The young girl had a dream.
Famous heroes armed with legendary weapons were slaughtering the evil monsters barring their path. Eventually, they achieved an overwhelming victory over the BOSS and received immeasurable honor and their fame spread across the lands - however, in the end, a dream was just a dream. It didn't explain how the heroes toiled to pick up every single loot from the remains of the monsters to gather enough resources for the next fight.
Reality is cruel.
As she stared at Rhode and the others who were stripping down the rotten corpses, a few gold coins amongst other strange things appeared from the bodies. Marlene could only stand beside them with a dark expression and protest.
"This is blasphemy towards the deceased!"
Unfortunately, her righteous objection fell on deaf ears.
"You must be kidding."
Rhode sneered as he grabbed a few gold coins that fell on the ground and stuffed it in his pocket.
"We are mercenaries, and they are our enemies. Naturally, we have to pick up what we deserve. And... about the matter of 'blasphemy towards the deceased,' I would think that the necromancer had already done it once, so I guess the dead wouldn't mind if we did it again."
"Irrational! Lize! Come talk some sense into him! What are yo-"
When Marleen turned around and saw Lize carefully retrieving a silver necklace on the corpse's neck, she couldn't bear to continue her sentence.
Lize's face turned red and smiled awkwardly. It was not that she did not understand what Marlene was thinking. After all, when she first joined the mercenary group, she also made a huge ruckus. But now, well...
"Our mercenary group's income is very limited, so..."
While Lize sounded rather sorry and the red tinge on her face revealed her embarrassment, her fingers didn't slow down one bit as she looted the corpse.
"But, we will receive a reward once the mission is done, right?"
"Do you think that kind of money is enough for us? Missy?" This time, it was Old Walker who spoke out.
Unlike Lize, Old Walker totally resembled a graverobber. If he wanted a ring, he would yank the entire arm of the corpse. Then he whipped out a knife from his pocket and sliced into the corpse's skull, digging out a large piece of corpse oil. Looking at this scene made Marlene want to puke out yesterday's dinner.
"Every time we complete a mission, we only earn a hundred gold coins, and sometimes, even fewer. This kid's mercenary group only has a few members, that's why the lack of funds doesn't really show. But ordinary mercenary groups have at least ten members. Everyone fought with their lives on the line just for a mere ten gold coins. But what can this measly amount do? We have to maintain our weapons and armors, and we also need to eat and drink. Do you think that we don't require money to do all of these? Moreover, we will only receive the reward once we complete the mission. What if we fail? You want us to suffer from cold and hunger?"
Marlene couldn't find any words to refute Old Walker, so she stood idly to a side and stared at the three people looting the corpses with enthusiasm. Once the trio was done clearing out the bodies, they continued as though nothing happened.
After that incident, they encountered many ambushes later on, but under Rhode's steady leadership, they waded through the storm without major issues. While they only numbered four people, Old Walker had a vast plethora of experience, Lize could easily restrain the undead, and Marlene's AOE spells were able to make easy work of the undead.
As they delved deeper into the mines, the air became increasingly dank and heavy. The darkness seemed to erode and eat away at Lize's holy light. Rhode was at the vanguard. He clutched the Star Mark tightly as he scanned the shadows before him vigilantly. Based on his conjecture, he believed that the necromancer was already alerted to their presence.
After all, they'd killed so many undead along the way. Surely the necromancer would be aware that something was wrong when he lost contact with that many undead. If Rhode had enough members, he wouldn't mind sauntering to BOSS room and challenge the necromancer head-on, however, he only had three people with him right now, and furthermore, in this world, there was no such thing as resurrection.
Rhode put down his left hand, signaling the other three behind him to stop. He scanned the surroundings once more and spoke to them softly, "We are close to the necromancer. I will lay the strategy out now, remember, you need to recall what I say here because I cannot always give commands to all of you in the battle. If you forget... then well... I don't think that I'll even have to hand out punishments as a dead body won't be able to receive them anyway."
The three of them immediately raised their guard when they heard that the final battle was close. Moreover, when they heard Rhode's usual indifferent voice, it somehow lifted their morale. Along the way, Marlene had received plenty of valuable advice from following Rhode's command. Although she had already possessed skill and experience back when she was training in the academy, under Rhode's command, she could finally comprehend the true meaning behind those skills. When she cast the spell according to what he said, she suddenly realized that something she had studied before was supposed to be used like that. This made her stop doubting Rhode's words and began to follow his commands obediently.
As for Old Walker, although he was still unsatisfied with Rhode... at least he did not want to be the revolutionary martyr.
Rhode faced the cleric behind him since she held the most important role in this battle.
"I will be responsible for tying that guy down. First, you must remember to stack extra layers of barrier to the others. Unless I ask you to, you are not allowed to waste your power on me. The necromancer has a strong defense, so Marlene will be responsible for breaking its protective shield. Remember, only launch your destructive spells afterward when the shield is down. Otherwise, it would only be a waste of power."
"Yes, I understand, Mr. Rhode." Lize nodded her head.
Seeing that Lize had understood her role, he turned his head and looked at Marlene.
"Miss Marlene, as I said earlier, your job is to remove the protective shield from the necromancer. With your prowess, it shouldn't be too difficult. If there's anything beyond your ability, then quickly inform me, and I'll solve it. While I attract the necromancer's attention, it won't entirely give up on attacking you. That's why when you are casting your spells, you need to pay attention to your surroundings. Prioritize killing any undead you meet before fighting the necromancer. And lastly, you are not to engage the necromancer until I say so."
"Alright, no problem. Leave it to me."
After witnessing Rhode's judgment on the battlefield, Marlene's answer became more confident.
Once Rhode received her verbal acknowledgment, he turned to Old Walker.
"Mr. Walker, your job is straightforward. There is a gem on the necromancer's forehead - it's quite obvious, so you shouldn't miss it. Your role is to shoot that gem when the necromancer is preparing to cast a magic spell. Even with your strength, it still will be difficult to break that gem. But do not fret, all you have to do is to delay him from casting a spell. Also, I hope that you can take care of these two girls, if there is any unexpected danger, please do remind them."
Rhode spoke quite a bit, but Old Walker did not respond. On the contrary, he frowned.
"Youngster, there seems to be a sound coming from that side."
Old Walker raised his hand and pointed towards a tunnel.
Rhode's eyes traced the direction where Old Walker had pointed to, and his face darkened.
At this moment, they were standing at a fork. One passage led to the necromancer, the other was a dead end, behind them was where Rhode and the others came from, and the last one was the tunnel which Old Walker pointed to. This tunnel was connected to the main entrance, that means that if they did not enter via 'Rhode's shortcut,' then they were supposed to come from this passage.
And right now, Old Walker was saying that there was movement from that tunnel.
Rhode signaled everyone to keep silent and then closed his eyes. Soon, he could hear the faint sound of weapons clashing from the other side. It was clear that there was fighting going on, and it appeared that both of them had the same goal.
What should he do next?
Rhode frowned and looked at the other three behind him. The necromancer wasn't hard to beat, but with only four people, they would need to spend a considerable amount of time. During that time, they did not know what might happen. If they were stabbed in the back in the middle of a struggle, then it would be very bothersome.
People who played online games all knew that there was an unspoken taboo about kill stealing a BOSS. If it was an instanced dungeon, then it wouldn't be so bad, but a mission BOSS like this one... was really hard to say. After all, a wild BOSS was like a public transport - as long anyone saw it nearby, anyone could ride it. In the game, the BOSS could still respawn after a period of time, but what if there was only one BOSS...?
A river of blood would be an understatement to describe the horror... even a landscape full of bloody corpses wasn't enough.
As the first guild leader in the game, and also someone who held the title of the legendary Firstblood, indubitably, Rhode would be extremely familiar with these things. He immediately gave up on hunting the necromancer and planned to welcome the uninvited guest, but...
Rhode turned his head and looked at the three people behind him.
Lize was in a panic; she understood that encountering people at this time was not a good thing. On the other hand, Marlene was indifferent to this, but it was no surprise as she had never been a mercenary before. As for a veteran like Old Walker, his understanding of this matter was something that goes without saying. If he didn't understand, then why would he remind Rhode in the first place?
Now... what should I do? Should I go greet those guys?
"Let's go there and see."
Not long later, Rhode came to a conclusion. If the opponents were strong, then he would use the darkness to his advantage and strike down these people before the situation could turn awry. If they were already on the verge of dying, then he'd just watch them die. Either way, he definitely must witness their disappearance.
The battle wasn't too far away, but contrary to their expectations, the "newcomer's" situation was already quite dire by the time Rhode and his team arrived. In fact, they were already on the verge of falling apart.
The newcomers were also in the mine. Waves of undead creatures assaulted the center of the room where the 'living people' were, attempting to stop these intruders from entering their grounds. Although the 'newcomers' had more manpower than Rhode, their overall battle strength was much lower than Rhode and his team. But it was no surprise as Rhode had already scanned their formation and he shook his head.
Three swordsmen, two thieves, and one tank.
In one glance, Rhode saw through the weakness in their formation. Melee classes were indeed threatening in close quarters combat, but in a place filled with undead, all they could become was their dinner. The undead were creatures void of fear and death. As long as the melee combatant wasn't over-leveled, it wouldn't be much threat towards them. And these mercenaries here were below level ten; they were even unable to use sword energy condensation. That being said, having able to fight until here could be said to be a considerable feat.
This is as far as they will go.
A thief was attacked by an undead, he flipped his hand and stabbed the opponent's throat. His move was fast and agile; if it were a living person then they would have long been dead. But for the undead, this was clearly not enough. The undead raised its hand and slammed downwards.
The poor thief who was unable to dodge in time was sent flying a distance before smashing into the ground. Without giving him any time recover, a pair of cold, shriveled hands grabbed his limbs.
Followed by a shrill scream, blood flowed out from undead's mouth, and the thief moved no more.
With the death of a comrade, their formation began to falter. The pressure of missing one comrade grew on the remaining survivors. Suddenly, a brilliant pillar of flame burst out from a group of undead, killing a large number of them and buying the group some time. Then, a red-haired woman staggered out from the fire, her face was pale and her whole body was covered in blood. Even her leather armor was full of blood and holes.
After looking at that woman, Lize was surprised.
Right at this moment, when Rhode heard Lize's cry, Rhode made his decision.
"Marlene, get ready."
PS: Today I was decorating the wallpaper and the other areas, that's why I got back home a little bit late and updated quite late. There's still more at night. Yes, that's the case...
PS2: The background wall was really expensive, a wall was about two thousand...