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 It was five days later when Rhode had conclusively settled all the affairs in the fortress and got everything on track. It was now July, and he finally embarked on his journey to the ruins of the Castel Plateau. Although departure was imminent, Rhode was relieved that the operations of the fortress were on the right track under everyone's hard work, and the matters that required him to manage personally had decreased by a significant amount. Everyone was beginning to get familiar with their duties within the fortress, and even Canary started her duties gradually. Although her workload wasn't too heavy, and Canary had similar experiences as one of the vice-leader, Rhode didn't intend to give her too much authority. It wasn't because Rhode was dubious of Canary's loyalty, but it was mainly due to the fact that Canary wasn't a live human, so she wouldn't be suitable. In the end, Rhode decided to pass the main decision-making role to Marlene.

Not only was Rhode relieved from the work matters, his private affairs were also going well. Considering that he might require a period of half a month to a month to complete the mission, Rhode had the responsibility of fulfilling one's demands. This was an obligation of a man, and he could only bear with it.

Canary could be considered as Rhode's old 'friend', and she was accustomed to these kinds of situations. When she had the time, she would approach Rhode for a few intense and intimate sessions, before letting him go in contentment. On the other hand, Marlene was slightly more troublesome. This young lady only began experiencing this part of life and she started to crave for it. Furthermore, she untied the struggling knot in her heart which made her less reserved. She would sneak into Rhode's room every few nights, and of course, Rhode wouldn't refuse her. After serving her these few nights, he finally satisfied her needs.

After settling the last two 'troublesome matters', Rhode finally hit the road.

\"I'm leaving the fortress to all of you.\"

While standing in the wide hall, Rhode gazed at Marlene, Lize, Anne, Lapis, Christie, Canary, Mini Bubble Gum, Kavos, Joey, and Marfa[1].

\"All of you should know the specific action plan, and before I return to this fortress, I'll leave these matters for you to handle. If there's anything you can't make a decision on, you can check with Marlene.\"

Rhode crouched and revealed a smile to Christie, before gently fondling her smooth, long hair.

\"Sorry, Christie. I need to leave you again. But I guarantee that I'll be back soon. Be good in the fortress, okay?\"

\"Okay...\"

Christie held out her tiny hand and clung to Rhode's finger tenderly. The little girl displayed a strong and gentle smile.

\"... Christie will be good and listen to Rhode... and everyone... so... Rhode... doesn't have to worry... I will be fine...\"

\"Good girl.\"

Rhode smiled and stood.

\"Alright then, Marlene will make the decisions for the affairs in the fortress. Everyone understand?\"

Everyone nodded at Rhode's order. Due to their intimate relationship, Rhode trusted Marlene much more now. At the same time, the outsiders didn't find anything strange with this order because Marlene's duties had always been similar to acting as Rhode's assistant. Now that Rhode was leaving the fortress, it was only natural that Marlene would be taking over his role in managing the fortress. On the other hand, even though Canary gazed meaningfully at Rhode and displayed a smile, she didn't say anything inappropriate.

\"Marlene.\"

Without a doubt, Rhode noticed Canary's teasing gaze towards himself, and he knew what she was thinking. However, Rhode turned towards Marlene while acting oblivious.

\"If you have any troubles or matters that you're unsure of, you can look for Canary. She is rather experienced in these matters and I think she should be able to help you. Also, please look after Christie for me.\"

\"Okay, Rhode.\"

Marlene nodded, but as she turned towards Canary, the young lady's eyes were filled with awkwardness. After all, Marlene had witnessed first-hand the 'intimate interaction' between Canary and Rhode. Although from her usual observations, Rhode and Canary didn't seem to be in a love relationship and it could even rudely be said that Canary wasn't even a real human being, Marlene still felt embarrassed. Not to mention, Marlene used to had a favorable impression of Canary before she was aware of their sexual relationship. And now, this had become a problem for Marlene to manage her mood before facing Canary.

However, Rhode wasn't aware of Marlene's complicated emotions. After exhorting Marlene, he shifted his attention to everyone: to layout their duties.

\"Lize. You and Bubble will be responsible for training the Clerics. At the same time, you can also use this opportunity to pick up some tips from Bubble. Joey, I will leave the guild's patrol and guard planning to you. Not only the fortress' internal patrol, you must also take note of the road leading to Deep Creek Village. Kavos, I'm sure you've received the battle plan for the mercenaries. Send the mercenaries to the distorted points for practical training every 15 days according to the arrangements. Remember, you must bring along at least Canary or Mini Bubble Gum for each trip. Without either of them, you must not head out. Understand?\"

\"Okay, Mr. Rhode.\"

\"Understood, Sir.\"

\"Understood, Leader.\"

Rhode nodded to their answered and turned back for the last time.

\"Lapis. During this period of time, you need to follow my instructions and complete the list of magical equipment. No matter what materials you need, let Marlene know and she will manage. My only request is that the list of magical equipment must be prepared before I'm back. Is there any issue with that?\"

\"N-no, Sir.\"

Lapis hesitated for a moment before giving an uncertain answer.

\"I-I think there's no problem... As long as there are enough materials. But those equipment require very expensive materials...\"

\"No matter how much the materials cost, buy them if you ever need them.\"

Rhode interrupted and patted on the maiden's shoulder.

\"I believe your abilities, Lapis. Surely, you can complete this mission.\"

\"Yes... Yes!\"

Lapis lifted her head in uncertainty and gazed at the young man before her. Then, her expression gradually turned much more determined. Lapis extended her arm and clenched her tiny fist, before nodding hard.

\"I-I can guarantee, Sir. The list of magical equipment will surely, surely be fine. They will surely, surely be completed.\"

\"Good.\"

Rhode nodded in satisfaction before turning towards Anne.

\"So then, Anne. You will be in charge of leading the team...\"

But before Rhode could finish his sentence, Anne raised her arm in the air and displayed a smile in high spirits.

\"Anne wants to go with Leader!\"

\"...\"

In an instant, the whole hall fell into dead silence. Rhode gazed hopelessly at Anne who had thrown herself before him and swayed his right arm left and right. At this moment, Anne seemed like a puppy anticipating a stroll in the park, and the imaginary tail behind her back could almost be seen swinging about.

\"Can I? Can I? Leader, Anne feels that the fortress is really boring. Anne wants to go on an adventure with Leader. Pleaseee.\"

\"You have a job to do too. Isn't it your job to lead the mercenaries in the fortress?\"

\"But Anne can't do such things well. Also, Anne doesn't have a brain that is as smart as Sister Marlene's. Anne feels that there's nothing fun to do in the fortress. Also, Anne feels that it's better to follow Leader along. Leader, you are going for an adventure, right? How about you add one more Anne with you?\"

At this point, the maiden had tightly clung onto Rhode and her large puppy eyes were blinking, as though she was a puppy abandoned by her owner.

\"Pleaseee, Leader... Let Anne follow you, please. Isn't Sister Gillian going too? So why can't Anne go?\"

\"Miss Anne, you can't put it this way, okay?\"

Gillian stepped out from the side as she cheekily swayed her index finger in front of Anne.

\"I play a major role for Master, and Miss Anne can't be compared to me okay?\"

\"What major role?\"

Anne widened her eyes in curiosity as she gazed at Gillian. Facing Anne's question, Gillian proudly placed her hand on her chest, and at the same time, she lifted her chin arrogantly.

\"I can warm[2] Master's bed. Can you do that?

\"Anne can do it too!\"

Anne unconvincingly raised her arm quickly, and at the same time, she hugged Rhode's arm tightly against her chest.

\"Not only can Anne warm Leader's bed, Anne can sleep with Leader too. Anne can do what Sister Gillian can do!\"

\"Oh? So you know how to give a morning bite[3]?\"

\"... Of course, Anne knows what to do!\"

\"... Both of you, shut up!\"

Rhode sneered and swung off Anne's arms before staring at them sternly. Even though Gillian and Anne shut their mouths involuntarily, Gillian continued to display her proud stance, while Anne pouted and gazed at the fox-eared woman unconvincingly. Come to think of it, Anne's words weren't unreasonable as she had always been a one-track minded person. Rhode's previous attempts for her to lead a team in protecting the Clerics had failed, and in the end, he allowed the maiden to protect the important personnel by fighting on her own. Initially, the main reason that Rhode planned for Anne to stay in the fortress was that he wanted to sharpen Anne's character and decide if she could take up great responsibilities. Now it seemed like the possibilities were really low... But everything must be tried. If Anne could utilize her strengths in the right places, it would be a good thing for Rhode.

\"Anne, you have to stay. This is an order, understood?\"

\"Alright...\"

Anne lowered her head while Rhode shook his. Then, he turned towards Marfa who had been silent.

\"Marfa, you will be in charge of Anne as her personal assistant. Don't let her overstep the bounds of what is proper, understood?\"

\"Yes, Sir. Leave it to me.\"

\"Good,\" Rhode nodded in satisfaction before sweeping a final glance at everyone.

\"So then, we'll leave tomorrow morning.\"

[1] Author's note: Marfa is a middle-aged mercenary highly valued by Rhode after the fight in reclaiming the fortress. Rhode promoted his status and now, Marfa is considered as a squadron leader in the guild.

[2] = Warming the bed (literally). Warming the bed in this context was also referring to having intimate behaviors between a male and female on the bed. Anne should have understood it literally.

[3] = Morning Bite (literally). However, after separating the Chinese word , it becomes + , which meant blowjob. In this context, Anne shouldn't be aware that Gillian was actually referring to giving Rhode a morning blowjob...

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