Silence fell upon the arena.
Death finally claimed its first victim. No one expected Rosen to end in such a gruesome way.
Rosen's mangled corpse laid on the ground. His ribs protruded from his ruptured chest. The place where his head was supposed to be was now a bloody mix of bone and brain juice.
Those who had poor mental strength threw up, and some women even fainted on the spot. The arena turned chaotic, forcing the battle angels to intervene as they swiftly restored order to the masses by sending those who were unwell out of the arena.
Waltz stared blankly at Rosen's corpse. Although Waltz disliked Rosen's stubbornness, his presence was a 'beacon of hope' for both the Reformist Party and Liberty Wings. Now, their 'beacon of hope' laid motionless on the floor.
When Waltz witnessed the fall of Rosen, a throbbing sensation came crashing into his brain. This was the first time that fear overwhelmed the rage in his heart. His son turning into an idiot was one matter, but Rosen's death would shake the foundations of the entire Southern Reformist Party! He had no idea what his superiors would do, but he knew that Liberty Wings was doomed one way or another. Waltz didn't know what would become of the largest Southern guild without Rosen. At this moment, he suddenly felt tired. He was absolutely tired of everything!
Due to this, as Rhode carried Anne off the arena, Waltz still had a blank expression on his face.
"Sir! Are you still in a daze?!"
A young man came out from nowhere and shook Waltz's shoulders as he shouted in Waltz's ear.
"Sir! Sir Waltz! Pull yourself together! They only have one man left. As long as we finish him, we can avenge Sir Rosen!"
Waltz finally regained his clarity when he remembered that Rosen had defeated three people before his death. It also appeared that the woman beside Rhode was unable to battle. This meant that Starlight only had Rhode left! Once they defeated him, Liberty Wings would still be victorious!
That's right! No matter how strong that young man is, he's only one person!
Hah! They used such underhanded tactics to consume Rosen's strength, and now their despicable tactics are biting them back!
At this moment, Liberty Wings had four more participants including Waltz and Marc who had Master Stage strength. The other two were also at the peak of the Advanced Stage. Even if they hadn't completed their advancement, they still could pose a certain degree of threat towards Rosen. If that was so, perhaps they could defeat Rhode?
The more Waltz considered his chances of winning, the more confident he became. He expressed his gratitude by tapping the young man on his shoulder and said, "You're right Marc." Then his eyes swept over the other two men, "Although Sir Rosen fell, he already helped us to remove several obstacles. We have to show our gratitude to him by showing him that we're not cowards! He sacrificed his life to protect our Liberty Wings' honor, we must do the same! Men! Do not forget our motto! Defy any threats and violence, strive for liberty and justice, obtain everything that belongs to us! This is the foundation of our guild which was passed down by previous generations of leaders. Now, people under the Liberty Wings flag-"
Waltz turned around and stared at his many supporters behind him. Most of them were made up of Liberty Wings members. When Waltz turned to look at them, many lifted their heads in response.
"-I will swear upon my life that we shall continue to uphold the Liberty Wings flag! We shall risk our life and wealth for the glory of victory til our death!!"
The Liberty Wings members shouted and raised their fists into the air.
"Hmph, useless chatter."
Rhode snorted in disdain. He stepped towards the side of the arena and laid Anne carefully on the ground. After awakening her attributes, the half-beast blood in her body quickly repaired her wounds. Even the terrifying injury on her stomach had begun to heal.
Right now, Anne had already shed her ferocious form and her body curled into a ball as she fell into a deep sleep. The blood stains on her delicate face appeared exceptionally conspicuous. However, the little lady was nevertheless serene and adorable.
"Will Anne be okay?"
Lize asked Rhode softly as she gingerly wiped off the blood stains on Anne's body, but contrary to her expectations, Rhode didn't reply. Instead, he gave a long sigh and silently returned to the arena.
Rhode was gloomy. He could imagine what would happen to Anne after awakening from her slumber. For her, it would be a massive blow to her self-esteem. If it happened to a player, he or she could easily create a new character without much trouble. But as for Anne, she didn't have such an option. So how would she cope with the loss of her strength?
The thought of this gave Rhode a major headache; it was so bad that he didn't even bother to concentrate on the battle which was about to begin. So what if they had four men left? Did they think that they would be able to win?
Meanwhile, a swordsman stepped into the arena.
When the swordsman discovered Rhode's gloomy expression, he secretly laughed to himself. Of course, he had no idea that the reason behind Rhode's expression was because of Anne's situation. He thought that Rhode finally realized the gravity of his plight - that he was outnumbered four-to-one even though he managed to defeat Rosen.
The swordsman sneered as he unsheathed his long sword. Rhode lifted his head and glanced at the man casually as if he was looking at a dead man.
"Alright, let's begin. I don't have time to waste on you."
Rhode stood in the middle of the arena and hooked his index finger, beckoning the swordsman to hurry up. All this while, Rhode had his right hand resting casually on his sword's hilt as though he had no intentions to draw his weapon.
At this moment, the audience finally realized what was happening and began to clamor. Indeed, Rhode had defeated Rosen, but if he failed to clear the other four members, Starlight would still lose in the end. Ultimately, it all boils down to the critical question of whether Rhode could defeat the four of them consecutively.
No one was willing to believe he could, or perhaps they didn't wish to believe in it. It was no surprise that they had such thoughts because after all, Starlight's performance didn't leave a positive impact on them. He used shameless tactics such as sending men to drain off Rosen's strength and then killing him off in a cruel manner. No matter what, Rosen was over sixty years old, how could he even treat a senior this way? Was he still a human?
Of course, Rhode didn't care what they thought of him. As he had mentioned before - he didn't need honor or glory in this midsummer festival as long as Starlight was the final victor. He would utilize any unscrupulous means to achieve his goal, even if it meant throwing away Starlight's honor.
As far as Rhode was concerned, the most threatening opponent from Liberty Wings was Rosen. The others were just cannon fodder. As long as he could defeat Rosen, Rhode was confident that he could take on the other four by himself. This was also why he didn't respond to Rosen's taunts. Rosen's defense was almost perfect, and Rhode hadn't possessed the strength of a Legendary just yet. Even though he could rely on his set effects to weaken Rosen before killing him, the aftermath would leave him without any strength. If that happened, then that would be the end of the midsummer festival for Starlight.
That was why he had chosen to use a shameless tactic. First, he would send out Lize to disrupt Rosen's rhythm. Next, he would send out Randolf and Joey to exploit the weakness of this walking tank. And lastly, he would use Anne to diminish his strength. If she was lucky, she could perhaps finish him off during her turn. Nevertheless, even if she failed, she would've served her purpose. Rhode would then take advantage of his exhaustion to finish him off.
He wouldn't 'respect the old and cherish the young' in such circumstances.
Anne's performance was exemplary and exceed Rhode's expectations by far. As such, he was able to save up more energy, which made his life easier when he had to deal with the remaining four after killing Rosen. Perhaps to Lize and the rest, the remaining four were tricky opponents to handle, but Rhode had never put them in his eyes. They just didn't possess a solid defense like Rosen - which was primarily the reason for Rhode's headache.
The swordsman clenched his teeth when he heard Rhode's provocation. Rosen held a high status within Liberty Wings. Almost everyone in the guild worshipped him in reverence. He was a respected hero and also a symbol of hope within Liberty Wings. However, he was killed by this scumbag with the most despicable method. Furthermore, Rhode had no sense of remorse and no respect for the dead.
I will avenge Sir Rosen. I will let you taste the result for belittling us!
The swordsman's complexion grew ashen; his eyes burned with a scorching flame. He lifted his sword slowly and pointed it towards Rhode.
Then, the swordsman snarled and sprang forward in a flash.
"Go to hell!!"
The audience immediately cheered when the swordsman initiated the first strike. Many of them wished for the swordsman to kill this despicable bastard and reclaim their honor.
Rhode had to agree that the quality of guild members was so much different as compared to mercenary groups.
The sword tip was inches away from Rhode's face, yet he had no intentions of dodging. Instead, he stretched his left arm and swung to the front.
A black card flew out from Rhode's hand.
Clang!! A deep, metallic sound reverberated throughout the arena as the heavily-armored Centaur Knight emerged out of nowhere. Facing the aggressive swordsman, the Centaur Knight roared and brandished his shield.
The swordsman didn't expect that an odd monster would appear right in front of him without warning. In a panic, he quickly thought of retreating. But before he was able to escape, the Centaur Knight's shield came crashing down on him. The swordsman knew that he couldn't dodge it in time, so he had no choice but to use an attack to negate as much impact as possible. He swung his sword with all his might towards the fast-approaching shield.
A bright flash emitted from the sword tip, leaving a long, white mark on the Centaur Knight's shield and the impact forced the Centaur Knight's body to slant to the side. However, as a summoned spirit, the Centaur Knight didn't bother about its injuries. Therefore even though the blade had injured its shoulder, it continued to charge forward with its spear.
"What in the world is this thing?!"
When the swordsman witnessed how the Centaur Knight disregarded its injuries and continued charging towards him, he panicked again and leaped backward to dodge the attack. But before he could land, the swordsman suddenly felt a cold, hard object lodged in his chest. Like a puppet with its strings cut, the body convulsed for a moment before collapsing onto the ground, never to wake up again. Rhode eventually revealed himself behind the swordsman's corpse. He coldly gazed at the body before flicking his sword to a side.
Fresh blood flew off his sword and splattered onto the floor, and at the same time, the Centaur Knight disappeared into a dark mist.
The crowd fell into silence once again.
It was as though someone suddenly gripped their throats - all of the lively cheerings disappeared in an instant. The audience turned and looked at each other in dismay before slowly turning their gaze back to the arena. Their confusion was the same as the dead swordsman. How did a Centaur Knight suddenly appear? And how did it suddenly disappear again?
What exactly is going on?
At this moment, some of them recalled the fight between Rhode and Barter. At that time, it had been a highly discussed topic but was eventually concluded as Rhode having magical equipment to summon spirit beasts. After all, many ancient noble families would have their stash of mysterious treasures, so it wasn't too far-fetched for Rhode to possess a magical equipment to seal spirit beasts and command them as he wished.
But now, the appearance of the Centaur Knight was beyond their expectations. Disregarding the fact that it could ignore its injuries, the audience noticed that Rhode didn't even have to chant a spell to summon it. Many witnessed how the Centaur Knight appeared out of nowhere and blocked the swordsman's attack. Moreover, neglecting Rhode was the last mistake he could make in his life.
Even though it was only in a split second, but it was enough for Rhode.
Rhode snorted at the sight of the corpse before returning to the middle of the arena. Then the members of the Mercenary Association came and brought the corpse off. After a short while, another man stepped up. It was another swordsman. This time, this swordsman appeared to be in his forties and was equipped with a sword and a shield. At this moment, his face was filled with uncontrollable anger as his comrade had once again failed. That wasn't all, his anger also was due to Rhode's peculiar fighting style. Before the competition, they had never expected Rhode to fight with summoned spirits even though they heard the rumors about the battle between Rhode and Barter.
He didn't think that his comrade's loss was his fault because, in his opinion, swordsmen should settle their fight with honor. And now Rhode was using despicable methods to kill his comrades.
"You... this despicable man!"
He lifted his sword furiously and pointed towards Rhode.
"You only know how to use these treacherous methods. If you have the balls, then fight me fair and square with your sword! And not-"
He didn't manage to complete his sentence.
A huge, shining bird extended its wings to the skies.
A dark hound roared by the side of Rhode.
And the Centaur Knight once again emerged from a black mist, pointing its spear towards the swordsman.
With his summoned spirits surrounding him, Rhode lifted his head and gazed upon the swordsman in contempt.
"On one hand you said I am despicable and shameless, and on the other hand, you want me to fight you fair and square... That's some logic you got there. So, since I'm despicable and shameless... why would I be stupid enough to fight you fair and square?"
Rhode lifted his right arm and snapped his fingers.
"Finish him," Rhode said coldly.