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 It was autumn in the blink of an eye.

A sea of ripe, golden wheat in the entire Grosso Plain swayed along with the breeze. Everyone would surely be moved by this picturesque view... However, there was also another meaning for Rhode.

"What a hassle..." He frowned and overlooked the 'ocean' from the hills.

It had been six days since Rhode left the Cloud Summit Fortress. This place was the most important foodstuff reserve base for the Reformist Party and it was Rhode's first target. Got to say, this journey was rather simple for him. He weaved through the trails and secret paths that he was ever familiar with and arrived in this Southern hinterland.

He was able to travel quickly without leading his men, which was extremely convenient. Besides, along with his summoned spirits, nothing could threaten him with his current level 40 Master Stage and Swordsmanship that had entered the Legendary Stage. The only flaw was that the threats were too low-level for him to farm any great equipment.

However, he didn't visit here to clear a dungeon by himself.

"Can you tell me why exactly you came here, Master?" Celestina stepped out of the forest and glared at Rhode fiercely. Her inappropriate manners towards Rhode seemed to have worsened ever since the battle with the Duke Fiend. If it weren't for the contract between the summon spirits and the holder, perhaps she wouldn't even look at this annoying human.

Rhode wasn't expecting anything less from her uncooperative attitude. Even though she was an alluring and charming young lady, he refused to show her deference. Although he knew that this forced her to oppose him, he wasn't mindful at all. Celestina appeared extremely dissatisfied, but Rhode didn't sense any authentic hatred and malice which was rare to find in a Demon. Even though they had an agreement, a Demon's scheming wisdom could torture the other party with a life worse than death through various means. But Celestina was different because, even though she usually shot off her mouth and was exceedingly unreasonable during missions, Rhode realized that she was still much kinder than her Demon companions in terms of machinations.

Besides, her temperament was considered really great for a Demon.

Of course, this didn't rule out another possibility.

"Carrying out a mission?" Rhode shrugged casually.

She snorted in disdain. "Ah... Only you? Master, you must be dreaming. Yes, perhaps you can annihilate the Commander of a thousand soldiers with your current strength in the Master Stage. But to destroy a town... by yourself?"

Rhode nonchalantly tapped the twin daggers around his waist and Celestina's mockeries were immediately silenced like a tightened faucet. She gritted her teeth and glared fumingly at Rhode as he gazed straight into her eyes. A few seconds later, she dropped her head helplessly as though she had surrendered. "... How boring. Why must I be concerned about Master's wellbeing? You're better off dead because I've had enough of being ordered about by you!!"

There was indeed always something to conquer another...

Rhode laid eyes on his daggers after observing Celestina's flushed expression. He didn't expect that this arrogant young lady would be this frightful of Gracier and Madaras, like a mouse that had spotted a cat.

At this thought, he realized that his Holy Sword Card Deck had a truly strange counteractive cycle. Angels were afraid of Demons and Demons were afraid of Elves... Perhaps nobody would believe him if he said this.

Celestina's judgment wasn't incorrect. Royal Highness Lydia had ordered him to attack Grosso and Fiat and destroy their foodstuff and mineral reserves. The success rate would surely be higher if Rhode had led his mercenaries here. But how would he approach the mission alone? The Grosso's foodstuff reserve base was massive and the granaries and mills were heavily guarded. Along his way here, he had also detected several patrols. It was apparent that the Reformist Party knew about the critical foodstuff issue after severing ties with the North and they had put up precautions for it.

It wasn't difficult to imagine how the security in Fiat would turn out to be since Grosso was this secure. Although Rhode had no exact numbers of the enemies, it seemed that official military troops were inevitable. He was fortunate that the South was hard-pressed for manpower as they were distributed along the defense borders, battlefront, and the city and regional protection.

Even so, Rhode wouldn't be able to withstand so many enemies at once.

But he wasn't worried about this at all.

"Indeed. Relying on me alone will not be doable. But..." Rhode glanced at her scowling face with a grin. "I have never battled alone."

"... Hmph!" Celestina let out a groan. "What a shameless class. Master, are you even worthy of the pride and glory of the Swordsmen?"

"Such things don't matter to me at all. All I need is victory and not glory," Rhode gazed at the sea of gold in a distance. "I'm gonna need your help, Celestina." Rhode retrieved a white, odd mask from the fold of his clothes.

The sky had darkened gradually.

It was just another slow-moving day for the Grosso's garrison patrols. They endured the cruel autumn sun as they patrolled lifelessly, looking at the busy villagers in the wheat fields. Such boring and depressing days could make them go crazy. Even their Garrison Officer was striding heedlessly on the embankment, thinking about enjoying himself with some female dancers in the bar tonight. Of course, he had blocked out the discussions regarding the frontline battle between the soldiers behind him. Even though the soldiers obeyed commands accordingly, it didn't mean that they were emotionless robots. The Reformist Party's declaration on independence and their attacks towards the North had affected these soldiers mentally. They felt worried and helpless, but what else could soldiers like them do since their superiors had made the decision?

Forget it, I will just live day by day. Even though I don't know how long such peaceful days will last for...

"Ah-!"

As the Garrison Officer was trapped in his reverie, a woman screamed from within the forest. The slack soldiers exchanged looks and they darted towards the source of the voice.

The soldiers spotted an empty field within the dusky forest and there was only one young lady seated on the ground, lowering her head as though she was in tremendous pain.

Who is she?

This question emerged in their heads. Grosso was a small town in the countryside and the women's clothes were usually ordinary as compared to the women in the city of the Southern Port. But, this young lady, whose face was covered with dirt, was wearing a luxurious, silk black robe with velvety scarlet linings. The soldiers recognized the expensive robe and they were sure that she wasn't a village girl. She might be a daughter of a wealthy family, but... they weren't aware that a noble family had arrived in Grosso.

Who is that young lady?

"Miss, how are you feeling? What happened?" The Garrison Officer approached her bravely and an alluring fragrance assailed his nostrils which distracted him.

"Ah... S-Sorry... I-I was just frightened by a wild dog..." Her refreshing, mellifluous voice resounded in the soldiers' ears and their hearts pounded fiercely. Her feminine and enticing voice excited their senses and a few of them ran towards her to give her a helping hand. "Don't worry, Miss, we have patrolled the surroundings and there aren't any wild dogs around. It's really late now and it isn't safe for you to be here alone. How about we escort you back? Can you tell us where you're staying?"

"All of you are..."

"We are the 5th Team of the Grosso's Patrol and I am the officer. Nothing will hurt you with us around, Miss."

The Garrison Officer realized that she must be the daughter of a noble family and he had struck gold. If he could escort her back, maybe her family might reward him and he might even be promoted for his achievements... Furthermore, this young lady might even fall in love with him. Although they had different identities, it was still possible just like in the folk legend...

For unknown reasons, the Garrison Officer felt an unprecedented emotional attraction for her and he couldn't wait to half-kneel and give his sword as a present. As long as she could look at him once, he would die a happy man... The rich, heavy fragrance assailed his nose once again and he couldn't think calmly anymore.

"Miss... Please get up. It is very dangerous to stay out here in the late night. Please be assured that we will escort you home..." A soldier extended his hand and just as he was only inches away, a black thorny vine struck from behind her back and wrapped his wrist tightly. "Don't touch me, lowly human."

She lifted her head and her scarlet pupils twinkled in faint, red radiance. The soldiers stepped back fearfully and countless thorny vines shot out from her sleeves and wrapped them entirely. These soldiers were below level 20 and they couldn't resist her attack at all.

"Argh...!"

The razor-sharp barbs sliced deep into their flesh through their thin clothes and the soldiers yowled in excruciating pain. She snapped her fingers and the thorny vines drilled into their mouths to silence their blood-curdling screeches immediately. The forest restored its serenity in the blink of an eye.

Celestina stood on her feet and patted off the filthy dust with a handkerchief elegantly. She strode forward gracefully as though she was attending a dinner party and swept a disdainfully glance at the soldiers wrapped at her thorny whips.

"Lowly, shameful, ugly humans. Who allowed you to talk to me in this manner and touch me with your filthy hand!" Celestina leered with her red, glistening eyes and lashed one of the pitiful soldiers heavily as she yelled. The unlucky soldier twitched in her agonizing torture and breathed weakly. Celestina let out a snort and in a split second, the soldier trembled intensely and the thorny whip punctured from inside his chest! His heart had been pierced by the keen barbed and it continued to pump instinctively with blood gushing down his legs.

"Lowly human!" Celestina swung her arm and the thorny whip wrapped around his heart. Pop! His heart crushed completely and his bloody corpse flung to the side, collapsing like a tattered doll.

"As for the rest of you foolish, inferior creatures..." Celestina revealed a proud and joyful murderous intent. "Scream as much as you'd like to satisfy my amusement... Slaves."

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