Black Coast was located in the dock area of Golden City.
It was not as gorgeous as the uptown area, but it was clean and tidy. The blue lake danced and a glimmer of lights reflected in the water like a gem. When the night fell, the business here was pretty much deserted. Only the workers and sailors who worked at the dock would relax here.
Rhode entered the tavern and saw Waltz with his subordinates seated around the table. Judging from his smile, it seemed like he hadn't heard about what happened before. However, the tavern, which was supposed to be bustling, was currently almost empty. It looked like Waltz had put in a lot of effort into this matter. Unfortunately, his effort wasn't put in the right place.
"Mr. Waltz, I did not expect it to be you," Rhode said with knitted brows. He thought that Waltz wouldn't make a move himself, but now it seemed like he was confident to do so. Well, he was the kind of guy who couldn't wait to destroy his enemy personally, so it was only right that he wouldn't want to miss such a good opportunity.
Waltz laughed heartily. Then, he reached out his hand to invite Rhode for a seat.
"Please have a seat, Mr. Rhode. You don't have to be so modest."
"I don't intend to be modest."
Rhode pulled out a chair, sat opposite Waltz and stared in silence. Waltz chuckled and rubbed his chin. He smiled arrogantly as though he was the winner and nodded.
"It seems like Mr. Rhode is facing a huge problem."
"You're correct, Mr. Waltz," Rhode said with puckered brows. Waltz's smile widened into a grin. The latter lifted the jug on the table and poured a glass of wine for Rhode.
"Of course, I have a way to resolve your problem, but... Mr. Rhode, I want you to promise me one thing and I guarantee that Miss. Christie will recover soon."
"What is it?"
"It's simple and easy."
Waltz spread his hands apart.
"I hope you can forfeit tomorrow's battle. In exchange, I will help you lift Miss. Christie's curse. What do you think about it, Mr. Rhode? Of course, I understand that the winning prizes are always tempting, but they can't be compared to the life of the most important person, right?"
"... It seems like the incident that happened in the afternoon is caused by you indeed," Rhode said grimly.
"You are smart, Mr. Rhode, so I believe that you know what is the best choice."
"This is a great one indeed."
Rhode lowered his head and fiddled with the wineglass. Waltz gazed quietly as he was 100 percent sure that Rhode would agree to his condition. Just as Rhode expected, the incident that happened in the afternoon was precisely caused by Waltz. Although Rhode was powerful, his subordinates were far weaker than guild members. Originally, Waltz wanted to kidnap Christie as a hostage to threaten Rhode into forfeiting the game. But he didn't expect the mercenaries to be that tenacious. It would be an easy matter for him to kill them off within minutes, but he didn't want to raise too many eyebrows, which would alert Lydia. Fortunately, he had a backup plan. After he forced Kavos and Shauna away, he used his family's heirloom 'Tears of Sorrow' on Christie before retreating quickly.
Before the incident, he investigated the people around Rhode, and Christie's situation caught his attention. Not to mention, they looked exactly the same and would easily be mistaken as siblings. According to the report, Rhode cared for her a lot, so Waltz came up with this idea to constrain and force him into forfeiting the final competition. In any case, Waltz was concerned about Rhode's strength since Old Rosen wasn't confident if he could defeat him or not. Therefore, instead of pinning their hopes on imaginary luck, it was safer for him to take a more realistic approach.
Rhode poured himself more wine and shortly after, he lifted his head and smiled.
This left Waltz perplexed, but for people who knew Rhode well, they would surely inform Waltz that it was a dangerous sign. Whenever Rhode smiled at someone other than Christie, nothing good could come out from it.
"This is indeed a great choice, Mr. Waltz, but I do have a better suggestion."
Rhode put down the wine glass. He leaned on the chair and stared at the man with narrowed eyes.
"I'd like to hear the details..."
For unknown reasons, Waltz's heart sank and he instinctively felt that things seemed to be spiraling out of his control.
"How about this..."
Rhode crossed his arms and the smile on his face widened. "Give me the 'Tears of Sorrow' and I'll destroy it. Isn't this better?"
"I advise you to think clearly before giving me an answer, Mr. Rhode."
"The same goes to you, Mr. Waltz."
Rhode tossed something on the table: a finger with a dark spider ring. Judging from the fresh wound, it seemed that this finger was severed just awhile ago.
Waltz's expression turned ashen. He stood up abruptly and glared at Rhode.
"I advise you to think clearly before giving me an answer, Mr. Waltz."
Rhode leaned back on the chair relaxedly.
"If my memory serves me right, this young man should be the heir of your family. If you wish to see him alive, it's better for you to agree with me. Or else..."
"Or else... What will you do?"
Waltz finally lost his composure. He gritted his teeth and stared at Rhode sternly. However, Rhode didn't directly answer his question. Instead, he enjoyed the scenery of the lake from outside the window and shook his head.
"The dock at night is dangerous. Mr. Waltz. If there's a child who accidentally falls into the water, it would be a tragic accident, wouldn't it?"
"... Hmph, what a foolish threat." Waltz remained silent for a few moments and said coldly.
"It may be foolish, but I'm patient." Rhode took out a pocket watch as he replied.
"I can wait for your answer here. But, for every hour, my subordinates will cut off his fingers, toes, and four limbs one by one. Please don't worry though. My subordinates and I have had a lot of experience in giving others the greatest pain. Of course, I can also put forward some small suggestions. I guarantee that he will taste the most painful torture... Everything depends on your decision, Mr. Waltz. As a father, it's time for you to make your choice."
Rhode put back his pocket watch and grinned.
"Don't worry, Mr. Waltz. We still have a lot of time. I am also a patient person and the rest depends on your choice."
Waltz pondered deeply. He looked at the finger on the table and clenched his teeth.
Indeed, just as Rhode expected, Mona was Waltz's only son. Waltz had been wandering around the continent for all his life and only had Mono, who was his everything and the only heir of his family. But, Waltz didn't understand how Rhode knew about this. In order to protect Mona, only a few of his trusted aides in Liberty Wings knew about Mona's identity and Mona's mother died after she gave birth. How did this young man know this information?
With this thought in mind, Waltz gritted his teeth. He could see that Rhode was serious and he even knew about his family's heirloom, the 'Tears of Sorrow'.
Damn it, who is this young man? How does he know about his matter so clearly?!
Waltz felt chills running down his spine. He finally realized how foolish he was for the things that he had done... But now, what could he do?
"... I-I agree with your suggestion, Mr. Rhode."