The blood-stained sword pierced through the man's head and a trace of fear flashed through his eyes, but his expression then turned empty.
Rhode stood up and swung the blood-stained sword. After that, he looked at the surrounding forest with serious expression.
What that man said and what he thought were almost exactly the same. The Jade Tears mercenary group didn't just send one unit here. According to that unlucky worm, this time the Jade Tears mercenary group sent two-thirds of their forces. They were divided into three units to follow and attack Starlight when necessary. Strictly speaking, the team that Rhode attacked wasn't even considered as a combat unit. They were only responsible for reconnaissance. According to the Jade Tears mercenary group arrangement, some were responsible for scouting while the combat unit was supposed to surround their target. The last unit disappeared just after they entered the Twilight Forest; they were reinforcement, but the man Rhode asked didn't know where they were located.
Originally, these two units shouldn't have been too far from each other because if something happened, it would be easier for them to back each other up. However, the situation was completely the opposite. According to the report, the person that led the main force was someone that just recently joined the Jade Tears, and Bell wasn't willing to follow the command of such a person. That was why after they entered the Twilight Forest, two sides became hostile towards each other, so Bell took his own unit and left. Clearly, they weren't planning to meet each other anymore. In Bell's opinion, he only needed to wait until right before the attack began and then send people to notify the main group. If not for him, it was basically impossible for all those fools to find their target all the way out here!
Although Rhode knew from the beginning that the Jade Tears was a group of trash, their extent of trashiness really made Rhode quite surprised. He even began to wonder whether the opponent was deliberately acting weak to lure himself into falsification. Otherwise, didn't that mean that their move was very suicidal?
What caught Rhode's attention wasn't where the main force whose location remained unknown was, but the reinforcements.
No one lived in the Twilight Forest and the only things that passed by were floating airships. Naturally, thieves and bandits didn't exist, since they didn't have wings to fly and snatch goods. That was why from another point of view, it could be said that the Twilight Forest was deserted. Perhaps, there would be some adventurers at times, but no normal people would choose to live here for long. However, to actually seek reinforcements in the forest? Were they planning to talk with those wild beast or something?
As for Rhode's understanding towards Frank, he believed that Frank wasn't an extremely stupid person. Most likely, the so-called reinforcement was the real main force of this attack and these mercenaries were just a pretense. Else, they wouldn't need to wait until the reinforcement arrived to attack.
Although Rhode still wanted to ask about it, the man was only a subordinate and didn't know much about the details of the actual situation. Perhaps the captain would know, but unfortunately he had already died in the woman's arms. Until then, Rhode didn't realized that the man he had easily killed before was the leader of the unit. Holy soul bless, he thought that man was just a normal lonely mercenary looking for fun.
"What should we do now, kid? Should we finish those guys?"
"Just the two of us?"
Rhode shook his head. There were more than 20 people in the main force; although they could both retreat safely after going, they still couldn't guarantee that the enemy wouldn't be startled. Rhode definitely didn't want to wake up a sleeping wolf. His policy was to do it clean or do nothing, and he didn't intend to do anything halfway.
In the end, Rhode made the decision to temporarily retreat.
In any case, without scouts, it would be difficult for them to find him. According to that unlucky worm, the two groups didn't didn't exchange any information. It was likely that the opponent wouldn't be aware of the problem. As long as they could finish everything before the other side found out, the situation was still very favorable to them.
Of course, Rhode left Old Walker behind and let him investigate the direction that captive has told them for precautionary reasons. The poor old ranger had run all night long following Rhode; he just wanted to go back and sleep alone but was instead ordered to stay behind in the forest to suffer. This made the old ranger impulsively want to make a flipping table gesture, but facing his complaint, Rhode didn't even say anything and simply left. The poor old ranger was stunned for a moment, and in the end he just shook his head and sighed. After that, he continued to do the task assigned to him.
When Rhode returned back to the base camp, it was almost dawn.
After hearing from Celia that nothing happened, Rhode took her back. Although she had now reached level 15, his soul power was about the same as lower ranked mage. To maintain Celia's existence, he needed to spend 30 soul power per hour, which was a huge price to pay. This was also the reason that he chose to temporarily retreat. After maintaining Celia for a night, he had spent nearly a third of his soul power. In such condition, he certainly couldn't risk himself.
After greeting Shauna who was in charge of the night watch, he informed the other mercenaries that they were going to start a new training. After that, he walked back to his own tent wearily and quickly fell into a deep sleep.
When Rhode woke up the next day, it was already midday.
Outside the tents, the mercenaries that heard the command had finished the preparation. They put out the fire, recovered the trap, and turned everything back to normal. Marlene and the others looked a little bit bored at the moment. Looking at the beautiful girl who was enjoying the scenery, the others also didn't object to letting her enjoy this rare vacation.
"Sir, everything is ready."
Seeing that Rhode has came out, Shauna hurriedly walked to welcome him. In this moment, her attitude was more respectful than before. Before, she called him "leader" just out of obligation. After looking at Celia, she no longer had that kind of thought. It was just natural to call him "Sir," since he could even make an angel his subordinate.
Rhode also realized that the other newcomers also showed similar changes. Their tones and attitudes were more respectful, and there was a trace of awe in their eyes when looking at him. Even Lapis who was always cautious towards him and always hid behind her brother back had begun to act like a fanatic fan, looking at him with worshipping eyes.
Of course to Rhode, that was a good thing. He used to have to pretend to be a noble by relying on his knowledge, the way he talked, and his demeanor. But now, he seemed to have nailed his noble status. There would be no person who would doubt him. After all, would any ordinary person have an angel as a subordinate? It was basically impossible!
On the contrary, Lize's attitude was rather weird. Several times when she tried to talk to him, she seemed to have something to say. Although Rhode asked whether she had any problem, she only shook her head. Facing this kind of Lize, Rhode didn't know what to do, so he could only let her be.
Rhode obviously was very familiar with the Twilight Forest. Not too long after they left the base camp, Rhode brought them to a valley.
"I think all of you are already familiar with the training before."
Facing Rhode's question, the mercenaries nodded. Since Rhode's training program wasn't too complicated, they could already use those skills in the first place; it was just that they never expected those skills could be used in such a way. Now, they had memorized those combinations. Next, they just needed to see how well they mastered it.
They nodded and Rhode also didn't say anything more and waved his hand, pointing towards the valley ahead.
"This is the second part of training. The content is very simple. I want all of you to enter this valley. At the end of the valley, there is a clear spring and an ice stone that can only be found there. I want you to bring back those stones to me after entering the valley. Of course, I'm not afraid to tell all of you that there's some wild beast that resides inside the valley. They will attack any enemy that invades their area without permission. Be careful, the time limit is 3 hours. I hope you can get back here before dinner. Now, go!"
Although the mercenaries were a bit panicked and felt overwhelmed after Rhode issued his order, they bit the bullet and entered the valley. Soon, their shadows disappeared into the forest. Only Rhode, Anne, Lize, Marlene, and Lapis were left standing outside. Seeing that her brother's figure had disappeared, Lapis was a little bit worried, but she knew that based on her current strength, it was impossible for her to join them, so she could only patiently waiting outside.
Lize also anxiously looked at the valley, and walking towards Rhode, she asked, "Will there really be no problem, Mr. Rhode?"
Anne sat in the big tree beside Rhode, and nibbling the apple in her hand, she asked, "Does Anne need to help them?"
Faced with their inquiries, Rhode shook his head. Since he dared to bring those newbies here, he must have already thought about it. This was one of the newbie group quest. Although it was a group quest, but the number of the monsters weren't too many; there were only wild wolves, dogs, and such. It was basically not too dangerous-at least compared to formal dungeons, the danger level of this group quest was a lot lower. If those newbies couldn't even get away from this level of danger, then Rhode would really consider whether or not they were really suited to join his mercenary group.
"It's not too dangerous inside, so there should be no problem. It's said that even a lion will push its own cubs to the abyss and let them climb on their own. If they can't even pass this kind of test, then it is useless to let them stay."
"Leader... That's a lion and its own cubs..."
Facing Anne's grin, Rhode's face was still emotionless. "In my hometown, there's a saying: once a teacher always a teacher. I already can be considered as their half teacher," Rhode calmly answered.