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835 Tinder 1

 Rhode pushed the wooden door open as the refreshing scent of incense entered his nostrils. He squinted while entering the ordinary-looking room, only to realize that it was much colder and damper. Fortunately, the coldness had driven the stench away and its interior appeared much more 'luxurious' than the outside. Of course, this was only a comparison. At least there were clean, tidy tables and chairs and a thick woolen blanket over the table. A thin, frail elder sat around the table. He wore an old but clean robe and held a huge brass alcohol cup with both hands. A little girl who was between six and seven years old stood behind him. She wore a one-piece overall, but it might be rather forceful to describe it as an overall. Strictly speaking, it was just a piece of long cloth with a hole cut on the top and could barely cover her thighs. She seemed to be as haggard and malnourished as the old man. Her limbs were as thin as stick matches while she stood barefooted on the cold floor, coughing away lightly.

The little girl watched anxiously as Rhode entered the room. She hid behind the elder and clutched his sleeve. Then, the elder smiled and beckoned to Rhode.

"Please have a seat, young man."

Rhode didn't reply to his invitation. Instead, he gazed at the little girl quietly and strolled toward the chair. He rested his hand on the pitch-black sword hilt around his waist and tapped his fingers, wrapped in a white glove, slightly. The little girl took two steps back in fear and instinctively gazed at the elder. Then, Rhode pulled the chair out and sat down. He leaned back, crossed his arms, and nodded to the elder.

"I would like to say nonsense like "It's nice meeting you", Sir. But, it's a pity that you seem to be welcoming me with menacing intentions."

"Hahaha. You're smart and brave, young man."

The elder revealed a smile.

"I have to admit that I did have such intentions, but not anymore. I apologize for my rude actions and hope that you can forgive me, for the sake of my age."

"..."

Rhode continued to cross his arms and gazed silently at him. In an instant, the atmosphere in the room was awkwardly silent. After a few minutes, Rhode twitched his brow and curled his lips into a smile. Then, the room temperature dropped drastically, where even white frost emerged over the walls.

"It seems like you don't intend to work with me, Sir."

"Oh? How did you know?"

Not only was the elder not astounded, but he also gazed with curiosity.

"If you did have the intention to work with me, you wouldn't be this polite, Sir. I understand a lot about the Order Refugees and etiquette isn't a compulsory course for you. I believe that you're already raising several conditions now if you have no intention of rejecting me."

Rhode said.

"Alright then, I guess I shouldn't waste any more precious time... Hmm. I shall take my leave."

Rhode paused slightly before shifting his gaze to the incense plate on the table.

"Perhaps you shouldn't waste such an expensive incense, Sir, because this Hallucinatory Nectar is extremely rare. But, this thing isn't that popular in the Land of Chaos, I guess."

"You...!"

The elder widened his eyes and revealed a horrified expression. Then, before he moved, a shadow darted toward him at lightning speed. In the blink of an eye, the incense plate toppled to the floor while a viper-like black blade pressed against his throat.

"I advise you to not act rashly, miss."

Rhode leaned forward, but his eyes were locked onto the frightened little girl beside him.

"I guess you're aware of my strength, so I hope you can drop your weapon. That's right, the dagger behind your back."

"..."

The little girl sulked instantly. She slowly stretched out her left hand and dropped the blunt copper dagger on the ground.

"Good."

Rhode nodded in satisfaction before turning to the elder.

"Alright then. I hope you can tell me the coordinates of the tinder. If not, I will need to extract that information from your brain myself."

"I didn't expect that you've actually learned to cast undead spells, young man."

The elder's eyes glinted in surprise. He neglected the razor-sharp blade pressing against his throat and placed the alcohol cup on the table calmly. Rhode shook his head slightly.

"No. I don't have the time to learn those tricks, of course. But I do know someone who loves playing around with them. I'm sure that she won't mind conducting experiments on a person and also satisfy your curiosity."

"Haha. since that's the case..."

The elder maintained his smile when suddenly, his expression changed abruptly. He straightened his posture, clutched the chair handle, and widened his eyes. His gracious smile had vanished, with fear replacing it entirely.

"You...!"

"That's why I said, Sir."

Rhode lifted his chin and gazed at the elder proudly. At this moment, a petite figure wrapped in a white cloak had emerged behind the little girl, pressing a razor-sharp wrist blade against her throat. On the other side, another almost identical petite figure extended her arm and pressed against the elder's chest.

"Don't act rashly... Yes, I may not match up to two legendary beings, but I have to admit that it is foolish of you to pretend to be fragile. I think you fully understand how harmful it is now. If you didn't pretend to be this sickly, perhaps I may fear you even more."

"Hahaha..."

The elder revealed a complicated smile before sitting back on the chair. He looked at the petite figures who emerged out of nowhere and shifted his gaze to the little girl behind him. Then, he forced out an exhausted smile.

"I don't think so, young man. These two are your subordinates, it seems. You do possess formidable strength."

"Thanks for the compliment."

At this moment, Rhode's expression had returned to his poker face. Frankly speaking, he had already discovered that something was amiss when he first entered this room. There was indeed the presence of a legendary being, but it was unlike the eyes that were locked onto him. Even though it felt similar, the difference was as though a brand new sword compared to a sword that had slaughtered countless people. Although the little girl seemed to be younger than Christie and was malnourished, the Land of Chaos wasn't a place that should be judged with logic! Not only did Chaos divide the connection to Order, but it also changed Order, which led to many people possessing powerful strength as soon as they were born.

Moreover, players in the game had also witnessed Order Refugees who entered the Legendary Stage as soon as they were born. It was due to this that there were many insanely powerful beings in the refuge. There was once a player who discovered a refuge that was run by a child who was about six years old. He possessed strength of the Legendary Stage and not only did he murder those who opposed and reprimanded him, but he also became the ruler of the entire refuge. Furthermore, he also recruited an entire group of children to manage the refuge while the adults became their slaves. This was as terrible as a black horror comedy. It was due to this that after Rhode detected the legendary aura exuding from the little girl, he wasn't too surprised. Her aura was pure and she was too inexperienced in controlling it, which explained why she was so 'brazen' when Rhode entered this room. It might probably due to this reason that she coughed after Rhode showed her his overwhelming aura.

On the contrary, this elder was much more experienced in controlling his aura. If it weren't for Rhode's experience in dealing with tens of thousands of legendary players and could instinctively sense the slightest of pressure from his aura, perhaps he might have neglected him. But it was a pity that there was a huge difference between a pure aura and an aura that had killed countless people.

Rhode launched his attack in order to confirm his guesses and indeed, the instant he struck, he sensed a trembling aura despite the elder remaining calm. It felt as though a blade was withdrawn and immediately returned into the sheath. However, the dense, bloody aura couldn't be ignored.

What made the situation worse was that this elder even pretended to be weak... If he didn't pretend, Rhode wouldn't have secretly summoned Gracier and Madaras to deal with him.

Since you want to put on an act, I shall play with you until the end.

"Now, shall we have a talk, Sir?"

Rhode narrowed his eyes and gazed proudly.

At this moment, no one behind the door knew about their clash. Everyone sat in circles and rested under Gillian's watch. The journey to this place had numbed their feet. Joey weeped exaggeratedly while rubbing his feet until Marfa slapped him on his back.

"Sigh..."

Marlene gazed at the hopeless Joey. Then, she squinted at the scenery before her. The refuge was in a strange disorder. Some people walked on all fours like dogs with apathetic expressions, as though they had never smiled in their whole lives and didn't know what happiness was. Marlene felt a chill down her spine as she watched their lifeless eyes.

What kind of life are they leading in this place?

Marlene didn't dare to think about this question. At this moment, a gentle voice sounded from behind.

"Big Sister..."

"Hmm?"

Marlene turned around and saw a little boy who was about five to six years old and covered in a tattered cloth looking at her curiously. He held a beautiful flower in his hand gently, which caught Marlene's attention. However, she quickly shifted her gaze to him.

"What's the matter?"

"This. Is for you... Welcome..."

The little boy lifted the flower and gave it to Marlene. The young lady smiled and accepted his kind gesture.

"Thank you..."

Smack!

At this moment, a stone struck the flower heavily and the flower crashed to the ground. Marlene turned around furiously and saw Anne's cheeky face.

"Anne, you..."

Marlene turned back and discovered that the little boy had already disappeared. Marlene bent her brows but before she berated, Anne hopped toward her and stared with her emerald green eyes.

"Didn't Leader say that we shouldn't touch anything no matter what the people here give us, Sister Marlene? Have you forgotten? Anne remembers clearly because Leader reminded us about this, Sister Marlene."

"But he was only a child..."

Marlene knitted her brows and thought that Anne was overreacting. However, the passionate flames in Anne's emerald green eyes convinced her. After hearing Marlene's explanation, Anne shook her head firmly.

"Leader told us that we shouldn't eat or touch any of those things! This isn't a tour, Sister Marlene. Do you want to die?" Anne said.

Marlene realized that this carefree and lively young lady became so pressurizing on her all of a sudden and she was left speechless. At this moment, Lize went up to them hurriedly.

"N-No, Anne. I guess Marlene was only careless. It's nothing, right?"

"Okay..."

Anne blinked and the surging flames in her emerald green eyes weakened gradually. Then, she took two steps back and returned to her usual carefree self.

"Sister Marlene didn't obey Leader's order. When Leader is back, Anne will tell Leader to not let Sister Marlene into his bed! Hmph!"

"This..."

Marlene's expression stiffened while Lize blushed in embarrassment. The latter looked away and saw John and Sovann speaking about how round the moon was out there and if they might have the chance to see a meteor shower. Yes, they shouldn't have heard what Anne said. On the other hand, Gillian cheekily rested her chin on her hand and watched the commotion. Her interesting gaze left Marlene and Lize speechless.

"What are you talking about?"

Suddenly, Rhode's voice broke the silence as he stepped out of the entrance and went up to them. Everyone suddenly shifted their attention to him and Rhode gave them an answer.

"There's no more time to rest. Get ready for battle."