Emily turned to the voice of support and saw 'Miss Seren' emerging from the crowd haughtily with her two maids. Everything seemed as per usual. But... Emily sensed that something was off.
There was something different from this 'Miss Seren'.
When they first met, Emily felt that 'Miss Seren' was knowledgeable and outspoken, which all merchants must be. Otherwise, how did one expect their business to be successful if the customers didn't like the words that one says?
Back then, Emily had always felt at ease being around 'Miss Seren'. But now, 'Miss Seren's' sweet-tempered personality had suddenly become cunning, tough, and overbearing. Emily realized that this was the arrogance of the Country of Light people. When they were escaping to the surface, Emily felt safe being with 'Miss Seren' and she didn't feel vexed no matter the predicament. To her, everything would be fine with 'Miss Seren' taking charge.
But now, Emily couldn't feel the sense of security from 'Miss Seren' anymore. Instead, all Emily felt were the slyness and arrogance from her as though she were a dangerous person.
It was indescribable by words. Emily felt as if the solid ground beneath her feet had transformed into a frozen lake with cracks spreading wildly on its surface. It was as though if she moved an inch, the frozen lake would crumble entirely and she would be completely devoured by the bone-piercing, cold river.
'Miss Seren' walked at a slow pace and Emily could see the shapeless 'ice' rippling in her every step and shrouding the entire plaza. Even though it was a stifling hot night, Emily felt chills all over her body. The bone-piercing chills struck her spine like an upward flowing lightning bolt. There was an instant when she wished to return to the Trade Association and cover herself in the fur clothing that was pressed underneath the chests and drink a cup of warm red tea to dispel this torturous chilliness.
The Howard Trade Association members stopped cursing in rage. Their hearts pounded violently and they stared at the 'woman' fixedly with pale expressions like the blizzard of the North was blustering and engulfing them entirely. They could even feel the snow accumulating around their feet and every inch of their bodies was frozen to the spot.
"As merchants, empty promises are undesirable. No matter how extravagant you describe your merchandise to your customers, your customers should at least see, touch, and obtain the value of it. Only swindlers behave in this manner. Why don't we take a look at the merchandise since everyone has been hard-selling it?"
Rhode elegantly approached the pale-faced elderly man. Beads of sweat filled his forehead and his breathing hastened. That's right. No matter how ingenious his trickery in business was, he was ultimately an ordinary human who inevitably couldn't withstand the aura that Rhode had released.
But Rhode had no intentions of going easy on him even though the elderly man was struggling. He expanded a folding fan and concealed his smile while glaring at everyone coldly. Although the Howard Family was a rare supporter of the King's Party from the South, Rhode wouldn't change his attitude toward them because they were unimportant.
Even though Marlene, Amund, and the Southern noble merchants believed that Rhode was devoted to the King's Party, that actually wasn't the truth. After all, Rhode was only a player before he came to this world and in the game, the fall of Munn Kingdom wouldn't affect his real life at all. Due to this reason, Rhode's main purpose in the game was to enjoy completing missions, receive EXP, grain gold and reputation, craft rare weapons, climb the ranks, dominate the arena, establish his guild, own and expand his territory, and rule the world. This was the attitude of a player and at most, they would pay close attention to the invasion of their country or prepare to attack neighboring countries and lead the PVP team battles and guild missions, etc...
Rhode was unconcerned about the political system, financial budget, and the rights of people's livelihood that the politicians and nobles around the round table discuss. The reason why he chose to protect the Munn Kingdom after the war was fairly simple. He was born in the Munn Kingdom and Lydia had bestowed generous rewards to him. Moreover, she was a charming and beautiful young lady, which was the main reason for the players.
After the Munn Kingdom had fallen, Rhode fought to the end with the other players. One reason was for him to vent his frustrations that his territory had been destroyed while the other reason was to seek revenge for the sassy young lady. As for the other members of the King's Party... they weren't within considerations at all.
Players were a presence without any moral principles. As long as the girl was adorable enough, they wouldn't care if she was evil or righteous. In one of the expansion packs of the game, Rhode led his team into Hell and accepted several missions to massacre and pillage civilians on the surface. Their main motive was for the rare, luxurious mission rewards and because the Succubus queen was beautiful enough...
A game, after all, was only a game. Players would stop at nothing to gain more strength. They wouldn't rather die than to submit like the Holy Knights who persisted in their beliefs. As long as the players could exploit and receive great benefits, they would do anything to achieve them because that wasn't a world they lived in. They didn't have any kin and those who died weren't their blood-related siblings or the neighbors and friends who they often meet. It wasn't because of guilty conscience that they didn't betray the NPCs. Instead, they were afraid of losing reputation and the benefits from the NPCs.
Perhaps they might make some evil decisions in the face of temptation, but this was mostly irrelevant to conscience, morality, and even attitude.
Even though Rhode had left the game and came to this real world, his nature hadn't changed too much. He continued to disregard the political ideas and beliefs. Since he first came to the Munn Kingdom in this world and Lydia was the only one who could stabilize the Munn Kingdom and provide a peaceful environment, he would naturally support her. But this support was only given to Lydia and not the King's Party. Even if the King's Party fell out with Lydia, he would still trust Lydia only and not the entire King's Party.
As for the Reformist Party... Rhode had never believed that they would provide him with sufficient trust and support. Furthermore, he had no intentions of begging those who he had once defeated before.
This was why Rhode was merciless against the pale-faced elderly man and he even wished to strike a fatal blow right now... He wasn't here to go on a scenic tour.
"I'm Miranda Seren of the Seren Trade Association from the Country of Light. All of you should be members of the Howard Trade Association, right? Since everyone is accusing the Edward Trade Association and I of creating the underground mess, I suppose you have some clear-cut proof?" Rhode squinted and his expression gloomed. "If you can't produce any evidence, I shall take it as you're provoking the dignity and pride of the people of the Country of Light?!"
Rhode raised his voice and the elderly man trembled abruptly. If it weren't for his crutch, perhaps his crooked body would have collapsed to the ground.
(Wow. I didn't expect Master to be this good in acting.)
Celia and Celestina, serving as the 'background characters' behind Rhode, exchanged curious glances with each other and spoke spiritually.
(Hmph. Look at how excited you've become, Celia... I feel that when he's truly angry, he's much more... Forget it... It's nothing.)
Celia understood what her older sister meant even though she hadn't completed her sentence. Indeed. Even though Rhode seemed furious, they knew that this was just slightly more indifferent from how he usually was. On the contrary, it was the most dangerous and terrifying when Rhode revealed his brilliant smile. Nothing would be his limits, like a nuclear warhead that would explode anything. That was a fear that one could do nothing apart from watching it countdown.
The people of the Country of Light were known for their arrogance and throwing their weight about. Even the King's Party knew how terrifying the Country of Light was, not to mention this Southern town. Moreover, the people knew that they couldn't seek support from the Country of Light in this terrible situation and relying on them was impossible to fight against the North. Even though the Howard Trade Association was a supporter of the King's Party, they were locally born and bred in Fiat. If they hade the life of merchant from the Country of Light difficult, they might be resented in the future. Even if they didn't mind, their families and children wouldn't be able to continue living on this piece of land anymore.
"I can!" A man let out a thunderous bellow.
He emerged from the back in big strides and glared at Rhode coldly with eyes emanating flames of rage. An Elf young lady in a Mage robe stood beside him with her hands folded, quietly gazing to the front.
Who were they praying to survive that...
Rhode twitched his brows and swept the grounds for the mercenaries who were in the underground with them.
"May I know who you..." Rhode lifted his chin and looked at the man disdainfully.
"I didn't know you had such a poor memory, Miss Seren."
"I'm sorry, but I really don't know your name."
Indeed, he didn't introduce himself when they first met because, back then, the lesser the complications the better for him. But now, the rage in his heart burned stronger after he was provoked by her and especially after he recalled Uncle Raul's pitiful state before he died. He wished that he could kill her on the spot, but his rationale held him back... On the other hand, the elderly man who was intimidated by Rhode's aura came back to his senses. Perhaps witnessing that his reinforcements were here, he retreated behind the man hurriedly. "This is Mr. Andre. He is a student of the 'Thunder Sword' Sir Soderfast. I think you are aware of who he is, right, Miss Seren?"
Of course, Rhode knew who this 'Thunder Sword'. Even though the Light Parliament had produced a bunch of weak-minded ones, there were also quite a handful of powerful men. However, not all the powerful men would serve the Light Parliament devotedly as that pitiful Mist Sword Saint. The 'Thunder Sword' Soderfast was one of the eight guardians of the 'Sword Guardians'. He had a strange personality and paid no attention to the affairs of life. But even so, he had a flourishing reputation all around the continent.
The 'Sword Guardians' organization was established by the descendants of a country that was destroyed a long time ago. The eight guardians of this organization individually protected the eight weapons left behind by the ancient nation. Rumors said that when eight men qualified for the weapons that appeared, an ancient nation would re-emerge. Of course, this was simply a background introduction of this organization in the forums. Rhode had never seen the re-emergence of this nation and players failed to search for the eight weapons. But he remembered that Neptune's Sigh was one of them...
It seems that this man was the heir of the Neptune's Sigh that Soderfast has been searching for? Interesting. I didn't hear about this man in the game.
This thought flashed in his mind for a mere second. After all, his emergence in this world had changed it. The experiences he had gained in the game were for his reference and couldn't be relied upon as evidence. Andre laughed grimly at Rhode's silence and he strode forward. "I swear with my identity and my teacher's honor that this underground mess was created by this lady here, and she has awakened the monsters!!"
Although the merchants usually deal with black and white documentation, they knew that it had the same effects as long as the people involved swore in their honor. As Soderfast's student, this man surely wouldn't throw Soderfast's honor out in the open and lie! Could it be that...
At this moment, a series of crisp laughter sounded. Rhode placed the opened fan by his mouth. "This is interesting, Mr. Andre. Real interesting."
"What's interesting?!" Andre snarled with crooked brows.
Rhode continued. "According to you, I headed into the underground and awakened the monsters. In other words... I've premeditated it?"
"... Yes." The man hesitated for a second and nodded swiftly.
Rhode's smile widened after hearing his response. "That's interesting... According to you, if I've premeditated everything before entering the underground, how did you witness my every action, Mr. Andre? Is it possible that you were just taking a walk and bumped into me by chance? Did you recognize the wrong person?"
"You-!" Andre was stricken into silence and he pointed at Rhode grudgingly.
Rhode placed his right finger on his lips and squinted. His eyes gleamed coldly. "... Do you really intend to do that, Mr. Andre?"
A distinct voice sounded in his ears. "Surely you wouldn't think that you can convict me based on such senseless accusations, right? But, so what if you did? What's the purpose? You want to seek revenge? Right here? I don't have any objections, but..."
Rhode glanced to the crowd. "If you don't mind me turning this place into a blood river, I will gladly play along until the end with you. These people seem to trust you a lot, Mr. Andre. But I'm not sure if they're willing to pay the price with their lives."
"You...!" Andre clenched his fist subconsciously.
At the same time, Rhode approached him with a generous smile. "This is a warning... Mr. Andre. Sir Soderfast deserves respect, but it's a pity that I've something later, so I hope you won't hinder me... Besides, you don't wish to lose that woman behind you, right?"
Andre flinched and drew a distance away hurriedly from 'Miss Seren's' beautiful face. He clenched his fists and glared fumingly, reaching out to the Neptune's Sigh subconsciously. However, he came to a stop after witnessing the crowd around him.
He believed that this vicious young lady was capable of doing it. If he attacked now, she would surely annihilate the people around him without a doubt. Andre had sensed her powerful strength from their previous clash and he could barely defeat her with his Neptune's Sigh.
If this breaks out into a fight, can I protect the people around me? But, do I give up on seeking revenge for Uncle Raul and the others? But... I can't drag these innocent people in...
The man pondered in silence. In the end, he gritted his teeth, let out a helpless sigh and turned around. "Maybe I've seen the wrong person... Cheryl, let's go!"
"Eh? ... Okay." The Elf Mage revealed a look of astonishment and nodded thereafter, leaving together with the man.
At this moment, 'Miss Seren's' melodious voice once again sounded. "It seems that our misunderstanding has been resolved, Mr. Andre. Alright then, I wish you well."
I will definitely... seek this revenge!
Andre clasped his sword hilt and decided firmly.
You won't be this lucky next time!