Starlight coalesced and crashed toward them. A vast sky full of stars interwoven into a large net and their only hope was to retreat. The sneaky shadow watched for its opportunity and followed its sinister tracks to seal their path of retreat. The young ladies leaned against each other's back. Bubble lifted her clenched fists while Canary raised her flame sword.
Shing! Suddenly, an X-shaped blade ray struck from the side as the young ladies charged forward. Rhode flitted by like a ghost and pierced his twin daggers to their throats silently. If it wasn't for the trail of spiritual blade rays streaking across the air, perhaps they wouldn't have noticed Rhode's ambush.
However, Bubble and Canary weren't ordinary humans. Although they could only battle with combat techniques due to Rhode's limitations, their strength of level 85 as phantoms of the Sphere of Mystery shouldn't be belittled. Besides, as the strongest players of Starlight, they wouldn't be defeated that easily.
Bubble swung her backhand and a violent airstream rose from the ground, blocking Rhode's attack like an invisible barrier. Canary pulled back her flame sword before thrusting forward. Then, she cloned herself into nine presences which scattered in all directions. The loud explosion boomed and scarlet flares splashed, devouring everything in its path.
The flares dispersed and Rhode crawled to his feet. The [Ninth Heaven Phoenix Dance] was indeed first-rate in explosiveness and AOE range where Rhode didn't even dare to duel with Canary using just swordsmanship in his flourishing phase. Moreover, he wasn't even half of what he used to be where perhaps he would be a goner if Canary went all-out. But this wasn't a real duel to begin with, so Rhode pulled himself together quickly after feeling a little disappointed.
Canary and Bubble looked on curiously and in astonishment. Then, Bubble darted over and stared at Rhode. "Leader, what swordsmanship did you use? What swordsmanship was that? Why was it so strange?!"
"Interesting, eh?" Rhode twitched his brows proudly and sniggered inwardly. The reason why he chose to display his newly incomplete swordsmanship before them was for them to understand and appreciate its might. If they were mercenaries, perhaps they would simply gawk at its formidable strength. As the saying 'the layman looks at the external while the insider looks at the technical aspects' goes. Rhode didn't need any more plain praises. Instead, he needed opinions from experts.
Although Canary and Bubble were spellcasters, this didn't mean that they weren't experts in close-combat techniques. Bubble's 'Crumble Thunder' fisticuffs and Canary's 'Ninth Heaven Phoenix Dance' swordsmanship had reached the S grade in mastery. Even though the penalty for swordsmanship was higher for the spellcasters than the Spirit Swordsmen, the fact that they were able to reach S grade in mastery proved that they had rich experiences.
"It's indeed interesting..." Canary nodded in agreement. After experiencing the might of this swordsmanship personally, she understood its value and purpose.
Judging from the surface, this new swordsmanship was simply just a nimble Shadow Clone Technique. If that were the case, it wouldn't be accepted by their discerning eyes. After all, there were too many swordsmanships that involved the Shadow Clone Technique and Rhode's [Dark Dance] and Canary's [Ninth Heaven Phoenix Dance] were two of them. Moreover, there were some spells and magic that could create phantoms and illusions. Therefore, if Rhode's new swordsmanship was purely focusing on the Shadow Clone Technique, it definitely couldn't pique their curiosity. And now, the reason why Canary and Bubble were so interested in this swordsmanship was that of the incredibly strange battle experience.
The Shadow Clone Technique mainly relied on extreme speed, or perhaps a unique spatial attribute to create. The main advantage of the Shadow Clone Technique depended on the instant ambush which fazed the enemy into being unable to grasp the authentic presence. Higher-level Shadow Clone Techniques could even allow the clones to attack with the same amount of strength with the user. Canary's [Ninth Heaven Phoenix Dance] was a representative of this swordsmanship. When she unleashed this technique, eight clones split out from her true self and possessed equal strength.
Such a Shadow Clone Technique was the hardest to resist, but there were also obvious flaws with it. Phantoms were phantoms, after all and would be destroyed once they were attacked. This was the same for this level of Canary's Shadow Clone Technique. Although the damage of the [Ninth Heaven Phoenix Dance] was incredibly destructive in a flash, her clones would disappear immediately after. If Canary kept cloning eight more of herself to attack, it would consume her a lot of spiritual energy.
However, Rhode's strange swordsmanship gave an entirely different impression from other Shadow Clone Techniques.
Even though Canary and Bubble were in a disadvantageous situation when Rhode attacked, Bubble launched her 'Crumble Thunder' punch to deflect Rhode's attack. Then, Rhode took advantage and struck out a blade ray arc. However, everything that happened afterward was out of their expectations.
Ordinary Shadow Clone Technique sought victories using speed. However, Rhode's swordsmanship did the very opposite. After Bubble deflected Rhode's attack, he dashed away in a flash and retaliated with a shadow attack. But strangely, after Canary emerged and blocked it, the 'Stars Orbit' that should have been gone erupted once again and struck toward Bubble. This was where both of them were gobsmacked.
It felt as though Rhode had used another swordsmanship technique after he cast the 'Star Attack' and amazingly, the 'Star Attack' didn't launch as though it was due to internet lag. It could be said to be a coincidence if it only happened once. However, both of them faced similar attacks thereafter too. Rhode seemed to launch his attacks using the delay in time differences where he could quickly launch two attacks at once before retreating and just as the enemy focused their attention on dealing with Rhode's third round of attack, the hidden fourth round of attack exploded and dealt damage to the enemy mercilessly.
Due to this reason, Canary and Bubble had a hard time during the battle. They had never seen such an aggressive swordsmanship that relied on capturing the essence of time differences. What's worse was that the young ladies couldn't figure out Rhode's position when they were attacked simultaneously from three different directions. This was an extremely rare occurrence for them.
However, their strength was stronger than Rhode after all, and they had sufficient experience to deal with such changes in the situation. Canary saw that the situation was far from assuring and she blasted an AOE [Ninth Heaven Phoenix Dance] to eliminate Rhode's swordsmanship.
"This swordsmanship is astonishing, Rhode. Where did you learn it from?"
Although Canary had defeated Rhode effortlessly, she knew that she had the upper hand in the level differences. If she was the same level as Rhode and the mastery of her [Ninth Heaven Phoenix Dance] hadn't reached the S grade, perhaps she would be overwhelmed by his attacks.
"Make a guess. I'm sure that you'll be surprised," Rhode twitched his brows proudly and turned to Bubble. "How do you feel?"
"It's amusing, strange, and decent. Leader, this swordsmanship is alright for PVP, but is still lacking in terms of PVE," Bubble gave a short answer that hit the nail on the head.
There were two kinds of battle techniques for players: PVP and PVE. PVP focused on control while PVE required vast AOE damage like Canary's [Ninth Heaven Phoenix Dance]. However, even though Rhode's new swordsmanship was rather advantageous during battle, his AOE damage wouldn't be as high as Canary's technique when he faced thousands of enemy.
"Indeed. I don't know where you got your hands on this swordsmanship, but this feels really fresh and fascinating," Canary looked at Rhode with a curious expression and shook her head. "Although this is only the start, I'm curious to see the might of this swordsmanship when it reaches its highest mastery."
"Me too." Rhode shrugged. "It's still incomplete in its Initial Stage, as you can see."
"Incomplete?" the young ladies exchanged doubtful looks with each other. After all, the swordsmanship that players learned in the game were perfectly complete and the only difference was the level of mastery. Therefore, even if players couldn't master the swordsmanship, the final stages of the swordsmanship would be available for their references to aid them in building up the swordsmanship. It felt similar to the Talent Trees where Rhode couldn't build on them if he didn't know what awaited him in the endpoint. He nodded firmly to their doubts. "That's right, this is a swordsmanship that I created-Fantasy Daybreak. What do both of you think?"
"You created it?" Bubble jumped and glared with widened eyes. "You said that you created this swordsmanship, Leader? Are you sure?"
Not only Bubble, but Canary also revealed a look of amazement. It was because they knew that players couldn't create swordsmanship at all!
Rhode quickly explained the 'Sword Creation Points' and the 'Swordsmanship Creation System' to them and they were just as interested as him.
Just as Canary had thought, this swordsmanship mainly relied on time differences to launch attacks. However, it wasn't only as simple as that. Since the [Fantasy Daybreak] was a swordsmanship specially designed for the [Holy Sword Card Deck], Rhode must make full use of his Holy Sword arsenal.
[Starfall] was responsible for frontal combat while [Succubus] was in charge of blockade and support. [Garcia] and [Madaras] were used for ambushes-they complimented one another and formed an inextinguishable triangle loop. Rhode's attacking swordsmanship also unfolded upon relying on this triangle. With the unique Shadow Clone Technique of the [Fantasy Daybreak], Rhode could easily switch between the three points of 'A', 'B', and 'C'. He could launch an attack from 'A' and dodge to 'B' while coordinating with the clone in 'A' to pincer the enemy. Once the enemy counterattacked, Rhode could sneak to 'C' and leave behind a clone before returning to 'A'. After Rhode had returned to 'A', his clone in 'A' would disappear and be replaced by his true self.
In other words, if Rhode could capture the rhythm, he could continuously switch between the three points with his clones. This way, the enemy would be trapped by his three different attacking styles like prey that had sunk into a bottomless swamp. The [Fantasy Daybreak] had 5 points in [Technique] which allowed Rhode to switch over from the three different attacking styles freely. He could choose to attack aggressively before retaliating and ambushing or also choose to ambush and launch an aggressive attack after the enemy counterattacked. Three different battle styles could be interchangeable and linked up. This was the most powerful aspect of the [Fantasy Daybreak].
However, there were also flaws to this swordsmanship. After all, it had only just been created and there were many areas needed to improve on. Besides, Canary's performance had proven that this swordsmanship lacked powerful means for retaliation against AOE attacks. Although there were differences in their levels, there would be no purpose in a swordsmanship if it could be destroyed in a single AOE blast. Besides, Rhode was still figuring out the three different tempos. His ambush had failed due to his failure to grasp the critical rhythm and in the end, Canary blasted him away after Bubble captured his true self.
Rhode was extremely confident in this swordsmanship, especially after he had creating it after carefully calculating its attribute values. He realized that this swordsmanship turned out similar to his expectations after creating it with the help of the 'system'. Although he didn't know how the system managed to do it, he was still the one benefiting from it. Besides, if Rhode could familiarize with the attack patterns, he would have much more varieties once his [Holy Sword Card Deck] was completed.
"It's so late already," said Rhode with a sigh.
The reddish color of dusk had painted the sky when he walked out of the mirage. He had discussed with Bubble and Canary for a long time about the new swordsmanship. Got to say, it was much more efficient to have the help of two capable, trusted aides who truly understood his thoughts. In fact, Rhode might even carry on the discussion till midnight if he wasn't feeling fatigued from the long journey back to the Fortress.
"Alright then, I'll make a move now to see what that bunch of idiots are doing. Leader, Big Sister, see you around," Bubble waved her tiny hand and left, leaving Canary and Rhode behind on this vast grassland.
As Rhode turned his gaze away from Bubble, an aromatic smell assailed his nostrils and he felt two soft, ample objects pushing against his arm. He turned around and saw Canary's gentle smiling.
"I didn't expect something this great to happen to you, Rhode. Creating a swordsmanship is something that the players have thought about for a long time. It's awesome that we have a chance to do it. Alright, in order to celebrate..." Canary slid her slender, fair fingers down Rhode's top and teased between his legs. Then, she looked up with a crafty smile. "... You get what I mean. Rhode? You're finally back after a long time and you should make up for it, right?"
"Of course." Rhode felt the hot blood rolling and flowing in his body. He embraced her slender waist and his unsettled right hand fondled her soft buttocks. Canary trembled slightly and revealed a flushed, alluring expression. Then, she whispered. "Here... or somewhere else?"
Suddenly, a crisp, loud voice sounded. "Ah! Leader and Sister Canary, you're both here!"
Canary stepped back grudgingly and maintained a distance with Rhode while he retracted his right arm and shook his head helplessly. At this moment, Anne was waving her right arm and scampering hurriedly as though she didn't sense the awkward atmosphere. She grumbled breathlessly. "Really... Leader, where... have you two been. Anne... Anne has been finding you... For a long time... If it wasn't for... Bubble... who said you're at the Training Ground..."
"Is anything the matter, Anne?" Rhode expressed a look of 'apology' to Canary before turning to Anne. Anne nodded and said sternly. "Of course, Leader. There's a group of men who came to our Fortress and they look similar to the group that you've chased away. They requested to meet you!"
"The same group of people? Can't you just chase them away?" Rhode puckered his brows.
He didn't have a favorable impression of the Alchemists. Although they were indeed an arrogant bunch who looked down on the mercenaries and noble families who weren't established for a long time, they actually had the rights to do so. After all, not everyone could easily recruit an Alchemist Master like Rhode. Even though Alchemists were unarmed and defenseless, many military teams, Guilds, and even murder associations had to maintain a good relationship with the Alchemists to receive alchemy potions and Constructs. However, even though the Alchemists were highly regarded in other regions, Rhode didn't give a damn about them, especially after they had daringly stepped into his territory to snatch his man...
"No no, Leader," Anne quickly shook her head and denied. "This group of men dressed similarly, but they seemed more pleasing to my eyes. Oh, by the way, their leader was a white-bearded old man. I'm not too sure of his name... But he seems really powerful."
"White-bearded old man?" Rhode sulked slightly and nodded after exchanging glances with Canary. "I'll head over now."