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845 Fate Exploration

 They're there.

Rhode narrowed his eyes and raised Gracier and Madaras's cards. Shortly after, an interwoven thread of green and white emerged in midair, merging into a straight line that pointed to the depths of the abyss. Rhode nodded in satisfaction before putting the two cards away and continuing his journey toward the underground tunnel.

After defeating the Crystal Brute, the amount of EXP he received brought him to level 62 and he had a total of four skill points now. But after serious consideration, he didn't use the four skill points on his passive talents. Instead, he had chosen to use them on one of the talents in the fourth stage-[Fate Exploration].

[Fate Exploration: Can be activated when the holder's card deck fills its quantity by more than one-third. Appoint the card deck for exploration (Duration: LV1/LV2/LV3)]

This was one of the Spirit Swordsman's top talents in the Summoning Master talent tree. Through activating this talent, Rhode could specify a deck with more than one-third of cards to confirm the location of the remaining card spirits. This way, Rhode could fill up the entire deck and receive the full force of a complete deck. Currently, he didn't consider strengthening his skills and masteries of his swordsmanship as it wasn't necessary at this juncture. Instead, he focused all the four skill points onto this talent because he possessed one of the most powerful card decks possible.

"How interesting..."

Rhode shook his head with a bitter smile as he gazed at the cards. Come to think of it, this was his first time taking the initiative to fill up his card deck. Among the four holy sword cards, he had gotten Star Mark first, followed by Succubus which he obtained out of pure luck. He received Gracier and Madaras from Lydia and received the other 'Christie's' guidance to turn them into card spirits. He had never taken the initiative to search for holy sword cards because firstly, he didn't know where to find them, and secondly, he didn't have the time to. Now that the truce was in place, it naturally became his priority to search for the remaining cards. If he was lucky enough to gather all the 10 cards, he could take his strength to the next level and wouldn't be afraid of even the four legendary generals!

"Fear will only make one miserable~ I'm not afraid no more, not afraid no more..."

Rhode hummed the mixed tune from a collection of old songs as he casually strolled toward the underground tunnel. It would be interesting if one were to only hear the lyrics. But it was an entirely different matter with that poker face of his. Anne and Lesa gazed at each other curiously. They figured that Rhode was singing, but they couldn't understand at all. However, this didn't stop Anne from humming along with him. This melody was simple enough, wasn't it?

"... I can't see the night despite how dark it is~... Hmm?"

Rhode came to an abrupt halt. The temperature in the surroundings instantly fell. He knitted his brows and scanned ahead. Shortly after, he sensed a strange, familiar presence coalescing nearby. Anne and Lesa also came to a pause. The former retrieved the shield from her back while Lesa took a step back, clutching her staff-as the guardian of the Astral Temple, Lesa's strength wasn't weak at all.

There was a warm, mysterious stench of rotten eggs in the air, but it was all so familiar to him. In an instant, he recalled the scene of the scorching underground abyss and everything that he saw.

Shing!

Rhode brandished his right arm and a dazzling silver radiance streaked across the pitch-black darkness. At the same time, a nearby black mist shrieked and retreated instantly. However, the silver flames burning on Star Mark erupted. Rhode dashed and struck his blade forward. The glaring, unstoppable silver brilliance penetrated the dark mist, which it let out a miserable scream. A claw reached out from the mist and crashed onto Rhode's shadow. But at this moment, Rhode's second blade slash had arrived.

"Arghhh!"

The claw was hacked into two while the black mist dispersed immediately after. Shortly after, an incredibly charred, enormous creature burning in flames emerged before everyone. Its maroon eyes flickered in a frantic radiance. It widened its mouth and exuded a putrid stench. At this moment, squeaks resembling mice sounded from the surrounding. Then, several naked, 50-centimeters-tall creatures jumped out from the darkness, shrieking ear-piercing screeches. They lifted their arms and balls of green flames lit up around their hands, which they threw over.

"Do they think that they can defeat Anne?"

Anne twitched her brow. She simply tossed the shield forward like a boomerang and it whizzed a whirlwind barrier over her group, deflecting the fireballs swiftly. At this moment, Lesa also raised her staff and a gentle, shimmering sphere of light coalesced on the tip of it.

"Flashing Meteors!"

Along with her chants, meteoric radiance erupted from the light sphere on her staff, forming a storm of attacks that pounced on the enemies. The meteoric rays streaked across the darkness and struck the Imps to the ground, where they shrieked painfully. The rays of light penetrated their bodies, ripped through large holes on their fragile skin, and snatched their lives away.

"... Squeaks...!"

Although Rhode's group's attack and defense appeared perfect, the devils didn't flee right away. Instead, they raised fireballs and trampled on their companions' corpses.

[Imp killed. EXP +5]

[Imp killed. EXP +5]

[Irascible Imp killed. EXP +8]

......

Rhode removed the system prompts emerging before his eyes. With this amount of EXP in a year, he wasn't sure if he could level up at all. He was most annoyed with the low-level critters in the evil camp. Getting past the gatekeeper was the hard part and it seemed like this logic was suitable to describe the evil camp.

Don't these level 20 critters know how to make way?

Now Rhode finally understood why the demon kings in the stories treated those who obstructed him as 'lowly ants'.

"Hmph!"

However, with Anne and Lesa around, he didn't regard these Imps highly at all. He merely grumbled before shifting his attention to the devil standing before him. Although he was aware that it was the angels' seal that completely blocked off the Devil Gulf's entrance and exit, the fish net might fail to keep the small fishes away despite trapping the big fishes. The devils had never given up on sneaking through the chinks, so it wasn't strange to meet a few fishes that slipped through the net.

But... These fishes were just too small and weak.

"Grrrrr!"

The devil who had lost one of its arms charged toward him, raising and brandishing its other arm in blazing flames. But Rhode wasn't in the mood to dodge at all. He wielded Star Mark and his eyes glinted in a shimmering radiance.

Shing!

The criss-cross sword rays ripped through the scarlet flames and punctured the devil's body. This time, before the devil shrieked in pain, its shredded body flinched and bulged like a balloon immediately-exploding out of a sudden.

Boom---!

The violent explosion filled with flames and air current resounded in the tunnel. The deep explosions rang in his ears while his feet shook to the trembling ground. Filthy dust scattered and the Imps who couldn't avoid the explosion were caught in it.

"Cough... This is why I hate these things...!"

Rhode stretched out his arm and waved away the dust around him. He gritted his teeth and retrieved a card. Shortly after, the Spirit Bird emerged behind him and flapped its wings to clear the dust away.

--!

But before Rhode could catch his breath, he heard a series of heavy footsteps from the other tunnel, where a dozen fully-armored soldiers ran out from it.

Indeed. Just like the movies. The police and army only showed up after the crisis ended.

Rhode let out a helpless sigh at the sight of the dazzled soldiers.