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 In the Dragon Soul Continent, there wasn't much 'entertainment' for the people at dusk. When evening fell, nobles would usually pass the time in a drinking party, mingling and laughing throughout the night. Whereas for the commoners, they could only afford the cheaper beer in pubs. Those with wives would spend time at home, and as for the bachelors, their only choice was to find night services from brothels.

Glorious Star was one of the many venues to provide warmth for these bachelors. But it differed from most other low-class brothels, as the place largely serves rich customers. Their furnishings and decorations were grand and proper. And from the exterior, you'd never guess that this was a place for 'dirty businesses', but rather a high-class inn instead.

Back in the game, players also visited such venues. Of course, the bulk of them held filthy motives when doing so. Some of the brazen ones unabashedly slapped their money on the table and gestured to the waitress, telling them to 'give them your best one.' And after receiving the money, the NPC would bring the player to the 'special VIP room' upstairs.

For the players, the first time was like a thrilling rollercoaster experience. All sorts of nasty deeds ran through their minds. Despite being unsure of how VR NPCs would offer them their 'special services', but even if they couldn't physically touch them, lap dances or stripteases would be adequate - for the sake of the experience, of course. Furthermore, since this was just a game, they needn't worry about authorities raiding the venues.

Once they arrived at the much anticipated 'special VIP room,' they would immediately close the door, sit down on the couch, face a stage with a curtain drawn, and wait for the show to start in excitement.

Thump, thump, thump. Akin to a rollercoaster ride at its peak, their heartbeats raced with anticipation. But, alas, when the curtain fell, what greeted them was a huge naked river crab, which stood in the middle of the stage, waving its claws side-to-side towards the player...

Of course, the players were left dumbstruck. All their hopes and expectations, though filthy, were dashed. Naturally, they didn't let the matter drop just like that, and they immediately took to official forums to rant. However to their dismay, the official reply they received from the game company was, "Due to the law and legislation, we cannot...."

Since the developers said that it was so... what else could the players say? They could only give up and forget about it.

Though afterward, the game company expressed their goodwill by compensating the players with a treasure chest monster instead of a river crab, but to the players, it just wasn't the same...

As Rhode stood at the entrance of the Glorious Star, he couldn't help but reminisce the interesting event in the past. But that was in the game, and the game company HAD to replace the women with stripteasing river crabs or else they would face legal backlash. Presently, the world was real, and he needn't worry about meeting the river crab in the 'special VIP room' - but nevertheless, the purpose of this visit wasn't to make up for the 'loss of content' in the game.

"Greetings, esteemed Sir."

A woman quickly walked up to him. It was that lady from the market earlier this morning. Rhode's outfit wasn't any different from before, with his cloak still concealing his face. The woman's appearance differed slightly though. She wore lighter makeup and adorned a gorgeous evening dress, which further emphasized her delicate waistline and beauty. Seeing Rhode's arrival, the woman smiled and bowed politely to him. Rhode gave a slight nod to return the gesture.

"Please come with me."

Without saying anything else, the woman spun around gracefully and led Rhode into the building. This well-dressed woman appeared to possess a high status in this place. When they entered through the front door, the guard glanced at the sword sheathed on Rhode's waist and tried to stop him. However, when the woman coughed, the guard immediately retracted his hand. Clearly, this woman's identity wasn't ordinary.

However, Rhode didn't think much about it because he wasn't here to meet her.

After entering the building, he realized that the lights were fairly dim. Paired with a soft melody in the background, the lighting created an oddly warm atmosphere. Rhode didn't linger for long and left after stealing some glances at the nearby rooms. It was clear that this place wasn't the average low-class brothel, not all the rooms had naked female dancers flirting with men with the doors wide open.

Rhode had initially thought that the woman would take him to the 'special VIP room.' He didn't expect her to lead him to a dark corner of the lounge. After her job was done, she left the room in a hurry.

Rhode casually scanned his surroundings before finally resting his eyes on a man sitting on a couch in front of him.

"Greetings, Mr. Shawn." Rhode sat down on a couch opposite the man.

"Well met, Mr. Rhode."

'Shadow' Shawn, the leader of the Dark Fang mercenary group. He donned a similar outfit to Rhode, with the only prominent difference being his pale white mask, which reflected the glow of the candelabrum on the table. Shawn made a casual nod as an acknowledgment to Rhode's greeting, but Rhode wasn't too mindful of that.

"To be honest, I was quite surprised to receive your invitation. But I'd hoped that you would have better standards in selecting your messenger, and also not to trouble my men," Rhode said as he crossed his legs.

He didn't feel any pressure when faced with this cold-hearted killer. He casually reached for the burgundy glass cup and poured himself a drink. At the same time, he grumbled with discontent, which was clearly audible to Shawn. However, Shawn merely smiled and shook his head.

"Salina is my assistant, and sometimes, she tends to be slightly cranky. As a killer, this is something unacceptable. I think it's time to change this shortcoming of hers... As for her offending your people, I formally apologize, Mr. Rhode."

"You don't have to apologize; I was just saying."

Rhode gestured with his hand and leaned back against the soft couch, looking the man with caution and curiosity. He had made no contact with Dark Fang mercenary group before, and neither did they have any past conflict with him. So why did Shawn take the initiative to look for him?

"Let us go straight to the point... Mr. Shawn. What exactly did you find me for?"

Shawn didn't immediately answer. Instead, he remained silent for a moment, and said, "Mr. Rhode, if I recall correctly, you and your mercenary group will be attending the mid-summer festival in two months time."

"That's right."

Rhode nodded. He wasn't surprised that Shawn was aware of this. After all, the Mercenary Association had approached the top three mercenary group leaders on this. However, Hiller had rejected, and Shawn intentionally avoided them after hearing about it. Now that he had personally sought out Rhode to discuss on this, what did he want?

"So then, I hope you will be mindful of someone called Carody."

"Carody?"

Rhode frowned. He swiftly searched his memory for this person.

"Carody Custer?"

"You know of him?"

Shawn was slightly awed with Rhode's broad knowledge. Although the mask had concealed his expression, his somewhat raised tone in contrast to his usual deep voice betrayed him. However, Rhode didn't elaborate further and simply shrugged.

"If you are referring to the Carody that led the 'Black Blade' secret troops under the Country of Light parliament, then yes, I have heard of his name."

"Heard of?"

Shawn stared at Rhode; his eyes revealed a mocking expression. After a moment, he sneered.

"So much for 'secret troops' eh? If a mercenary of Munn Kingdom could negligently discover the name of the commander of the parliament's secret troops, then it seems like those old bastards who can only fight with their tongues are really useless. Humph, but it's fine. Since you know his identity, then you should catch my drift, Mr. Rhode."

"If I'm not mistaken, you mean that Carody will appear in the mid-summer festival?" Rhode questioned as raised his eyebrows in suspicions, "But Mr. Shawn, what has this got to do with me?"

"I'm not too sure about the exact details, Mr. Rhode. According to a report that I received a few days ago, the Country of Light had already prepared the 'Black Blade' in attempt to strike you down during the mid-summer festival... Clearly, you must have had somehow foiled the plans of those good for nothing idiots."

"During mid-summer festival?"

Rhode's expression sunk but his tone remained calm.

"Yes, and according to the intelligence I received, he will disguise as a mercenary of a certain guild, and stage a 'death by accident' during the competition. This way he wouldn't need to be investigated and receive punishments, and furthermore, he wouldn't attract the attention of Munn, nor damage the bilateral relations between both countries... Even though I feel that there's already nothing much to sustain both countries' relationships...."

"I appreciate your reminder, Mr. Shawn."

Rhode didn't make any expression, but deep inside him, he had already memorized this information to heart. Rhode wasn't surprised with the intel that Shawn provided, as it was true that Rhode had utterly destroyed all the preparations set in Paphield Region by the Country of Light. Whether it was for revenge, or to silence him from revealing their secret, the parliament would never let him go easily. It seems like Rhode's prediction was on point. The Country of Light couldn't tolerate him any longer.

The Black Blade was only one of the secret forces of the parliament. Frankly, they weren't strong. According to the level system back in the game, most of its members were between level 30 to 40, and Carody's level was similar to Sereck. If it were way before, Rhode would have unquestionably lost to Carody. But now, although he couldn't say that he would guarantee a victory, as long he was well prepared, Carody wouldn't be a threat to his life.

However...

"Mr. Shawn, while I appreciate your timely reminder, I think the purpose of you inviting me here shouldn't be just reminding me of this simple matter."

"That's for sure."

The killer nodded slightly and admitted to Rhode's conjecture. Then, without warning, his voice suddenly turned deep, unveiling his icy-cold killer intent.

"I have a request... Mr. Rhode. Once you meet him at the mid-summer festival, I hope will show no mercy. If you can successfully kill him, then I can guarantee you that, we the Dark Fang, will unconditionally fulfill a wish of yours... any wish that you want."

Hearing this, Rhode was unexpectedly surprised.

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