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 The investigation results came out in less than half a day. Not surprising though, since the whole fiasco took part in front of the Mercenary Association, and with the numerous onlookers witnessing it, they had no choice but to put in extra effort in the investigation.

Sereck had a headache. He wanted to persuade Rhode to reconcile with Jade Tears, but he didn't expect that the Rhode who had been relatively easy to talk to actually ignore him. He couldn't understand why this young man's attitude suddenly took a turn without any warning.

Meanwhile, the Jade Tears mercenary group were unexpectedly calm. Though many mercenaries were furious, since their leader was injured and currently unconscious, they were unsure of what to do. If their leader, who was much stronger than them, still lost to Rhode, what could they do?

As for Rhode, he was lamenting about not being able to kill Frank.

He knew clearly what role Frank would play in the future. If he could get rid of Frank now, the Country of Light would be unable to create trouble in Deep Stone City for at least one more year.

With that one year, he could reinforce Deep Stone City with enough measures to resist the Country of Light.

However, Rhode's plan failed. According to Old Walker, he only needed to rest a month to heal. Rhode felt that it was too short.

Still, he managed to succeed in provoking the hostilities between both parties as planned...

In fact, when Rhode realized that Frank was the leader of the Jade Tears mercenary group, he had been trying to find ways to create conflicts. In the future, he would inevitably launch an attack against Jade Tears to counter the internal invasion from the Country of Light. If he did that without reason, the opponent would definitely be suspicious of Rhode. Even though Rhode knew what the Country of Light was planning to do, he didn't want to reveal to others just yet.

Rhode decided that the safest way to conceal his intentions was to act hostile to Jade Tears. As the rivalry between mercenary groups was uncommon, he could disrupt their plans on purpose without being found out.

If the Country of Light found out that Rhode somehow discovered their plans, they would use many methods to try and silence him. However, if it were only something like a dispute between mercenary groups, they wouldn't risk exposing themselves for a mere conjecture.

It's just like a fight between two yakuza gangs. It's very normal for them to fight. If one of them dispatched the CIA or FBI to help one side, then the other party would definitely become suspicious.

The woman sitting at the top of Golden City was no fool. That was why the Country of Light had been treading lightly around her.

Initially, Rhode was thinking hard on how to provoke Jade Tears without being it being too forced. But he had never thought that Barney would be thoughtful to deliver himself on a platter.

After this clash, Rhode felt certain that he didn't have to worry about the relationship turning harmonious.

However, there was one thing that went beyond his expectations - the attitude of the other mercenary groups.

Normally, uninvolved groups would usually be indifferent to these kinds of fights between mercenary groups. But surprisingly, many mercenary groups revealed their support and ridiculed the Jade Tears mercenary group.

This made Rhode a little surprised, but after thinking about it, he understood why they behaved this way.

After all, nearly two-thirds of the thirty-two mercenary groups in Paphield received heavy losses. However, during this time, Jade Tears actually flaunted their money and poached mercenaries. It was like putting salt on one's wound.

If Jade Tears was like Starlight who managed to come back from Silent Plateau without any casualties successfully, perhaps their stance on the matter might be different. However, Jade Tears weren't strong like Starlight. Moreover, they used their money to poach mercenaries which made a lot of groups unhappy.

No matter where one went, a show-off would always be shunned.

Many criticisms against Jade Tears floated in taverns and inns as many mercenary groups drowned their worries in liquor. They had no choice but to complain privately as the strength of Jade Tears rose quickly to a first-class mercenary group just by numbers alone while their groups were unable to recover.

However, they didn't think that Starlight would suddenly appear and beat up Jade Tears. This left them extremely satisfied. There was actually someone who was willing to help clean up the trash, so they didn't mind supporting them from behind. Even though Rhode understood that verbal support had little to no significance, at least it wasn't totally useless. It made clear to the Mercenary Association that the reputation of Jade Tears was falling. And that was more than enough for Rhode since they would take this point into account when dealing with Jade Tears in the future.

But that wasn't the most important matter right now.

"Is it... here?"

The girl looked up; her beautiful face revealed an uneasy expression. She clenched her cloak tightly, looking at the massive house before her. Beside her, a young man who was also wrapped in a cloak patted the girl's head to comfort her.

"Lapis, don't worry. I believe there won't be a problem."

"Um...umm."

Although she nodded her head, her expression didn't relax the slightest. Looking at her current appearance, the young man beside her couldn't help but smile wryly; then he glanced at his other two comrades. Clearly, they were also nervous.

These four people were almost the same age, and they were wearing mercenary clothes. A man and a woman in front looked like a pair of siblings. The brother was carrying an old wooden longbow and five or six flying knives hanged from the belt on his waist. The green cloak wrapped around his head and body, only leaving his chin pointing out, looking very much like a Ranger's outfit. While the girl beside him dressed just like him, she didn't possess a Ranger vibe, unlike her brother.

She was holding his hand looking around uneasily; she resembled more like a child who had run away from home.

The other two behind them was a Swordsman wearing heavy armor while the other was a Thief who yawned while kneeling on the ground.

Although each one had a different expression, they were all looking at the old mansion before them.

These four were newcomers who wanted to join Starlight. Before, they belonged to Mark White and were also Anne's subordinates.

At that moment, these four people were feeling complicated.

Mark White was their first mercenary group. Before that, they didn't have much adventuring experience, that was why they were often excluded after joining the mercenary group. It was Anne who helped them and brought them into her clique until they gradually got used to mercenary life. Initially, they thought the days would go on just like this, but they were taken by surprise by the old leader sudden death and what happened afterward. The fight for leadership also made Anne distressed and confused, making them worry about her. But as newcomers, they didn't have the authority to speak their views openly; they could only slowly see how the group eventually abandoned Anne.

Later, once the dispute ended, the newly appointed leader began cleaning up the former leader's forces and transferred them into other mercenary groups. This included the four standing by the door right now.

Eventually, they found Old Walker through an acquaintance. Since they couldn't stay at Mark White any longer, they decided to move in with Anne.

However, they still unsure what would happen to them once they joined Starlight. They investigated some matters regarding Starlight and while most of them were good, such issues such as killing the Jade Tears mercenary made them feel slightly uneasy. What if their new leader was cruel and tyrannical?

But since they had no choice after being kicked out of Mark White, and also out of concern for Anne, they could only leave it up to fate.

When the four of them arrived at the entrance, a red-haired mercenary walked forward. She looked at the four of them with a stern expression, her right hand was holding a sword, blocking their way.

"Who are you guys? What are you doing at Starlight's stronghold?"

"Erm...."

Shauna was only older than them by a few years, but since she had the demeanor of a former mercenary leader, the authority in her voice was still there. Not to mention that the people that appeared before her were newbies who at most had only a year of experience.

Discovering Shauna's sharp gaze, the girl who was wearing a cloak quickly hid behind her brother's back. Her brother coughed lightly and lifted his head up.

"Sorry, miss, but we are-"

"Aren't you Shauna, the leader of Red Hawk!?"

Before he could finish, the Ranger suddenly exclaimed with shock in her voice when she saw at Shauna.

"You guys are..."

Shauna looked at them curiously and asked.

"We are Anne's former subordinates. We came here to..."

"Ahh... so it's you guys."

Shauna nodded her head after confirming their identities. She put down her hand which was resting on her sword and turned around towards the mansion.

"Follow me."

Under Shauna's lead, the four of them entered the mansion and the interior of the mansion before them caused them to gasp in surprise.

The reason why Rhode's mercenary group was famous because their stronghold was formerly Cyril's Haunted House. As the name suggested, the house was famous for being 'haunted.'

This was why the four thought that the house would be old and eerie. But what they saw blew their expectations away. Instead of cobwebs and broken furniture, what they saw were clean courtyards and comfy sofas. While it can't be said to be overly luxurious, at least it was tidy. No one would believe that this place was the famous legendary haunted house.

"Ms. Shauna."

Looking at the red-haired girl figure, the Ranger hesitated for a moment but still chose to ask.

"Why... are you in Starlight?"

"Because Red Hawk has already been disbanded."

Shauna shrugged while answering the Ranger's question. Although she answered it casually, there was still a trace of helplessness. After all, it was a mercenary group that she put her blood, sweat, and tears into it. Now that it was gone, of course she felt unwilling.

The four of them caught the slight helplessness in her voice, so they stopped asking. The girl also secretly glared at her own brother; clearly, she was blaming her brother for what he should say and what he shouldn't say. After being glared by his sister, the Ranger could only shake his head. In the end, he still decided to bite the bullet and change the topic.

"Ms. Shauna. What kind of person is Starlight's leader?"

Shauna stopped walking. The other four who were following behind her also stopped in their tracks. They stared at the red-haired girl curiously, waiting for her to speak. After a moment, Shauna turned around, but contrary to what they expected. She was actually smiling! What does that mean?

"Umm... describing Mr. Rhode is hard. That's because even I haven't interacted with him for long. But I have one advice for all of you."

"Please speak."

The four of them quickly became nervous.

"Firstly, Mr. Rhode is almost the same age as us. But definitely don't look down on him, he's very capable... Also, please note that he rarely smiles, and one more thing, don't mention anything about his face in front of him... This is very important-the importance is tied to the existence of your life."

"..."

The four of them couldn't help but gulp in nervousness. Even the smile on the Thief's face gradually disappeared.

"Does the leader look scary?"

The girl who kept hiding behind her brother's back couldn't help but ask. It seemed like whether young or old, a female always cared about appearance.

"It's not like that."

Shauna smiled wryly and waved her hand. After thinking for a while, she still didn't know how to explain it to everyone.

"Anyway... I hope that you guys remember this, he is a man. Don't be mistaken by his looks."

After saying her piece, Shauna opened the door.

"Please come in. Mr. Rhode is waiting."

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