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940 Eve of the Storm

 The air twisted and merged to form a beautiful white bird in the empty space. It flapped its wings and soared to the sky when suddenly it came to a halt along with the beautiful voice. Then, it cracked and burst like a bubble and vanished into thin air.

"Stop."

Christie put down her right hand and the Knowledge Scroll unrolled on its own. The feather pen in her hand transformed into a gentle ray of light that twirled around her finger, turning into a platinum ring. Christie let out a sigh, wiping the sweat off her forehead. Although she successfully released a spell that would shock all spell casters on this continent, she was still dissatisfied.

"The duration is too short... It still doesn't work..."

"You've done well."

At this moment, a familiar voice sounded as she muttered under her breath. She couldn't be more familiar with this voice. It was in fact from her other self.

"But... it's not... enough...!"

Although her voice was almost inaudible, one would discover the stubbornness and determination behind her words. This wasn't enough for Christie. As she often battled with her other self, she experienced the difference in strength between them. When her other self controlled this body, she felt an enormous pool of energy flowing in her body like an endless supply of water from the ocean. The powerful strength was as though an unstoppable, roaring flood. But when she tried to control her body, the powers were like a toppling water basin. At this moment, Christie could only cast the Knowledge Scroll for less than a minute before diminishing all her spiritual powers. All she managed to do was to draw that bird.

"The Knowledge Scroll isn't meant for long battles in the first place, Christie. Your constitution predetermined that you would not gain the ability to directly abstract spiritual powers like me. Although you can achieve it through training, you will be permanently hurt if you allow a massive flow of spiritual powers into your body without anyone's guidance. Christie, you are not like Sir Rhode. You have a constitution of a human and due to the corrosion of your bloodline, your constitution is weaker than that of ordinary people. So all you need to do now is calm down, lay out a solid foundation, and strengthen your powers, and at the same time consider your battle style. Don't be overly anxious, Christie."

"Okay..."

Christie nodded to her other self's advice. She sat down, shut her eyes, and began meditating. Bell stood quietly beside her and gazed curiously. At this moment, Bell wore an elegant dress and held a heavy book in her hand. Although she seemed largely similar to an ordinary girl, the two daggers on her waist were exceptionally eye-catching.

Ever since Bell left the refuge, she had been by Christie's side as her playmate and servant. Just as Rhode expected, they were as close as sisters now. But even so, Bell couldn't understand why Christie insisted on going through this tough training. She was also aware of Christie's poor health to some extent, so she had rather Christie leave the battling to her other self. On the other hand, Bell would also be protecting her, so why did Christie insist in training?

Knock knock knock.

At this moment, someone knocked on the door. Bell knitted her brows and turned to Christie, who was meditating. Then, she stood up, and went to the door, and opened it gently, only to see a young lady who was about the same height as her.

"Ah, Bell. Is Christie around?"

Mini Bubble Gum peeped curiously through the slightly open gap in the door. Bell moved away to let her see Christie meditating and Mini Bubble Gum lowered her voice.

"She's meditating again... Little Christie sure is serious about her training. Sigh... If only she were a player because this level of determination would surely get her to a pretty decent position in Starlight..."

Mini Bubble Gum curled her lips and shifted her gaze to Bell.

"By the way, I'm looking for Big Sister. Has Big Sister been here?"

"..."

Bell pondered before finally realizing that this 'Big Sister' was actually referring to the young lady who often guided Christie along and had the same name as a bird-Canary. Bell shook her head.

"No? How strange... Where did she go? Forget it, I'll go check out the tower. Thanks~"

Mini Bubble Gum patted Bell's shoulder before turning around and disappeared in a swoosh. Bell shook her head speechlessly. Although they were about the same age, Bell could never understand what was going through Mini Bubble Gum's head. The things that Mini Bubble Gum said was hard to understand and sometimes Bell didn't know if she was soliloquizing or speaking to someone...

Bell closed the door carefully so as to not make any unnecessary noises before returning to her seat. She held the book in her hands and continued her reading. After a few moments, she heard Christie's voice.

"Bell... What's wrong?... Was someone... looking for me?"

"..."

Bell looked up and simply shook her head. After all, they had spent a long time together and Christie was used to communicating with her this way. In fact, Christie thought that it wasn't great for Bell to constantly keep close to her. This made it difficult for Christie, but it wasn't because she wasn't used to Bell following her around. Instead, she hoped that Bell could have more space for herself and there was no need to sacrifice so much of her time. At this moment, Christie's eyes glinted and she clapped her hands softly.

"Right... Bell... Shall we look for Rhode... and play?"

This was an exceptionally peaceful afternoon for Marlene. She had been leading such a life after she came to Grandia. As the internal affairs gradually moved on to the right track, her burdens also slowly lessened. Although there were many people requiring care and comfort, she was glad that no one dared to stir up trouble within the dragon soul protection. The territory was slowly getting on the right track while the lacking areas were slowly improving. This gave Marlene an unprecedented feeling of satisfaction. Even though she had been doing similar work in the past, managing a country and territory was completely different, after all. Although Rhode didn't think that Void Territory was a country, to Marlene who was politically sensitive, she knew what Rhode was planning. In fact, apart from an official founding ceremony and the name, the Void Territory was no different from an independent country.

Even though Marlene believed that formal nation-building would be more beneficial for Rhode, she still preferred this model in terms of feelings. As a noblewoman, she witnessed several groups of people splitting up internally after achieving success. If Rhode were to build an official country, she and the others would have formal roles and positions. This way, it would gradually make their originally close relationship turn indifferent. Marlene couldn't imagine herself calling Lize 'Madam' with a stern expression. She would also support Rhode fully if he ever decided to follow this model, but since he had no intention of turning his territory into a strict, formal setting, she would gladly accept it.

Knock knock.

As Marlene placed the feather pen down, Lize knocked on the door and entered with a pile of documents.

"Marlene, this is what you requested earlier for the floating boat routes in the territory..."

"Oh. Thanks a lot, Lize."

Marlene revealed a gentle smile, took over the documents, and placed them on the table. After setting up the 'Wind Enchanted Field', Rhode handed the job of planning the shipping routes for the floating boats to her. Although flying in midair should be carefree, she knew that they wouldn't truly benefit from this rare occurrence without shipping routes. Fortunately, the Senia Family was a producer of magical floating boats so this wasn't challenging for them.

Coincidentally, the Senia Family's migration had also just begun. They returned the territories under their control to Lydia. Although they had a great time working with the Munn Kingdom's royal family all these years, the falling leaf had to return to its roots since they had already achieved their mission. Moreover, Marlene had also awakened as one of the six Deity Wardens. With the magical technologies of the Senia Family, fertile land, and abundant resources in the Void Territory and Marlene's knowledge as the Wisdom Deity Warden, it was imaginable that the Senia Family would become even stronger in the near future. On the other hand, Lydia wasn't surprised by their decision as this was agreed upon in the royal agreement and the Senia Family handed all the magical technology blueprints and intelligence that they had researched to the royal family. Both parties parted without hard feelings and showed respect for each other.

In fact, Marlene suspected that perhaps Lydia learned about Rhode's identity a long time ago. Although the Senia Family attained outstanding achievements after the internal battle last year, they were only awarded with honorable rewards from Lydia. Everyone expected Marlene, who performed impressively, to become a territorial overlord. In the end, she was only awarded with the title of a Court Scholar and this caused a relatively huge uproar among the higher nobles, where they suspected that the Senia Family was losing Lydia's favor. Now it seemed like ever since that moment, Lydia was prepared for this possible future.

"How's the situation?"

Lize asked as she gazed at the documents spread out on Marlene's table. Although Lize was also Rhode's adjutant in terms of identity, the things that she could do were limited. In fact, the only time when Lize gave orders as an adjutant was during the battle between the North and South. Most of the time she carried out logistics work and support for the guild as a Cleric. Lize was determined to change now that Rhode had established the Void Territory, which explained why she came to learn about political affairs from Marlene. She hoped to become a qualified adjutant one day.

"The situation is slowly turning better. Once the system is set up, everything else will operate fine."

Marlene displayed a relieved smile. She tidied the documents on the table, put them aside, and gazed at Lize with a sly smile.

"By the way, shall we look for Rhode at night for some tea after our work is done?"

"I..."

Lize blushed because she knew what Marlene was hinting at. Although Marlene said to have some tea, both Lize and her knew what would happen thereafter. If it were others who suggested it, Lize would be embarrassed. But she wasn't too mindful since it was Marlene. She nodded slightly and sat down, preparing to start the final task...

Everything is proceeding as methodically arranged.

"Huhuhu... Interesting."

Gillian swayed her fluffy tail proudly. This fox-eared young lady was seated leisurely on a chair with her right hand supporting her chin lazily. She displayed an amusing smile while gazing at the screens before her. At this moment, she was in a round, enormous black space without a trace of light. The air and walls were filled with live mirror projections. This was where Rhode had set up the Projection Crystal. Through this crystal, he could easily attain information about everything that was happening in the Void Territory like a center that controlled countless surveillance cameras. If it weren't for Sara, this item was basically worthless. As the intelligence supporter of the territory, Gillian naturally held the rights to enter this space and monitor the territory. But judging from her proud, wagging tail, it seemed more like she was using this position for personal gain.

"Hmm, not too shabby, Little Sara. Hehe. I knew that this day would come and Master is so gonna have a hard time. I can't wait... By the way, Little Sara, can you help me find where Miss Canary is?"

"Of course, Madam Gillian."

Sara casually extended her hand and waved over the Projection Crystal. Shortly after, one of the countless screens was enlarged and clearly showed where Canary and Mini Bubble Gum were. Gillian's eyes flashed in a dazzling glint.

"Huhuhu. This is getting interesting. It seems like I can get involved with the fun. Alright, thanks for your help, Little Sara. I shall make a move!"

Gillian said wittily before vanishing in a glaring magical radiance and the entire space returned to its initial peace. Sara, who was sitting quietly before the Projection Crystal, turned to where Gillian had stood before shifting her gaze back to the crystal.

"Have a safe trip, Madam Gillian."

This was just a boring time on an ordinary day for Rhode. But even so, he didn't forget his duties as an overlord. After waking up in the morning, he strolled around to check on how the immigrants were adapting. However, the results weren't satisfying for him. With the three humanoids around, the migration work was neatly carried out and the recruitment of soldiers from the natives had also begun. The weapons and armor provided by the Senia Family resolved the problem of insufficient armament to a certain extent. Rhode couldn't help but feel pleased at the sight of his developing territory. Although things in the real world weren't digitized like in the game, he admired the strong adaptability of humans, judging by the fact that the buildings and towns were built from nothing...

It was already evening when he returned to the palace in Grandia. The tranquil palace bathed in the gentle, silver moon rays. He heard the fairies' joyous singing in the distance, which blended perfectly with the sound of a clear water stream to form a beautiful melody.

If it were possible, I wish I could lead such a carefree life forever...

Rhode sighed because he knew that things wouldn't turn out as he dreamed. This peacefulness was only temporary. In the near future, his territory would face another dangerous battle. He shrugged at this thought before turning around and heading back to his room. As he stood before his room door, he realized that there was a guest.

"Ah, S-Sir Rhode! Good evening!"

"Lapis?"

Rhode was astonished to see this young lady wrapped tightly in a cloak. This was the first time he witnessed this young lady leave her workshop without a command. But come to think of it, he did ask her to take a break. Although he didn't know why she looked for him, it was better than her hiding in the workshop all day and constantly creating explosions.

"Is anything the matter?"

Rhode asked, noticing her anxiousness. At the same time, he sized her up swiftly. For some unknown reason, the impression that she gave him felt a little different today. Although she seemed the same as usual, he found her a little more... Sexy?

This was truly strange. She wasn't wearing any revealing clothes and seemed even more conservative than usual. Apart from her neck and head, her entire body was wrapped in a cloak. But Rhode realized that he couldn't stop looking at her neck and fair, dewy cheeks that gave him the excitement as though he was appreciating a woman's most hidden and alluring charm.

What's with this?

He puckered his brows at this thought. He was sure that this Lapis standing before him wasn't disguised by someone else. But... He still felt rather strange.

Forget it. It should be nothing much anyway.

Rhode didn't take it to heart because it was Lapis standing before him; Lapis, who was second to Christie in terms of honesty. He wouldn't believe that she would harbor any ill intentions. Besides, it would be too hard for her to influence him with her abilities. After all, the creator dragon's attributes weren't only there for show.

"Anyway, come in. We'll talk inside."

Rhode opened the door and entered. Lapis shrunk slightly upon seeing his back but quickly gnashed her teeth.

You can do it, Lapis! This is your final chance! You must succeed!

Lapis took out the bottle of potion from the fold of her clothes and took a sip. Then, she mustered up her courage, lifted her head, and entered the room.