For Rhode, this information wasn't difficult to understand. It explained that the summoned spirit consisted of both Light and Wind element which meant that this would increase its resistance against those elements. However, this wasn't a common occurrence. The Spirit Bird was a Wind elemental creature which had no relations to the Light. It was like a Microtus having a family with an eagle.
The only possible reason that he could think of was, during the process of evolving, the spirit got affected by external elements. If those elements were strong enough, it could be enough to input certain new elemental attributes to it.
However, Rhode couldn't accept this as an answer. Instead, he became further confused.
The Black Pine Ruins were the remains of a mysterious heritage, a place with consisting of 'magic' and golems. The 'magic' itself had no attributes, whereas the golems were inanimate matter, which couldn't possibly affect the summoned spirits. Although it was underground and the Earth element attribute might perhaps have a higher influence, but due to the contradiction of Wind and Earth elements, it wasn't plausible for a summoned spirit to inherit those attributes. But the problem was that the Light element wasn't even found here.
Rhode traced back his memory to the maze until now, but he still couldn't recall discovering any vestiges of the Light element. To affect a summoned spirit's attribute, not any ordinary 'Light' will do, instead, it required a considerable amount of Light element influence. For example, the Light element in Temples or Churches.
Rhode eventually shook his head as he was certain that he didn't pass by any Church, nor did he come across any altar. And he couldn't remember if there were any rare objects or monsters with the Light element.
How is this even possible...
In the end, Rhode decided to not think about it anymore. No matter where it came from, at least he benefited from it because his Spirit Bird would be able to defend against a larger variety of attacks from different elements. Rhode clenched his fist.
A crack sounded from his palm, and a large bird appeared in front of Rhode. The tiny Spirit Bird vanished and was substituted by a blue, translucent bird that spanned at least two meters long. It casually flapped its wings, causing some of its long feathers to fall to the ground. Its sharp eyes blinked a few times as it stared at its master. Not only did its body size increase, but a newly coated white trim covered the edges of its wings. That was the evidence of the Light element in itself.
The Spirit Bird gave out a mild chirp and rubbed its head against Rhode, and he caressed its head in response. The Spirit Bird seemed to be very satisfied with its master's touch. It shook its body and raised its head to chirp, then it once again turned into its card form, disappearing into the air.
Anne who had been watching at the side suddenly returned to her senses. She opened her eyes wide and looked at Rhode with curiosity and excitement. When the Spirit Bird disappeared, Anne shouted gleefully and hurriedly made her way towards Rhode like a little kid who saw an ice-cream van.
"Leader! Was that a spirit too? What a beautiful bird, can we raise it?"
"It's a spirit for battle and not as a pet."
Rhode casually answered Anne's brainlessly enthusiastic question. However, Anne didn't seem to let this opportunity slide that easily. She pranced around Rhode, asking all kinds of silly questions. But it couldn't be helped. Rhode's style of fighting had always been a hot topic within the mercenary group. Regardless whether they were new or old mercenaries, they had never seen such an odd battle style or a class like the Spirit Swordsman.
Unlike Marlene, no matter how strong, in the end, she was still a mage and only can be a mage. But Rhode was different. He used his superb swordsmanship to prove he was a powerful swordsman, and he was also able to use summoning skills that only summoners could use. This was a mystery to them. Some even suspected that Rhode borrowed the help of magical equipment. But they eventually denied these suspicions as magic equipment could never summon so many different spirits...
That was what they concluded before they knew that Gillian and Celia were also summoned spirits.
Rhode was not interested in entertaining Anne, and since she appeared so energetic, he chose to proceed forward. Although she didn't receive an answer, she didn't seem to have any regrets. She maintained her enthusiasm and followed Rhode, anticipating Rhode's elegant form in battle later.
"Leader, will you use it in battle? Anne really really wants to see it. Can I touch it?"
"You'd better take care of yourself. The next enemy isn't as easy as you think."
Rhode cut off Anne's enthusiasm with a straight response, and he began observing his surroundings cautiously.
"Let's go. Something doesn't feel quite right here."
Rhode turned and left with Anne hurriedly following behind.
Both of them quickly disappeared into the tunnels, and the whole area returned to its former state. But not long after, two human shadows suddenly appeared around the corner.
"Did you see that? Amund?"
The woman narrowed her eyes and stared at the position where Rhode previously stood.
"Such beautiful art. How did he do that? Summoning skills?"
"I'm not so sure, Miss. But it doesn't seem to be summoning skills, at least not those by the ordinary summoners."
The old man had a dubious expression on his face as he shook his head.
"Frankly speaking, I have never seen such mysterious techniques. From the flow of magical energy, this should belong to a unique type of summoning system, but I can't analyze its source. The only thing I can be sure of is that this technique is ancient."
"Oh? That's amusing."
The woman opened her eyes in surprise; she turned her head and glanced at where Rhode had gone. There were traces of greediness in her eyes.
"Beautiful appearance, mysterious attitude, unique techniques... You are tempting me to add you to my collection, Mr. Rhode. I can guarantee, you will become the most special little gem in all of my collections... Everything in this country belongs to me, and that includes you. So then, what else are you gonna show us?"
Rhode had chills down his spine.
An odd sensation suddenly came over him which sent a chill throughout his body. He subconsciously turned behind but could only see a dark, empty alley. No incoming monsters nor any signs of abnormality.
After spending a while in the underground, it was unavoidable to be oversensitive.
We should get this over and done with, so we can get some fresh air.
Rhode finally reached the end of the tunnel. He gestured to Anne to get ready, and at the same time he took a deep breath and slowly pushed the stone door.
Brilliant rays started leaking out from in between the widening gaps; it was so bright that Rhode had to close his eyes.
A spacious hall covered with polished white stones greeted them.
An arc-shaped dome dangled above. The glittering fluorite lamp emitted a light which illuminated the entire hall. Thick, solid columns carved with floral patterns were organized in a series, and a firm brass pipe joined the columns together. At the left and right sections of the hall, there were multiple brass pipes with their dark entrances facing the hall. They appeared to be like other ordinary pipes, but for Anne wouldn't let her guard down at all as she was ambushed previously.
But the most conspicuous object was a massive metal golem that blocked the passage in front of them.
It appeared to be at least two meters tall. It had two thick arms at its waist. Although its legs weren't long, it appeared to be totally sturdy. Different from the Guardian Golems, it had a thick and sturdy deck. Didn't seem to have any weaknesses.
"Beware of its offense."
Rhode reminded Anne softly.
"It is very slow, but you need to mind your corners. Although this thing looks like a human, you can't treat it as one. Its waist and limbs can be rotated freely and attack in any direction it wants. Also, pay attention to those brass pipes. I think you must know what these things are for. Once the Core Guardian shifts into battle mode, those irritating Guardian Golems will come through the pipes. I will handle the Core Guardian, and you'll deal with the Guardian Golems. Remember, although these things are nimble, once they appear, they will commence an activation process, so immediately destroy them the moment you see them. Don't worry. This place isn't used for a long time, so the amount of Guardian Golems wouldn't be too much for you to handle."
Rhode took his time to explain to Anne about the mechanics of this battle.
"Oh yeah, one more thing," Rhode continued,"you've got to notice its movements, once the Core Guardian releases white steam from its body, I need you to stay away or run as far as possible immediately. At the same time, get into a defensive stance. Understood?"
"I understand, Leader."
After receiving Rhode's guidance, Anne became silent. She nodded her head after understanding his explanation. Then, she took out her shield and pulled something, soon enough, along with the sound of machines, the gold shield once again changed shape. Anne took a deep breath and grabbed her shield.
"I'm ready." Anne nodded solemnly.
"Good, let's go!"
Rhode drew his sword and dashed towards the massive golem.
When the duo entered the hall, the golem appeared to have detected their presence. The formerly dull eyes suddenly flickered and it released a puff of steam out from all over its body.
Its enormous body moved. Then, it raised its arms and smashed toward Rhode!
The battle begins!