"Argh..." Rhode struggled to open his eyes. The blurry duskiness before his eyes left his head spinning and almost every part of his body from his limbs to internal organs seemed to be screaming sorrowfully with any slightest movement. Not only that, the soreness and gastric juices in his stomach surged and he almost threw up.
A flawlessly white radiance shone on him.
Rhode felt his body restoring itself. The tormenting pain was as though snow that melted under the intense heat of the merciful sun. Rhode let out a moan and his clear vision slowly returned.
"Ah, Leader, you're finally awake? That's great. I thought it was too late." Bubble's adorable face was the first to reflect in Rhode's eyes. She gazed at Rhode with round, widened eyes and heaved a glad sigh. Rhode looked over the other side and found Canary's slightly stern expression turning into a smile.
The scene before his eyes left him somewhat despondent. He felt as though he was still in the gaming world where he was revived by Bubble after getting killed in a dungeon mission. He stood back up and watched as his men gathered around him and prepare for the next move of action after the distribution of rewards...
"I'm..." Rhode tried to stand up, but his knees gave way and he kneeled back to the ground.
He lifted his head and gazed at Bubble beside him with puckered brows while the young lady shrugged her shoulders hopelessly. "I don't know how you pushed yourself to this extent, Leader. But, Leader, you're very very weak now. To be honest, it is a miracle that you can still survive... I casted three 'Life Praises' on you, but, for whatever reason, it doesn't seem to be able to heal you fully."
"Is that so?" Rhode's heart sank after hearing Bubble's explanation. The 'Life Praise' was the most powerful healing spell of Clerics. Not only was it able to revive one to maximum health, but it could also expel every curse on one's body. Rhode was very familiar with this common show-saving spell in the later parts of the game. However, according to Bubble, she had cast three 'Life Praises' on him and yet he was still in so much pain. This showed that there might really be something wrong with his body condition.
Rhode opened the system interface and the first thing that he observed was the vermilion icon representing his health status which was just slightly better than death. Rhode sought his answer listed beside the icon.
[Body overloaded. Plunged into a state of fatigue. Weak (10H). Recoverable. Incurable. Cannot be dispelled]
"Phew..." 10H represented the time of the Dragon Soul and it meant 100 hours. In other words, based on this, he could fully recover after recuperating for four to five days which was wonderful news. After all, he broke through into the Legendary Stage with an Elite physical body and had been overworking his body to its extreme.
However, Rhode's mood didn't turn for the better. He tensed up right after letting out a sigh because, at this moment, a horrifying prediction emerged deep in his heart. He lifted his head and gazed at the both of them uneasily.
"S-Sir?" Corina called out to Rhode in a baffling tone. Got to say, ever since this Moon Elf lady crossed into here from the Intersection Boundary, she had endured frights constantly. She was almost squashed flat by the Duke Fiend and thereafter, two young, yet extremely formidable young ladies around the age of 16 appeared out of nowhere and defeated the hateful, chaotic presence easily. Corina thought that these were more than enough for her heart to withstand, but she didn't expect that the most startling fact was at this moment. After Bubble removed Rhode's mask and proceeded to heal his wounds, Corina realized that this 'Sir' was actually a woman!
Even though Bubble explained Rhode's true gender quickly, Corina found it difficult to accept after witnessing his face that might even be more beautiful than the Elves. Rhode struggled to tilt his head upwards while Corina gaped. However, Corina didn't expect that Rhode disregarded her totally and stared at the other two young ladies instead.
"Which one of you has searched its corpse!?"
"..." Canary and Bubble exchanged glances and shook their heads. "We haven't begun the search yet, Rhode."
"Phew..." Rhode let out a long sigh of relief because Canary and Mini Bubble Gum were known as the most notorious 'Unlucky Duo' in his guild. No matter how powerful the BOSS was, they would always obtain the most disgusting and useless artifacts...
The most profound memory of Rhode's was in the early days of the game. The Duke Vampire, known for its collection of countless magical treasures and also praised by the players as the "Walking Treasure Chest", was destroyed by Rhode's group after a long, gruesome battle. For the first time ever in the game's history, Canary obtained a plain, meaningless artifact and also an Elite artifact! Not only did the entire group almost die from vomiting their guts out at this horrible result, but someone also screenshotted and uploaded into the forums and turned Starlight into a laughing stock for a period of time.
Rhode spent so much effort and even acted as a bait for the damn Duke Fiend to be lured into his territory. It wasn't for the sake of some useless artifacts!
"Bubble, you go!"
"Me?" Bubble shrieked before shaking her head hastily like a rattle-drum. "I'm not doing it, Leader. I can't find anything good and you know that."
"I know, but you're definitely more reliable than Canary in this, right?"
"... Rhode? Don't you think that I will be sad hearing this right in front of my face?"
"I will be even more sad if I can't get anything good from this. After a while, the Duke Fiend's corpse will be removed from this world by the Orderly Forcefield and it's our priority to search for our loot. Forget it, I'll do it myself... Argh..."
"Waaaa, Leader, how are you gonna search when you can't even walk now? Why not... we get someone with 'lucky hands' to do it?"
"Is that fine? We're not in a team..."
"Aiya, this isn't a game, Elder Sister. We shall see how Leader decides..."
"Yes!" Rhode's eyes glistened after hearing Bubble's suggestion. "Get Marlene here. Now. Within one minute!"
"Okay, Rhode, I'm going now!" Canary stood up immediately and vanished into thin air as a radiant ray flashed upon her.
Rhode sat up and gazed at the huge pile of black, filthy dust left behind by the Duke Fiend before observing the surroundings. The Elderly Mage was laying unconsciously and according to Bubble, she placed Rhode as the priority for her healing and the Elderly Mage was placed last. Fortunately, he wasn't too badly injured. Spotting Corina on the other side, Rhode nodded to her slightly in acknowledgment, but she responded awkwardly. Rhode wasn't too bothered by her strange behavior because this time, he had exposed his true abilities before this Moon Elf lady entirely. A person like Sereck who had just stepped into the Master Stage couldn't see through Canary and Mini Bubble Gum's true strength. However, it was impossible that Corina couldn't sense the supreme powers from both of them. Rhode only hoped that this Moon Elf lady could keep hush and not spread this matter out... Even though there wouldn't be too many believers.
In the Dragon Soul Continent, the maximum level of players was always changing. At the beginning, the maximum was level 50. It was later altered to level 85 after several updates where the Creator Dragon Souls were born and the awakened Void Dragon from the 'Deepest Labyrinth' led its civilians and destroyed the entire continent. This also pushed players to the same level as the Elemental Lords. They possessed 'Supreme Privileges' and could build their own world with their own rules in the limitless multiverse.
Without a doubt, this boundary was divided by the players' levels and if it was divided according to the Dragon Soul Continent, it would be shortened into two words: 'Beyond Legendary'
That wasn't a standard which the aborigines could obtain. Those who could enter the 'Beyond Legendary' and obtain the [Elemental Heart] were nothing less than the legendary characters such as Lydia who was one of the three Archangels and Gillian who was the Fire Elemental Lord. Of course, even though players could reach the same level as them, it didn't mean that they were qualified to possess the same amount of strength as Lydia and Gillian. The [Supreme Privilege] which players possessed was classified as the [Rule Heart] and not the [Elemental Heart]. The Rule World which they created was much smaller than those of the aborigines. Furthermore, after exceeding the levels of 'Beyond Legendary', it became almost as 'One Level One Step'. Take Mini Bubble Gum and Canary as an example. They could take on Gillian if they were equipped with proper equipment. However, without the equipment, five to six of them were required to fight Gillian.
As for Lydia? Even with god-like equipment, it would be wishful thinking if one didn't form a 25-man team against her.
If this were calculated according to a pure level of strength, Canary and Bubble's strength were stronger than the Queen Elf's. Rhode wasn't aware of Corina's thoughts on this, but he couldn't do anything about it. Soon, Rhode threw this matter to the back of his head and he began to consider another matter.
"Where's Di and his bodyguard?" He gazed at Mini Bubble Gum and communicated with her spiritually.
"I did sense the aura of death. But those two fellows are sneakier than I thought. They escaped while Elder Sister and I were dealing with the Duke Fiend."
"Tch!" Rhode gritted his teeth. The biggest reason why he lured Di into providing support for him was that he had planned to eliminate them. After all, Di would be an important character in the later stages of the Country of Darkness and even though there were plenty of powerful beings in that country who were stronger than Di, in terms of the schemes and commanding within the army, Di was a first-class troublemaker. Rhode harbored the thought of letting Bubble and Canary annihilating them, but he didn't expect that this bastard was still so sneaky. Perhaps he had chosen to flee after sensing something was wrong.
"Rhode?!" A glaring beam shone and both Canary and Marlene emerged before his eyes. Marlene was baffled as soon as she saw Rhode. Although Mini Bubble Gum's spells had pulled Rhode from the hands of the Grim Reaper, his condition wasn't looking great as he leaned on the three feebly, blood stains all over his clothes. A while ago, Canary had rushed into Marlene's room anxiously and dragged her away before she could even react. Could it be that Rhode wishes to see me one last time?
What's happening? What exactly happened?! Could it be that Rhode...
"Rhode!" Marlene lifted the ends of her skirt and scuttled towards Rhode. But at this moment, Rhode lifted his hand and gestured.
"Not here, Marlene. Go! There's no more time left!" Rhode exclaimed and coughed up a mouthful of blood while pointing to the Duke Fiend's corpse behind Marlene weakly. Although he knew that Marlene was worried sick, the Orderly Forcefield was restoring gradually. He wouldn't die anytime soon, but he would die of anger if those precious loots were gone!
"Eh?" Marlene stared at Rhode blankly. Her mind was in a daze... What exactly is going on?
"Miss Marlene, please hurry up. There's nothing critical about Leader, but, we need your help to search for loot in the pile of dust back there, alright?" As Rhode's best partner, Canary sensed Marlene's worries and added on hurriedly.
"Ah... I see... Okay..." Marlene wasn't an emotional person and even though she lost her calm for a moment, she understood the importance of this matter after witnessing Rhode's rare nervous expression. She turned around and scampered toward the pile of dust. Of course, Mini Bubble Gum hadn't forgotten to cast an Order Protection spell on her to prevent the Chaos Forcefield from contaminating her.
On the other hand, Corina was flabbergasted. From the start, she wasn't sure of what Rhode's group was debating about. She vaguely guessed from their behaviors and words that they were discussing who should sweep for the loot. Although this was also an important and honorable part of the battle, Corina thought that these people were exaggerating. In terms of identity, all of them had the right to do it, yet they specially brought a Mage in the Middle Circle here to do it?
Is this just a weird human custom?
Rhode was relieved after Marlene began to search in the pile of dust. He stretched his arm to accept a healing potion from Canary. Even though the healing potions that Lapis had concocted carried a soothing effect, they weren't able to heal his injuries.
Rhode was mentally prepared that he might become crippled or a human vegetable. However, it seemed that magic was simply too great in this illogical world. Of course, this might also have something to do with his amazing physique.
"Rhode?" Marlene completed her task swiftly. After all, it didn't require any technical skills to search for loot and moreover, there was merely some residual dust left after the Duke Fiend had been purified by the holy light. As Marlene displayed the handful of artifacts before Rhode's eyes, he almost coughed out another mouthful of blood. There was a pitch-black ring, a silver-whitish necklace embedded with a red gem, a bracer forged from brass, and a gray leather package. Although Rhode couldn't figure out the quality of material from its appearance, he could feel its solid texture and a strange aura from it.
Suddenly, their eyes almost popped out of their sockets.
"Oh my goodness!" Mini Bubble Gum was the first to yell and she scanned Marlene from her head to toe as though she were a monster. "How can you have such a good luck? I'm so envious, jealous, and furious!"
"H-Huh? M-Mis, Bubble?" Marlene was stunned by Bubble's reaction.
"Rhode," Canary scanned the artifacts that Marlene handed over with a stern expression. She gazed at Rhode firmly and said. "I strongly suggest that you bring Miss Marlene along whenever you leave home. This way, I can guarantee that within two years, Starlight will reach the honorable standards of our previous guild in terms of artifacts."
"I agree," Rhode nodded and answered in a solemn tone.