Everyone looked towards the voice in surprise. Even Rhode felt curious and opened his eyes to see who dared to oppose the Mercenary Association's decision.
Many people thought that it was Jade Tears because they took advantage of the situation to 'steal' people from other groups. However, the one who opposed the decision was actually the mercenary group ranked second from the last, Mad Dog.
What are they trying to do?
Many mercenary groups glared at them silently.
Mad Dog was also one of the mercenary groups which suffered heavy casualties from the recent incident. They shouldn't be opposing this decision. If the Mercenary Association decided to amend its decision, weak mercenary groups like Mad Dog would suffer even more. So why did they oppose it?
Shawn, who sat beside Rhode, snorted in disdain. The voice that reverberated from behind the mask was deep and cold.
Hiller's eyes were closed and didn't react, giving people the impression that he didn't care.
As for Rhode, he suspected that something was fishy. He turned and glanced at the representative for Jade Tears who wasn't sitting too far from him.
Frank was still unconscious and bedridden for a month and a half, so he wasn't able to attend the meeting. Instead, they sent the vice-leader to represent Jade Tears. Rhode was no stranger to this man. Back in the game, both Frank and his vice-leader were like accomplices in action and Rhode often met both of them together. It was a pity that he wasn't there when Frank challenged Rhode though; if he could kill either one of them, it can be considered a victory for Rhode.
Hmm, then what about now?
Rhode rolled his eyes and began to think of how to get rid of him openly in this meeting...
The vice-leader of Jade Tears sat on his seat with a blank expression on his face as if nothing concerned him at all. However, Rhode knew that Jade Tears had something to do with this.
Everyone knew that Jade Tears was loaded with money. Mad Dog mercenary group was clearly bribed. It wasn't surprising though since mercenaries needed money to live and wealth was the foundation of their existence. This was especially so for lower-ranked mercenary groups who had no history, no pride, and no dignity. As long the money was enough, they could crawl on their knees and lick the shoes of their 'benefactor.'
Perhaps Jade Tears had gotten a whiff of the Mercenary Association's decision from their hidden sources and paid some low-ranked mercenary group to become their 'spokesperson.' For those groups, regardless whether the Mercenary Association made this decision or not, they were unlikely to get any benefit from it.
Let's take Mad Dog's situation for example. Their rank was currently at the second from the last, even if the meeting didn't happen, they couldn't escape from being dissolved sooner or later. Rather than wait for the inevitable, wasn't it better to receive money before disbanding?
This scheme was indeed quite clever since Jade Tears figured out that they weren't welcome in the mercenary group's circle. Even so, they knew that they couldn't publically oppose the decision made by the Mercenary Association as that would give everyone another reason to hate them. Moreover, not only would they receive the hate, the Mercenary Association wouldn't change their decision.
Now, with the 'help' of other groups, Jade Tears successfully created an internal conflict within the circle of mercenary groups.
Just as Rhode had predicted, when Mad Dog's leader stood up to oppose, another three mercenary group leaders stood up simultaneously. And of course, they were all from the lower ranks.
"We also disagree with Mercenary Association's decision."
"That's right; it's too unfair! Too unreasonable!"
Inevitably, these words would spark arguments from the other side.
"What the heck are you saying? Is there something wrong with your brain? You only have a few people in your group yet you want to resume the missions? Bullsh*t!!"
"We just want to protect the Mercenary Association's tradition! Ever since the beginning, there had never been a point in time where we stopped giving out missions. Indeed, this time we're unlucky, but it's a problem we have to overcome ourselves. Isn't this situation due to our incompetence? Look at Starlight; they had lacked in members when they first registered as a mercenary group, but look at them now! If we are going to follow the rules strictly, shouldn't Starlight need to wait for enough people before calculating the points?"
Once Starlight was mentioned, the crowd's rage immediately diminished. Many took the chance to turn towards Rhode, waiting for his reaction.
F*ck those Jade Tears scum, I knew those b*stards were up to something.
Rhode snorted deep down inside his heart. He understood that Jade Tears was trying to drag him out. If they couldn't press him using force, they would use underhanded tactics such as this to enact revenge.
"Kid, don't you have anything to say?"
The Old President said sternly. Rhode guessed that the old man must be grinning over his misfortune under that cold expression. He must be feeling so very happy now that he might even live until a hundred years old.
But Rhode didn't plan to satisfy that old man's desires.
"Nothing much. It's just as Mr.IdontKnowHisName said," Rhode shrugged and answered with a distinct mocking tone.
"We are indeed strong, but we are still part of the Mercenary Association so we will thoroughly comply with the Mercenary Association's decision."
Everyone's expression eased a little when they heard Rhode's words. Although Jade Tears was the largest suspect who also benefited the most from this situation, it was all just conjecture and without evidence. It was completely different from Starlight which didn't have enough members but still succeeded in pulling off many incredible feats. Before the incident, they had already completed dangerous missions one after another. So if the Mercenary Association didn't give all the mercenary groups a break, won't Starlight dominate the entire scene?
Now that Rhode had shown that Starlight was willing to comply with the Mercenary Association's decision, that meant that Starlight wouldn't be able to complete any high points mission the next month which could be said to be unfavorable to them. However, this made the other mercenary leaders look upon them more positively as they understood that Rhode wasn't going to use this opportunity to beat them while they were in recovery mode, which was more than enough for them.
(ED: Evidence has shown that he'd already beat most of them even if they were in full strength, please.)
Everyone now turned to the two men seated in the higher ranked seat.
Despite the Mercenary Association holding full authority and prestige over mercenary leaders, it didn't mean that every mercenary leader must follow their decision. Sometimes, to protect their own group, mercenary leaders would oppose the decision made by the Mercenary Association. According to the regulation, the only ones who had the right to reject the Mercenary Association's decision were the three highest ranked mercenary group leaders!
Rhode had declared his stance. Then what about Burning Blade and Dark Fang?
Hiller finally opened his eyes. While looking at Rhode, he said.
"Burning Blade agrees with the Mercenary Association's decision."
As for Shawn, he was as quiet as usual. But from his slight nod, it seems like this man also agreed to the Mercenary Association's decision.
Since the three highest ranked mercenary leaders didn't have any objection, naturally the lower ranked ones also didn't have any complaints. Only those guys who were bribed tried their best to protest but to no avail. In the end, the Old President swung his hammer down to end all the objections and delivered the final verdict.
"For thirty days starting from tomorrow, the Mercenary Association will henceforth stop issuing any missions. Until the verdict is lifted, all mercenary groups are strictly prohibited from taking any private commissions. If anyone violates this regulation, their points will be promptly deducted."
Although most have expected this outcome, what the Old President said afterward gave them a shock.
"Also from now on, each mercenary group member must be a registered resident in the Paphield Region and must have experience of more than a year. After the month ends, the Mercenary Association will inspect each mercenary group. If anyone is found violating this rule, that person will be evicted from the mercenary group immediately."
Many mercenary group leaders glanced at each other. They were confused about the meaning behind this bizarre regulation. To put it simply, the Mercenary Association will only allow citizens of the Paphield Region to join mercenary groups.
(ED: Welp, I think there's an error here. Rhode would be expelled from Starlight if that were the case.)
Before, the Mercenary Association didn't interfere with this kind of thing as long as the member was already registered in the Mercenary Association. However, the Mercenary Association in Deep Stone City actually came up with this bizarre rule. Why would they do that?
Rhode understood why. It seemed like Sereck and the Old President have realized the graveness of this matter.
After announcing their verdict, the Old President no longer cared about anyone protesting regarding this point. Then the Old President brought up the next agenda.
"Subsequently, we, the Mercenary Association, will make a resolution regarding the conflict between Jade Tears and Starlight a few days ago."
Everyone started murmuring to each other after hearing these words.