Charlie gave up on his identity, abandoned the [Fury Blaze] that proved him as the Archangel, left the Country of Light, and joined the Country of Darkness. Perhaps due to the fact that the deeper the love, the deeper the hate, Charlie swore to make the Humans who had brazenly stained and snatched the Light Dragon's throne and position pay. They would exist as slaves of the undead nation and serve under a greater rule to complete his wish and revenge.

Back then, the players gossiped that the reason why Charlie had made such an irrational move was that he loved the Light Dragon Soul deeply. However, the Light Dragon Soul Heir was just a vessel, after all. Not to mention, no Dragon Soul Heirs would survive for long in that violent Creation War. As a result, the person whom he loved dearly left his side... And it was possible that this caused him to join the enemies in order to fulfill his wish in saving the nation.

Rhode felt that he understood Charlie rather well because he put himself into his shoes. After the Munn Kingdom was destroyed, he had the urge to join the Country of Darkness to eliminate the Country of Light. However, he dwindled this thought after realizing that players could rely on their strength to change everything. After all, from a certain perspective, the Country of Darkness was still his enemy.

Although Charlie was the strongest among the four legendary generals in terms of individual strength, Rhode wasn't concerned that he would attack the Munn Kingdom. This was because, from a certain perspective, the Munn Kingdom was still upholding the traditions of the Light Dragon, which meant that they were Charlie's ally to a certain extent. Besides, his relationship with Lydia had always been decent and attacking the Country of Light was much more fulfilling to him. This was why Rhode didn't believe that Charlie would be the one to attack the Munn Kingdom.

On the contrary, Rhode was more concerned about the remaining three legendary generals. None of them were easy to deal with and it was especially so for [Conqueror] Garcia. He was promoted to be "By the God" as a human. Back then, he didn't have any unique race and was only an ordinary human born into a slave family within the Country of Darkness. In fact, he was the only one on this continent who had advanced in rank as a human to be "By the God". None of the players or NPCs had ever achieved this, which went to show how terrifying he was. If Rhode had a choice, he would rather go into a 300-round battle with [Spirit Chaser] Balende or exchange flirting glances with [Blood Countess] Ashvril than to provoke this legendary fellow.

Apart from the two main, largest armies, the remaining smaller armies were troops from various powerful families within the Country of Darkness, which was similar to the human nobles' private soldiers. However, the troops were considered a type of official army for the Undeads. In fact, they were the main forces in this battle.

After Rhode received the news, he immediately sent the reports to Lydia. The information was extremely crucial in evaluating the future battles. On the other hand, Rhode didn't slaughter Simon instantly after digging all the intelligence from him. Instead, Rhode ordered Simon to write out everything that he knew in a locked cell. Perhaps this unfortunate fellow was still transcribing everything with tears and mucus flowing down his face.

Rhode had other matters to focus his attention on.

"How's the situation in the fortress?" He asked.

Everyone exchanged glances and Orchid Heart let out a long yawn.

"Everything is going well, Rhode. We've lost less than a hundred men in the previous battle and there aren't any army deserters... So it's considered alright."

"The merchants have decided to leave temporarily, but the residents have no intentions of moving away for the time being. I've negotiated with them and they agreed to defend the Fortress together. Some of the residents by the periphery and Deep Stone City have decided to leave," Marlene said.

Rhode twitched his brows, but this wasn't beyond his expectations. The residents had nowhere to go to and the reason why they previously tried to leave was that they were afraid that the Fortress would be destroyed. And now, not only could the Fortress withstand the attacks, but the soldiers had also eliminated the Undead Army. Compared to the stalemates in other regions, the Land of Atonement was much safer.

"How about our resources?"

Rhode turned to Lapis. The latter cowered slightly and stood up nervously.

"T-That... Sir, the... alchemy constructs.... w-will need more time to recover. As for the magic arrows and other Mage Equipment... If the enemies were of the previous standard, we will have no problems holding on for a week. If we have materials, my subordinates and I can produce more of them..."

"There will be materials, don't worry."

Rhode nodded to her and turned to everyone else.

"This is only the start. I guess you've experienced this battle personally now. The attack from the Country of Darkness will be fiercer here on out. Don't let your guard down even though we've won the previous battles easily. We didn't win because we've prepared ourselves well. All we did was to disrupt their plans, that's all. When the Undead Army is ready for the next battle, we will have a much tougher fight. The next six months are the most dangerous period. As long as we hang on, the ultimate victory will be ours."

Everyone glanced at one another. Then, Lize raised her hand dubiously.

"Mr. Rhode... Why the next six months?"

"It's simple."

Rhode looked at her.

"Because this battle is only a warm-up for the Country of Darkness," Rhode said in an apathetic tone.