What's the situation?
Rhode and Lize came to a halt and exchanged looks. At this moment, Joey murmured his way out of the campsite miserably and his face was bruised with blood flowing out from his nostrils. He spotted Rhode and Lize and ran up to them hurriedly. "Boss?! Boss, you're finally back! Why didn't you tell us earlier? Let me tell you. Today, Miss Lize commanded our ambush so well against the idiots of the Southern Legion... Frankly speaking, I was a little worried from the start, but I never expected that Miss Lize would do this great..."
"Alright, I know about this," Rhode gestured and pointed to the campsite. "What's happening inside?"
"There..." Joey's blooming smile faded instantly like a withering eggplant. He let out a bitter smile and rubbed his badly battered face awkwardly. "Actually, it's much nothing, Sir. The captives are just causing a ruckus..."
Rhode gazed at Joey curiously before turning to Lize and nodded. Both of them headed into the campsite quickly while Joey followed with a helpless smile. Shortly after, Rhode spotted the source of the uproar. A dozen mercenaries crowded around the empty field where the inarticulate curses sounded from. The mercenaries seemed to be watching a show idly as though there was something interesting going on.
"What's going on?" Rhode knitted his brows and said.
The mercenaries were startled to see Rhode behind them and they swiftly made way for him. A young man clad in the armor of the Southern Legion laid in the middle of the empty field. He seemed about 28 years old and had short, brown hair. Not only was his swollen face terribly battered, but he was also covered in filthy smoke stains. Marfa and Randolf stood beside him and they seemed to be speaking to him. They revealed looks of surprises after spotting Rhode and they quickly came to him and saluted.
"Leader, you're back."
"Sir, long time no see."
"Yes, I'm back. I've heard the details from Gillian. You guys did well... What's going on?"
Rhode nodded and pointed at the young man with his lifted chin. Randolf and Marfa revealed bitter smiles and Randolf began to explain the entire happening.
Although Lize's battle plan was perfect, Gillian's level was still limited and her [Seven Hells] had only managed to deal fatal damage to two-thirds of the Cavalrymen trapped in the 'Divine Edifice'. The remaining hundreds of Cavalrymen survived and were captured and brought back to the Fortress. This young man was the Commander of the Cavalrymen. Perhaps he was lucky or his men had protected him well, but he wasn't gravely injured from the explosion and had just woken up from his unconsciousness. After he realized that he was kept captive, he had remained silent and unresponsive while facing the ground.
Joey was looking after him unwillingly due to the relationship between the Southerners and Northerners. You looked down on us as beggars when you were rich. Why are you captive but still this arrogant?
Joey disapproved of the young man's behavior and ridiculed him. As one of the most active member in Starlight, Joey's deriding had left the unfortunate young man ashen-faced and speechless. The other mercenaries naturally wouldn't speak up for the enemy and they watched on from the side quietly. But Joey brought trouble to himself. He continued to jeer at the man and hurled abuse at General Dade for choosing him as the commander.
The young man couldn't tolerate it anymore. He forced himself up and headbutted Joey's face. The pathetic Thief didn't expect that the young man would erupt in anger suddenly. The mercenaries swarmed around and dragged Joey out. However, the young man wasn't easy to deal with. Even though he was bound tightly and rolling about left to right furiously, the mercenaries weren't able to subdue him. Fortunately, Marfa and Randolf heard the commotion and hurried to the scene to restrain him.
After listening to Randolf's explanation, Rhode shifted his attention to the young man who had calmed down. Got to say, Randolf's way of handling the situation was great. If he reprimanded the young man, perhaps the young man would have jumped to his feet and hurled abuses. However, Randolf remained neutral and didn't criticize him at all.
Rhode turned his gaze to the mercenaries at the side. Some of the mercenaries had bruises on their faces and appeared hurt by the young man's struggles. It seemed that this young man was rather skillful. Rhode was confident in his men's strength as they were about level 40, Peak Elite Warriors. Although it was an entirely different concept between the Peak Elite Stage of the aborigines and the players, it still wasn't easy for them to lose out. It was rather unusual for this young man to struggle continuously in the mercenaries' hands even with his hands tied.
Rhode had a sudden interest in the young man and he felt that this young man was a little familiar. He approached him and asked with knitted brows. "What's your name?"
"Hmph...!" The young man let out a snort and struggled to his feet. He lifted his head and stared at Rhode stubbornly. "I'm John... John Grayer."
The young man stuck out his chest proudly and the surrounding discontented mercenaries gritted their teeth. You're a captive now and you are still so arrogant before our Leader? You must be sick of living!
However, Rhode wasn't as furious as them. Instead, he stared blankly for a moment and narrowed his eyes to scrutinize the young man, John Grayer. Rhode wasn't unfamiliar with this name at all.
In the game of the Dragon Soul Continent, John Grayer was a character full of legendary stories with a sad background. He was born in a reputable noble family in the North, but his childhood wasn't blissful at all because his mother was a noble of the South while his father's family was devoted to the King's Party. His parents met on a Royal Family drinking party and fell in love at first sight. In order to marry John's father, who was the patriarch of the family, his mother abandoned her family and moved to the North. However, this unfortunate woman wasn't able to lead her blessed life as she had anticipated. Many of the members in the father's family were displeased with her identity and were extremely vigilant against her because, to them, this was just a dirty, shameless method of the Southerners to blend into their Family's high-class bloodline. As expected, the birth of John was faced with hostility. As the only son in the family, there were no doubts that John would inherit the family in the future. However, the others weren't able to accept a 'bastard' who was stained with the Southern bloodline to inherit the family. Moreover, the Southern bloodline in him might possibly cause him to make decisions that lean toward the merchants and nobles in the South.
Due to this reason, John had faced all kinds of discriminations and plain hostilities while his mother lived in tears. Although she did her best to protect her child, she was still too fragile in the face of the immense family influence.
And finally, there was a matter that changed John's life forever. As he grew older, the people disliked and feared him more, which led to an idea for them. They sent someone to seduce John's mother. His mother had been living in torment for more than a decade and the pure love in her had been frozen by ice-cold reality. The love she had for her husband wasn't acknowledged and her husband treated her coldly due to his family pressure. This left her broken. She abandoned her love and began to enjoy carnal desires to escape from reality.
After this incident, the family members lodged an accusation to their patriarch and the patriarch flew into a terrible rage after personally witnessing his wife having a love affair. Not only did he punished John's mother heavily, but he also suspected if John wasn't his biological son. In the end, the family members urged the patriarch to drive John's mother out of the family and force them into the streets.
John's mother was devastated. She left her six years old John behind and drowned herself by jumping into the river. Before she committed suicide, she told John to look for her family with hopes that they would offer shelter for him. After her death, John carried out her wishes and finally arrived at the South after suffering lots of hardships. Even though he found his mother's family, his situation didn't change at all.
In the South, John had been spurned due to his half-Northern bloodline. He had often been mocked and ridiculed by his mother's family members that he 'carries the filth of the Northern country bumpkin in his blood'. John couldn't tolerate the ridicules any longer and he left the family to join the military. He had a meteoric career and became an outstanding commander. This person had left a deep impression on players for being a true man who had the courage to accept the consequences of his actions. In the game, while the Munn Kingdom was under attack from the Country of Darkness, he led his army up North and destroyed his father's family entirely. He killed his father personally as revenge for his mother, but this started a controversy. Even though many players knew about this general's pitiful life experience, it was unforgivable for him to carry out something personally in times of war!
But, shortly after, this general used his actions to shut all the players' mouths. After annihilating his father's family, he commanded his army in the frontline against the Country of Darkness. The Cavalrymen that he led were exceptionally formidable and it could even be said that he was the only general who dared to meet force with force with the Undead Army.
If Garcia was considered a cunning wild fox, then John Grayer would be an angry bull. Rhode personally witnessed the ferocious scene when John had led ten thousand Cavalrymen against the never-ending stream of Undead Army where they shattered like fragile glasses.
Of course, this general eventually died in the sea of Undead Army. This was the only possible ending for this reckless approach to war and Rhode wasn't surprised at all.
However, Rhode didn't expect to see him here.
But this is truly interesting.
It seemed that this was a blessing in disguise. He came all the way to Paphield's frontline and actually caught a huge fish. He had considered recruiting future generals of the Munn Kingdom to strengthen his forces and it wouldn't be right if he didn't take John in.
Rhode had decided.
"Loosen the ropes."
Rhode gestured to his mercenaries and they untied the ropes on John. Meanwhile, the other mercenaries gazed vigilantly. After all, they knew that this man wasn't easy to deal with. Now that they had untied the ropes, this fella may cause an even bigger trouble. But... Is he even capable of doing anything in front of Leader?
The young man didn't create a ruckus as the mercenaries had expected. Instead, he puckered his brows and rotated his numbed wrists. He took two steps back while looking at Rhode. "Mr. Alander, never did I expect to meet you here. It seems that I wasn't captured for nothing."
"You know who I am?"
Rhode was a little surprised because he couldn't remember meeting this young man before. The corner of John's mouth twitched and he revealed a mocking smile. "Are you kidding me? Mr. Alander? It would be even more shocking if the entire South hasn't heard of your big name by now. Furthermore, your features are so..."
John scanned Rhode from head to toe. Then, he spread his arms apart and shrugged. Rhode didn't expect him to be this observant. He thought that John was a one-track minded and ferocious man. But it seemed that this man wasn't as impulsive as he had imagined. Actually, this was to be expected because... how could he have led his army against the Undead Army if he relied on simply being brave and fierce?
Rhode nodded at John and beckoned before turning to the tent. "Follow me, Mr. John. I have something to discuss with you privately."
They entered the tent and John sat down on a chair that he had dragged from the side. Rhode folded his arms and looked at the young man. After a brief silence, John let out a bitter smile. "Alright, I give up, Mr. Alander. Surely you didn't invite me in for tea, right?"
"Of course not, Mr. John. In fact, there's something I want to discuss with you," Rhode shook his head. "I want to ask if you're interested in joining Starlight?"
John twitched his brows. "Join your Starlight Guild?"
The young man gazed at Rhode as though he was looking at a monster. He shook his head. "You sure do love to joke, Mr. Alander. I am a soldier of the Southern Legion. Why would I be a mercenary in your Guild?"
"You were." Rhode waved his hand to interrupt John. He narrowed his eyes and lifted his head proudly. "But now, you're a captive, Mr. John. Besides... You might even be a dead man soon."
"..." John fell into silence. But shortly after, he shook his head. "I'm sorry, Mr. Alander. I am a soldier and soldiers would rather die than submit. I would rather die on the battlefield than to live a life under you."
"Is this your pride as a Southerner?" A strange glint flashed in Rhode's eyes.
In the game, although John battled alongside the Munn Kingdom after taking his revenge on his father, the conflict between the South and North wasn't as intense as now. At this point in time, the South and North had officially broken off their relations, so would John retain this notion? If he were a true loyal supporter of the South, Rhode had no need to continue this conversation anymore.
"Yes, part of it. But most importantly, I have something that I must attend to and I must do it personally. I'm sorry, my views on the North isn't as terrible as the Southern Parliament's. But we're each on our own now so it doesn't matter."
"But, the dead can't accomplish anything."
"I'm not dead yet, Mr. Alander." John showed a confident smile.
Although Rhode didn't know where his confidence stemmed from, Rhode was sure that he wasn't someone who would resign to his fate.
John strode toward the exit. "If you asked me in to talk about such boring matters, I'm sorry to disappoint you, Mr. Alander."
At this moment, Rhode spoke with a casual tone. "... Is it about the Rockefeller Family, Mr. John?"
John came to a halt and turned around with a slightly ashen expression.
"How do you..."
"I think you may have forgotten, Mr. John," Rhode knew that his risk paid off judging from John's expression. "I'm a noble and there's no lack of gossip among us. 'The Shame of the Rockefeller Family'. I've heard about this rumor."
Indeed. John sulked instantly as soon as he heard the sensitive term. He clenched his fists as wrath burned within him. He glared at Rhode furiously. "Mr. Alander, are you trying to mock me?"
"Of course not. I'm just saying that we can make a deal."
Rhode said without any change in his expression, but he was actually nodding inwardly. Rhode sensed that he had reached the Peak Elite Stage at level 39. Just one more step and he could transcend into the Master Stage and become a Swordsmaster. No wonder the mercenaries couldn't pin him down even when his hands were tied.
But it was a pity that even though he was only a level away from Rhode, the difference in strength between players and aborigines was massive. "As long as you're willing to join my Guild and work for me wholeheartedly. I can promise you that I will wipe the entire Rockefeller Family out of this world."
John felt a shiver down his spine and widened his eyes at Rhode unbelievably.
Rhode twitched his brows and approached John, standing by the tent entrance. "What do you think about this deal, Mr. John?"