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 Metal and stone clashed against each other, igniting a bright spark.

"Ugh!"

Rhode retreated a few steps back. The huge impact caused his sword to tremble, producing violent waves that traveled from his arms to his upper body.

As expected, a level 15 Gargoyle was an opponent not to be taken lightly - especially when there were two. Gargoyles were unique because of their intelligence. Normally, that was something that he'd worry about, but because of said intelligence, the AI made less threatening movements out of caution. It was especially so after it was attacked by the Blade of Destruction. When Rhode's sword emitted a white light, the Gargoyle immediately screamed and flew back. As for the other one, even though it had not been hit, it also became hesitant, giving Rhode a chance to breathe.

But it was only for a moment.

Rhode held Star Mark firmly in his hand as he studied the hovering Gargoyles. Then, he clenched his teeth and poised himself. Although the two Gargoyles were afraid of his Blade of Destruction, he discerned that the both of them wouldn't let go of him that easily. Even though they were in a stalemate right now, it wouldn't last much longer. When he leveled up, he had raised his Moon Shadow Swordsmanship into Rank D 4/4, which in turn reduced the Soul Power consumption of the Blade of Destruction. Still, it would be a problem if it was frequently used. Besides, this wasn't even the final battle; Rhode knew that he had to save some of his strength in case something went wrong. And since he was the only combatant amongst the three, if he used up all of his power, the situation would turn grave.

The two Gargoyles did not continue to stare at him. On the contrary, they flew back and forth as they extended their claws to attack Rhode, only pulling back once they found that he had the intention to fight back. This kind of never-ending battle required a lot of stamina, but since the two Gargoyles' were made from alchemy, it was not a problem for them at all. However, it wasn't the same for Rhode.

Sweat slowly trickled down his forehead. His body had been in a defensive position for an extended period of time and he knew that he would gradually become exhausted. But Rhode wasn't able to retreat. He knew that with his current ability, it was almost impossible to defeat two Gargoyles, and that was why his only hope was Lize. However...

It seemed like I forgot to remind them to pay attention to the protection circle?

After pondering for a moment, he shrugged and switched his focus to the Gargoyles in front of him.

It's not THAT dangerous anyway.

-

Suddenly, Matt yelped in pain.

"Ah!!"

He fell to the ground and his whole body twitched non-stop.

"I'm going to die! Help! Help!"

"You're just stunned Mr. Matt... You're not going to die because of that."

Lize was flipping over the things on the dusty and cobwebbed table, most of it was just debris that had been already been eroded. She casually cast Healing Light at Matt without looking and continued to search again.

Although most of the mages would cast a lot of protective spells to protect their secrets, this church had been forgotten for a long period of time. Thus, the power of the protective circle had weakened about 70%-80%, so it was not particularly dangerous.

As a half-angel, Lize's magic resistance was quite strong, so these weakened protective circles didn't really affect her. Under her influence, those circles that were supposed to trigger fire and lightning only created a flicker before disappearing. However, the poor Mr. Matt had helped these traps to regain back some of their self-confidence. Since he was just an ordinary person and had no magic resistance, his reaction made the protective circle seem threatening.

"This... this place is awful..." The man muttered while observing his surroundings.

Matt then removed the dust from his clothes before standing up again.

In the dark church, the only light that illuminated the darkness was the 'Holy Radiance' that Lize had cast. But this only made Matt more frightened because he could clearly detect the locations of the strange magic circles. Moreover, the light also revealed ominous piles of bones which were scattered on the black floor. This scene was enough to make his legs weak. And as if that wasn't scary enough, when he saw the bloodstains on the wall, he almost ran away in fright. If it wasn't because of Lize's calm demeanor that made him feel embarrassed as a man, and because of the Gargoyles at the entrance that was even more dangerous, most likely he would have already run away long ago.

But now he could only grit his teeth and cling to Lize to find something called the 'Controller Device' which he had never seen before.

This place is so damned messy... how can one even find an object?

He complained in his mind, but when he noticed Lize's seriousness, he decided not to express his view verbally and continued to survey the surroundings.

Meanwhile, Rhode's situation wasn't getting any better.

"---!"

The Gargoyles shrieked and attacked Rhode. But he made a quick movement as he sidestepped and dodged its attack once again. This time, the Gargoyles did not retreat like before. One Gargoyle spun around and whipped its tail at Rhode.

This is bad!

When saw the attack, his heart sunk. It was too late for him to dodge so all he could do was to raise his sword to parry the attack.

Rhode's reaction was fast, but the Gargoyles weren't slow either. When he felt the vibrations through his sword, he was already sent flying into the air. Rhode rolled on the ground several times before stopping. The clash caused his hands to tremble uncontrollably.

"Ugh!"

Rhode's body was shaking as he got up. He felt dizzy and weak with half his body totally numb. If he had not gripped his sword tight, he would have already lost it. At that moment, as he was beginning to regain clarity, a creepy sound echoed in his ears.

"Hiss..."

Cold breath trickled down his back. He hoped that he could escape the opponent by falling to the ground, but when he raised his head up, he discovered three Will-o-Wisps approaching him slowly.

While the Gargoyle did not deal him much damage, instead, it had thrown him out of the church barrier entrance area. Due to the invisible barrier, the Will-o-Wisps were unable to enter the church, however, they still lingered around the edges, relying on their instincts while waiting for an opportunity to attack.

And now, the opportunity finally came.

Of course, Rhode did not intend to let them do as they please. Facing the encirclement, he clenched his teeth and decided not hold anything back. Lifting up his sword, a hallowed light emerged and shot forward.

As the white light burst out and spread around the battlefield, one of them landed heavily on one of the Will-o-Wisp, shredding apart its protection. After which, he fluidly followed up with an attack, thrusting his sword into its core. While the unlucky Will-o-Wisp screamed and slowly turned to dust, Rhode had already passed through its body and landed inside the barrier.

What should I do next?

While Rhode was thinking about his next course of action, the system prompt suddenly appeared, startling him for a moment.

[EXP 4000/1800, Level up! Talent Tree Unlocked, Level 8]

I'm already at Level 10? But I remember that I was only at Level 8 when I entered Fog Ruins...

Rhode froze for a moment as he tried to recall what happened. He seemed to remember that the system prompt told him that his EXP was already enough to level up even before he met the Gargoyle, but he did not notice at that time. But now, it seemed as if his EXP was enough for him to level up again. This wasn't too surprising, after all, in this dungeon, almost all of the EXP was earned by him. Moreover, his level was low, killing monsters above his level allowed him to gain a lot of bonuses. That was why reaching level 10 was very normal. The only strange thing was... how did the EXP work when he was clearly living in the real world?

But now wasn't the time to worry about these minor matters. Rhode quickly opened his attribute table and made his choice since this might be his only chance to gain a quick advantage.

[EXP 4000/1800, Level up! Talent Tree Unlocked, Level 8]

[EXP 2200/2000, Level up! Talent Tree Unlocked, received 1 Skill Point, Level 9]

[EXP 200/2500, Talent Tree Unlocked, received 2 Skill Points, Level 10]

[Do you want to activate the Talent System? ]

"Activate!"

In less than a second, the Talent System branched out three sets of talents.

In the Dragon Soul Continent, when the player reached level 10, each job was given a choice of three different set of talents. They could only choose one as their main, and another as secondary to compliment their main talent. The effectiveness of the talent was based on how many Skill Points the player allocated. In the beginning, many players were confused because they could only obtain 1 Skill Point whenever they leveled up. The Talent Tree, Swordsmanship, as well as spells, needed Skill Points to level up. So, in the beginning, they could only allocate a limited amount of Skill Points. Fortunately, when the players reached the intermediate areas, they would be able to use the 'Awaken Scroll' to finish some high-level quests and obtain additional Skill Points.

Rhode's Spirit Swordsman class had three different kinds of talents-- 'Summoning Master', 'Soul Messenger' and 'Hell Lord'.

For 'Summoning Master', when leveled to a certain level, it could increase the number of summoning spirits. Players chose the 'Soul Messenger' to strengthen their awakening spirit power. As for 'Hell Lord', when a non-human lifeform is killed, it had a special power to convert the corpse into a summoning spirit based on a certain percentage. Of course, the conversion is limited to undead attributes.

It can be said that every talent had their own pros and cons, 'Summoning Master' relied on numbers to win, 'Soul Messenger' focused on quality, but beasts were rare to find and so were Soul Cores. 'Hell Lord' was also a good option. If it was an ordinary person, they would have been hesitant as to which talent to give up. But for Rhode, it wasn't a problem since he had played the Spirit Swordsman class for seven years. He had already memorized all the skills and even held the de facto title of the 'Walking Library,' which was given by the players who respected his knowledge.

Even in the game, almost two-thirds of the entire player base chose this job because they want to build their character using Rhode's character as their class guide. That was why it was difficult for new players to decide their talents.

But Rhode was different, once he saw his Talent Tree, he immediately made his decision.

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