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856 A Game of Chess

 After awakening Shira, Rhode led the Bow Knights in grinding out the Devil Gulf for half a month. After they eliminated tens of thousands of devils, Rhode received the EXP he needed to reach the next level and realized that continuing would be a waste of time, so he decisively ordered a retreat. However, General Kaplan and his soldiers were reluctant to part with him. Firstly, they lost a great helper in eradicating the devils and secondly, the group of beautiful Elf young ladies was about to leave their side. But, even so, Rhode harvested a lot in the Devil Gulf, where not only did he obtain the materials Lapis needed, but also gained a holy sword card. Besides, he also gained the likes of General Kaplan's army with the strength of the Bow Knights. Even though General Kaplan's army was capable of stopping the devils that sneaked through the gaps of the enchanted field before Rhode's arrival, he had limited manpower, after all, and losing men was inevitable. But after Rhode's arrival, General Kaplan's army instantly felt that the somewhat dangerous battles became a walk in the park. Besides, unlike what they imagined, Rhode wasn't like the typical nobles who sat back and did nothing. Instead, apart from eating and sleeping, Rhode often personally led the Bow Knights in clearing out areas where devils always appeared from (after all, earning EXP was Rhode's primary goal). This impressed the soldiers and with the glorious results of Rhode repelling the Undead Army twice in a row previously, it could be said that Rhode's reputation in the Devil Gulf had reached the "Respected' level. Before Rhode left, General Kaplan had even patted his shoulder, complimented him for his achievements, and lamented his regrets in not meeting him years earlier because he wouldn't be this stressed if he had Rhode as his subordinate.

In the Devil Gulf, Rhode's biggest harvest apart from the holy sword card was that he reached level 65. Not only that, but he also held a total of 6 Skill Points and pumped them into the 'Fantasy Daybreak' swordsmanship which he created, successfully upgrading it to the S+ grade and breaking the restriction of the shadow clones being unable to switch weapons. This gave him a little sense of achievement and satisfaction, as the battle between him and Shira damaged his pride a little.

Although it was said that the Spirit Swordsmen didn't rely on sword skills for victory, the 'Swordsman' in the name wasn't written for no reason. Rhode believed that the 'Fantasy Daybreak' swordsmanship was rather decent, and yet it yielded no results against Shira who relied on brute strength. This result left him depressed, of course. But now that his swordsmanship mastery had reached the S+ grade, he was confident that his shadow clones would possess much more strength than in the past, which was comforting for him.

But he didn't expect that before he was able to heat up his seat in the Land of Atonement, he received a report from Sonia.

"Gem?"

Rhode knitted his brows and gazed at Sonia through the crystal ball. The latter nodded firmly and confidently.

"Yes, Master. It's on Her Majesty's chest... There is a golden, circular gem in the middle. I'm sure that it is embedded in her."

"..."

Rhode pondered in silence. He couldn't be blamed for acting this serious. If Lilian was an ordinary Dragon Soul Heir, he wouldn't have given much thought about it. But the problem was that it was obvious that Lilian didn't know how to use her strength and wasn't aware of them. So then, any strange behaviors or conditions on her would possibly be a crucial clue. Back then Rhode had such a motive when he wanted Sonia to get close with Lilian. No matter what, as a female, Sonia was much more convenient in most scenarios.

And it seemed like that was his result.

Around the center of her chest?

Rhode tried to recall and indeed, if it was that area, he definitely wouldn't have seen it unless Lilian took off her clothes before him. But it was apparent that no matter how close they were, she wouldn't do that. Besides, that area was extremely sensitive, where unless he was a pervert, he definitely wouldn't have a reason to put his hand into her shirt and touch it.

Currently, Lilian couldn't use her powers. Was it related to the gem? Or perhaps that was something all Creator Dragons would have? Rhode knitted his brows and recalled. Light Dragon... Forget it. In the game, Rhode wasn't even aware if the Light Dragon was a male or female. He had seen the Law Dragons, also known as the Judgment \u0026 Ruling Twin Dragons, quite a few times, but they weren't as open-minded as Lydia in showing themselves. However, they didn't seem any different from ordinary people from their appearances. As for the Dark Dragon in its human form-Rhode wouldn't be that bored to check out a man's body, wouldn't he? He wasn't a 'fujoshi', after all.

"Do you feel any powers from it?"

"Erm... Sorry, Master, that is beyond my abilities."

Sonia revealed an apologetic expression. Then, Rhode realized that unlike others, Sonia was born as a noblewoman and politician and wasn't powerful. Her swordsmanship had only reached the Elite Stage and she couldn't cast any magic spells. It would be too harsh on her if Rhode were to expect her to detect any magical undulation like Marlene and Lize could.

"Alright then, did you sense anything strange from that gem or detect any strange behavior in her?"

"Hmm..."

Sonia puckered her brows and tried to remember.

"Yes... If I were to describe something, back then I did feel like... Her Majesty Lilian seems more dignified than usual..."

"More dignified?"

"Yes... How do I put it... Usually, even though Her Majesty Lilian holds the identity of the Light Dragon, everyone feels like she's just a solemn child. After I followed your order to get close to Her Majesty Lilian, I thought that she was an adorable and pure little girl. But back then when I stood before her and saw the gem, I felt like I would do anything for her if she asked... Yes... That... Although it lasted for a split second, that was what I felt."

Sonia felt rather awkward. No matter what, it was an act of betrayal to have such thoughts since she was Rhode's pet. But even so, she gave her honest answer due to her loyalty to him.

"Hmm..."

However, Rhode didn't take it personally. After hearing her report, he nodded slightly. It seemed like no matter what that gem was, it was definitely related to Lilian's powers. He wasn't concerned about Sonia's devotion to him because she wouldn't have reported this matter if it changed anything. Now it seemed like there was indeed something wrong with Lilian?

Humans were people of Order. Under the sky of the Light Dragon Soul's protection, they naturally favored Order just like Bell who had the Order channel inside her. Even if Bell did nothing, people would adore, be willing to help and care for her. This was the instinctive reaction whenever humans, as the people of Order, were influenced by the strength of Order. But if it were a Dragon Soul Heir like Lilian, she could make a large group of people swear their loyalty to her for no reason as long as the people were willing to. That was truly illogical and wasn't brainwash or mental manipulation. As long as one was under the sky of the Light Dragon Soul's protection, one would wholeheartedly fight for her.

This was also experienced in the game. After the Dark Dragon appeared, all the Undead Creatures on the battlefield immediately received a BUFF to increase their strength. It was the same for the Country of Law, which explained why no one was brave enough to resist the Dragon Soul Heirs no matter how the two nations fought. It was even more so for the higher-class races, taking the four legendary generals for an example. If any of them were to turn against the Dark Dragon, the Dark Dragon could instantly make him put down his weapon obediently, repent for his mistakes, and turn over a new leaf at a single thought.

Of course, the races under the different Dragon Soul protections wouldn't feel and show the same closeness and affection to the other dragons. If not, there wouldn't be a need for troops anymore because as long as one of the Dragon Soul Heirs emerged, all the troops would change sides in a war, right?

Previously, Rhode didn't consider the situation in this direction because he wasn't sure if the descriptions in the game were exactly the same as this world. It was especially so after he met Lilian during the Dragon Soul Ceremony. He didn't have any urge of kneeling down and devoting his entire life to her. Therefore, there was still a difference between game and reality. No matter what, after coming to this world, Lilian was the only Creator Dragon Soul he met.

It was after entering the Land of Chaos, seeing that Bell was so unconditionally loved by many with the strength of Order inside her, and after hearing Sonia's report that Rhode discovered that this wasn't casually said by players in the game... But what made him suspicious was why he didn't feel anything? It seemed like Lilian had a lot of issues with her powers and he wasn't expecting to have a naked meeting with her in the future to figure things out. However, if it were Bell, although Rhode liked her, he didn't adore her as much as the others did due to the influence of the Order.

Could it be that I have a devil bloodline?

Rhode curled his lips. That would be ridiculous...

"Master..."

"Hmm?"

Sonia called out to him and brought him back from his daze. He shook his head and stopped thinking about the matter regarding Lilian's mysterious gem and the immunity against the strength of Order. Then, he crossed his arms, narrowed his eyes, and revealed a gentle smile.

"Continue with your report."

"Yes! Master!"

If it were one who was more familiar with him, one's hair would have stood at the sight of his smile. On the contrary, Sonia responded excitedly. Perhaps the expressionless Rhode was more comforting than the smiling him. But his devilish smile when he toyed and tortured her in the underground cell was unforgettable. Every time she saw his smile, she would feel a sense of fear and strong lust. If it weren't for them being separated by the crystal ball, perhaps she would have already knelt before him and begging for him to ravage her body and soul.

But now, she couldn't hold back her desires and work hard to report the current state of the Country of Light. However, there was nothing much to report about. This year, the most important issue for the Country of Light was the election of the new parliament chairman. Based on the current situation, Nakvard and Greig seemed to be in the lead and that was considered good news for Rhode. The new chairman would be elected at the end of the year while he could use this time to settle the issue with the Land of Chaos, at the same time expanding his territory. However...

"I will still need to congratulate you, Sonia. You have become the youngest parliament member in the history of the Light Parliament, right?"

Rhode crossed his arms and squinted. Sonia lowered her head shyly like a young lady in love.

"That's right, dear Master. But the Light Parliament doesn't mean anything to me. As long as I can be by your side, I'm willing to give up everything else..."

"That day will come, but not now."

Rhode smiled and shook his head.

"Besides, I still need the current Light Parliament. Yes..." He paused and his eyes glinted menacingly, so Sonia focused all her attention in anticipation because she knew that he was thinking of something dangerous. As expected, at this moment, he broke the silence. "... Alright then. In order for the upcoming chairman to not remain idle, I want you to find an enemy for him; an enemy who can restrain him. I guess... You have someone up for it around you."

"... Please leave it to me, Master."

Sonia revealed a smile as a suitable candidate emerged in her head. She trusted that person and was confident that he would accomplish this mission that Rhode gave her.

The illusory image on the crystal ball vanished. Then, Sonia stood up and exited the room. The instant she stepped out of the room, the gentle smile on her face vanished completely and was replaced by an ice-cold solemness.

This was a new start.

Andre stood by the window and gazed at the soldiers training below him. His stern expression couldn't conceal his smugness. The wind of spring blew and brought vitality to the place. He shut his eyes and everything seemed like a dream. In the past year, he experienced all sorts of failures and shocks. Back then, he thought that he couldn't stand on his feet again. But now, he was here in a mightier position than ever. But...

He sulked at the thought of the ongoing election. Although it was still too early to determine who would eventually take over the chairman, it was apparent that it would be decided between Nakvard and Greig. Andre held personal grudges against both of them. Besides, due to a series of lost battles, the current prestige of the army had fallen to rock bottom. He was sure that the new chairman would definitely get involved and attempt to control everything. If it were in the past, the military wouldn't have cared about the Light Parliament at all. But now, based on the news that he received, it seemed inevitable.

When that happens, where should I go?

Knock knock knock.

At this moment, someone knocked on his door and interrupted his thoughts. He puckered his brows and responded.

"Come in."

"Andre, it's me. Big Sister Sonia is also here."

"Cheryl? Sonia?"

Andre turned around in elation. Cheryl pushed the door open and brought Sonia into his room. Sonia revealed a gentle smile.

"Long time no see, Andre. It seems like you're doing great."

"Everything's still alright I suppose..."

Andre blushed and gazed awkwardly at Cheryl. He let out an awkward cough and continued.

"There's some trouble with the recent situation. I guess you're also aware..."

"I understand that such an internal problem does exist within the parliament."

Sonia kept her smile, went up to Andre, and said solemnly.

"Andre, you're also aware that the military has been requesting from the parliament for grants using all sorts of reasons and many parliament members are no longer tolerant of it. Besides, the people need a reasonable explanation for this massive failure by the military. Besides, many parliament members complained that the military has failed in such a terrible state despite huge grants. The situation isn't looking too good for you. Although the parliament won't reprimand you for the time being thanks to the successful battle in the Winter Castle, I suppose you're aware that they won't take long."

"Of course, I'm aware."

Andre held his forehead helplessly.

"But we don't have any better solution, isn't it? Sir Carlson's support rate hasn't even reached 10 percent. Although I've received the recognition of many militants, it will be impossible for them to support a candidate who doesn't stand a chance to succeed."

"I'm clear about this... But there's still a solution for that."

Sonia's eyes glinted in a strange, ridiculous smile for a split second.

"The current situation is terrible for Sir Carlson and we need to turn it around. But it isn't enough to only rely on the people. We need to seek the opportunity amidst the chaos among the battles between the two strongest forces. Besides..."

Sonia displayed a smile out of a sudden.

"... You know that I've been sent to serve Her Majesty Lilian. Didn't you think of the possibility that... we can receive some assistance?"

"What did you say?"

Andre and Cheryl stared in disbelief.