Everyone was happy when Anne woke up, and Rhode was no exception.
However, them being happy didn't mean that Anne wouldn't have to suffer the consequences of her actions. Though they had successfully killed the Death Knight, Anne still disobeyed Rhode's order. After pondering for a while, Rhode decided to punish her by locking her in a dark room for three days.
While it might seem quite barbaric of him to do that, Rhode wasn't going to allow disobedience to become a habit in his guild. Anne stared at him with puppy eyes hoping that he would change his decision, but Rhode wouldn't budge an inch.
Back in the game, players violate orders for many reasons because even if they failed and died, they could still respawn and come back for round two.
Anne is different.
As an NPC, once dead, it's game over. Yes, although she did manage to do her job and held the aggro well, in the end, she was seriously injured. If it wasn't because of her half-beast bloodline, perhaps she would've been already dead. Rhode would absolutely refrain from these measures unless they were left with no other choice.
So what if everything turned out to be okay? If everybody started to do things on their own accord then what's the point of being a leader?
Both Lize and Old Walker tried to plead for mercy on Anne's behalf. Even the usually stern Marlene also hoped that Rhode would rethink this matter. In the end, Rhode still held firm to his stance.
Fortunately, Rhode gave a little slack to her. Though he forbade Anne to go out, others could still visit her so she wouldn't be too lonely. Still, for someone with a personality like Anne, not being able to gaze at the clouds and lie back on the soft grass while enjoying the warm sun, it was quite a cruel punishment.
After returning from Silent Plateau, Starlight entered a temporary resting period. The other mercenary groups were the same. They had received heavy casualties and thus needed to recuperate before they could begin accepting missions once more.
But the news that garnered the most attention was Starlight jumping straight to the third position in the ranking. After successfully completing Silent Plateau, Starlight obtained a total of nine points, placing them just below Burning Blade and Dark Fang who didn't suffer any losses from the previous mission.
The top two mercenary groups, Burning Blade and Dark Fang, were no stranger to the mercenaries in the Paphield Region. Both were well-known strong mercenary groups who competed for the promotion to a guild.
No one would think that instead of the two behemoths, someone else would claim victory over a mission as tough as Silent Plateau. Moreover, the mission was completed by a group of five people, which was quite a ridiculous number to challenge such a difficult mission.
If Starlight jumped to the top position just because of this single mission, perhaps the people wouldn't have been so shocked. After all, Starlight could have rented help and the result might not prove their true ability. But if one studied their past achievements, he or she would realize that they had been creating miracles one after another.
Cleanup Pavel Cemetery - 3 points
Novice mission, Collect Magical Plants - 1 point
Rescue mission in Silent Plateau - 5 points
Out of these three missions, two of them were related to the undead and were considered high-risk missions. However, Starlight managed to complete it twice without suffering any casualties.
Many other mercenary groups accepted less dangerous missions compared to Starlight, but they still suffered heavy losses. Let alone completing their mission, being able to come back alive was already considered lucky enough.
Rumors of Starlight spread like wildfire; it even suppressed the gossip over the two other famous groups. It was no surprise though. Burning Blade and Dark Fang had a long track record and had already completed a lot of missions, so they were able to maintain their position. If they'd participated in the mission, perhaps the outcome would be hard to predict.
On the other hand, even though Starlight were few in numbers, they still took the initiative to complete the rescue mission. Thus, in the eyes of many, the felt that Starlight was stronger than the two large mercenary groups.
But Rhode didn't bother with these trivialities. After dealing with Anne, he locked himself in a room and began drawing something on paper. Currently, he was on an incredibly important mission - planning how to use his Skill Points.
Skill Points are essential to the existence of the player, even more so than EXP or equipment. This is because Skill Points could not only unlock and upgrade the Talent Tree, it could also increase the proficiency of various skills.
Each class had three different Talent Trees, and each route required at least 35~37 Skill Points to max it out fully. But that didn't mean that once the player was done with their Talent Tree, there would be nothing left to add. Remaining Skill Points will be used in upgrading the proficiency of various skills.
There are three ways to increase the proficiency of skills. The most common way was to use the skill often. After using it around a hundred to a thousand times, the proficiency of that skill would increase.
Another way was to find a skill book that was related to the skill and read it.
The last way was to use Skill Points to increase the proficiency directly.
Players would find the first method a waste of time. The second method was still rather time-consuming, after all, the skill book itself was a rare drop. Moreover, advanced-level skill books were almost as rare as Ancient-grade equipment. So, many players found the third method way more convenient. After leveling up, they would obtain one Skill Point which they could use it however they wished.
How about the players who wanted to increase their proficiency with their own ability? Yes, it's totally possible. Look at Sereck. Right now, his proficiency is at Rank A. If the player is willing to put in several years of practice for a single skill, it's not impossible to master that skill without Skill Points. But which player on Earth would have the patience to practice a single skill for a few years?
Yet, almost every skill required a large number a Skill Points to max. For example, if Rhode wanted to max out his Moon Shadow Swordsmanship to Rank M (the highest level), he would have to gather at least 25 Skill Points to do so. Therefore, just to level one skill to the maximum would allow the player to finish an entire route in the Talent Tree.
This system was quite harsh towards Summoning Swordsmen as their initial skill level was one lower than the pure classes. That means that a Summoning Swordsman would need to waste one more Skill Point for every skill. It's definitely something not worth boasting about.
In Dragon Soul Continent Online, after the player reaches the level cap, the game would award them with 100 bonus Skill Points. Taking special quests, props, and equipment into consideration, the total number of Skill Points that an ordinary player would receive in their playthrough would amount between 200 to 300. However, Rhode had around 500 Skill Points. That was one of the reasons why he could stand at the top. The more Skill Points he had, the more skills he could enhance and therefore perform much better than other players. Whether it was back then or now, this rule didn't change.
When Rhode defeated the Death Knight, his level shot up to 16 because the Death Knight was a BOSS far above his level, obtaining 7 Skill Points.
Rhode assigned five points to Soul Resonance and Integration in his Talent Tree. Then, he intended to enhance his Moon Shadow Swordsmanship and Starfall Swordsmanship which was Rank C and Rank E respectively. As for his remaining five points, he would save it for later.
If it all goes as planned, before reaching level 100, he would have 190 Skill Points.
But, that was still a long way to go, and what he must worry about was the problem before him right now.
Rhode stopped moving the pen in his hand.
If any player saw what he had written, their eyes would most likely pop out of their sockets. On the paper, Rhode drew a relationship diagram of the whole Summoning Swordsman's Talent Tree, the number of Skill Points that Rhode needed for his current Swordsmanship, his talents, and his skills. Without a computer, he could only refer to his memories, and Rhode had perfectly displayed that information. He really lived up to his name as the Walking Library.
What should I add?
He focused on analyzing the data before him.
If it were any other player who received a sudden amount of rewards, their first reaction would be to enhance all their Talents. Initially, Rhode wanted to do that too, but when he slowly pondered to himself... is there really a need to do it?
One will have to realize that this wasn't a game anymore. If it was still back in Dragon Soul Continent Online, Rhode could think based on a player's mindset because it would give him an edge in PvP. However, now he had no need to do so. The people here do not know what Skill Points and proficiency were. They were not even informed about the Summoning Swordsman's class. Since they had no idea of these things, Rhode couldn't plan his skills by using a player mindset.
Hmm... should I add all into one route? But it will be quite wasteful as I don't have enough to max it out...
Rhode didn't consider adding Swordsmanship yet because he hadn't unlocked the Swordsmanship that he wanted.
So what should he do?
First, he had to consider what he wanted to achieve. Rhode really wanted to level up fast since there wasn't much time left. He needed to farm EXP points effectively.
Suddenly, a spark of inspiration flashed in his eyes; he recalled something from long ago in the forums. A player was asking him about increasing the Talent of the Summoning Swordsman class. While the player did lay out a rather creative approach to adding points, but at that time, because of restrictions, he didn't succeed. Rhode also didn't recommend him to do it, but now, in this world, his method might be possible...
"If he could combine the quality with the quantity..."
Rhode leaned against his chair and closed his eyes. The Talent System appeared before him, and he focused his attention on the Talent just next to 'Summoning Master' which was 'Soul Messenger.'
The first level of Soul Messenger:
[Spirit Armor (When the summoned spirit is active, it will receive protection from Spirit Armor. Increases defense stats by 10%,20%,30%)]
[Three In One (When there is one or more summoned spirit active, the spirit attribute increase by 5%, 10%)]
[Shadow Follower (Allow the summoner to have the same attributes as the spirit. Increases attack stats by 30%,60%,90%)]
Alright, I've decided!
Rhode took a deep breath. He opened his eyes and went through the data before him once again. Then, he calmed down and stretched out his hand to open the Talent Tree that floated in front of him. Soon, the system prompt appeared.
[Used 1 Skill Point to unlock the Talent that had been selected --- Soul Messenger]
Rhode suddenly felt that his body shaking violently inside. After that, a surge of heat spread throughout his entire body.
[Unlocked Soul Messenger first level of talent: Spirit Armor LV1 (When the summoned spirit is active, it receive protection from Spirit Armor. Increases defense attributes by 10%)]
[Obtained skill: Spirit Armor LV1]
[Used 1 Skill Point to level up Spirit Armor LV2 (When the summoned spirit is active, it receive protection from Spirit Armor. increases defense stats by 20%)]
[Used 1 Skill Point to level up Spirit Armor LV3 (When the summoned spirit is active, it receive protection from Spirit Armor. increases defense stats by 30%)]
Rhode clenched his fist in joy. But, things didn't stop here.
[Unlocked Soul Messenger first level of talent: Shadow Follower LV1 (Allow the summoner to have the same attributes as the spirit. Increases attack stats by 30%,60%,90%)]
[Obtained skill: Shadow Follower LV1 ]
[Used 1 Skill Point to level up Shadow Follower LV2 (Allow the summoner to have the same attributes as the spirit. Increases attack stats by 60%)]
[Used 1 Skill Point to level up Shadow Follower LV3 (Allow the summoner to have the same attributes as the spirit. Increases attack stats by 90%)]
Rhode heaved a sigh of relief when everything was done. He stood up and stared at his right hand. After that, a thought flashed through his mind, and soon a black card appeared before him.
Swoosh!! The card on his hand was crushed and turned into a dark fog. It swirled around his finger and enveloped Rhode in a blink of an eye. Then, when Rhode opened his eyes, a strange red light glowed in his irises.
A huge dark lance appeared on his right hand and on his left, a black card that he has never seen before appeared. At the same time, a transparent blue barrier surrounded Rhode.
[Activate Skill: Spirit Armor LV3]
[Activate Skill: Shadow Follower LV3]
[Elemental protection, heavy-armor type]
Looking at the system prompt, Rhode pumped his fist.
He once again upgraded himself successfully.
At that moment, a series of footsteps could be heard from outside.
Hearing the sound, Rhode expression changed. The dark fog and Spirit Armor were dispelled immediately. Then, Rhode sat down. Before he could clean up the scattered documents on the floor, a knock sounded at the door.
The door slowly opened, Old Walker stepped inside and glanced around the room that looked as if a typhoon had just ended. He was surprised, but didn't say anything. He walked towards Rhode and nodded.
"Kid, remember the things that you've asked me to investigate? I've got results."