This mercenary was wounded gravely from head to toe. Apart from apparent blade gashes, there were also putrid, pitch-black blood permeating in rotten scars as the mercenary breathed faintly. The two Clerics observed with ashen expressions before casting healing spells to treat the mercenary while Canary examined the mercenary's back hurriedly.
As an experienced player and illusionary image, Canary knew who this man was. If gashes inflicted by a sword and the rotten flesh were the consequences of them not treated on time, those dark spots that emerged on his skin were proof that he was corroded by the Chaotic Forcefield. In this piece of land, there was only one area that was able to corrode anyone with its Chaotic Forcefield: the intersection point between the Light Dragon and Dark Dragon Souls.
However, not anyone could come and go through that place.
The style of the mercenary's clothes didn't seem to be made in the Country of Darkness. Therefore, this eliminated the possibility that he had escaped from the Country of Darkness. However, if he belonged to this side, he definitely didn't need to cross over the intersection point at all. This was as illogical as one who chose to jump into the stinking ditch on the side of the road instead of walking on a flat pathway.
"Any discovery?" Canary turned over to the mercenary that was sweeping the area for more evidence. As soon as the mercenary detected Canary's gaze, he ran towards her swiftly before handing over the items that he had found.
"Only these, Madam Canary," the mercenary pointed.
"These are..." There was a badge, coin pouch, packs of herbs, and a sealed letter. Canary focused her attention on the crumpled, bloody letter made of thick kraft paper and sealed with red wax. Canary frowned as soon as she recognized the symbol on the wax seal.
It seems that things are looking bad.
"Madam Canary, his injuries are too serious. We can't save him!" The two exhausted Clerics lifted their head towards the young lady. Although they had cleared the toxins in the mercenary's body with their healing spells, they couldn't heal him, even with the best of their abilities. "I'm sorry, Madam Canary. We've tried our best, but we weren't able to heal him..."
"I understand. Please don't blame yourselves; you two have done well." Canary kept the badge and letter before gazing at the injured mercenary. The mercenary had a flushed complexion, but even so, Canary could see that he was hanging on a thin thread. However, this was the best that Canary could do for him since she had brought only a couple of Clerics over for this training session. Moreover, judging from his injuries, these Clerics weren't skillful enough to recover him fully...
Come to think of it, Leader has returned to the Fortress...
Canary's eyes beamed with hope and spoke to her men. "You guys can go back now. I will bring this man back to the Fortress. Inform Joey to get ready to leave."
"Yes, Madam Canary." Although the four mercenaries didn't know why Canary gave such an order, they nodded eventually.
Canary squatted down and placed her palm on his chest. Brilliant magical radiance and a teleportation ritual circle emerged instantly. In a blink of an eye, the two of them vanished entirely.
When Rhode received the news from Marlene, it was only five minutes after Canary had vanished.
"A mercenary that came from the intersection point?" Rhode widened his eyes as he gazed at the man groaning painfully.
Agatha was circling the injured man with two nimble tentacles fluttering around his body while casting water type spells to disinfect and bandage his wounds. Rhode gazed at Canary before lowering his head and knitted his brows at the badge and letter. Rhode didn't need to unseal the letter to guess who the receiver of this letter was. As for the badge, Rhode had a very bad feeling about it. He had seen this badge, with the symbol of a falcon with spread wings before. It belonged to the Cole Falcon Guild. However, unlike the Purple Lily, there were no common boundaries between the Paphield region and the Cole Falcon Guild's territory. No matter what, there were no reason for them to step into Paphield. Furthermore, according to Canary, this man reached here through the intersection point... Most importantly, Rhode knew who this man was.
Rhode's heart sank at this thought. "Marlene!"
"Rhode? What's wrong?" Marlene's deep thoughts were disrupted and she was startled by Rhode's sudden exclamation. She had spent a long time with Rhode and this was the first time that she heard him raising his voice. However, she didn't question him foolishly. Instead, she turned to face Rhode and awaited his next instructions. "You have a way to make long-distance communications with the Senia Family, right?"
"Of course, Rhode," Marlene answered as she subconsciously held onto the necklace around her neck.
Rhode nodded in response and handed the letter to her. "I want you to send this letter to someone reliable in the Senia Family immediately and get them to send this letter to Royal Highness Lydia, now!"
"Okay!!" Marlene nodded and ran out of the room instantly after taking over the letter.
Meanwhile, Rhode turned his gaze to Lize on the other side of the room. "Lize, I want you to return to the stronghold using the Summon Gate and get Shauna, Kavos and Old Walker to see me immediately. Especially Old Walker; get him to prepare the intel that I asked him to gather. Get them all to see me, understand?"
"Yes, Mr. Rhode. I'll make my way there now." Lize nodded in acknowledgment and left the room, leaving Gillian twitching her ears. "Little Lize is gone now. What do we do with this half-dead fella?"
"Don't worry, I've found the right candidate..." Rhode said confidently.
"Which half-dead fella do you need me to handle?" Before Rhode could finish his sentence, Mini Bubble Gum barged into the room.
As soon as the little girl saw Rhode, she revealed an excited smile and scuttled towards him with her extended right fist. Rhode stretched his right fist in response and exchanged a fist bump with her. "Ah, Leader, welcome back. You actually cleared the Castel Plateau Ruins with those people. As expected of Leader; those brain-dead players couldn't compare to you at all. What a pity, if this were in the game, I would definitely upload the video recording to aggravate those scums... Come to think of it, which idiot hurt himself and needs me to take care of him?"
Mini Bubble Gum finished speaking in rapid succession. Then, she turned her head towards the mercenary on the sickbed. "Who is this idiot? Why haven't I seen him before?"
"He is an important person that Canary brought back. I'm leaving him with you," said Rhode.
"Big Sister? She really has bad taste. Why would she bring this man back?" Although Mini Bubble Gum grumbled, she stepped forward and extended her right palm quickly. Soon, a pure positive energy coalesced into a sphere of holy, white radiance. Then, she patted Viktor's chest.
White radiance enveloped the man's body and in a blink of an eye, the dark spots on Viktor's body vanished entirely as though they had been washed away by a violent storm. Meanwhile, the bloody gashes began to heal and close at lightning speed. In a few moments after the white radiance had dissipated, the seriously hurt patient was gone and replaced by a healthy human sleeping soundly.
"Alright, he will wake up after a while," Mini Bubble Gum clapped her hands clean and backed off to Rhode's side while Canary gazed at her with some hopelessness. "Bubble, how's your team doing?"
"Eh? Those guys were almost done when I received your message so I left them a note before coming back here... Anyway, Randolf will contact me if there are any problems. No contact means no problems, so just leave them be. Big men like them still need a little child like me to look after them? Really?" Mini Bubble Gum replied complacently.
Rhode puckered his brows at the symbol of the badge before him. Double-sword Angels, a letter for Royal Highness Lydia, the intersection point and the North... Rhode recalled the conversation he had with Royal Highness Lydia during the Midsummer Festival and he felt that things seemed to be progressing towards the direction that he predicted.
Damn it. I thought that I could spend more time leisurely...
At this moment, Rhode heard a weak groan.
"Argh..." Viktor struggled to open his eyes. He gazed at the snow-white ceiling in confusion and it seemed as though his head was in a chaotic mess. "I..."
"You're in the Land of Atonement, Mr. Viktor." Viktor quivered to Rhode's voice and he sat up subconsciously to find Rhode's group surrounding him.
A look of doubt unveiled on the mercenary's face while he felt a peace of mind. Then, he probed. "You are... Mr. Rhode?"
"That's right. It seems that you haven't lost your memories. Congratulations," Viktor caught the badge that Rhode tossed over and his expression was gloomy as he reached out to the side of his body. "Letter..."
"I have asked Marlene to deliver the letter to Royal Highness Lydia through the Senia Family," said Rhode.
"... Have you read it?" Viktor asked sternly while trying to hold himself back.
"No, but I can more or less guess the content," Rhode spoke as he stood before Viktor. He dragged out a chair and sat down while Viktor continued to gaze at Rhode with a complex expression. Rhode had no intentions of questioning Viktor and he waited for him to clear his mind. At the same time, Rhode explained the current situation simply. "Just now, my men found you around the intersection point and brought you back. Then, we discovered the letter that was sealed with Royal Highness Lydia's seal and your guild badge. I acted on my own accord to pass the letter into Marlene's care. This shouldn't be a problem, right?"
"Of course not," Viktor heaved a sigh of relief and a massive burden seemed to have been lifted off his mind. It seems that I made the right decision to risk it... to hand this letter to Royal Highness Lydia. I have upheld the honor of the Cole Falcon Guild. But...
"Now, I think you should explain the situation to me, Mr. Viktor." While Viktor was deep in thoughts, Rhode broke the silence. "You, as the leader of the Cole Falcon Guild, came to my Land of Atonement and was injured gravely... There definitely must be a reason for it."
"..." Viktor paused for a moment and shook his head. "I'm sincerely sorry for the trouble that I've caused, Mr. Rhode. But, all I can say is that our guild is currently carrying out a mission of top secrecy. So, I can't reveal all the details..."
"It's related to Soraka Mountain, right?" Rhode said confidently and with a smirk.
"...!" Although Viktor didn't have any slight change in expression, the twitching at the corner of his mouth might have betrayed him. However, Viktor couldn't understand why Rhode would ask him this question. Could it be that he was aware? That was impossible. This mission was assigned by the King's Party and Viktor had been meticulous to prevent this news from leaking. Moreover, Viktor was an expert in intelligence gathering and information wasn't this easily leaked from him. Only the core members of the Cole Falcon Guild knew about the Soraka Mountain Mission, so how did Rhode know about this? Did he read the letter...? This was unlikely. During the Midsummer Festival, it was apparent that this man was a supporter of Royal Highness Lydia. It was a serious offense to dismantle a letter that was meant for the King's Party, so he wouldn't do that. But, where exactly did he hear this information from?
"... I'm sorry, Mr. Rhode. I don't know what you're talking about." In the end, Viktor didn't answer Rhode's question.
Rhode wasn't too surprised as he expected that Viktor wouldn't reveal anything to him. If the content of the letter was similar to the one that Rhode had remembered, soon, the Royal Highness would give him a satisfactory answer anyway.
Rhode accepted Viktor's noncooperation, but Mini Bubble Gum let out a snort. "Hmph, who do you think you are. If it wasn't for Big Sister who discovered you and brought you back, you would have long been fed to the wild jackals. What are you trying to be secretive for? Anyway, all of us know that is it regarding those idiots from the Country of L-... Urghh!"
Canary cupped Mini Bubble Gum's mouth swiftly and revealed an apologetic smile to Rhode and Viktor. Viktor gazed at the two ladies dubiously as Canary dragged Mini Bubble Gum out of the room. "Mr. Rhode, they..."
"I know what you're concerned about, Mr. Viktor," Rhode stood up as he spoke. " I don't have any intention of making you tell the truth. But I think there will be a much more honest conversation between us soon. Before that, have a good rest."
Rhode left the room while Gillian chuckled and followed her master closely.
Viktor watched the door close and he didn't speak a single word. His mind calmed down gradually, at the same time, considering the questions that he didn't have the time to consider before. At this moment, an indifferent voice sounded beside him. "Mr. Viktor, please have a good rest. Also, please let me know if you need anything."
"Ah, okay, thank you..." Viktor replied casually and he swept a glance at the owner of the voice. Then, he froze on the spot.