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 Marlene placed the book down gently.

She lifted her head and gazed at the room stacked with thick, ancient books. Under the beaming magical radiance, this luxuriously-decorated room gave her a sense of security. Princess-like bed with scarlet satin, velvety mattress and tall bookshelves by the side-this was Marlene's room before she left Golden City.

Incredible.

Marlene smiled as she slid her fingers across the books gently. She had grown up here since she was born and she still remembered facing the wide, french window while practicing her aristocratic etiquette. She also recalled sitting in front of bookshelves that were much taller than her as she struggled to flip over the ancient magical books made of thick papers. She couldn't forget the scenes when her magical practices succeeded or failed. All these memories should have been clearer than water in her mind, but instead, Marlene felt somewhat unfamiliar when she returned to this room and she had even suspected she entered the wrong room. Her room wasn't this clean, gorgeous, and peaceful and there should have been a dense green forest and baby-blue clouds floating above outside the windows. Then, she quickly realized that that room belonged in the Land of Atonement and not here.

It's so strange. I've lived here for most of my life and it actually feels so unfamiliar compared to the room I stayed in for less than half a year.

"Marlene." A deep male voice sounded and Marlene turned around hurriedly to greet the senior politely. "Father... Long time no see."

The senior revealed a lonely, yet proud smile. "Yes... It's been a while, my child. Even though you didn't leave Golden City for a long time, it feels like a decade for me. But I'm glad to see that you're living a happy life."

Marlene lowered her head and gazed at her feet shyly. Even though her Father didn't specifically mention any names, Rhode was the first person she thought of instantly. In the beginning, Marlene thought that Rhode was the fated one that she needed to serve for her life and back then, she had a sense of curiosity and duty towards him. But as time slowly went by, Marlene realized that her feelings toward that man had changed. A change in affections that she had never experienced before.

"My daughter has grown up..." The senior gazed at Marlene proudly. As her Father, he definitely didn't ignore what his daughter truly wanted to hide. Although the Senia Family always followed their ancient rules and he, as the Patriarch of the family, had to set an example, Marlene was his only child and nobody expected her to be in misfortune with her intelligence, beauty, and obedience. Although it was said that if sacrifices were to be made and the Patriarch would inevitably choose to sacrifice Marlene, it was impossible for him to feel no contradiction in his heart.

And now, seeing that his daughter was safe and sound and living without any sorrow, the Patriarch felt at ease entirely.

Chicks would eventually need to leave their nest.

"Alright, my daughter, I'm here to praise you. You performed well during the Ring of Magic meeting and we have unanimously decided to try out the 'Final Pike' for this internal battle. You shall be their commander and represent the Senia Family. I think this should be an easy task for you, right?"

"Of course, Father." Marlene revealed a confident look of determination. "I promise you that I will live up to our family's expectations. This is my obligation and also my duty."

"You're still as eager as ever." The senior caressed her long hair and held her shoulder. "Marlene, you're still young and you shouldn't bear all the responsibilities by yourself. We all know what Royal Highness Lydia wants to do, so..." The senior paused for a while. And when he was about to continue, Marlene smiled and shook her head. "I understand what you mean, Father. In fact, I have discussed this matter with Rhode before I returned home. I understand that this battle will not end that easily. At least for now, we do not have a reason to end this battle as soon as possible."

"Oh?" The senior's eyes brightened. "He said that?"

"Yes, Father." Marlene nodded and revealed a proud expression. Indeed, before Marlene headed back into Golden City, she had discussed the current situation with Rhode. Back then, Rhode had reminded her that there was a possibility that Royal Highness Lydia wouldn't end this battle quickly. Marlene couldn't really understand, however, most of the things that she heard and observed after she returned to Golden City confirmed Rhode's guesses. "That's why you don't need to worry about me. I am the heir of the Senia Family and since this is my fate, I will bear the corresponding responsibilities. This is my choice and I've never regretted from the start."

"I understand now..." Gazing at the young lady's shimmering, determined eyes, the senior nodded with a satisfied smile. "It seems that you're very confident in him. Frankly speaking, I'm confident in him too. So then, my daughter. Since you've decided, have you thought of your next step? I have received news that he arrived at the Cloud Summit Fortress with his subordinates after repelling the Reformist Party. If you want to head over there, you should get ready soon."

Marlene didn't respond immediately this time. Instead, she pondered for a while before lifting her head again. "That's not necessary, Father. I've chosen my destination-Flourishing Blossom. I will bring the 'Final Pike' there for the defense aid mission."

"Oh?" the Patriarch squinted. "Why would you choose to go to that terrible place? If you don't intend to meet him, I suggest you go to Berwana instead. They're facing the frontline of the Reformist Party and I can request the Chief there to take care of you..."

"That's not necessary, but thanks for your concern, Father." Marlene shook her head. "Although I don't intend to meet Rhode, I, after all, am his adjutant. As an adjutant, coordinating with my superior's operations is my duty. Besides, heading into Flourishing Blossom will be a good choice for me."

Marlene pressed on her wrist and stroked the colorful bracelet.

I wonder how's Lize doing...

At this moment, the young lady that Marlene was thinking about was feeling dispirited and uncertain. She trembled in fear as she sat before a map presented on the table as though it were a profound exam question.

"Do you understand, Little Lize? You, as an adjutant, aren't only responsible for passing on Master's orders, but also notice things that Master overlooks. Master doesn't have three heads and six arms, so he can't attend to everything personally, understand? As an adjutant, your responsibility is to help Master notice things that he overlooks and make amendments."

"B-But..." Lize looked at Gillian who was smiling craftily. "What if I misjudge the situation? What if I think too much and in turn, mess up Mr. Rhode's orders?"

"If you're always thinking about these, you will forever not be able to assume personal responsibility, Lize," Rhode replied firmly as he scanned at the military map that the garrison had provided them. Of course, in this era, there was nothing to clearly mark the latitude and longitude. Therefore, the map appeared to be rough and crude. However, Rhode didn't need to rely on the map because he had been to the Cloud Summit more than once and it could be said that he understood this place more than the garrison. The most important purpose of this map was to train Lize's map reading skills and no matter if she was willing or not, she had to assume her personal responsibilities in the end. "Don't forget, you have Clerics under your lead. Even if you're not my adjutant, you must also be responsible for their lives. This is the truth that you should've faced a long time ago, Lize..."

At this moment, Joey entered the tent with a strange expression. He gazed at Gillian and Lize before finally turning towards Rhode. "B-Boss, sorry to disturb you... That... Commander of the Cloud Summit Fortress wants to have a chat with you."

"Oh? Invite him in, then."

"No, erm... Boss, he wants you to speak to him outside..."

Rhode knitted his brows and stood up. "Alright, I will go over now."

Rhode exited the tent and he spotted the figure outside the mercenaries' camp almost instantly. It wasn't because Rhode paid close attention to him; instead, it was because the man was too eye-catching. A full head of messy, upright fiery-red hair, filthy attire, and a face full of wild beard stubble. This unsophisticated man in the commander uniform stood there sloppily.

Rhode took a closer look at him and he displayed a look of disgust instantly.

Damn it, why is it him!

Rhode knew this man as a future high-ranking military officer of the Munn Kingdom: 'Red Fox' Garcia.

He was born in poverty and joined the army at an early age. Then, he was promoted step by step and finally became an outstanding general of the Munn Kingdom. Similar to Rhode, this person was best at gaining surprising victories and neither of them liked to pursue frontal confrontation. Instead, they were very enthusiastic about using means such as backstabbing and drugs. In the game, Garcia fully demonstrated his ability against the Country of Darkness. He once personally led an elite force to penetrate the enemy's rear and delayed the progress of the Undead Army while protecting refugees who were escaping into Golden City successfully. But unfortunately, this Commander was lacking in strength. In the end, he didn't return safely from the rear of the Undead Army and was annihilated completely.

But even though he was a tragic hero in the Munn Kingdom, none of the players had favorable impressions on this 'Red Fox'. In fact, there were many debates surrounding this man and everyone eventually stopped calling his original nickname. Overseas players gave him the nickname 'Red Beard' while the local players harbored malicious intentions and named him 'Lord Long Yang'.

According to the players' investigations, this sloppy fellow actually liked young people. Specifically speaking, he was a pervert who liked young men.

Rhode still remembered that many players had posted on the forums and grumbled about Garcia's indecent behaviors. In fact, he also abused his official authority for his private interests and had taken advantage of many male players, leaving the male players furious and hateful towards him. In the end, almost no male player dared to accept missions where Garcia was involved.

Damn it. Although Rhode didn't know where this pervert had been mixing around before he was promoted, he shouldn't have been in the Cloud Summit!

Rhode cursed secretly. If he knew this pervert was here, he wouldn't have come to this damn place. But now... What unnecessary trouble!

Rhode sulked and approached the man like a drifting ghost. As Rhode appeared in the Red Fox's sight, Rhode saw a sudden glint in his gloomy eyes, which disgusted him. Shortly after, Garcia reacted by scratching his hair and saluting inappropriately. "Nice to meet you, dear Mr. Rhode. I am the Commander of Cloud Summit Fortress, Garcia. I represent my men to thank you for your support. I never imagined that I would see such an enthusiastic noble on the frontlines. Frankly speaking, I'm really amazed."

Garcia didn't appear to be as obscene and perverted as the rumors described him to be. Rhode gazed at him coldly and tidied his attire at the same time.

From the bystander's perspective, both of them appeared extremely different. Garcia smiled mischievously and didn't possess the solemness that a Fortress Commander should have while Rhode's expression was ice-cold, stern, and he was standing straight in his neat, flat noble attire.

"There's nothing to thank us for, Mr. Garcia," Rhode said. "I am just doing my part for the Munn Kingdom and I don't deserve your praise. Besides, the current situation is truly urgent and I hope to understand more about the deployment for the Cloud Summit. After all, the terrain here is extremely dangerous and any inattentiveness will lead to more problems. I think we should strengthen the defensive line before discussing other problems now."

"That's for sure, Mr. Rhode." Although Rhode spoke in a harsh tone and it sounded as though he was a superior giving orders to his subordinate, Garcia continued to smile cheekily and shrugged. "You're right about that. We do need to consider this... But how about spending the afternoon in the Fortress preparing a sumptuous dinner to welcome everyone's arrival and express our gratitude. By then, we can discuss the problems again. What do you think?"

"Thanks for your kind offer, but I don't think now is the time to organize such an event. The Southern Legion's threat is nearing and besides, I think the current forces in the Cloud Summit hasn't reached a stage where we can be free of worries yet."

"Of course, just as you've said, Mr. Rhode. But to be honest, it is also due to this reason that the atmosphere in the Fortress is very tense. Sure, feeling tense is necessary for soldiers. However, if we don't let them relax, they might collapse to the stress..."

Tsk. How annoying.

Rhode knitted his brows as he had enough of this man's nonsense. If it was possible, he wished to have nothing to do with him.

At this moment, as though granting Rhode's wish, a soldier ran over frantically. "Sir! Sir! Those guys are attacking again! It's the Northern defensive line this time! We can't hold on much longer!"

The smile on Garcia's face faded instantly. However, it re-emerged once again as he turned towards Rhode. "I'm sorry, Mr. Rhode. It seems that your feast will need to be postponed. If you don't mind, let's fight them together."

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