As an active organization operating along the grey areas, the 'Masquerade' was efficient in many aspects. However, they were best at contacting organizations and individuals that weren't easily approachable and making fake identities.
Perhaps this description wasn't accurate because strictly speaking, the 'Masquerade' wasn't creating fake identities. They were merely providing a brand new identity for the customer and there would not be any flaws or loopholes. For example, if Rhode wished to disguise himself as a Mage, the 'Masquerade' would give him a Mage's identification according to his request. If there were doubters who checked their way to the Mage Association, they would be surprised to see that the records existed and every record would be fully consistent.
It was due to this special quality that the 'Masquerade' had caused a widespread debate among players. Their ability in creating fake identities was so amazing that as long as one had the money, one could pass oneself off as a Mage, Scholar, Soldier, and Noble according to one's requirements. One's new identity would be recorded in every regulated organization and some people might even 'have heard' of one. This was too absurd for some players to accept. If the 'Masquerade' could simply hand out fake identities and tamper with all the name lists in the group, it wouldn't be wrong to say that this organization was the most powerful in the whole of Dragon Soul Continent. After all, it wasn't easy to falsify the records of organizations, let alone hidden existences.
This surely wasn't possible.
Another saying that was accepted by most players was that there were people missing every moment on this continent perhaps due to adventures or the perils of the sea. The 'Masquerade' would go through secret means to gather details of the lost ones and store their identities to reuse for others at appropriate times. This would answer the players' doubts that if these identities existed, they wouldn't need to pay such a huge price to falsify. However, there were risks too. Wouldn't one be exposed if the missing one's family members or friends recognized them?
No matter what, both guesses had proven that the 'Masquerade' had powerful backings that were spread all around the Dragon Soul Continent. If not, they couldn't possibly gather that many intelligence and personnel records.
This organization had been operating mysteriously in the game and even players and NPCs had no idea what they were up to. However, their "work prestige" had always been guaranteed as the new identities purchased had never been exposed. A player had spent a large sum of money to purchase a Prince's identity and he got into the royal family of a small country!
This was what Rhode required at this point.
The man read the name list and nodded slightly with a stupefied expression. He strode his way into the kitchen at the back, returning to the pub lazily after a few moments while waving his palm to Rhode.
Rhode knitted his brows and retrieved a small bag of gems from the fold of his clothes. The price was still within his capabilities as a guild leader. The man accepted the bag of gems and passed a greasy kraft envelope over. Rhode kept the envelope and left the pub. The rusty, unoiled hinge of the door squeaked sharply and the pub returned to its usual peacefulness. The man sprawled on the counter once more and shut his eyes to continue his warm afternoon nap.
"I don't understand why you needed these." Celestina swept a loathful glance at the dirty kraft envelope while Celia gazed at Rhode silently from the side. Rhode ignored Celestina's prattle and took out a few pages of white, clean papers imprinted with an emblem from the envelope. He nodded in satisfaction after scrutinizing them. Then, he tucked the documents into the fold of his clothes and retrieved two clothes from his bag, gesturing to the sisters. "Put them on."
"Eh?" The sisters exchanged glances. Celestina frowned at the clothing and let out a snort. "What's that? Master?"
"This is your next mission," Rhode answered expressionlessly, well-prepared for everything needed. "I need both of you to disguise yourselves as my maids as we head into Fiat. Celia, you will need to keep your armor and wings and Celestina, your clothes... are obviously unsuitable for a maid..."
"Are you kidding me?!" Celestina let out a shriek. She squinted her scarlet eyes burning in rage. "You want me to be your maid? Master, don't get it wrong. I am only your subordinate. If it weren't for the divine oath, I would never listen to your command, so you don't try your luck!"
"Maids are also a part of being a subordinate," Rhode said simply, expecting those words to blabber out of her mouth. Actually, he would be more worried that she would secretly spoil his plans if she had accepted without any disagreements. "This is part of your job, Miss Celestina. Besides, this is my order as your Master."
"You... How dare you give me such an order as a human. You do know that we are..." Celestina shut her mouth, trembling her tiny clenched fists. Then, she stomped the ground aggrievedly and turned toward Celia. "Speak up. Are you deaf? Are you able to accept this order as a Battle Angel? Celia?"
Celia withdrew her gaze from the two sets of clothing and pondered for a few moments. "This is Master's order, Big Sister. I will naturally abide as his subordinate."
"Ah... I can't take it anymore, you stone-brain!" Celestina snarled and glared at her silent younger sister fumingly. Rhode observed their interactions. Then, he realized that Celia was behaving a little differently.
Celia in the past had always behaved passively in front of Celestina, where she basically wouldn't disobey Celestina's orders. Besides, her fear of Celestina seemed to be roaming deep into her bone marrows. Even in the Grosso Plain, she maintained her silence to protest against Celestina when she indulged in her massacre. Her fear toward Celestina had exceeded the belief that she should persevere as a Battle Angel: the hierarchical relationship between the Holy Sword Cards was clearly distinct to Rhode.
But this time, Rhode discovered that Celia was behaving a little different. She had always given off a serious, solemn, and reserved vibe and although this vibe remained the same, Rhode sensed that she might have opened herself up to some matters which made her seemed unprecedentedly relaxed. It felt as though a man bound in heavy, dreadful fetters and handcuffs was released from the years of torment. Celestina seemed to have also realized her younger sister's strange behaviors, but she let out a snort without saying more.
"A sycophant will always be a sycophant. You can obey whoever you want, but I'm never doing it!"
"So then, shall we have a democratic vote?" Rhode faced Celestina as he caressed his fingers across the twin daggers around his waist. "Or maybe someone else has something to say?"
"..." Celestina's expression stiffened and her right hand that was about to flip her hair had stopped moving abruptly. She bit her lips and gazed at Rhode indignantly, like a crying toddler refusing her father's order. She lowered her head eventually. "Alright then, Master... I shall respect you just this time! If you dare to be so rude to me next time, it will be useless even if you summon both Big Sisters!"
Celestina snatched the clothes from Rhode's hands and dragged Celia into the bedroom, shutting the bedroom door after yelling "do not peek!" Rhode had no intentions of peeking at them anyway. After all, he had other matters to attend to.
Rhode wouldn't rely simply on a fake identity to bluff his way through in Fiat due to his popularity. He needed more disguise to compliment his identity. He dug his hand into his bag and revealed a rare, disgusted expression. His hand paused as though he lacked the courage to light the fuse of an explosive pack.
Damn it. I was just mocking Celestina and now it's my turn?
He looked into the bag once more with an expression hinting as though there was a viper in it. In fact, he was at a loss when he prepared these, because, after all, this was his pride, but now... There was nothing more important than victory. He would do anything to be victorious. Since he had gotten rid of that many innocent civilians in Grosso Plain, what was this little obstacle going to pose for him?
"That's right, victory... Victory is most important," Rhode mumbled under his breath and he didn't realize that the malevolent and unruly glint in his eyes that Celia had witnessed flashed once again. "God, damn it..."
Celestina and Celia had changed into their new costume in the bedroom. It was a set of maid costumes in pure black and white. It was apparent that Rhode had put in a lot of effort preparing these costumes because the measurements fit them exactly. Celestina wore a pitch-black, luxurious skin-tight dress with creased edges and close-fitting black velvet linings. The straight long-sleeves jacket over her perfectly set off her ample, youthful curves. Fretwork designs on her cuffs and snowy-white garment bringing out a gorgeous appeal while the knee length skirt and black stockings outlined her perfectly slender legs.
Although Celestina refused to admit it, she actually thought that this costume was much better than she had imagined.
On the other side, Celia wore a contrasting white dress similar to Celestina's in design. However, her costume was much more reserved in the fine details. Her skirt was longer than Celestina's and the sleeves weren't decorated in the openness of fretwork design. Instead, they had tight and concise cuffs. If one were to meet them, Celestina might be recognized as a head of maids while Celia might be seen as a solemn housekeeper.
Even though they were summoned spirits, their vanity as females never changed. Celestina complained initially because she thought that Rhode would make her wear a set of filthy costumes that maids in noble families usually wore: a light blue vulgar dress, white apron, and a dumb looking maid cloth hat. Such disgusting and ugly costume would be unbearable. I will never ever tolerate such shameless costumes!
Lifting her skirt in front of the mirror girlishly, Celestina was stubbornly unwilling to admit that her costume was beautiful because the thought of her becoming Rhode's maid made her sick to her stomach. If it wasn't for this reason... Maybe I can still accept this costume...
She puckered her brows and turned toward Celia. Even though she might seem to be an arrogant young lady, she did notice Celia's change in behavior. However, she knew about the reasons more than Rhode did. But now... This wasn't a problem that she should be concerned about. Perhaps to Celia, that was an evil thought that had bothered her for a long time, but it meant nothing for Celestina.
"Alright, let's head out now. Maybe that irritating fellow will put on airs and nag us like an actual Master."
Celestina sighed and pushed the door open. But, at this moment, they widened their eyes in astonishment.
An elegant, fair-skinned woman stood before them. She looked just over 20 years old with fluttering long eyelashes and an attractively oval face. Thin, pink lipstick drew around her thin lips perfectly while pitch-black hair draped over her delicate shoulders, complimenting a graceful, black long dress that showed off her slender curves. Frankly speaking, she was a beauty that was hard to come by.
"Who are you? What are you doing here?" Celestina said with knitted brows.
The woman revealed a strange smile across her adorable face. She scanned the sisters from head to toe, nodding away in satisfaction. "It seems that my disguise is perfect. What do you think, Celia, Celestina?"
A deep, familiar male voice froze them to the spot. The true identity of this person struck them without the need of self-introductions.