Accompanied by a crisp sound, the collar that was bound tightly to the girl's neck was finally fell to the floor. Lize carefully removed the leather mask from her face.
"Don't worry; nothing will harm you here."
The girl's eyes revealed fear and anxiety. Lize displayed a reassuring smile while Anne couldn't wait to serve the piping hot food.
"Let me! Let me! This is an apple pie~ I haven't eaten such nice food for a long time! Come, have a taste."
"No, Anne. She'd been hungry for far too long. She needs to drink some water to warm herself up first. If she eats something now, it will hurt her body."
Holding a cup of warm water filled with droplets of honey, Marlene tried to move one step ahead of Anne. She stirred the drink with a spoon and passed it over to the little girl.
"Slowly drink, don't rush it."
The little girl sat on the bed blankly, observing everything in front of her, not knowing what reaction she should make. Since birth, she had never been treated so gently before. As soon as she could remember things, all she remembered was torture, hate, abuse and everyone she met wanted her dead. They never showed her what a smile looked like, only hate and fear. Just like tossing away a piece of rubbish.
The little girl was already used to such treatment. Maybe in her world, love and care were nonexistent. When Lize and the rest appeared, they did not scold her, kick her or hurt her in any way. It was because of this that she felt a sense of uncertainty. She feared not knowing what to do. It was strange at first, but warm at the same time.
Crystal clear tears started falling from her eyes, slowly trickling down to the ground.
"Ah, why did you cry. Do you feel uncomfortable anywhere?"
"Gosh, was the drink too hot?"
The three maidens started panicking. Marlene started to blow the teacup, trying to bring down the temperature. Anne quickly put down the hot apple pie and squatted in front of the girl, not knowing what to do. While Lize took a handkerchief and lightly wiped the tears from her face.
"Don't cry... slowly, let us know what's wrong... eh?"
Just as Lize was cleaning the little girl's tears, she suddenly let out a soft and surprised cry. She stared blankly at the little girl's face.
"What's wrong? Lize?"
Anne and Marlene turned around out of curiosity to glance at the face of the little girl.
This was the first time they saw her face.
Due to an extended period of malnutrition, the little girl's face was thin. Heartbreakingly pale white face. Her delicate features were as if it was a beautiful artwork sculptured by an artist. She had light pink lips and a pair of lake-like clear eyes. The most prominent feature was her achromatic eyes. Her left eye had a normal blue shine, but her right eye that hid behind her long fringe was shining like a purple gem.
But the three of them weren't too concerned about them. Rather, they were concerned about her looks; she appeared to be somewhat familiar to them.
"This face... have I seen it somewhere?"
"... Anne too, finds it so familiar..."
Anne twirled her hair and closed her eyes while pressing her petite eyebrows together. Then she suddenly punched downwards with her small fist.
"Yes! Isn't she the leader's..."
Anne suddenly stopped. The three of them looked at each other, not know what to say at all.
That's right, no matter how you look at the little girl, other than the hair and eye color, she resembled exactly like Rhode. The only thing different was that she's younger than Rhode by quite a margin. And between her eyebrows didn't have the cold feel like Rhode; instead, she was filled with a cuddly charm. Even the three of them as females, couldn't help but want to hug the little girl in their arms and gently care for her.
But... what's with this similarity?
Lize, Marlene, and Anne looked at each other in confusion. Although Lize and Rhode knew each other the longest, even she never heard Rhode speak about his family members. Naturally, Anne and Marlene wouldn't have known too.
"So what now?"
Marlene frowned and asked.
"This... maybe we can get Mr. Rhode to see for himself?"
Lize spoke with uncertainty. It isn't common to meet your doppelgänger every day; thus, naturally, she wouldn't know what to do other than inform the leader. The first time they looked at the girl, they suspected if Rhode and she were related. However, Rhode didn't seem to recognize her at the cave. This made the three of them full of doubt but didn't know what to say.
"Let's call Mr. Rhode here, besides..."
Marlene stopped and eventually sighed.
"Anne, could you get Mr. Rhode here?"
"Sure, Anne will go now."
After hearing Marlene's question, Anne immediately jumped up and burst out of the room.
Meanwhile, Rhode finished listening to the village chief's report on the undead creatures.
The villagers indeed did meet with some troublesome matters. Those undead creatures will appear once it hits midnight. They would float within the village and find their prey. The village resistance was insignificant and the villagers had no choice but to remove late-night guard duties. And when you thought that matters couldn't be worse, rumors started to spread, and it started to deter merchants from using this business route. It caused the villagers to lose their primary source of income. Despite inviting help from those acolytes from churches, but their strength was limited and eventually failed.
After 'interviewing' the village chief, Rhode confirmed the undead's identity ---- the Spectre. They were ghosts who were once human, awakened from dark magic pollution and then manipulated by an invisible evil entity. Rhode also confirmed their identities ---- Spectre. And just like what Marlene had predicted, the main reason may be due to a hell chasm somewhere within the village which polluted the dead spirits, converting them into Spectres.
The Spectre's most prominent feature would be belonging to the category of 'non-physical creatures.' Other than magical and elemental weapons, other types of weapons will not be able to threaten them at all. They would only pass through their bodies and not deal any damage. Not only that, Spectres could easily phase through walls, in other words, they could attack from anywhere. This wasn't something any ordinary militia could handle.
On the other hand, the Spectre's level wasn't very high. Most of them were merely over level ten. Periodically, some elites that were over level twenty would appear, but they wouldn't exceed level thirty, which was their limit. However, with Celia around, Rhode believed they wouldn't be the true troublesome foes.
The upcoming battle with the Spectres' could be treated as training. Although its attacking power isn't high, their sudden, omnidirectional ways of striking would be a good test for the mercenaries. Of course, to Rhode, as long as he had the holy sword in hand, even a hundred Spectres could be easily dispatched by him alone. However this time, he intended to use this as a live training session for his mercenaries. So after listening to the village chief's explanations, Rhode decided to observe the battle by the side. His only duty was to be in charge of drinking tea.
"I've understood the situation. But how I will handle the upcoming issues is all up to myself. You have no rights to ask. My only promise to you is that we will remove all the undead creatures. But I hope that you can restrain your group of idiots. If I meet anyone who tries to provoke my glory, I won't be able to guarantee their life."
Rhode easily made another threat, and stood up after sending the sweaty old man and guard captain out of the pub. Initially, Rhode intended to explore the surroundings, but this village made him lose all interest in sightseeing. Just as Rhode was deciding what he should do next, he saw Anne hurriedly dashing down the stairs.
"Ah, Leader, you're still here! Great!"
Rhode asked, wondering what was it that made Anne fluster like this. But to his surprise, Anne did not answer his question immediately as she just stared at him in a daze. After some time, Rhode woke her up with a clap.
"Hmm... Anne isn't too sure..." Anne tilted her head as she scanned Rhode's features from top to bottom.
"Leader, Sister Marlene wants you to see for yourself."
Facing Anne's attitude, a huge question mark appeared in Rhode's brain. He had never seen this straightforward maiden this hesitant in her words before. But he didn't overthink and followed Anne up the stairs to the guest room on the second floor.
"Ah, Mr. Rhode."
Noticing Rhode's arrival, Marlene and Lize hurriedly stood up. Rhode looked at the two maidens and frowned. He could sense the awkwardness from both of their expressions. This surprised Rhode, and after confirming that the three of them didn't have a quarrel, he asked.
Facing Rhode's question, the three maidens exchanged looks at each other. It wasn't long before Lize finally bit the bullet and stepped out.
"Mr. Rhode, we would like you to look at her."
"Her? What's wrong with her?"
Rhode asked curiously. He turned his head towards the little girl who was slowly sipping a teacup by the bed edge.
The moment he had a clear view of her face, Rhode felt the blood in his body stop flowing.