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800 The Unfortunate Battle Mage Group

 Rhode remembered the Battle Mage Group as brave, powerful, and equipped with the resilience of Warriors and might of Mages. They were fighters of their souls and inheritors of magic, walking on this continent and striving for their ideals...

Memories were often wonderful, but the truth wasn't always so.

Rhode was baffled when he witnessed the group of Battle Mages cowering in the corner like refugees and beggars.

"I'm sorry, Sir Overlord."

The Battle Mage Group's representative said with an awkward look. He was one of the vice leaders, Sovann. Like the others, he wore a set of tattered clothes, but the magic cloak draped over his shoulders made him stand out as a Mage.

"What happened?"

Rhode couldn't understand how the Battle Mage Group ended up this miserable in the Eastern Plains. According to Marlene, there were more than 900 members in this group who came to the fortress. Although it sounded like a lot, about two-thirds of them were feeble women and young children while there were less than 200 true Battle Mages. Not only that, but most of them were also badly hurt. If it weren't for Lize and the Clerics, perhaps they would have died a long time ago.

Anyone could see that they didn't have it easy, but no one knew the reason behind it. However, this wasn't an issue for Rhode because he came here to receive answers.

The source of the problem stemmed from the 'Soul Road' Staff.

Back then, Rhode hooked the Battle Mage Group with this bait and specially wrote a detailed attack strategy for them. The Battle Mage Group quickly took actions and just as Rhode thought, the 'Soul Road' Staff was their lost inheritance and if they could retrieve it, they wouldn't mind becoming his hired thugs. Dream on!

Even though the 'Soul Road' Staff was a lost inheritance, it had been missing for centuries and was more like a legend to most of the members in the Battle Mage Group. The legend sounded beautiful, yet it had nothing to do with them. It was due to this reason that when Buster returned to them with this piece of news, there were objections. The Battle Mage Group was unlike the Demon Hunter Squad, after all. The Demon Hunter Squad had a hard time surviving everywhere they went and as soon as someone was willing to take them in, they couldn't care less if it was a trap and instantly sought shelter. On the other hand, the Battle Mage Group had led a comfortable life in the Eastern Plains. Even though they had separated from the Mage Association, they were considered pagans and not cultists. People were mostly unaware and fearful of them and didn't detest them like they did the cultists. Moreover, the Battle Mage Group was also considered one of the mountainous kings in the Eastern Plains, so how was it possible that they were willing to become an overlord's hired thugs for the sake of something that was lost for centuries?

However, the objections were from the minority and most of them hoped to retrieve the inheritance. Therefore, they embarked on their journey but didn't expect that things were out of their expectations.

There were a total of three vice leaders in the Battle Mage Group with Sovann and Buster supporting the leader. Even though the other vice leader, Lennon, supported them in searching for the 'Soul Road' Staff, he held different opinions from the other two vice leaders. It was clearly written in their traditions that whoever found the 'Soul Road' Staff would become the true leader of the group and this presented the best chance for him to seize the throne. Moreover, he also thought that it was humiliating for them to become an overlord's hired thugs. As one of the vice leaders, he held relatively strong authority so he privately reached out to those who weren't interested in the 'Soul Road' Staff and persuaded them to join his squad. Not only that, but he also promised that if they assisted him in retrieving the inheritance, he would support their views and not leave the Eastern Plains for Grenbell.

It was imaginable what the result would be, searching for the 'Soul Road' Staff under such circumstances.

Even though the Battle Mage Group was rather successful in retrieving the 'Soul Road' Staff with the help of Rhode's strategy, they weren't players, after all, where their leader, Buster, and Sovann sacrificed a lot of their men. However, Lennon smartly preserved his forces and 'backstabbed' the defenseless Battle Mage Group at the crucial moments in the end. As a result, Buster died in battle while Sovann and their leader killed Lennon and secured the 'Soul Road' Staff. However, their forces still took a huge hit.

As the proverb went, blessings never come in pairs and misfortune does not come singly; soon after the Battle Mage Group returned home, they met an ambush from the Undead Army. If it were in the past, they would have resisted easily. But, this time... they were powerless.

The exhausted Battle Mages had no choice but to evacuate with their families from the place that they had lived for centuries. On the other hand, their leader led his men to defend against the Undead Army and stop them from advancing.

The Battle Mage Group could no longer survive in the Eastern Plains after losing their leader, home, and forces. Their only choice was to evacuate, but they had nowhere to go.

In the end, Sovann recalled Rhode's suggestion. Even though he was embarrassed, he led the Battle Mage Group to Grenbell to 'seek shelter' from Rhode.

Sovann felt rather embarrassed because Rhode had requested them to join him back then. Not only that, but Rhode had also paid them the remunerations in advance. Even though the Battle Mage Group had indeed retrieved the 'Soul Road' Staff, their manpower suffered gravely and most of the members who they brought were mainly old, feeble women and young children without any battle strength. Therefore, he was uncertain when making this decision. It felt as though a man who adored a beautiful young lady had tried to win over her heart by giving her several benefits. However, due to various reasons, not only did the young lady not receive the love from the other man whom she desired, but she was also toyed with and insulted by others, turning from a sweet-looking flower to an unwanted, withered cabbage. In the end, she couldn't live this way anymore and could only return to the man who loved her, hoping that he would still accept her...

Of course, Rhode didn't suffer huge damages because he merely came up with a strategy for them. But... this current situation was a huge, unexpected headache. Thereafter, Rhode consoled Sovann and allowed them to stay in his territory. As for the specific matters, he left it for next time.

"What do you intend to do, Rhode?"

Marlene asked while Rhode shrugged.

"I don't know as of now. But I think you must have some ideas, right, Marlene?"

"That's right, Rhode."

Marlene smiled confidently. Then, she handed a plan to him.

"I think this is our chance."

Even though the Battle Mage Group contained mainly old, feeble women and young children, they could be useful apart from the battlefields too. The Land of Atonement required much more manpower for the tasks that the Ocean Elves couldn't handle. Moreover, the Ocean Elves were uninterested in remunerations and money, which made it impossible to motivate them to promote commercial distribution. However, these refugees were different. They might not be powerful, but they could fill in the crucial gaps in this territory.

The biggest problem in Rhode's territory was the lack of human resources. Most of the people here were mercenaries and workers and the development of a territory required the results of various jobs. The lack of manpower had been causing headaches for Marlene. She persuaded her schoolmates to develop their skills here, but couldn't possibly convince residents of other regions to migrate here. Since that was the case, how could the population grow?

Then, when the Battle Mage Group brought their entire family to the Land of Atonement, Marlene quickly realized that this was a great opportunity; one that could make Rhode's territory prosper! People wouldn't migrate for no particular reason, but it would be an entirely different matter if they were compelled to migrate! Most people couldn't stand the chaos of war, so they moved out of their countries. If Marlene could gather them in Grenbell, it would resolve a huge portion of Rhode's problems.

Not only that, but Marlene also knew that refugees were much easier to manage than migrants because after suffering from war, their immediate hope was to lead stable lives after settling down. On the other hand, the migrants left their countries to seek better living conditions that Grenbell currently didn't offer. But speaking about a safe, stable environment, Grenbell had them!

Moreover, Grenbell had a small population and held more than enough spaces to help settle down the refugees. Marlene had even decided to speak to other overlords and if they were willing to, they could send all their refugees to Grenbell. This way, not only could it resolve the population issue in Grenbell, but it could also resolve the other overlords' problems. Killing two birds with one stone, so why not?

The more Marlene thought about it, the more doable this plan sounded. Therefore, she prepared this plan before Rhode's return. Not only did she describe the benefits of accepting refugees in detail, but also considered the safety issues they might cause. However, she was confident in dealing with this matter. Currently, the Land of Atonement was the territory of Starlight. With the mercenaries and guards patrolling the place, it wasn't possible for the refugees to cause trouble. Moreover, now that they had finally found a safe, stable environment, the probabilities of chaos happening were low even if they were incited by others. Of course, as the number of refugees increased, it meant that Grenbell's military forces had to put more emphasis on internal security, rather than external threats. Fortunately, Marlene was confident that the elemental creatures in Rhode's arsenal would be enough to deal with them.

Rhode was impressed by her plan and nodded firmly in agreement. No matter how great he was, he was only a player. Even in university, he didn't study urban and rural construction management. He could easily slaughter a BOSS, come up with strategies, and find legendary artifacts. But he just couldn't handle territory constructions, set tax rates, and others... Moreover, earning money was different in game than in reality. In the game, some parties farmed gold while other parties specialized in selling equipment, materials, or leading newbies into dungeons for a fee. These were the sources of income for guilds and organizations. But all in all, these were the needs in game, and not in reality. If Rhode could continuously raid BOSSes for legendary artifacts, making money would naturally be easy for him. But the problem was that... this wasn't the gaming world.

There were some suggestions in this plan that astonished him, which included spending some money on the refugees. Of course, the money wouldn't be used to sponsor their daily expenses. Instead, it would be to aid them in settling down and starting their own businesses. Then, they could use their businesses as mortgages if they wished to expand further. This way, they could borrow financial support from Rhode after setting a repayment period with the church. If they couldn't repay before the end of their agreement, their businesses would be seized and returned to Rhode. The amount would be determined by the value of their mortgage.

Rhode twitched his brows as this seemed so familiar. Wasn't this how bank loans work?

"This is also your idea?"

Rhode gazed at Marlene.

Could it be that she has also transmigrated into this world like me?

But shortly after, her answer cleared his doubt.

"No, this was Ann's idea. She believes that we should support the refugees' development in our territory. I talked to Miss Canary and Miss Bubble and this is the conclusion."

I see. No wonder it sounded so familiar.

In the early stages of the game, Mini Bubble Gum threw tons of money into Starlight. Then, in the later stages, she came up with many ideas to earn income. However, Rhode didn't expect that it was Ann who came up with such an idea... It seemed that the commercial genes inside her were authentic.

With this plan, Rhode was no longer worried about the future of the Battle Mage Group. As long as things worked out as Marlene had predicted, the results shouldn't deviate too much. Therefore, he handed this matter to Marlene. However, this didn't mean that he had nothing on his hands because soon after he returned to the Land of Atonement, he received a new system upgrade mission-[Return of a Hero].