Matt parted with the duo after bidding a quick farewell. When Matt finally distanced himself away from Rhode, his smiling face slowly warped into a grimace. He appeared as if he'd just suffered a great deal and was looking for revenge. After all, he was going to meet with his creditors after he had lost much of his cargo.
However, Rhode still reminded him not to reveal the truth about how the cargo ship had crashed. Since they were secretly tracked, and if the enemy was still seeking them out, it wouldn't be a good choice to look for trouble. But Rhode kept this a secret from Matt because he felt that it was unnecessary to inform him. Moreover, it wouldn't help the situation even if he revealed the matter to Matt. So in the end, Matt agreed to keep silent about this matter. Having been in the merchant industry for many years, he knew the pros and cons of doing so. Even if Rhode didn't remind him, he would still choose not to talk about this matter anywhere.
After parting with Matt, Rhode made his way to the Mercenary Association branch in Deep Stone City with Lize as his guide.
As a cross-continental organization, the Mercenary Association had branches in every major city. They were responsible for issuing missions to mercenaries, recording the completion of the missions, and also even responsible for the recruitment and employment of mercenaries. They were also the ones who had the authority to upgrade or downgrade mercenary groups.
The Deep Stone City Mercenary Association was located in the first layer of the pit. A distinct, engraved symbol on the wall that represented the Mercenary Association can be seen from afar. Even the rough marble door frame and the flag just outside the branch were unusually eye-catching. However, the thick, heavy wooden door which was carved with intricate patterns could not contain the rowdy sounds from inside.
When Rhode and Lize entered the Mercenary Association building, the very first thing they noticed was a wide, dome-shaped hall. Sunlight permeated from the holes above, illuminating the white, stone floor. Many mercenaries were sitting around round, wooden tables, whispering and chatting to themselves. There were also some who hid in the corners who chose to stay silent.
The appearance of the duo did not cause much attention. Among the people that noticed, many of them just raised their head for a glance before resuming whatever they were doing. However, not all of them were like that. Not long after entering, a woman equipped with a leather armor raised her arm and waved to them, while her longbow in her other hand swayed from side to side.
"Hey, Lize. Long time no see!"
A look of delight flashed across Lize's face as she exposed a smile. She quickly walked towards to the woman's side.
"It has been a long time! How are you?"
"I'm alright. Recently, we acquired plenty of loot after killing the gnolls. Now we're discussing how to distribute it." Shauna replied with a bright smile.
After Lize greeted her, more and more people turned and nodded towards them with smiles on their faces. It appeared as though the mercenaries here were quite familiar with Shauna.
Lize's heart couldn't help but beat faster, but her smile was also stiff. She was no stranger to this scene. Every time she completed a commission with Carter and everyone else, they would sit together and bicker with each other. That was once her everyday life, but now those people had already left her forever.
"What happened? Lize? You don't seem to be happy?"
Although Shauna appeared to be a happy-go-lucky person, it was clear that she had a woman's attentive side as well. Upon noticing a change in Lize's emotion, she instantly knew that something was wrong. She knit her brows in puzzlement and looked towards Rhode who was standing her behind Lize.
"What happened to you? Who is the guy behind you? I never saw him before?"
When Lize mentioned Carter, her face paled. Words couldn't seem to exit her mouth. It was only after a few seconds later when Lize seemed to be able to gather the determination to speak about it.
"We... we have failed the mission. Except for me... Everyone else is gone."
The moment she said this, silence suddenly fell upon the group. Even the smile on Shauna's face also disappeared.
"Yes, we encountered a little accident..."
Lize shook her head. Apparently, she did not want to say much regarding this matter. So he quickly changed the topic and introduced Rhode to everyone.
"This is Mr. Rhode Alander. He is my life-saver. Otherwise, I am afraid that you'll not be seeing me here today."
"Ah, is that so..."
Once Lize finished introducing Rhode, Shauna couldn't help but glance at Rhode curiously, whose body was wrapped up in a cloak. After that, she reached out her hand.
"Hello, I am Shauna, the leader of the Red Hawk mercenary group. Thank you for saving my friend."
Rhode stretched out his hand and returned the gesture. And then he replied in low voice.
"No worries. I was just passing by."
This made Shauna even more curious, and she started to stare intently at Rhode, non-verbally implying that she wanted to see his real appearance. But alas, Rhode had no intention to bring down his hood, and she didn't want to force it as well, so she could only turn her attention back to Lize.
"So, this time you came to..."
"Yes, I came to the Association to report the failure, and also... the things that happened to leader..."
Shauna sighed as she rubbed Lize's head.
"Don't blame yourself too much. This is our job. Sooner or later, such a day will come for all of us. The fact that you are alive would be their greatest consolation. Remember, if you encounter any difficulty, you can always come visit us. Even though we, the Red Hawk mercenary group is just a small group, but as long as it is something we can help, we will never decline."
Hearing Shauna's consoling words, Lize finally revealed a smile. However, a young swordsman that was sitting near Shauna suddenly jumped up and shattered the emotional mood.
"Yes, Lize. Don't be too sad. Ah, how about you join our mercenary group? We are missing a..."
Shauna shouted coldly, interrupting the young swordsman's words.
"What are you saying, is now the time to say such kind of things? Shut up and sit down!"
"But big sis...."
Because of Shauna's seriousness in her tone, the young swordsman unwillingly retreated and sat back down. Shauna turned around once again towards Lize.
"Lize, please do not mind what Barney said. You are free to choose your own path."
"It's okay, sister Shauna."
Lize did not put the young swordsman's words to heart.
"I have already decided that I will not disband the mercenary group."
Shauna was stunned for a moment. When she finally came through, Rhode and Lize had already made their way towards the depths of the hall. It made Shauna slightly awkward when she watched the two of them leave. After a while, she sat down and sighed for a moment, but suddenly without notice, she turned and stared fiercely at the young swordsman beside her.
"Don't speak nonsense! If you still dare to talk nonsense, be careful if I tear off your mouth!!"
In the center of the hall, people were standing next to the huge stone. The majority of the constant, clamorous chatter also came from this area. In order to receive a mission, mercenaries had to shout loudly to get attention from people. There were also plenty of mercenaries who were discussing their remuneration and conditions with the employer.
Under the Lize's lead, Rhode arrived at a counter. A 50-year-old man lay sleepily on the table. It was unknown how he could even manage to get a bit of shut-eye with this banter surrounding him.
Lize spoke in a low voice while walking towards the front of the man. But apparently her voice could not rival the noise, so Lize had to raise her voice while knocking on the counter.
When he heard the knock, the man finally awoke. He rubbed his eyes drowsily and glanced at his visitors.
"Who is it? Can't you see that I was sleeping so comfortably... Such a shame... I just found a good woman in my dream..."
Having not finished his sentence yet, the man eventually noticed that it was Lize who was standing in front of him. He immediately closed his mouth and exposed an embarrassing smile.
"Ah, I thought who was it, so it's actually Lize! Why have you come to see me today?"
"Yes, I have something to talk with the president, it is about our mercenary group..."
Hank was dumbfounded when he heard Lize's answer.
"What about the mercenary group? Where is Carter?"
Lize did not answer Hank's question directly and went silent for a moment. Then, she slowly revealed a silver badge from her hand. After seeing the badge, Hank's sleepy expression immediately vanished and was replaced by a serious and tense expression.
"I will immediately inform the president."
Hank immediately broke into a run.