The powerful storm was roaring.
For Felwood, this definitely wasn't a good day to set up an encirclement.
The pitch-dark night sky hindered them from lighting their torches as they feared that those bastards would fire arrows towards them from above. There was no sound apart from the pitter-pattering of the heavy downpour and there was nothing recognizable other than the outline of the dark clouds. Felwood was worried if the bunch of runaways had escaped successfully. However, it was most likely that those runaways would have fallen to their deaths even before they were killed by Felwood's men.
"Damn it..." Felwood grumbled as he pressed his ear against the wet ground to hear for any slightest, rhythmic sound. Those runaways could try to escape from them, but Felwood's group was filled with the sharp, experienced elites of the Country of Light Parliament. Felwood knew how important this mission was and if he succeeded, he could break away from his predicament and hide in a warm, comfortable room like that old bastard, Worchester. Worchester was drinking and hugging women leisurely while commanding Felwood to lay flat on the ground between the rocks and dead wood. "Enjoy what you have and only heavens know whether you will get your retribution," Felwood grunted once more.
Suddenly, an inaudible wind blew in Felwood's face and left him quivering. He squinted and scanned all around him cautiously but there was nothing out of the ordinary. He gripped the pendant hanging before his chest and in an instant, the pitch-black surroundings lit up as though the afternoon sun had emerged. Every inch of grass, wood, and sand appeared distinctly before him. He gazed at the hill, but there were no creatures roaming about.
It must have been my hallucination.
At this moment, yet another cold wind blew in Felwood's face. He touched his cheek while releasing the pendant from his palm. Soon, the scenery before his eyes returned to its usual darkness and the man pressed his ear against the ground once more.
Rhode stopped moving.
He gazed from above and the vivid lives were as glaring as the signals reflected off an infrared detector. They were scattered on a hillside near their targets like scorpions lurking in the cracks between rocks and waiting for their prey.
Rhode recalled the scenes from when he confronted the Country of Light's Parliament in the game. His group had often faced sneak attacks from those bastards after they cleared numerous dungeons. As a result, Rhode was experienced in sneaking through their surveillance network. He turned around and disappeared into the shadows. In the next moment, he emerged above another boulder and at the same time, he secretly escaped the search of another man.
If it weren't for the storm and pitch-black night sky, perhaps he wouldn't have snuck in so easily.
Rhode dashed ahead like shredded pieces of paper fluttering against the strong winds and arrived at the entrance of a pitch-black cave. In the blink of an eye, Rhode blended into the dark cave silently.
"Phew..." Rhode leaned against the rock wall and caught his breath. As he was wiping the rainwater on his mask, Viktor staggered into the cave in black clothes that blended him into one with the storm.
Rhode swept a glance at the tiny, dim gemstone sculpture hanging before Viktor's chest.
"Wow, I didn't expect you to be faster than me," said Viktor in amazement.
"You're rather fast too." Rhode nodded in response. Viktor realized that this wasn't a suitable time for a leisurely chat. He picked up a stone from the ground and struck the wall several times. Grk grk grk. Crisp, rhythmic sound transmitted along the cave walls. After a while, soft echoes resounded.
"Alright, everything is fine," Viktor heaved a sigh of relief before beckoning for Rhode.
Viktor lit up the cave with a dull magical radiance in his hand. The completely natural cave had stalactites hanging high above and pathed with corroded rocks. However, there were also man-made, dangerous metallic materials hidden among the rocks.
The duo took a short ten minutes and arrived at the end of the cave. Unlike the pitch-dark night sky, the blazing bonfire brightened a ten meters squared area. Mercenaries in full armor held on to their weapons as they sat around the bonfire while watching the cave exit attentively. All of them heaved sighs of relief after witnessing Viktor's arrival. They exchanged glances and put down their weapons. Then, a man clad in a Thief attire stood up and greeted Viktor. "Phew, Boss, you are finally back. We are so worried about you..." The man paused and frowned upon realizing that Rhode was standing behind Viktor. He scanned Rhode with dubious eyes. "That man is..."
"Oh, he is..." Rhode scanned everyone from head to toe while Viktor explained to his men. Apart from these mercenaries, there were four to five men in robes and about 40 to 50 years of age that looked seemingly out of place. Among them, there was also an exhausted old man with a white beard and a full head of white, resting with his eyes shut.
That should be the Chairman of the Soraka Mountain Parliament.
Viktor finished explaining the background of Rhode's group. Without a doubt, he didn't mention Rhode's true identity because, after all, even Viktor came to Soraka Mountain with an alias. Besides, this wasn't an appropriate moment to come clean about it too. He mentioned to his men that Rhode was a reliable ally and explained Rhode's plan in details. All in all, Viktor's men played important roles in this mission and if they couldn't execute accordingly, this entire plan would be wasted.
"Are we going off now?" One of the mercenaries asked anxiously.
Sure enough, they revealed hesitant expressions after listening to Viktor's words. Although they were mentally prepared to move out, the dark, aggressive storm was somewhat intimidating. Not to mention, they had no idea where their enemies might be lurking and even though this storm might be a hindrance to the enemies, wasn't it the same for them?
One of the men in robes broke the silence. "Mr. Solard, must we leave now? Our Chairman hasn't been feeling too well and if we leave now, I'm afraid Chairman won't be able to take it... Besides, what if the enemies trap us outside?
"Don't worry about this, Mr. Silas," assured Viktor.
'Solard'-it seemed that this was Viktor's alias.
Before Rhode and Viktor headed towards this cave, Rhode explained the current situation to Viktor and he understood why Rhode chose to leave at such a timing.
"You guys have been here for several days and they still weren't able to spot you. From what we observed, most likely they can't increase their manpower anymore. Under such circumstances, if we choose to break out of their encirclement, they would definitely cut off our leeway to prevent us from hiding again if we fail. Moreover, it is extremely hard for them to shoot arrows at us in this horrible weather and as long as we are prepared, there shouldn't be too many dangers. Besides..." Viktor paused and gazed at the elderly man in the middle with a frown, "While I was away, I heard that they gained control over half the city and the entire Soraka Mountain is in chaos. If Mr. Chairman doesn't get back in time for the parliament meeting, perhaps the situation will take a turn for the worse..."
"What?!" The men in robes exclaimed as they had never thought that Soraka Mountain would end up in this state.
"I'm going." A frail, solemn voice sounded suddenly. The elderly man opened his eyes and stood up with the support of another man's arm. "Soraka Mountain is in danger and we can't allow this to happen. There's not much time before the parliament meeting begins, so rather than being overcautious, we should move out right now! What is a weary old body like mine compared to the entirety of Soraka Mountain? I will crawl my way back if I have to and show those people who have been blinded by power and interest. As long as I'm around, I won't allow them to mess with Soraka Mountain!"
"Mr. Chairman!" The men in robes gazed at the Chairman anxiously and words couldn't leave their mouths under his imposing gaze.
Viktor seized the chance to join in and tried to dispel everyone's concern. "Don't worry, everyone, the companion that came with me brought along some skillful Clerics. As long as we can break through their encirclement, we can request for the Clerics to heal Chairman's condition. Trust me, there shouldn't be any problems."
"R-Really?" The men in robes were relieved after hearing Viktor's words. They turned towards Rhode hurriedly with hopes of receiving a definite answer. Rhode remained silent and only nodded in response while the men in robes heaved sighs of relief.
"Alright then, I will need all your help... Sorry for not introducing ourselves..." The Chairman spoke with a smile.
"Ah, please pardon my friend. He is a little odd and doesn't like to reveal his name. Call him..." Viktor paused for a moment while his men detected a slight twitch in their guild leader's facial muscle as though he was having a hard time finding an answer. Then, Viktor answered confidently. "Masked Man will do."
"..." The entire cave fell into an awkward silence because this name was too strange. But the first to respond was still the Chairman. After all, the senior had seen all sorts of things in life and he accepted the decision of not revealing his name.
The Chairman nodded towards the 'Masked Man' and bowed slightly. "Sorry to trouble you, Mr. Masked Man. For the future of Soraka Mountain... I will guarantee a grand appreciation in return if everyone can bring us back safely."
Rhode didn't respond to the Chairman and he beckoned for Viktor to leave. Viktor turned around and commanded his men. "Alright, get ready. We're leaving now!"
As the night sky darkened, the storm had gotten stronger. As the group approached the exit, ferocious raindrops struck the ground like stones. Many of them hesitated, but Rhode walked straight out into the darkness. Viktor gritted his teeth and although this wasn't the first time he engaged in such a dangerous mission, he still couldn't shake off his nervousness. Viktor focused his attention forward before ordering his men. "Light up!"
Viktor's mercenaries lit the oil lamps and lifted them high up as they strode out of the cave.
The weak, dim flames were as though hopeless boats struggling on the strong waves. But these flames were more than sufficient for those who were stationed here to spot.
"Are they out?!" Felwood widened his eyes at the dim radiances above him. He rubbed his eyes and reaffirmed himself. "Yes, those aren't stars or bolts of lightning. Those are the radiance of oil lamps. Do they really think that they can escape?"
"What should we do, Leader Felwood?" Felwood's man asked anxiously.
"Go check it out!" ordered Felwood. It was impossible for his men to threaten the Chairman's group with arrows under this powerful storm. Fortunately for Felwood, he had about 60 men in the perimeter whereas the Chairman's group had only about a dozen. Do they think they can break through and escape my blockade at the bottom of the mountain using the nature as cover? However, it would become so much harder to capture them if they really do manage to escape into the forest.
Could it be that these guys are luring me to attack?
"If those bastards have no intentions of leaving the cave, you guys continue to monitor. But if they are a distance away from the cave... encircle them entirely and prevent them from returning back into their safety nest. Since the mice are finally out to play, we won't give them an easy time. Understand?" ordered Felwood.
"Yes, Leader!" Felwood's man acknowledged and vanished in a split second. Felwood gripped on the dagger hilt by his waist.
The roaring storm was as though a monster bellowing and signifying an upcoming bloodbath.