For the next few days, the journey went smoothly.
Although Matt chose to go on the journey with Rhode, he seemed to have forgotten about Rhode's invitation to collaborate as he warm heartedly chatted with everyone from the mercenary group about everything. However, Rhode wasn't worried about Matt at all because he knew what he was thinking.
"Before the Midsummer Festival ends, he won't have a response."
Rhode twitched his brows and glanced at the scenery outside the window.
"It's in the nature of merchants to value money highly so if he feels like he will lose more than gain, he will surely give up. Even though I saved his life in Twilight Forest, he won't obediently give his life to me as repayment. I can guarantee that he was indeed interested, but he was still doubtful of our mercenary group's abilities. That's why he's waiting for the Midsummer Festival results and if we perform well enough, he will be assured. But, if we perform poorly, he doesn't even need to consider my offer at all."
"Humans are a troublesome bunch."
Gillian let out a chuckle as she caressed her fluffy tail with a look of disdain.
"But, these are also the merits of being humans. Efforts in thinking, troubling and deciding, hoping that their decisions were the right one."
"I hope so too."
Rhode shook his head. Suddenly, he felt a tiny hand tugging on his sleeves. He turned and saw Christie looking at him with a gentle smile, at the same time raising her drawing board with him drawn on it. It had to be said that Christie's drawing skills were great. Although she had drawn with only a charcoal pen, the results were remarkably true to life. The beautiful art pieces had become a way for Christie to make friends. In Starlight, the members closer to Christie, including Marlene, Anne, and Lize, had also received a portrait of themselves that were drawn by her.
However... Looking at this 'black-haired beauty', Rhode couldn't feel happy because he thought that Christie had a too beautiful impression of himself. Why must it be that every time this little girl drew a portrait of himself, he always looked like a beauty? Could it be that Christie had never seen any manliness in himself?
Of course, although Rhode felt helpless, he wouldn't do anything to hurt Christie. So, he smiled and nodded before extending his hand to gently fondle her smooth, long hair.
"Very well drawn. You should take a break, Christie."
Christie nodded happily and put down the drawing board. Meanwhile, Rhode retrieved a handkerchief and carefully rubbed the charcoal stains off her fingers. Lize and Marlene couldn't help but whisper into each others' ears.
"Mr. Rhode treats Miss Christie so well. If this were seen by outsiders, maybe they would be mistaken for sis-... siblings."
Lize immediately corrected her sentence as she sensed a chill down her spine. On the other hand, Marlene admired the portrait after taking a closer look. Then, she let out a sigh.
"Christie's drawing skills are getting better. I never expected her to have such talents..."
Marlene flipped through Christie's drawings and mumbled. Then, something caught her attention and she covered the portraits with a blush.
"What's wrong, Marlene? What did you see?"
Lize asked in astonishment. Christie's work consisted of the daily lives of mercenaries, which was almost like a photobook for Starlight. However, this photobook didn't consist of photos, but drawings.
Everyday, many of them spent their leisure time admiring Christie's work because the little girl was always able to notice details most people weren't aware about. Even though some things were always in their sight, everyone would realise that 'those things actually existed' only through her polishing and finishing touches.
"It's nothing, Lize. There's some uncompleted ones at the end..."
Marlene answered vaguely. Lize sensed that something was amiss and she gazed at Marlene curiously. At this moment, Gillian shook her head while rejoicing in Marlene's misfortune.
As Lize spoke, the chariot slowed down. Then, the chariot driver knocked on the window and broke the awkward atmosphere.
"Everyone, we are reaching Golden City soon."
Anne, who was deeply asleep, jumped up after opening her eyes and looked out of the window in fascination.
Soon enough, the chariot came to a halt and everyone alighted in sequence. Then, they witnessed an incredibly beautiful scenery.
Under the summer skies, the city in the distance beamed with dazzling radiance. The clear rivers surrounded the tall city walls. Green, carpet-like forests spread wide and revealed the dazzling city. That was in the center of the Munn Kingdom and was also the most beautiful and resplendent jewel on this continent: Golden City.
As one of the most popular cities in the Dragon Soul Continent, Golden City covered a large tract of land and was densely populated. Also, as the heart of the Dragon Soul Continent's main commercial traffic and transportation, a total of six rivers converged and formed a huge lake that surrounded this city. The Silver River and Jade River ran through to form the northern and southern parts of the continent. On the eastern side, the Crystal River linked up to the Dragon Sea, which made transportation accessible from all sides. The lake surrounding Golden City formed a natural barrier, separating itself from the outside world.
As the most beautiful and richest city on the continent, various rumors had always spread about Golden City. One of them said that the whole ground of the city was laid in white jade. And at the side of the roads, exquisites sculptures were erected, with weapons made of cast gold. The sculpture's eyes were perfectly beautiful gems. The Angels' temple was located in the center of the city and was the most important of all. Clear spring water flowed by the sides of the road. The temple was up to ten meters tall and in the presence of Angels. Rumor has it that the temple was filled with rare treasures and even the magical crystal lamps on the wall were the most precious fire source crystals. Some even mentioned that the walls were filled with beautiful murals of golden silk and silver linings, making it a spectacular sight.
Rhode was very clear that on the south side, there was a beautiful red maple leaf forest. The trees there never withered and were pleasing to the eyes, but not many people knew about them. These were the execution grounds for Lydia to get rid of those guilty of terrible crimes. The determination in her perception of beauty was omnidirectional...
Some of these rumors were true while some were just fantasies. But, with so many rumors spreading around, only two of them mattered in the end: the Golden City was indeed both wealthy and luxurious.
Not to mention that Lydia had also stepped up and wished to revamp the entire Golden City. Even though rumors might not be true, they were very similar to the truth.
In the game, this had been a hot topic among the players. To many players, Lydia's actions resembled those of people who had too much money to spare. Based on the novels they usually read, the true nobles should be more reserved, filled with inner qualities, and not rely on money to show off their own presence by revamping the surface. However, there was a group of players who retorted this idea. Even if Lydia had indeed spent too much money, at least she spent it to construct such a breathtaking city. Everyone was a common civilian and couldn't understand elegant abstract paintings, so since she had spent so much money to make something so elegant and luxurious, it meant that the money was well spent, right?
At this moment, standing by the edge of the mountain trail, Rhode couldn't help but think back on his journey in the game while looking at this beautiful city. Back then, when other players and himself arrived in this city for the first time, they excitedly cheered like country bumpkins who had never left their villages. Some even gave up their missions and ended up spending up to 10 days exploring this area. As soon as they saw the beautiful scenery, they would record and upload them to forums for discussion. In the end, this became a venue for online couples, and even for himself... Cough cough, this topic went too far.
Rhode shook his head and returned to his senses. At this moment, the others were also staring blankly. Christie looked at the beautiful city in astonishment and anticipation. Anne jumped for joy and the others were worried that she might fall down the mountain cliff.
Marlene remained calm as she grew up in Golden City. She was familiar with everything in this place. On the other hand, Lize was feeling a little nostalgic as she stared blankly. Her eyes revealed some signs of uncertainty, anticipation, pain, and hesitation, yet also determination.
Rhode knitted his brows as he observed her expression. He wasn't too concerned about Lize's past. However, since she had known Marlene since young, it meant that Lize must have also grown up in Golden City and her social status wasn't too low too. With Marlene's identity, how would it be possible for her to play in the mud with other, ordinary kids?
So then, what was Lize's true identity?
Rhode turned back and gazed at Marlene. He hesitated for a moment and decided not to ask. He had a premonition that not long after, Lize would explain to him everything.
After admiring the beautiful scenery of Golden City, everyone returned to the chariot and continued their journey. Soon enough, they arrived at the outer region of Golden City.
Although there were more than people arriving in Golden City than usual due to the Midsummer Festival, Golden City was experienced in managing crowds as an essential traffic hub. So even though there were many people, there was still social order and it didn't take long for them to proceed into the city.
Soon enough, they arrived at the bridgehead checkpoint for inspection.
At this moment, something happened.
Just as Christie and Anne stepped down from the chariot and intended to get checked, a group of knights dashed in the direction where both of them stood. Christie was at a loss and Anne instantly pulled her into her chest and dodged. The fluttering dust shrouded them.
Shortly after, the group of knights blocked everyone's path.
"What are you people up to?!"
Anne stormed toward the leading knight.
The leading knight looked in astonishment.
"Who are you? What do you want?"
"Do you know you nearly knocked us down!?"
Anne pointed at the leading knight furiously.
"Just a little bit more and Christie would have been injured by your horse. Don't you know how to watch your way?!"
"Watch my way?"
The man frowned as he extended his hand and pointed at the waving flag.
"Don't you see the Dio Family's symbol? It's already an offense for you people to not make way for the Dio Family. Hmph, a bunch of country bumpkins deserve to be knocked down! Also, aren't you two doing fine? So what do you still want?"
"What Dio Family? I've never heard of it."
Anne clenched her fists.
"Don't you intend to apologise? "Hmph, ignorant commoner."
The knight sneered and turned around. At this moment, the four Battle Angels guarding the bridgehead noticed the commotion and flew over instantly. The Battle Angels were clad in dazzling, silver armor. They held spears and their white wings flapped in midair gracefully. The leading Battle Angel sulked as soon as she spotted the knight. However, she quickly returned to her senses.
"What happened here, Mr. Geer?"
"Nothing much, just dealing with a bunch of barbarians." The man casually remarked. "Oh yes, you people came at a good timing. This bunch of barbarians disrespected me and yet they wish to enter the city. Alright, get rid of them and proceed with the checks. I have something urgent to attend to."
The Battle Angels displayed difficult expressions and at this moment, Rhode approached them.
"Mister, I think you'd better apologise. I'll give you 30 seconds."
"Who do you think you are?"
The knight revealed a curious expression. It seemed like he couldn't figure out if Rhode was a man or a woman, but even so, his arrogant attitude remained the same.
"Get lost country bumpkin, this isn't a place for such people like you."
Hoots of laughter burst out from the other knights.
"Hahaha, that's right, get lost. We are busy, so don't get in our way!"
"A bunch of country bumpkins want us to apologise? Who do they think they are?"
The knight's expression turned even more arrogant as he sneered at Rhode.
"You bunch of people have no right to enter the city. What are you standing here for? Scram! I'm in a good mood today and don't wish to argue with a bunch of ignorant commoners."
"Mr. Geer!" The leading Battle Angel raised her voice. "Please be respectful."
Suddenly, a crisp voice sounded.
"Who said that we don't have the rights to enter the city?"
Geer lifted his head and saw Lize stepping down the chariot. She wiped the dirt on Christie's face and glared at the man.
"I hope you apologise to Christie, Mister."
"You? Who are you anyway?"
Geer laughed grimly. But, before he continued his sentence, the four Battle Angels hurriedly half-knelt and bowed to the young lady respectfully.