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891 The So-Called Fate was...

 The battle ended.

While Rhode defeated his other self on the other side, the 'self-destruction' between the angel and berserker also came to an end. Although the angel was much stronger than ordinary humans, the berserker was no easy opponent either. In the end, the berserker slashed her two swords at the angel while the angel sliced off the berserker's head, resulting in mutual destruction.

"I'm surprised you came up with this solution."

Rhode turned to Anne, who was smiling like a little fox. Rhode had to admit that he didn't expect that starting an internal strife could solve the problem. In fact, if they were to follow Rhode's plan, perhaps he wouldn't have reached a conclusion with his other self, not to mention a victory. Currently, apart from Marlene being injured, the rest were basically in perfect condition, which was the best ending he could hope for.

"How did you come up with it?"

Rhode asked while stroking Anne's hair. The latter narrowed her eyes like a blissful kitten and if she had a tail, perhaps it would be wagging hard right now. Anne puffed out her chest and spoke proudly.

"Heh heh. Anne is clever. When Anne is fighting the other Anne, Anne realized that the other Anne didn't care who the opponent was. So, Anne thought that maybe the other Anne will treat her companions as enemies."

"..."

Even though the results were great, Rhode was bewildered by her response. If Anne's judgment was wrong, they would be attacked by the angel and berserker at once. When that happened, they would be thrown into a dangerous spot. Nonetheless, this idea left Rhode rather speechless.

"But why did you choose to taunt the angel and not the other Marlene?"

"Because Anne heard what the angel said."

Anne pointed at her ear proudly.

"Anne's ears are sharp. After hearing what the angel said, Anne feels like she resembles someone Anne met in the past, always willing to do anything for Leader. So, Anne gave it a shot and it was successful. Huhuhu."

Cough! Cough!

Rhode didn't respond, but Lize, who was treating Marlene's wounds, let out the obvious coughs. After this 'test' was over, the group restored their spiritual powers which allowed Lize to heal Marlene's injuries. But even so, Lize felt incredibly awkward and embarrassed by Anne's words. Lize's worst nightmares came from the time she was lured into the mental space by the Mind Devil and split into two extreme personalities. If it were possible, she would never have wished to talk about it again. But she didn't expect that Anne would deal this fatal blow to her at this moment. On the other hand, Marlene gazed at her dubiously, unaware of what exactly happened in the past.

Rhode shook his head with a bitter smile. In fact, he was used to Anne's weird ideas. Besides, he had already discovered that even though this world was different from reality, the natives enjoyed taking on uncertain adventures and perhaps this was due to their identities. The players could formulate a safe strategy through dozens of deaths and respawns, but the natives couldn't. Therefore, they couldn't be blamed for risking their lives and making such risky decisions. Although these decisions might seem foolish to the players, Rhode could actually understand the motivation behind it.

He gazed at Anne standing before him.

If Anne were a player, perhaps she would be tough to take down. But compared to Anne, the improvements of the other two young ladies astonished him even more. He shifted his gaze to them.

I never expected them to possess such strength.

Back then when he was battling his other self, he was also watching his surroundings. He was stunned that Marlene defeated her other self, but wasn't exactly surprised because he knew that Marlene was an exceedingly determined woman. She didn't lack what was needed for one to become a swordsman and as long as her skills were on point, it wouldn't be surprising if she won.

On the contrary, he was bewildered that Lize managed to take down the angel with her bare fists. He knew with a single glance that it was the results of Mini Bubble Gum's teachings because no one would ever think of relating Clerics with martial art moves except her. Not only that, Rhode also didn't expect Lize to possess such a talent for 'violence'. She was always a gentle young lady and he was used to seeing her running about in a pure white robe as a Cleric, healing and treating the injured mercenaries. At this moment, the sight of her in a leather armor and a pair of black, steel gloves was as though a rich young lady wearing a beggar's outfit-really, really absurd.

"Marlene, how are your injuries?"

"All healed, Rhode."

Marlene stood up and flexed her shoulder. Rhode had to admit that Cleric spells were incredible. The punctured, bloody wound had completely healed as though it didn't exist before. Marlene gazed at Rhode and let out a sigh.

"Sigh... I know you want me to loot the corpses, right?"

"Yes. Sorry to trouble you."

Rhode's expression turned solemn which he wasn't even this serious when facing his other self. Marlene shook her head helplessly without any rebuttal as though she had accepted her fate. She simply turned around and headed to the corpses. Rhode stood and watched from the side anxiously. He had to admit that his other self was indeed brutal where he left a deadly blow to his heart before he died-mentioning the 'unlucky looting aura' in his face. What an eternal pain. Even though two negatives might make a positive and he might gain legendary artifacts from the corpses, he knew that this was basically impossible because unlucky plus unlucky would only make things worse! All he could do now was to hope that Marlene's lucky hand would overpower his 'unlucky looting aura'. If not... He would be off crying in the corner.

Although all the fate images would drop equipment from their corpses, Rhode wasn't concerned about the others because he was aware that the equipment was soul-bound. In other words, only they could use the equipment dropped from their other selves.

After a few moments, Marlene retrieved all the equipment and presented them to him.

Firstly, it was Lize's drop-a pair of crystal-clear hand guards that exuded a sacred aura and mighty strength.

[Delusional Killer (Ancient. Rule. Bronze)---all illusory presences will eventually be destroyed and everything shall return to the origin of distortion. Only a fierce, powerful attack can completely shatter them all (Soul-bound)]

[Rupture Property-the victim's equipment that is attacked will be affected by the rupture property. Equipment will be destroyed as soon as the count reaches 10.]

[Fatal Blow--holder has a 30 percent chance of landing a critical attack]

[Penetration--when the holder's attack is blocked, the attack will penetrate and hit the target. Damage decreased by 15 percent]

[Perish Delusion--when the attack is critical, the flow of the victim's spiritual powers will be stopped and unusable for 30 seconds]

[Magic Guard--immune to spells below the middle inner circle. Damage taken from magic spells decreased by 30 percent]

It was apparent that this pair of hand guards was especially suitable for the 'close-combat' Lize. It would basically be impossible for ordinary humans to defeat her if she combined it with her martial arts. Besides, the most important thing about this pair of hand guards was the [Perish Delusion] and its ability to stop the enemy's spiritual powers for 30 seconds. This was as though casting a curse over the enemy. Without the existence of spiritual powers and solely relying on physical strength, not even swordsmen could defeat Lize.

But this would leave Lize in an awkward position too because as a Cleric, she would always be a supporter on the back lines despite learning close-combat skills from Mini Bubble Gum, which meant that she wouldn't have many chances to use the hand guards. But on the other hand, at least she wouldn't need to worry about self-protection anymore.

After explaining the functions of the item, Lize went to the side and started meddling with it. It was apparent that she was in a tough spot too.

Anne's equipment was next and Rhode just disliked how it looked. It was a pitch-black, leather collar that pets or slaves would usually wear. Although there were some people who enjoyed this fashion sense in the real world, the problem was that... Anne wasn't one of them.

[Virtual Collar (Antique. Fantasy. Platinum)--secures and bestows new life form to shapeless presences. Awaken its strength once again and battle alongside its owner to change the world (Soul-bound)]

[Bloodline Eruption--available once per day. The holder's attributes will be doubled and lasts for three hours. The holder will enter a state of 'exhaustion' when three hours are over. After five hours, the holder will automatically restore strength]

[Virtual Attribute--when attacked, the holder possess a 10 percent chance of ignoring damage]

[Subordinate Proof--carve the name of the master on the collar and receive enhancements to the attributes. Half of the master's attributes will be used to stack on the holder's attributes.]

Although this equipment wasn't considered a legendary artifact, the [Subordinate Proof] was a great effect. If Anne carved his name on the collar, her strength would be enhanced by half of all his attributes. Perhaps in the future, she could even become the main attacker on his side. But... The usage method of this item was just odd.

Even though Anne didn't mind, Rhode didn't have any interest in putting on a collar on her, as women weren't pets. Well, Sonia was an exception and since he had already toyed with her, he didn't mind doing it a few more times. As for Anne... Although she didn't care, he thought that it would be better for him to reconsider his options.

The equipment that Marlene had gotten for herself was a right-handed red leather glove with an embedded gem on the back of the hand. The golden magical lines drawn around the gem and extended throughout the glove was like a beautiful ritual. The gem flickered in colorful radiances from time to time as though it were alive.

[Spell Disaster (Ancient. Fantasy. Gold)--the magical ocean is filled with risks and storms. No one will make it to the end safely because they don't understand the true meaning behind magic. The power to create and destroy will not be resisted forever, until the face of the eternal disaster (Soul Bound)]

[Rule Strings--the holder can control spells that are below his or her level as his or her own. Unavoidable]

[Soul Resonance--increase the holder's spiritual powers by one-third and decrease consumption by half.]

[Magic Boost--every time the holder cast a spell, the strength of the next spell will be increased by 30 percent. Can be stacked up to 10 times.]

[Twin Casting--the holder can cast two spells of the same attribute at the same time.]

[Appointed Seal--the holder can appoint and seal a living being into a plane of existence prison. Victims with levels higher than the holder will need to pass a test of will. Undeniable (Can be released)]

Now, this equipment suited Marlene really well as a Mage. The effects of this glove were beneficial for her. If Rhode were a spell caster, he definitely wouldn't miss his chance on it. He could also imagine how jealous and envious Canary and Mini Bubble Gum would be when they saw this equipment.

But the most important thing was...

"Marlene, the final piece..."

Rhode took in a deep breath. His voice was shaky. Marlene gazed at him curiously; not only was he tensed up, but he was as nervous as the prisoner who was about to have his head executed.

What's wrong with Rhode?

Even though she was dubious, she handed over the last equipment.

That was a pitch-black, palm-sized oval jewel embedded on an exquisite silver base. The entire jewel seemed like an incredible work of art. Although Marlene didn't know what it was despite the powerful magical powers exuding from it, she was sure that it was an extremely powerful magical equipment.

But never did she expect that Rhode seemed like he was about to faint when he saw it.

"Rhode? What's wrong?"

"Nothing..."

The corner of his mouth twitched. Then, a line of system prompt emerged before his eyes.

[Received Projection Crystal (Soul Bound)]

He raised his head and gazed at the shattered illusory sky above.

At this moment, he finally understood...

Some fates cannot be broken no matter how hard one tries.