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 The ground trembled.

Cracks spread out from the middle of the fountain and the clear spring water turned turbid and slimy, it even released an incredibly pungent stench. The silver-white flames mercilessly rolled over, quickly cleansing all the filth.

Scorching steam started to emit from the gaps, the escaping air made screeching noises.

Everything had ended.

"Hu..."

Rhode breathed through his mouth and fanned his nose from the stench. The violent trembling began to show signs of stopping, and in front of him, Frank's body had already become a puddle of nasty-looking water.

Once the shaking stopped, the underground mine which seemed to be collapsing, regained its earthly tranquility. Rhode lifted up his head and observed his surroundings, noticing cracks, broken rocks and strewn sand all around the underground mine. The fountain that Celia wrecked was also in pieces.

Then at that moment, a familiar system prompt appeared in front of Rhode once again.

[Mission > completed. 8000 EXP gained. 3 Skill Points awarded. Random reward....]

Accompanied by the system prompt, an obscure card immediately appeared in the air and spun slowly in front of Rhode. At first, it resembled the back of a mirror, but slowly it became clearer and clearer and eventually transformed into a pitch-black card, quietly floating in Rhode's eyes.

Is this the random reward?

Rhode frowned as he reached out his hand to grab the card.

The card appeared to be pitch black in the front. Dark aura swirled at the top of the card where a large "iii" text was located at. This represented the status of the card. Instead, Rhode focused on the bottom of the card instead. He spotted two values, 1 and 10. These numbers defined the offensive and defensive ability of the card respectively.

He immediately realized this was a defensive card.

Seems like I'm in luck.

Rhode nodded with satisfaction. His stash of cards lacked a defensive card. In Rhode's collection, the strongest card was of course "Gillian". Both her offense and defense points were more than 20, but Rhode couldn't help but feel disappointed when his ace card had limited summons. As of now, the only defense cards he could afford were Celia and Centaur Knight. However, their defense wasn't very high. They could only withstand average or slightly superior enemies. Against very powerful opponents? They wouldn't be able to last.

A card with an initial 10 points for the defence was considered very good. In the game, a monster's strength was represented by the amount of offense and defense points:

1~4 points - Normal beasts;

5~8 points - Behemoths;

9~12 points - Monsters;

13~16 points - Elites;

17 points & above - Lords

While the initial attributes don't specifically dictate the future potential of the summoned spirit, there are some spirits with high growth potential that had the chance to gain several levels at once when obtaining the same amount EXP. Whereas there are some spirits looked great in the beginning, but after evolution, their growth scaled badly.

In Rhode's deck, other than Gillian, the Star Mark sword current attributes were 9 in offense and 7 in defense. It fully displayed the high growth potential of an angel. As for the Spirit Bird, its growth rate was disappointing. Although it was one of first few spirits that spent the most time with Rhode in this world, both its attributes were just at a measly 4 points, even at level 9. This was solely because of the lack of experience in its future battles. Apart from using its "Shadow Follower" skill which provided a buff that allowed Rhode to fly, it had no other usage.

Comparing to the Spirit Bird, the Black Hold's attributes seemed to be more outstanding. Maybe it was because of Rhode's frequent usage as a bomb during battle. After gaining lots of EXP, it had reached level 16, increasing its original 5 offense and 3 defense points to 7 and 3. The growth in offense points seemed great, but its defense was equally weak. Rhode was satisfied with its low defense, though. Besides, who would use a bomb that wouldn't explode when thrown?

As a new member of Rhode's deck, the Centaur Knight had a minimal increment in its attributes. Currently, it was level 8 and the attributes merely increased to 6 offense and 5 defense points only. Rhode's deck was painfully obvious that it focused mainly towards offense. Despite owning two defense cards, they were still more attack-oriented compared to other purely defensive cards.

The new card had the lowest offense, but its defense was only second to Gillian. 10 defense points meant that it could take more than one full attack from a Death Knight, or even Sereck, without dying. This brought Rhode unimaginable benefits.

Anne did her job well. All the pressure on her considered to be overwhelming. When the Starlight Guild grows bigger, the pressure on Shield Warriors would grow as well. On top of that, this role required talent and experience, not to mention it was the most dangerous job. Rhode couldn't foresee himself meeting another genius Shield Warrior like Anne anytime soon, not to mention she was with a half beast descent, and was unafraid of death.

Compared to Anne, a summoned spirit seemed much more convenient. It could appear and disappear as he wished. Even if the spirit falls in battle, re-summoning wasn't too difficult.

Rhode flipped over the card. Details of this card were clearly written on the back.

[Received Abyss Corps 2/5, Nether Tentacles]

[Nether Tentacles(Dark Element Attributes): Ground-type non-fusion spirit, Skill - Binding (Prey that fall into the trap will be disarmed, unable to retaliate) level 9.

Triggers self-healing if damage received is not over its limit. Recovery characteristic.

Hidden trap in darkness will not be discovered. Shadow characteristic.

Upon approaching prey, certain chance to limit prey's movement. Paralysis characteristic]

[Offence: 1, Defence: 10]

Hmm... Pretty good.

Rhode nodded with satisfaction. He knew these data were merely data. In order to truly understand it, he needed to test it...

Rhode lifted his head and glanced silently at the angel.

"Celia, give this new card a test."

"Yes, Master."

After Rhode's command, Celia nodded her head and drew her sword. She took two steps back and gestured to Rhode. After confirming Celia was ready, Rhode lifted his hand and summoned the Nether Tentacles.

Nothing seemed to happen.

For a moment, nothing happened. Then without any notice, Rhode's shadow suddenly grew longer. If Rhode wasn't in control of his card, then perhaps he would miss this creepy incident.

Seemed like its concealment was indeed good.

"Can you feel it?"

Celia frowned and tilted her head slightly at Rhode's question. She then carefully observed Rhode's surroundings and shook her head lightly.

"I'm sorry, Master. I only can feel something is amiss... but I can't detect the exact location where."

"Excellent."

After hearing Celia's answer, Rhode nodded with satisfaction. "Attack me without mercy."

"Yes."

Celia raised her sword without hesitation and struck towards Rhode. The silver-whitish brilliance burst out from her sword, filling the area with white light...

When Celia's sword was about to hit Rhode, the shadow from beneath his feet immediately extended and formed a semi-circle shaped chasm in front of him. Countless of pitch-black tentacles shot out from within and flew toward Celia, blocking her attack.

The tentacles were as thick as a human arm, about 2 meters long. It created the impression of two huge-like earthworms popping out from the ground. The movement of these tentacles would shock anyone if they weren't prepared.

Despite being slightly surprised by the sudden appearance, she was able to calm herself down quickly and attempted to slash the tentacles apart. The tentacles moved as if it reacted to Celia's attack. Once they locked their sights on her, it split and flew in all directions, rapidly closing towards Celia.

Celia's ability wasn't weak either. Her sword sliced several tentacles apart, but it didn't seem to be effective as new tentacles immediately took its place, it could be said to be as thick as a forest. Because of this, Celia appeared to be struggling slightly against the endless grove of dense tentacles.

Seems like it's working well.

Rhode thought to himself. The Nether Tentacles had strong defenses and there were no problems with blocking attacks. Moreover, with it being 3 meters wide and 2 meters tall in diameter and height, normal attacks wouldn't threaten it much. With Rhode's exquisite control, this "tentacle wall" could cover the length of a basketball court in the least. It could also provide defense within 180 degrees. Based on this "experiment", the tentacles flexibility would give opponents surprising threats...

"Yes! That's the way! Bind her! Strip her off!!" Gillian cheered gleefully with a slight smirk on her face.

This shocked Rhode as he went deep in thought. He subconsciously turned back to the fight and the sight almost gave him a nosebleed.

He was unsure when did Celia manage to get herself caught within the tentacles. Her sword was already on the side. Both of her hands were tied up high with her long, slender legs spread wide apart. The smooth tentacles were slowly slithering up the gaps in her armor and went into her skirt, executing a skillful removal of the maiden's armor. Of course, during this period of time, Celia was struggling to escape as she flapped her wings with all her might. Unfortunately, the tentacles were like a spider web, binding her even tighter when she struggled. Now, almost half of Celia's armor had already been removed, revealing her thin inner clothes that emphasized her curvaceous body. A slight tinge of pink could almost be seen from the front.

Celia blushed with embarrassment. She tried to yell, but could only make muffled sounds as a tentacle shoved itself into her mouth.

"...!!...!!"

The squirming body of the angel maiden gave off the temptation of innocence and lust. Her slim waist and the torn clothes gave everyone a visual feast...

"Yes! Right there, take it down! Use more strength! Just a little more!"

Gillian's fearless goading triggered a reaction from Rhode. He quickly made a hand gesture and those tentacles binding Celia disappeared in an instant, returning to Rhode's shadow. As for the angel maiden who fell hard to the ground, she hastily recovered and grabbed her fallen armor, re-equipping all of them completely.

"I- I'm really sorry, Master, I..."

"No, you did well..."

Rhode paused for a moment, not knowing what to say. So he coughed and decided to change the topic.

"Now that the mission is complete, let's pack up and leave."

"Yes, Master. I'll go now."

Maybe Celia thought her actions were too embarrassing, so she hurriedly but rigorously bowed to Rhode. She then turned around and left quickly. Looking at her back view, Rhode shrugged his shoulders and let out a sigh.

"Such a pity. Just needed that little bit more." Gillian said with genuine disappointment in her voice.

"But Master, this card seemed to be a good choice isn't it?"

"Yes indeed."

Rhode nodded solemnly. "With this card, I can relax a little on my defense."

"Not only that, there's other benefits aren't it? Hehe~" Gillian giggled as she teased Rhode.

For some reason, Rhode felt that Gillian was exceptionally happy.

"Master, don't you feel excited at all? Tentacles are men's fantasy, aren't they~?"

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