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 Kacha.

Darke twitched his brow and stared in disbelief at the crystal ball that cracked before him. It seemed that he couldn't believe his eyes, but ignoring it wouldn't change the fact. The truth was so clear that no excuses came to his mind.

Vulture lost?

Just as Rhode had expected, undead creatures had their means of confirming the deaths of their companions. Vulture's life shattered before him in the form of the crystal and left Darke anxious, as well as in an unprecedented fear.

Although undead creatures were rarely fearful, Darke was genuinely frightened now because this was a huge trouble for him. This poor Necromancer began to tremble as he imagined how his master would react if he knew that not only was the Bone List stolen, but Vulture had also lost his life getting involved in this.

It was no wonder that Darke was so nervous. After all, this mission required a lot of courage. The conflicts between the four largest families in the Country of Darkness had been contending for a long time. The emergence of the new Dark Dragon soul successor had caused unprecedented changes in the country where new and old powerful families fought for authority and strength.

Darke was a member of one of the four largest families in the Country of Darkness, the 'Spirit Chaser' Balende Family. This family used to be the top pillar of support and leading Family in the Country of Darkness, consisting of mainly Necromancers, Lichs, and Undead Knights. However, their position was weakening and although it did not reach the point of being precarious, they were not as strong as they used to be.

The Balende Family was in a mess both domestically and abroad while the families of the 'Blood Countess' and 'Angel of Sorrow' had been covetously eyeing their number one spot. Furthermore, for unknown reasons, the Dark Dragon had taken a liking to the weakest of all four families, 'Conqueror', and they emerged as a new force to be reckoned with against the 'Spirit Chaser'. These were the internal conflicts of the four families and on the outside, there were also fearless new forces that attempted to throw the Balende Family off their throne to replace them.

The 'Spirit Chaser' Balende took actions. The Balende Family relied on their strong history, loyalty, and contributions to achieve their status in the Country of Darkness. Contributions were the Balende Family's roots. After all, in a country of death, the Undead Knights, Lichs, and Necromancers were the main forces. Due to this, they were able to grasp the foundation of the Country of Darkness, unlike the worthless Vampires who hid in the dark and engaged in intelligence gathering and assassination. Although the humans that the 'Conquerer' Garcia led in the Country of Darkness had the most supporters, these fragile beings weren't able to battle like the undead army. On the other hand, it was impossible for a group of traitors like the 'Angel of Sorrow' to impress.

The Balende Family basked in glory for a long time. But now, they had to fight to show their abilities to the new monarch.

Darke was sent here to establish their achievements in order to rise abruptly to a towering position in the Balende Family. However, this wonderful dream seemed to be drifting further away from him.

Due to the sensitivity of the Munn Kingdom's identity, there was always a person appointed for this task. The Balende Family came up with a few schemes and managed to get Darke involved. His simple responsibilities included taking over his senior's job in developing spies in the Munn Kingdom to obtain intelligence. Of course, the Munn Kingdom couldn't find out. In a country ruled by an Angel, there were many reasons involved and it wasn't only because the Necromancers weren't welcomed by them.

Darke was sent to the Munn Kingdom by the Balende Family because he had always been conscientious. In a country where powers were used as a basis in status, Darke's abilities couldn't be underestimated. Similar to Vulture, who had the powers of the Master stage, as a Necromancer who had reached the inner circle, Darke was considered a loyal 'talent' within the Balende Family.

However, a spellcasting genius didn't necessarily mean that he possessed a political brain. Darke reached the Master stage in merely a few decades and undead spells were as simple as a primary school mathematical question to him. However, he couldn't understand this political aspect of his job. In some instances, time could make up for a lack of experience. But some matters were just not that simple.

In this conflict between Darke and his spy, it showed that he was the typical low EQ and high IQ, having no consideration for the feelings of others. Not to mention, he had only left Country of Darkness for a short while and to him, these fragile beings were just a bunch of 'lowly critters' who had to obey his instructions and were not worth wasting his time on.

Due to this, after Darke captured the Eagle City owner's precious daughter, he abandoned the unfortunate spy decisively and tried to turn Natasha into his loyal subordinate instead. The daughter of the city owner was definitely worth much more than an ordinary Army General. The Army General was only a critter to Darke and since he had discovered another critter that was much more valuable, it went without saying that he would discard the one he had on hand. Why would Darke care about the Army General's thoughts?

However, Darke didn't expect that this critter actually turned around and bit him. That was to be expected, after all; this 'critter' was also an ordinary human with limited lifespan. In order to achieve longevity, he betrayed his soul even though there was a risk that this whole thing might turn out to be a scam. After realizing that his choice didn't give him his expected results, he naturally wasn't willing to let this matter rest.

While Darke was engaging in the ceremony with Natasha, the Army General led his men and ambushed him. In the end, Darke was forced to stop his ceremony abruptly to deal with those annoying bastards. Even though Darke did manage to put a stop to the dumbass's actions, he didn't expect the young lady to seize this chance to escape!!!

This was an absolutely unacceptable failure to Darke. However, fortunately for him, he had lost the senses to be triggered by rage due to being a Necromancer. Darke used death spells to control the general and ordered his men to capture Natasha and Grendy. Meanwhile, he sent out Vulture to join in the search in recapturing the Bone List.

This plan should have been seamless, but he realized that it had totally failed!

Those foolish humans weren't able to accomplish his mission and even Vulture and his men couldn't survive. Unfortunately, Vulture's identity wasn't that simple because he was one of the most valued Undead Knights in the eyes of the Balende Family. As a matter of fact, the Balende Family knew that Darke lacked experience, which was why they sent Vulture to assist him.

But now... The Bone List was stolen and Vulture and his team of elites were eliminated. Darke shrieked in horror as he couldn't imagine how those two lowly humans possessed such powers. If they were this powerful, they wouldn't have chosen to escape. So how did all this happen?

Who exactly did they meet to help them?

Darke had no idea. After all, the Life Rock that he had on hand was only able to reflect life statuses and wasn't able to transmit the actual situation. Could it be that my actions have been discovered by the Munn Kingdom? If that's the case, my days are doomed if the Battle Angels find me!

Darke's mind was at a loss. Although logically, he should counterattack decisively to snatch the Bone List back and flee from this place as soon as possible, he was also clear that even if he recaptured the Bone List and returned to the family, he wouldn't be spared death. After all, his negligence had led to the death of Vulture and other Undead Knights. The family would definitely punish him for that. Although he was a talented Necromancer... Even his talent wouldn't save him from such consequences.

"Damn it!"

Darke punched the table and gritted his teeth. His head was a mess. At this moment, it wasn't about how he could accomplish goals for the family anymore... It was about how he could cross this hurdle before his very eyes.

Darke lifted his sulking face and stared at the fragmentation of the crystal ball. After a few moments, the Necromancer swung his arm and disappeared with a gust of wind.

On the other side, Rhode and the others made it to Hobbit Village before sunset successfully.

This was the only area with inhabitants in the White River Valley and it was also the resting point for plenty of merchants and travelers. This village was built on the hillside of the valley with a downward-flowing river that had nurtured the villagers for years. Amazingly, their houses weren't made of wood. Instead, their houses were caves excavated from the valley itself and were very suitable for humans to reside in.

Right now, Hobbit Village was unfrequented as it wasn't the peak season for trades, so there were minimal visitors. That left the bustling village somewhat peaceful. However, this meant that the villagers who lived here for generations were finally able to enjoy a rare, peaceful period of time.

But the serenity was soon disrupted.

Bang! The door to the pub swung open and shook the pub owner up from his breather. The owner lifted his head subconsciously and turned towards the entrance where five exhausted, anxious travelers, including some beautiful young ladies, stood. The person who stood ahead of the group was clad in a black aristocratic attire, with a flat, shoulder-length short hair. Although 'she' had a beautiful appearance, her style of dressing was overly masculinized, which left the owner scratching his head. Furthermore, she had a face as cold as an ice sculpture which he couldn't gaze directly at.

On 'her' left stood a young lady with a full head of pink in a ponytail. She seemed to be the most laid back of them all as her eyes wandered and gazed about casually. Her pair of ears and the swaying, fluffy tail on her back revealed her identity. But even so, her beauty touched the heart of the owner.

A blonde young lady clad in skintight white leather armor stood behind the fox-eared lady. Her large, round eyes whirled in circles curiously and although she had an adorable face, it was her pair of long, slender thighs that garnered the most attention. The splendid curves revealed themselves perfectly, attracting the other male patrons, leaving them gulping at the sight of her fair skin.

Compared to the three gorgeous women, the remaining two at the back seemed much more inferior as they wore tattered clothes and had flustered expressions which made them seem like desperate escapees.

This group was indeed conspicuous. However, the pub owner held in his curiosity as he composed himself. Since they arrived at his pub, he should still serve them as normal customers no matter who they were. The owner stood up swiftly and approached the five of them.

"Welcome to 'Bumper Harvest'. What would you like to have? We have roast meat, bread, cheese, and our very own vine jam. Also, we have comfortable guest rooms and baths to wash your fatigue away. I can prepare the rooms for all of you now, and I guarantee that the price will be very reasonable..."

Rhode stretched out his hand and interrupted the owner's words.

"I'm sorry, we are in a rush. Please prepare a straightforward dinner which doesn't require too much preparations. As for the rooms, we don't need them. Also..." Rhode paused, puckered his brows and let out a hopeless sigh after turning towards Anne, who tugged on his sleeve with a pitiful expression.

"Give me 20 portions of bread and roast meat."

"20?"

The pub owner widened his eyes in disbelief and quickly left after nodding in acknowledgment. At this moment, Rhode once again halted him.

"By the way, are there any chariots or horses for rent? If possible, we would like to be on our way as soon as possible. Of course, money isn't a problem."

"This..."

The pub owner hesitated with a conflicted expression. After a few moments, he replied helplessly.

"I'm sorry, dear customer. Our village only has freight wagons... I'm afraid I can't help you with this..."

"Freight wagons are fine. I hope you can arrange one for us. We will leave right after dinner."

"Okay, I will get them prepared now."

Although the owner was somewhat dubious, he nodded and left quickly. Rhode let out a sigh and turned his gaze to the almost deserted pub before taking a seat.

"Yes...!"

Anne tossed her luggage and shield to the side and crashed on the seat, laying flat on the table like a cat.

"So tiring. Anne has never run this far before..."

Although the rest didn't respond, their expressions agreed with her words.

After the chariot burned to bits, Rhode's group hastened on with their journey. Luckily, both Rhode and Anne had strong physiques and this long-distance journey wasn't any problem for them. Gillian was a beast, so naturally, she wouldn't mind either. However, Natasha and Grendy didn't have such experiences before. They struggled through the hardships of this journey and the thought of the Necromancer possibly pouncing on them anytime forced their feet forward. At this moment, both Natasha and Grendy laid flat on the table, similar to Anne.

"M-M-Mr. Rhode... I think, let's rest for the night before moving on... Since there are villagers and militias around, that Necromancer won't dare to mess with us here, I guess..."

Natasha was so exhausted that she couldn't articulate her words properly. It was as though her numb legs had transformed into two wooden sticks. Although Grendy didn't beg for mercy, his ashen-face revealed that he was at his limits too.

"No."

Although Natasha's request was reasonable, Rhode rejected ruthlessly. This young lady didn't understand how terrifying the Necromancer could be. If possible, Rhode would rather duel with a Necromancer in a desert than face him in a densely populated place. If Rhode and the others chose to stay the night, it wouldn't only be the Necromancer that they would need to face. Their enemies could even be the corpses of the villagers that the Necromancer had manipulated... This definitely wouldn't be a favorable situation for Rhode.

Without a doubt, Rhode was also a human. He knew that Natasha and Grendy were at their limits. But...

"Both of you can rest in the wagon in a while. At least, you don't need to walk for the time being."

"... Alright, Mr. Rhode."

Natasha and Grendy exchanged hopeless glances and nodded. Although the wagon wouldn't be as comfortable as the chariot, at least they had a place to rest their feet...

As everyone was seizing the moment to recharge themselves, suddenly, the pub door opened. A few mercenaries entered the pub and upon noticing Rhode's companions, they whistled excitedly. However, Rhode didn't care at all. Even Anne, who was always lively, didn't respond to the mercenaries. On the other hand, Gillian turned around and winked towards them, causing an uproar of cheers instantly.

But suddenly, a cold and cheerless voice sounded.

"Eh?"

The group of aroused mercenaries shut their mouths obediently and made way hurriedly. Then, a woman in a mask emerged behind them and approached Rhode's group.

"What a surprise. I didn't expect to meet you here, Mr. Rhode," the woman said.

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