Rhode followed the female servant into the room and the scene before him made his heart skipped a beat.
Lydia laid languidly on the scarlet velvet sofa by the french window. Her white, silky dress set off her seductive curves as she stretched out her slim, long legs. Her blonde hair hung down lightly, pairing with her fair, delicate skin. She shook the paper in her hand playfully, but no one knew if she was scanning the report or she was just fooling around.
Got to say, any man who encountered such a beautiful young lady when he entered the room would be tempted to pounce on her and Rhode was no exception. He swept a quick glance over her and shifted his attention to her face. Rhode had met Lydia a few times, but he had never seen her dressed appropriately to welcome her guests. Could she be dressed up like this in the castle all these while?
Lydia displayed a smile to welcome Rhode's arrival and gestured for him to take a seat. She adjusted her posture and placed the paper on the table. That's strange. Lydia's movements are drastic, but her dress doesn't slip at all. Could it be that there is censorship even in this world?
"Long time no see. I'm glad that you're looking fine, Baron Rhode... Gaya has a huge opinion about you," said Lydia.
Rhode twitched his brows as Lydia mentioned Gaya's name as soon as she spoke. He knew that it was impossible that Lydia didn't understand his thoughts, but... Maybe things aren't as bad as I thought? If that's the case, this may turn out to be something better. Rhode gazed at Lydia silently and waited for her to continue. "I've heard the specific report from Gaya. Lize did well this time and to be honest, although I knew that Lize has potential, I'm surprised that she managed to take it that far. Of course. My adorable younger sister didn't perform perfectly, but she's worth the praise. Isn't that right, Baron Rhode?"
"Of course, Your Highness," Rhode said. "Lize's performance has impressed me. It wasn't easy for her to achieve this result, considering her situation."
"That's right... Baron Rhode. I'm glad that I've handed her to your care. But..." Lydia narrowed her eyes. Although she was still smiling, Rhode felt an unprecedented pressure. "Baron Rhode, I don't wish to see my adorable younger sister getting hurt, do you understand? We can't avoid the fact that wars are cruel. She has her choice, but I don't wish to see her sink into depravity due to the wars. I simply want her to live a blissful life. You do understand what I mean, right?"
"That's for sure, Your Highness," Rhode nodded slightly in agreement.
Lydia smiled with satisfaction and she picked up the sheet of paper from the table. Then, she withdrew her gracious smile. "Alright then. Explain to me the situation in the Grosso and Fiat regions, Baron Rhode."
This question is finally here.
Rhode sulked unnoticeably. But he hid his emotions and explained everything calmly. Of course, Rhode wouldn't be foolish enough to inform Lydia that he had created the Undead Army. He used the common saying of the Southerners that he witnessed the Undead Army wreaking havoc in the Grosso region as soon as he arrived there. In order to not expose his identity, he kept himself hidden until the Undead Army was about to attack the city and he summoned Celia to get rid of them. Also, while the military forces were weak in the Grosso region, he quickly set fire to burn the entire place.
Rhode didn't explain deliberately. Although Lydia should be aware that there was a Demon within the Undead Army, he had never exposed Celestina before Lydia. Therefore, Lydia wouldn't think that the Undead Army had any relations with him even if she guessed. At least on the surface, that was.
The explanation was much simpler for Fiat. Rhode merely repeated the words that he had used to dupe Emily. Of course, he also mentioned the unexpected guest, Andre, who emerged at the very end. No matter what, Andre was a member of the 'Sword Guardians' who possessed the Neptune's Sigh and he was up to no good to be in Fiat. However, this wasn't something that Rhode needed to be concerned about. All he had to do was to 'objectively' report to Lydia about Andre and she would know what actions to take next.
Rhode's explanation on the situations didn't take too long and Lydia pondered silently while gazing at him. After 10 minutes, she finally responded. "Baron Rhode, what do you think is beautiful?"
Rhode puckered his brows and he didn't answer instantly because he knew that she would continue her sentence. Indeed, Lydia leaned back on the sofa and folded her arms. She smiled and gazed at Rhode. "I think that this world is a beautiful one. Every life has its unique, glittering bright spot and these bright spots gather to form this dazzling world. But there will be shadows among them and this inelegance sets off the existence of beauty. I don't deny the value of inelegance, but... the vulgar and filth will gradually pollute this beautiful world and cause it to lose its brilliance. Besides, all of these comes from fear... Baron Rhode, I understand your pursuit for victories and I'm thankful for the sacrifices and choices that you have made for the mission. But... Wouldn't it be too sorrowful if you have to give up on something in order to achieve another?"
Even though Lydia beat about the bush, Rhode understood what she meant. It was apparent that this Archangel had a conclusion to Rhode's account and this test was his final hurdle.
Rhode pondered in silence for a few moments. Then, he lifted his head and gazed into Lydia's eyes bravely. "I'm sorry, Your Highness. I understand what you meant, but... I only pursue victory. I can understand the hard work, dedication, and sacrifices that losers put in, but I cannot accept such a defeat. Victory is everything to me and any failure will only bring me pain. I can accept to console the losers as a victor, but never the other way around. I understand your aesthetics, but I'm unable to agree with your thoughts from my standpoint."
"... In other words, you're willing to sacrifice everything in return for victory, Baron Rhode?"
A trace of complex, yet curious glint flashed in Lydia's eyes and Rhode shook his head unflinchingly. "I'm sorry, Your Highness. I've never thought of sacrificing everything to win. Victory isn't an individual that exists, so why would I sacrifice everything for it? I don't hope for such things. What I hope for is to enjoy victories with the people around me. I hate to be alone when I win because that would be pointless. In order to prevent facing situations where I've to sacrifice everything, I will 'try all means' to achieve my goals... Your Highness, please pardon my bluntness. The victory that I gain from abandoning everything is meaningless to me. If people can't protect the things that they should protect and choose to give up cowardly, it means that they are losers through and through. Even if they stand until the very end, I don't think that they deserve the cheers and honor. I admit that sacrifices are inevitable on the road to seeking victory. But they are nothing more than slaves of desire if they have to give up on everything."
Rhode gazed at the Archangel before him without batting an eye. Lydia looked at him quietly and displayed a smile. "Interesting, Baron Rhode. That's very enjoyable... I admit that your thoughts have given me a breath of fresh air, so I won't look into the incident in the Grosso region. I hope the spirits of the dead will be able to find their peace." Lydia paused and gazed at Rhode meaningfully. "Alright then. Let's talk about the next matter."