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 It was totally a one-sided battle.

Before he could touch a strand of Rhode's hair, he was already beaten black and blue. He was utterly suppressed even though he was much higher in level than the three spirits. The Centaur Knight, Spirit Bird, and Black Hound were elemental creatures which held unique elemental abilities, making them incredibly tough opponents.

"Ooahh!!"

The swordsman flew backward. His shield was smashed into pieces and his handguard cracked. However, the man had no time to worry about his arm before a scorching flame shot towards his location. He hastily pushed himself off the ground and flipped backward.

Bang!! Black flames seared the ground and exploded into a series of bright sparks which flew past the swordsman. While the swordsman survived the fatal attack by a hair's breadth, he didn't have the luxury of time to count his blessings. He rolled forward, jumped and slashed downwards immediately.

"-!"

With a screech, the approaching Spirit Bird hurriedly flapped its wings to avoid the swordsman's attack.

Damn it!

After his attack missed the Spirit Bird, the swordsman glanced towards the back where Rhode was. Rhode was still standing at the same place with his hand on his sword hilt, gazing at him without any expression. Although Rhode didn't attack him like what he did to his companion, the pressure on the poor swordsman was still quite overwhelming. After all, summoned spirits weren't afraid of death - even more so for the Black Hound which appeared rather exhilarated that it could self-destruct when it died.

What should I do? What should I do?

This question had haunted the swordsman's mind continuously before he finally saw the light of hope.

Oh, that's right... why don't I just give up?

Yeah... since that bastard is always trying to kill me, wouldn't it be better if I just surrendered?

Didn't those shameless bastards do the same?

Moreover, technically these weird creatures shouldn't be my opponent.

Yeah, that's it.

Excuses flashed through the swordsman's brain as the Spirit Bird retreated. Once again, the fully-armored Centaur Knight charged forward with its spear lunging forward with a sharp, whistling sound.

Now's my chance!

Watching the aggressive Centaur Knight charging towards him, the swordsman's heart sank. He barely dodged by grinding his sword to the side of the spear, using the momentum to bend its trajectory. In one swift motion, he utilized the force to jump back to the edge of the arena.

The swordsman displayed his rich battle experience in one move. He deflected the Centaur Knight's spear and used its large body to block both the Spirit Bird and the Black Hound while he retreated.

It was an ingenious move indeed. Once he landed on the ground, Rhode's plan to kill him would undoubtedly fail.

While it was true that the three summoned spirits weren't able to stop him from retreating, it didn't mean that Rhode couldn't. Suddenly, dozens of tentacles emerged from the swordsman's shadow and bound his limbs tightly.

"Eh?"

The swordsman's expression turned from glee to confusion. He stared blankly at the black shadows emerging from the darkness as it wrapped around his body tightly. His mind was in total disarray. He didn't know what to do and thus, froze in place.

However, there was no need for him to know any longer.

A searing heat emanated from the back of the swordsman's head. He turned around instinctively and saw rows of ferocious teeth clamping down on his throat.

The razor-sharp teeth easily sank into the swordsman's skin and punctured his esophagus. Just like that, the poor swordsman lost his life without a struggle.

The tentacles withdrew into the shadows, and the corpse of the swordsman fell headfirst to the ground - perhaps if he was still alive, the impact might have snapped his neck, but this outcome didn't mean anything to a dead person.

Rhode snorted and tapped onto the hilt gently. The three summoned spirits disappeared into nothingness.

Everyone knew that this match was entirely one-sided as Rhode didn't even move an inch. Rhode just leisurely stood in the center of the arena and admired the performance of his summoned creatures. Rather than a contestant, he displayed a demeanor that was more likely to be similar to a VIP in the audience.

"That's unfair! That's cheating!! Cheating!!"

Some people within the crowd began screaming in dissatisfaction. And in a blink of an eye, the entire arena was thrown into a frenzy.

"That's right! That's cheating! Disqualify him!!"

"He defiled the honor of this holy arena!!"

"Get him off! Get off! Get off!!!"

In an instant, Rhode became the target of insults in the entire arena. Since the start of this competition, his performance was despised by the audience. But as a participant, he had no intentions of having a fair play. Not only did he rely on such schemes to gain victories, he even prevented his opponent from leaving the arena. This sinister behavior left everyone raging.

"This bastard..."

Viktor let out a bitter smile and shook his head. Frankly, Viktor didn't think that Rhode's methods were wrong. Although the midsummer festival limited the matchup as one versus one, it didn't restrict the summoned spirits. Also, mercenaries weren't angels. Their honor wasn't just about fair play - victories were just as, if not more, important to them.

Victories had a significant meaning to mercenaries. Even Rosen did something similar previously. Before Joey and Anne surrendered, he attempted to prevent them from leaving the arena. Therefore, objectively, both sides were just playing the same song with a different instrument. The only difference between them was Rosen failed, and Rhode was successful.

However, Rosen was now dead, and Rhode survived. Therefore the crowd could only pin all their hatred on Rhode. It was apparent that the majority of them were biased against Rhode as they hurled insults one after another, but when they noticed Rhode's nonchalant expression as if he didn't seem to care at all, it made them even more furious.

Humans naturally possessed a strong confrontational psychological trait. Therefore, their insults gradually grew in volume and explicitness when Rhode ignored them. Rhode, on the other hand, merely placed his palm on his hilt and waited for his next victim.

"This kid is so determined."

Barter frowned and cupped his ears as he looked at Rhode. He thought that Rhode was quite worthy of respect. However, he shook his head shortly afterward.

"It's such a pity that we can't be like him..."

"Yeah..."

Victor also shook his head as he agreed with Barter. After all, they were the figureheads of their own respective regions. They carried the hopes and dreams of many individuals. If they didn't appear honorable and chose to act like Rhode, their supporters would be unhappy.

Even though most mercenaries only cared about the results, they couldn't ignore the feelings of the people. Just like Waltz - although he didn't discriminate the determination and cautiousness of Rosen when he faced Lize, the problem lies in the freedom to act independently.

Of course, Rhode wasn't afraid. As a leader of a mercenary group, he didn't have many supporters anyway. Since the start of the midsummer festival, most of the people here were his enemies, so he didn't have to worry about whether his techniques were shameless or dishonorable as he didn't have any supporters - not like he seemed like he needed any anyhow.

Rhode couldn't care less about the insults the audience threw at him. He quietly studied the young man who was wearing a shiny armor with a Liberty Wings Guild Emblem. The young man's handsome face was somewhat frowning when inspecting his companion's corpse. He made a soft prayer and picked the body. Then he made an intense look towards Rhode.

Rhode's brows raised when his eyes locked with this man.

Back in the game, Rhode had fought with this young man before in the midsummer festival. Marc, the rising star of the Liberty Wings Guild was the fourth contestant.

Marc was a young genius who was only in his mid-twenties. He was already halfway in the Advanced Stage. While this wasn't something incredible within the Liberty Wings Guild, still, he would probably reach Master before the age of thirty.

In the game, Marc led Liberty Wings in the midsummer festival as one of the three vice-leaders and caused major headaches for many players in the arena. He handled matters calmly and possessed a superb swordsmanship that other NPC swordsmen didn't have. Just this point alone would prove to be troublesome for Rhode.

Presently, Liberty Wings was supposed to be represented by him. But somehow, due to Rosen's appearance, Marc lost his chance to shine, and he detested Rosen for that.

One trait that young men had was rebelliousness. Although they might be afraid of authority, they wouldn't submit to them. Even though Rosen was a senior and well-reputable, Marc, as a young man, had the capacity for growth. Thus, he didn't wish for an old man to snatch his rightful position and honor. Moreover, Marc did have the qualifications to lead the Liberty Wings. Rhode recalled that after Marc took the reign, in less than a year, he managed to conquer the entire Southern Region. Furthermore, he also became part of the pioneer army between the battle of King's Party and Reformist Party.

If possible, I really want to get rid of him here...

Rhode maintained his composure as his right hand rested on his hilt.

However, to Rhode's surprise, all Marc did was shoot him a few glances and carried his companion back to his team. Then as he left, another mercenary stepped onto the arena which clearly was the next challenger.

He won't be fighting?

Rhode frowned for a moment before quickly releasing his hand from the hilt.

There must be another chance.

Waltz stared blankly at the arena.

At this moment, the arena wasn't as rowdy as before. The audience seemed to have calmed down. Perhaps it was because of them spending all their energy on dissing Rhode who clearly wasn't affected at all.

Rhode once again cruelly finished off the new challenger quickly and efficiently. This time, he didn't even offer a chance for the opponent to escape as he summoned the three spirits to corner him and personally shredded the poor man to pieces.

This time, the audience had no energy to insult Rhode anymore.

The situation appeared to be unfavorable for Liberty Wings.

This time, there was nothing but silence among the remaining Liberty Wings contestants. Waltz's attempt to raise morale had failed miserably. Initially, they were still angry at Rhode for killing Rosen, and they were still optimistic about remaining strength.

But as one comrade after another fell, no one thought this way any longer. After Rosen, Rhode had consecutively eliminated three challengers, and it was clear that he still had energy to spare. Rhode's weird fighting style also made matters worse.

The mercenaries of Liberty Wings wished that they could kill Rhode, but his skills and abilities were unmatchable. They weren't even able to drag the battles to reduce his energy. So what could they do?

The corpse being carried away indicated that the final battle was about to begin.

Waltz tidied his bearings, at the same time, he glanced down at his bracelet. That was his final ace. He was hesitant to use it, but he knew that he had no choice now. He had to use it to kill Rhode.

Only this bracelet could allow them to see the dawn of victory.

Even if they were to pay a significant price for it, Waltz wouldn't hesitate to do so.

Waltz lifted his head and moved towards the arena.

"Mr. Waltz, you're finally here. What a rare sight."

Rhode nodded towards Waltz and said casually. In response, Waltz's complexion slight sunk.

"Hmph, cut your crap Mr. Rhode. You and I know that we're not here to chit-chat."

"You are right, Mr. Waltz," Rhode replied as he drew the Crimson Blade from his waist swiftly.

"I'm here to fulfill what I promised. Now, you're the final one..."

Waltz wasn't agitated by Rhode's words. Instead, he gave a slight smile and gazed towards Rhode.

"You sure are confident. Do you really think you can defeat me?"

"Eh?"

Rhode pricked his brows in response.

Rhode had displayed his strength, and furthermore, Waltz's abilities were inferior to Barter's, so Waltz should know that he doesn't stand a chance. But now, where did his confidence come from?

Rhode scanned the surroundings swiftly, but he didn't discover anything strange.

Is he deliberately trying to confuse me? Or does he have a hidden card?

"That goes without saying, Mr. Waltz? Or perhaps do you have a secret weapon?"

"You'll know soon."

Waltz suddenly roared. He lifted his right arm and drew his sword with his left.

The sharp blade slashed down on Waltz's palm, causing fresh blood to flow out of the wound.

At this moment, Rhode finally noticed the bracelet on Waltz's right wrist which was flickering.

Damn it, could it be...!

Rhode was startled. When Waltz slashed his palm, Rhode charged towards him with incredible speed.

However, it was too late.

A red barrier emitting strange symbols emerged at the tip of Rhode's sword, blocking his attack. Then, an overwhelming red fog started pouring from the skies like a waterfall of fresh blood, shrouding the entire arena.

At this moment, Waltz lifted his head. His eyes had turned completely dark.

"This is only the beginning, Mr. Rhode," Waltz said chillingly.

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