"It seems that I came a little too late?" Barter stroked his chin as he sat on the tall war horse, smiling cheekily towards Rhode. Rhode rolled his eyes in response. He was so exhausted that he couldn't stand up and he didn't have the mood to argue with Barter. The timing of Barter's arrival was perfect. He came five to six minutes after Rhode's group had defeated the Necromancer.
"Doesn't matter. Anyway, I know that reinforcements always come after the main character defeats the BOSS." Rhode gave Barter a cold stare and ridiculed him. Barter was slightly astonished as though he didn't understand what Rhode meant. At this moment, Paris arrived before Barter and reported the happenings softly.
Rhode couldn't help but think of Marlene as he observed how attentively Paris reported to Barter while he listened closely. Rhode was wondering what that rich young lady was up to... Although according to logic, there shouldn't be much of an issue with Canary's help, Rhode was still somewhat concerned about how they were managing the Fortress.
"Leader, what are you thinking?" Anne sat beside Rhode and stretched lazily with her arms out. She turned to Rhode and asked curiously.
"Master must be thinking of women; it's just that we don't know who he is thinking of," Gillian approached them casually. On the other hand, Grendy and Natasha were handed over to Barter since their request was to send them to the Purple Lily Guild. Now that the leader of the guild was here to take over, Rhode could finally focus on his dungeon mission.
"Eh?" Anne widened her eyes curiously at Gillian's remark. "Anne is also a woman and Leader has two women beside him now. Why does Leader need to think of women?"
"All men in the world are like that." Gillian swayed her tail playfully as she placed a finger on her lips while smiling slyly. Rhode shrugged his shoulders and ignored the fox-eared young lady because he knew that he would get his fingers burnt if he spoke anything.
At this moment, Barter and Paris's group approached Rhode and Barter burst into loud laughter upon hearing Gillian's words. "Miss Gillian is right. But I think that all men would rather be stuffed to death than to be starved to death. Look at the small stature of your leader. Heh heh, if he doesn't eat a bit more, perhaps he can't keep up."
Barter stroked his chin and laughed mischievously at Rhode. Rhode shot a cold stare in response to the muscle man's taunts before standing up. Barter kept his smile as his expression turned serious. "I've heard from Paris and those two brats what happened. Did your group really eliminate a team of Undead Legions? That's great work, but... Heh heh heh. I think the garrisons will have a hard one since they allowed the Undead Legion to mess around. I think there's no future for those guys anymore."
Even though this was a matter that happened in Barter's territory, he seemed nonchalant. Although the guild was responsible for managing and constraining the mercenary groups and troubles in their territory, almost all the guilds and officials had strained relationships. Without a doubt, such strained relationships weren't due to them treating one another as enemies. After all, the official leaders wished to maintain peace and harmony in their own territory and didn't have any prejudice against the guilds.
However, troubles occurred when it boiled down to their status. No matter in which region, guilds and garrisons didn't have favorable relationships. A guild was a civilian association and their mission was to manage the requests and troubles amongst the civilians. However, the garrison was an official association and although maintaining territorial security was also their responsibility, their main priority was to prevent territorial turmoil, ensuring peace on a larger scale, as well as protecting the important nobles and officials.
Because of this, guilds had a better reputation amongst the civilians. Although those high-ranking officials who had been vigorously protected by the garrison would cause a great impact on the civilians if they were hurt, these effects and changes were too high-level for the average civilians to feel the difference. As a result, the civilians preferred receiving support for managing the atrocious beasts plundering their fields and such. This was why guilds were more popular amongst the civilians while garrisons were often seen as the villains. Due to this, garrisons and guilds would often get into conflict. Of course, it was impossible for their battles to be all-out as they needed to worry about the prestige of their higher levels. However, it was still common for them to mock one another whenever they had the chance.
Due to this, guilds and the garrisons didn't have a good relationship. Furthermore, a guild's mission was to manage the local mercenary groups and not to protect the safety of the entire region. This was why Barter was unconcerned that a team of undead creatures had crept into his territory as it had nothing to do with the guild. Instead, those unfortunate garrisons would definitely be punished. Moreover, there were even generals that betrayed the Munn Kingdom.
"That's a problem which you need to handle," Rhode said with an uninterested tone. "What do you plan to do next?"
"Don't worry about it, Little Rhode," Barter smiled and gestured. "My men will be arriving soon and I will send the two little brats and your group to the Eagle City by then. Oh yes... I heard that you intended to visit the Castel Plateau Ruins?"
Barter paused for a moment before gazing at Rhode pensively. "What about your men? I don't see Miss Marlene and the few others around. You can't possibly visit the Castel Plateau Ruins with just the three of you, right? Heh, it's not that I look down on you, little Rhode. But that place isn't that simple. Our Purple Lily Guild had been there and we almost couldn't make it back, so I would advise you to be careful."
"Don't worry about this, Sir Barter," Gillian said cheekily. "We will only be there to explore the area and we won't go too deep, so you don't need to worry about us."
"I have no intentions of meddling with your matters either, Miss Gillian," Barter laughed heartily and gestured. However, at the next moment, he kept his smile and revealed a stern expression. "But since you guys are heading to the Eagle City, let me remind you of something. There isn't much peace in the Eagle City recently, no... I would rather say that there isn't much peace in this whole region. I hope you will be careful and of course, since we're in the same profession, we will assist you if we can. But just don't get caught by those people; if not, there will be a lot of trouble."
"Those people?" Rhode puckered his brows as he sensed the slight fear in Barter's tone. If it were Viktor, it would seem normal for him to be this cautious. However, it was rare for this scatterbrain of a guild leader to be this hesitant of someone.
"Actually, it's nothing much." Perhaps sensing his own weakness, Barter regained his tough attitude as he gazed at Rhode with some dissatisfaction. "It's just a bunch of Southerners causing some troubles. Come to think of it, it might be related to you."
"Me?" Rhode was at a total loss.
However, Barter had no intentions of keeping him in suspense as he quickly continued. "You should know that thanks to your guild, those idiots from the Liberty Wings Guild thoroughly disbanded, right?"
"Of course, I'm aware of this," Rhode nodded to Barter's question. Although the final investigations revealed that most of the mercenaries didn't have direct relation to the Demons, the Liberty Wings Guild was forced to disband according to the laws of the Munn Kingdom. Furthermore, the punishment for having any contact with the Demons was extremely severe in a country governed by an Angel. Moreover, Royal Highness Lydia decided to investigate all the mercenary groups in the Southern Port region to ensure there were no remaining Demons. Due to this, the Southern Port didn't need to appoint a new guild anymore.
There were at least twenty mercenary groups in the Southern Port and all of them had to go through self-inspection before being examined by the Battle Angel Army. In addition, they couldn't construct a brand new guild for the next two years. This was obvious that Lydia was using this opportunity to wipe out the forces the Liberty Wings Guild had gathered. Although the leaders like Rosen and Waltz were dead, Liberty Wings was still alive. If they were to continue to develop, a new Liberty Wings would emerge before long. However, Lydia seized this terrific excuse to tackle the Demons, at the same time breaking off a powerful arm of the Reformist Party. The Reformist Party couldn't complain as the civilians in the Country of Light despised the Demons. No matter how good the Reformist Party was in manipulating the truth, they couldn't possibly convince the civilians that "the dangers of the Demons aren't as terrifying as you imagine" because they would be seeking death if they did that.
After losing their supporting guild, the Reformist Party had lost their last helper to incite the civilians. As mentioned earlier, most of the representatives of the Reformist Party were emerging nobles and businessmen. There was no lack of class contradiction, whether generation or country. If the well-dressed nobles were to step up and incite the civilians, the civilians would definitely disagree. However, if the mercenaries who were born in the same class as the civilians were to step up, it would be much easier for them to incite the civilians. Now, this route has been sealed dead by Lydia, it wasn't that easy for the Reformist Party to cause a ruckus since Rosen was no longer around to back them up.
"Royal Highness Lydia did great to exterminate those Reformist Party's dogs. But you seem unaware that those bastards have banded together and formed the Liberty Mercenary Alliance... Heh, on the surface, the Southern Port claimed that it was a critical juncture for them that all the mercenary groups among them should work together to form an alliance organization. But this organization is filled with all those retards from the Liberty Wings!" Barter threw his fist in midair. "It was a mistake that you didn't kill them all!"
"What about them? This Liberty Mercenary Alliance wouldn't be that dumb to cause trouble in your territory, right?" Rhode finally understood what this Liberty Mercenary Alliance was all about. It seemed that those bastards from the Liberty Wings were still stubborn and they actually formed an alliance in order to gather forces. However, this shouldn't have anything to do with the North.
"Cause trouble? They don't have the balls to do that," Barter let out a snarl and frowned. "But those bastards came here to recruit members!"
"Recruit?" Rhode asked in astonishment.
Barter swept him a glance and continued explaining. "Judging from your expression, Little Rhode you must be thinking that this alliance is a replacement for the Liberty Wings, right? Heh, things aren't exactly this way. According to those bastards' explanations, the Liberty Mercenary Alliance is not restricted to any region or headcount. Any mercenary groups can join them as long as they are interested! Furthermore, they even promised that any mercenary group that joins them will receive a huge sum of funds!"
Rhode's expression changed slightly as he understood the source of the problem instantly. However, Anne gazed curiously as she gazed between Rhode and Barter, who was gritting his teeth. "But, but, didn't Royal Highness Lydia say that there is a possibility that those mercenary groups are involved with the Demons? Why would anyone join them? Aren't they afraid of getting into trouble?"
"Heh, things aren't as simple as you think, Little Anne." Barter patted Anne's head while Rhode nodded slightly at Anne's sensible questions. Although there wasn't any restriction to a region for the recruitment of the Liberty Mercenary Alliance, everyone was aware of who established this alliance. But what about it? There are all sorts of humans, as well as mercenary groups. Just like the 'Undead Spirit Mission' incident that occurred in the Paphield Region, various mercenary groups suffered huge losses and needed time to recuperate them. However, some lowest-ranking mercenaries would rather choose to be the Jade Tears's lackeys than to die. Perhaps they were aware that they didn't have potential as mercenaries so they chose to betray their pride in exchange for something substantial. Moreover, as the saying goes, 'The law does not punish numerous offenders', and even the timidest of the mercenary groups would toughen up as long as they have companions.
"I've informed those mercenary groups under me, but it isn't within my control if they choose to join the alliance. But,you have to be careful, Little Rhode, because I heard that the prime target of the Liberty Mercenary Alliance is you. Although it's impossible for those bastards to find trouble with me on my territory, you have to be wary that they might turn to you if they know you're here," Barter reminded.
"I understand," Rhode nodded. The Liberty Mercenary Alliance had extended its recruitment to under the eyes of the Purple Lily Guild and might have recruited some mercenary groups who would do anything for money. If they were to know that Rhode had arrived in the Eagle City, they would definitely urge these mercenary groups to find trouble with him. Rhode had a sensitive identity as the guild leader of the Paphield Region, while Barter, as the leader of the Purple Lily Guild, naturally wouldn't turn a blind eye to the disputes between mercenaries over his jurisdiction. It would be easy for the people of the alliance to stir trouble secretly and cause the Purple Lily Guild to confront and even be hostile towards Starlight.
Rhode swept Barter a glance and it seemed that this muscle man wasn't as brainless as the players had described. For Barter to inform Rhode privately about these matters showed that he was also concerned. After all, Starlight was unlike the Cole Falcon and the Purple Lily who had worked together for so many years where it wouldn't be simple to stir conflicts between them. Starlight was a newly established guild which everyone was unfamiliar with and unfamiliarity gave chances for doubts and suspicions. Furthermore, if Starlight were to be overly powerful in other regions apart from his, the guild of that region would definitely despise it. From another perspective, if Barter were to cause a ruckus with a mercenary group in Rhode's territory, Rhode wouldn't feel comfortable either.
Rhode frowned in deep thoughts "Thanks for your reminder, Mr. Barter. We will think of a way to avoid this... At least, we won't make it difficult for you."
"That's fine, Little Rhode," Barter nodded in satisfaction as he smiled widely and patted on Rhode's shoulder. "Work hard! And don't forget our bet, Little Rhode! I'm still looking forward to the day I see you in women's clothes!"
"You won't get that chance." Perhaps Rhode would have flipped out if it were someone else who said that. However, knowing it was Barter's nature, Rhode replied coldly.
But... Rhode was no pushover either. Rhode couldn't wait to teach Barter a lesson on saying what he shouldn't after winning this bet. Rhode revealed a peculiar smile at this thought.