Rhode's eyes glinted instantly as soon as he turned around and saw the female mercenary.
It wasn't because this female mercenary was particularly beautiful or attractive to him, but it was due to her face being concealed by a frightening grey mask. Although she had an alluring figure under the fitting leather armor, her stature was similar to Anne's, which didn't attract Rhode that much. However, as a matter of fact, this young woman was much more attractive than Anne.
Because she was one of the vice leader of the Purple Lily Guild: the 'Snow Woman', Paris.
Rhode was very familiar with her because in the game, Paris was well known among the players. It wasn't due to her beautiful appearance, powerful abilities, or god-like equipment, but because of her life background which made others sigh in pity.
Paris grew up with Barter and they could be considered childhood lovers. Paris was a pretty, young lady born into an aristocratic merchant family. Although her family wasn't too wealthy, her life was still comfortable. Paris had been going on adventures with Barter with the identity of a mercenary. Both of them had a close relationship and there were even rumors that Barter had proposed to Paris and was waiting for their wedding.
But as the saying went, beautiful women face unfortunate fates, and Paris equally wasn't able to avoid this without a supporter. When she was 18 years old, a local, well-off family who had the authority took a fancy to her and tried in vain to marry her. Paris's family wasn't able to resist this powerful family's threats and although they tried, they succumbed eventually.
However, as they were about to drag Paris away, Paris unsheathed her dagger and slashed two to three long gashes on her face desperately. She stood by her doorstep with a bloodied, unrecognizable face while pointing her dagger forward. That family finally backed away after witnessing her determination. After all, a huge family like them needed to save their reputation. If things got blown out of proportion, it wouldn't reflect well on them too. Furthermore, now that Paris had been disfigured utterly, it wouldn't make any sense for them to bring this disgraceful monster into their family.
When it happened, Barter happened to be away on an errand. After he returned and knew about Paris's encounter, this naturally cruel, violent man darted towards the family with his Executioner's Greatsword and brutally slaughtered them. Before the family was able to take action against him, Barter had eloped with Paris, leaving this horrible place.
Both of them wandered in the wild for a few years until the day the family failed and collapsed. They joined the Purple Lily Guild when they returned, and Barter was promoted as the guild leader, while Paris logically became his assistant.
Without a doubt, it wasn't solely because Paris and Barter had a loving relationship that she was able to become the vice leader of the guild. She held the strength of the Thief class in the Master stage and she was second to none in this region. Moreover, she was meticulous and intelligent, so everyone began to accept her gradually under the public's praises.
To be frank, Rhode admired Barter a lot. There were many who claimed that their love would forever be unchanged. However, come to think of it, if one's beloved woman had changed beyond recognition where her face, mouth, and ears were left with horrifying scars that would make one throw up, it wouldn't be that easy for them to stay romantic. Rhode felt that if this happened to his woman, he would keep a respectful distance from her and refrain from intimate contact at the very least. However, Barter's love towards Paris had never changed. In the second database of the game, they were finally married and even had a child together. For many players, this would require so much courage no matter how splendid their partner's figure was...
This was why the love story of Barter and Paris spread extensively amongst the players. No matter if they ridiculed, admired, were envious or emotional, everyone knew the deed of this couple in the Purple Lily Guild. However, Paris changed dramatically even though Barter continued to love her deeply. After all, the most important feature of a woman was her face. After that incident, Paris's lively, optimistic character turned ice-cold and unapproachable. Ever since then, she had an iron mask that concealed her face entirely. Apart from Barter, Paris never took down her mask in front of anyone, so she was named as the 'Snow Woman'.
It wasn't because Rhode had met the female character in the legendary love story which he admired that his eyes brightened, but it was because Paris was the vice leader of the Purple Lily Guild. Wasn't Rhode's plan to lure the Necromancer to the Eagle City for the sake of borrowing the strength of the Purple Lily Guild?
Paris's strength wasn't comparable to Barter's and frontal aggression wasn't her forte. However, her strategies and strength were first class and the opponent was a Mage, and Mages were most afraid of ambushes. An idea came to Rhode's mind instantly as soon as he recognized Paris.
"I didn't expect to meet you here too, Miss Paris," Rhode stood up and nodded.
He gave an invitational gesture and Paris pulled out a chair and sat down without hesitation. Although the mask hid her expression, Rhode was sure that Paris was examining himself dubiously. She couldn't be blamed for this reaction because it was indeed strange that Rhode had come all the way to the Purple Lily Guild's turf while neglecting his own Paphield.
"May I know what Mr. Rhode is doing here?" Paris's words were just as cold as her nickname.
Rhode wasn't mindful of her words as he nodded sternly. "To be honest, I'm here to complete a mission for my guild. Miss Paris should be familiar with this, right?"
"Are you referring to the Castel Plateau Ruins mission?" Paris was indeed a tyrant. She was able to figure out the whole story without Rhode's further explanations.
Rhode had no intentions of hiding the truth and he nodded honestly before examining the masked woman before him. "That's right. I hope I'm not so unfortunate to be competing with your guild for this mission?"
"Don't worry about this, Mr. Rhode. We have no intentions of exploring the ruins now," Paris replied with a short, cold response.
From the looks of things, Paris seemed uninterested in wasting time on this topic. Although Starlight and Purple Lily had a friendly relationship, competitions were, after all, still present between guilds. On the other hand, Rhode was glad that the Purple Lily Guild had no intention of completing the mission of the Castel Plateau Ruins. Without a doubt, even if the Purple Lily Guild had completed the mission, it didn't matter to Rhode because from his understanding, the Purple Lily Guild would be defeated if they didn't complete any prefix missions. However, Rhode was even more curious about why Paris appeared in the White River Valley. Shouldn't they be preparing for their guild missions at this point in time? If the Purple Lily Guild wasn't here for the Castel Plateau Ruins mission, why would Paris lead her mercenaries to this place?
This time, Paris gave an explanation of Rhode's doubts. "It's like this, Mr. Rhode. We received a report that there was a beam of flames that disrupted the sky in the White River Valley region, which was a rare sight. I led my men here in order to ensure the safety of the White River Valley's merchant route and to investigate the happenings."
Rhode sensed that Paris was obviously suspecting him as the culprit. After all, it would be far-fetched to reason that the beam of flames had nothing to do with him, since this was the only way out of the White River Valley. But luckily, Rhode had no intentions of hiding the truth. "I think you don't need to head over there anymore, Miss Paris. I can tell you what exactly happened."
"Oh?" Paris let out a distrustful respond as she sat straight and gazed at Rhode sternly. "I'm all ears."