Viktor continued to explain. "I heard from the peddler by the city entrance that the entire city has been blocked off since two days ago. The reason was that Soraka Mountain has been chaotic recently and in order to maintain order in the city for parliament meeting, the entire city needs to be blocked off entirely. No one is allowed to roam freely. In order words, even if we manage to sneak into the city successfully, we are likely to be spotted by guards. This will expose our whereabouts entirely and everything will be done for."
Although there might be supporters of the Chairman among the guards, this would need to rely on their luck. At this point in time, they couldn't afford to gamble, but they had to enter the city first.
The city entrance was blocked off and guards filled the city walls above. The atmosphere of the entire city was as tense as a siege. In this situation, they could give up the thought of sneaking their way into the city easily. Not to mention, they had to face the patrols roaming around the streets even if they managed to enter the city. Furthermore, the tighter security around the Mithril Hall was bound to give them even more trouble. But, there was not much time left before the start of the parliament meeting!
"We have half a day left," Viktor spoke anxiously. No matter how cool-headed he was, he could no longer maintain his calmness at this juncture. They finally had the chance to turn things around, but they would be done for if they failed at this last hurdle. He stared at the towering walls helplessly. If the city entrance opened, he could sneak Rhode and the Chairman's group in by creating a mess. However, the gate of the city entrance was tightly sealed and didn't budge at all. Moreover, their current scarce manpower wasn't enough to trigger them into opening the gate... What should I do?
"Mr. Chairman, are there no secret pathways into the city?" asked Viktor anxiously.
"There..." The Chairman knitted his brows and pondered for a few moments. "Indeed, there is one. Maybe we can give it a try!"
"Are your enemies aware of this secret path?" A glimmer of hope shone in Viktor's eyes.
"Only the parliament members are aware of this secret path. But..." The Chairman paused. Without a doubt, he knew why Viktor asked him this question. If their enemies knew about this secret path, they would definitely be prepared. But they didn't have any other choices now. Therefore, Viktor could only give it a shot even though the answer that the Chairman gave him wasn't up to his expectations.
According to the Chairman, the significant secret path was located in the dense forest behind Soraka Mountain. It wasn't near the borders of the Country of Darkness or Country of Light. Instead, it was situated across the river from the Munn Kingdom. This reflected Soraka Mountain's attitude towards their neighboring countries. As Soraka Mountain had an unusual surrounding with one massive city and numerous mines, it meant that Soraka Mountain City would be a goner if there was a need for parliament members to escape through the secret path. There wouldn't be a chance for them to retaliate and they would be devoured completely.
The secret path was located far from the Country of Darkness and Country of Light, which showed how insecure Soraka Mountain City felt with them. On the contrary, they felt on closer terms with the Munn Kingdom.
"This..." In the end, Viktor's hunch came true. The Chairmen led the group to the entrance of an ordinary cave hidden in the forest and they were dumbfounded. The deep, dark cave had been blocked off by large rocks.
"This is really problematic..." Viktor sucked in a deep, cold breath. He clenched his fists while staring at the boulder. Although it was possible for them to clear the tall, stacked rocks, it would require precious time, which they lacked the most now. By the time they removed them and managed to sneak into the city through the secret path, the meeting would long be over.
But what other choices were there?
Time was almost up.
The corners of Rhode's mouth twitched and he gestured to everyone before approaching Viktor. "Mr. Viktor, is there any other way?"
"No," Viktor replied with a bitter look. He was at his wit's end and his usual smiley face was replaced with misery. Viktor spread his arms apart and shrugged his shoulders. Although strictly speaking, Viktor had other riskier plans, he wouldn't resort to them unless necessary as these plans relied on luck and they should only be chosen in the face of death.
But this current situation seemed about the same now.
Rhode scanned Viktor from head to toe before turning his gaze towards the Chairman's group. The happiness of escaping death was no longer present on their faces. Instead, it was replaced with despair and fatigue. Even the elderly man was panting and his bent-over body seemed as though a weak flame in a blizzard that could extinguish at any time. Even if the Chairman received treatment from the Clerics, it was still a tough task to rush this way under such a treacherous weather. At this point in time, it was great enough that he made it this far.
"I'll take over from here," Rhode announced.
"Eh?" Viktor gaped and widened his eyes. "Could it be... you have a solution, Mr. Rhode?"
"The meeting will be held in the Mithril Hall, right? If that's the case, I do know a way that can lead us there. Please get your men ready. Meanwhile, I need to brief mine," explained Rhode.
"Ah... Okay," Viktor gazed at the pitch-black mask foolishly and answered a few seconds later. Although he wondered how Rhode learned about the situation of Soraka Mountain, this was not the main issue that he was concerned about now. It would be more than enough for Viktor if Rhode really knew a way to lead them into Mithril Hall.
Viktor nodded and turned around swiftly. Meanwhile, Rhode approached his men.
"Leader, when can Anne take down this irritating mask? It's so uncomfortable," Anne grumbled as she hopped from the side. Got to say, this pitch-black mask didn't match Anne's lively and ringing voice at all. In order to conceal their identities after arriving at Soraka Mountain, Rhode had forbidden them from interacting with the Chairman and Viktor's groups. Although Lize and Marlene had no qualms about this arrangement, it was torturous for Anne. Not to mention, Rhode had even forbidden Anne from speaking whenever there were outsiders around due to her unique speaking habits. Anne was obedient and she didn't speak a word before any outsiders. It was really difficult for her to be this patient.
"Bear with it a little more, Anne, we are almost done with this mission soon. After this, I will treat you to some tasty food. How about it?" Rhode patted on Anne's head.
Anne exclaimed excitedly. "Really? If Anne bears with it, Leader will treat Anne to any tasty food?"
"Uh..." For unknown reasons, Rhode felt a chill down his spine as soon as he heard the word 'any'. But, he eventually nodded forcefully. Anne cheered softly and hopped her way away from Rhode. At this moment, Rhode shrugged before gesturing to his men.
"Randolf, I have an important mission for you. From now on, your team will set up an ambush and observe the paths that we took. I'm concerned that those guys will send men to comb the mountains for the Chairman's group again. If they receive any news, they will definitely report it back to the city and if you find anyone heading towards the city in the same direction as us..." Rhode swung his right arm downwards. "Kill them on the spot cleanly. If you find any intel on their corpses, inform me immediately. Your team can then return to the Fortress after receiving my confirmation. All's good?"
"Yes, Sir," Randolf nodded sternly before re-adjusting his bow and backing down. The Ranger beckoned to his team and soon, a dozen fully armored mercenaries vanished into the dense forest.
Rhode turned around after Randolf's group left entirely. "Joey, it may get dangerous soon, so get your men to stay vigilant. Also, look after those guys around the Chairman because I don't wish to see them screwing up during a crucial juncture. I have discussed this with Viktor and you guys just have to observe secretly. Understand?"
"No problem, Boss. Leave it to me," Joey replied diligently.
"Marlene, Anne, and Lize," Rhode turned to the three young ladies who were waiting for his command. "The three of you have much more important roles. Marlene, you have to look out for yourself. Lize, I hope you can focus all attention on the elderly Chairman and protect him if there are any dangers. Anne, you're in charge of shielding Marlene and Lize. Most importantly, don't speak and don't reveal your identities. All of you should know how important this is."
"..." All three of them nodded quietly. Lize and Marlene were aware of their unique identities and were mentally prepared for this. As for Anne... Rhode's promise to her seemed to be effective.
Viktor led the Chairman towards Rhode and the elderly man seemed rather helpless.
It seemed that things weren't going well.
Rhode knitted his brows and gestured for everyone to get ready. Then, he approached Viktor and the Chairman. "Mr. Chairman has some questions for you," said Viktor.
"..." Rhode gazed at the Chairman quietly. Although the elderly man seemed thin and weak, he lifted his head towards Rhode with determination. In his eyes, there was a kind of unique stubbornness and tenacity that only mountain people had. "I heard... You have a way to let us enter Mithril Hall?"
"..." Rhode continued to remain silent and nodded. The elderly man puckered his brows slightly. Rhode understood his doubts and hesitations, but this was also within his expectations. He wasn't worried about being suspected because he had hidden his identity. "Can you tell me where that place is?"
"..." Rhode pointed ahead and stopped paying attention to the elderly man as he walked forward. Even though Viktor gaped and tried to provide an explanation to the Chairman, the elderly man gestured while staring at the black figure. After a few moments, he turned around and followed Rhode.
Rhode walked past the blocked secret path and stopped by a tall mountain stream. There was a crack eroded by natural weathering. On the outside, it seemed to be wide enough for one to two people. Furthermore, the gap was deep and the steep mountain wall was easily visible. Everyone gathered around Rhode curiously.
Rhode ignored the curious gazes behind him. He lifted his head and scanned the crack. He began to recall the mission information that he had read in the forums regarding 'Soraka Mountain Historical Research'. That was an archaeological mission and players conducted a search in the undergrounds to prove that the original Soraka Mountain was formed by the Dwarfs who migrated from Silver Mountain... According to the documents, the passage that connected the underground ancient Dwarf ruins and Mithril Hall should be here...
Rhode entered the crack and adjusted his body to the side.
"Ah!" Everyone shrieked in astonishment. Rhode entered the narrow crack and disappeared in full view!
What's going on?
Viktor rushed forward hurriedly and widened his eyes as soon as he stood at the position where Rhode was. On his side, a wide cave entrance presented itself quietly. From the front, it seemed just like an ordinary hole, but when one looked inside from the entrance of the crack, one could see the towering walls on both sides without any shadows in the cave.
This was simply a manifestation of nature's ingenuity. Or perhaps, it wasn't that simple.
Viktor gazed into the pitch-black cave in front of him and hesitated. However, he beckoned quickly and entered the cave.
It was five hours before the start of the parliament meeting.