When this remark came out of Joey's mouth, almost everyone who heard it displayed the same expression as him. He rolled his eyes ridiculously and wrinkled his nose as though he had tasted something horrible. This proved that even Joey refused to believe such nonsense. Lapis would surely be placed at the top of the list for being the most harmless person in the entire Guild. Moreover, Joey had been with Randolf and Lapis for a long time and he knew better than anyone else what sort of a person Lapis was. If they claimed that Lapis dared to poison someone to death, then the others would surely be homicidal maniacs.
"Continue," said Rhode.
Rhode had almost figured out everything regarding this matter. Fortune favored the fool and it was fortunate that they had looked for Lapis of their own accord. If that was the case, Rhode was confident in handling this situation.
Joey looked at Rhode's uninterested expression and he pulled himself together to continue his report. "We haven't investigated the specific situation, Boss. But those people seem to be grumbling that an important person in the Alchemist Association had gotten into trouble and they blamed it on us." Joey pouted in disdain. "I also heard that those bastards were extremely arrogant. Boss, you have chased them out of the Fortress and they still blabbered a bunch of nonsense. They said something about getting the overlord to resolve the situation for them and that we, mercenaries, are a bunch of unreasonable barbarians. They also said that... Uh..."
Joey came to an abrupt stop. He gazed at Rhode awkwardly and coughed to clear his throat. "That... That's about all, Boss."
Rhode swept a glance at Joey. He knew what the other party had said about them judging from Joey's attitude, but he had no intentions of looking into them. The current problem was much more important than the senseless lies and slanders.
"Good, continue to monitor those guys and see if they have left the Land of Atonement. It would be for the best if they were tactful enough to get out of this place on their own. But if they don't... You should know how to teach them a lesson. Our Starlight Guild isn't specially here for them to cause a ruckus."
"Got it, Boss, I'll get going now!" Joey jumped on his feet and saluted swiftly before leaving Rhode's sight.
Rhode shook his head hopelessly and continued to head into the Fortress.
At the same time, the Alchemists who were walking in the Fortress were awed by the scenery before them.
The white-bearded senior sat down at the glittering drawing room and gazed at everything before him with amazement flowing from his eyes. As a high-level personnel in the Alchemist Association, there were no doubts that he had heard rumors about Starlight and their mysteriously strange Guild Leader. The senior had treated all the rumors as interesting anecdotes and didn't expect that he would personally witness everything himself.
The doubts that the senior had about Starlight were gone. Alchemists were craftsmen of art and he recognized the true formidability of this mighty Fortress. Not only was it grand on the surface and easily guarded, but it also had a vast, powerful ritual circle enveloping the entire fortress. Although the senior didn't know what exactly the ritual circle was, he was sure that it wouldn't be as simple as launching fireworks once the ritual circle was activated.
"Amazing..." The senior turned his gaze away from the tall arrow tower outside the window and mumbled under his breath. It was unbelievable that this place here was just a barren landscape few months ago. Even with the help of Mages and Alchemists, it shouldn't be possible to build this towering Fortress in a matter of months. However, the intelligence the Alchemist Association gathered had always been accurate. In other words, this young man named Rhode had truly built this massive Fortress in a few months.
How did he do it?
This was an interesting subject for the senior. However, he didn't have the time to research about it now. The troubles in the Alchemist Association were huge and also implicated Starlight, which was rising in the Munn Kingdom. Due to this reason, the senior led his team here for an investigation just to be cautious. It seemed that his decision was correct. The fact that this Fortress was built in a few months proved that the Guild Leader had powerful strength and strong backing. If that was true, it wouldn't be smart for him to go head to head with him.
And... his subordinates.
The senior lifted his head and gazed at the graceful presence standing by the window. Although this lively and adorable lady appeared to be in her teens, he sensed the immense spiritual energy gathering around her clearly. He also saw the energy flow of the Three-rings Inner Circle that represented the three levels of spells, which proved one point: this young lady was a Grand Mage who had entered the Legendary Stage.
If it was said that this Fortress had astonished the senior, then this young lady had left him shell-shocked. A young lady who was barely the age of 20 was a Legendary Grand Mage. The senior had never seen this happen before and now, she was the subordinate of this young man?! What kind of backing and trump card does this man, who has a subordinate in the Legendary Stage, have?
At this moment, the senior was incomparably glad that he had made this wise decision. The reason why he chose to lead the team was because he lived in the Golden City and he knew that Lydia and the King's Party were interested in this newly established Guild. Furthermore, after considering that the heir of the Senia Family in the Munn Kingdom and Lydia's sister were in this Guild, things would get troublesome if the Alchemist Association didn't handle the situation appropriately.
Although the Alchemist Association and the Church were continental institutions, the strength of the Alchemist Association was nowhere near the Church. After all, the Church had the backing of the Twin Dragons of the Country of Law, while the Alchemist Association had ordinary humans. Besides, the King's Party and the Senia Family didn't need to operate with considerations to the Alchemist Association even when they had impressive magical and alchemical technologies. This was why the senior stayed cautious and it proved that he had made a wise choice.
Simply judging from the Fortress and the young lady, he knew that this young man wasn't as simple as the rumors had described. He couldn't possibly be only a noble and there were rumors spreading that he might be from an ancient family with such strength and techniques. Not only that, but the strange Ocean Elves had also left the senior astounded. As a knowledgeable Alchemist, he had heard about the Ocean Elves. They were creatures that lived in the Water Plane of Existence and seldom interacted with humans, not to mention coming to the main Plane of Existence to work for humans. However, he had already spotted a dozen Ocean Elves tidying the Fortress neatly and willingly, which also proved another point. No matter who the Guild's backing was, they were powerful enough to communicate, interact, and even sign contracts with the creatures in the Plane of Existences.
The senior puckered his brows once again... After that incident, all the investigation had pointed at Starlight and a lot of them in the Alchemist Association's internal department thought that this Guild was no big deal at all. But it seemed that this Guild wasn't as simple as it looked. They also heard that the Country of Light's Parliament had stirred trouble with the Guild, which ended with Mist Sword Saint crippled and he couldn't even remember who he was... The senior prayed that they wouldn't become the second Light Parliament...
The senior was deeply worried and sick at heart. If this incident was related to Starlight, the Alchemist Association might face an unprecedented calamity, which wouldn't be a good thing for them, who were on the decline.
As the senior knitted his brows worriedly, the heavy wooden door opened and an unfamiliar young man's voice sounded. "Everyone, welcome to Starlight Guild."
The senior lifted his head and narrowed his eyes. A thin, young man clad in a black robe stood by the door. He had a full head of black long hair just like the rumors and an exquisite face like that of a young lady. The young man looked at his guests without any changes to his expression as though his face were carved from a rock.
What a difficult guy.
The senior sighed inwardly. Then, he pressed down the creases in his attire and stroked his white long beard, lifting his head and standing to his feet. He nodded at the young man with a smile. "Hi there, Mr. Rhode. I'm Dasos Bell from the Alchemist Association. This time, I represent that Alchemist Association to discuss matters with your Guild."
Of course, I know who you are.
Rhode let out an inward sigh.
Dasos Bell. One of the personnel with the highest authority in the Alchemist Association of the Munn Kingdom. Any players who learned alchemy couldn't avoid his tests when leveling up. Rhode had also learned alchemy due to his Spirits Swordsman identity and had no lack of fights with this old man. However, after coming to this world, Rhode didn't spend any effort upgrading his alchemy levels after randomly recruiting an Alchemist Master and didn't meet this old man at all.
However, even though Rhode thought of it this way, he didn't express it on his face. He gestured to Dasos and nodded. "Please take a seat, Master Dasos. I've heard that you're a very popular person in the Alchemist Association."
Dasos forced out a bitter smile. Even though it sounded like a polite greeting, the senior couldn't figure out if Rhode was being polite or sarcastic due to the tense atmosphere and his aloof expression. However, Dasos had long passed his prime of youth and he didn't mind even if Rhode was really mocking him. He sat down and gazed at Rhode sternly. "This was what happened, Mr. Rhode. This time, We, Alchemists, came to your Fortress to seek your cooperation on something important... If it is possible, I hope we can discuss about it privately."
Rhode twitched his brows before snapping his finger to Canary who was admiring the scenery from the window. Canary turned around, swept a glance at them, and nodded with a smile. "Alright, Rhode, I will go check on Christie."
"I'll leave it to you," said Rhode.
Canary nodded to the Alchemists and left the drawing room. At this moment, Kasos was incredibly stunned. He had seen through Rhode's strength-he was only in the Master Stage. But even so, this young man actually commanded a Grand Mage in the Legendary Stage so easily and she didn't dislike it at all. Powerful beings had strong feelings of pride and were rarely ordered about. However, the young lady accepted his orders so willingly... This wasn't something that ordinary nobles could accomplish.
Could it be that they have an intimate relationship?
This thought flashed in Dasos' mind for only a second. After all, he didn't come here to gossip. He lifted his head and looked at Rhode solemnly. "This was what happened... Mr. Rhode. About half a month ago, the Chairman of the Alchemist Association, Volta, fell ill and went into a comma. It was due to this that the entire Alchemist Association turned into utter chaos..."
Before Dasos finished his sentences, Rhode's sneer interrupted. "This is really interesting, Master Dasos. If I recall correctly, there should be three Vice-Chairmen in each organizational branch of the Alchemist Association. Even if the Chairman had fallen ill, the entire Alchemist Association shouldn't stop its operations. If the Alchemist Association is really that unorganized and fragile, perhaps it would've been completely destroyed during the Third High Cliff Campaign."
Dasos' expression stiffened slightly as soon as he heard the term 'Third High Cliff Campaign'. However, he pulled himself together quickly and nodded with a smile to Rhode's subtle ridicule. "Indeed. It's just as Mr. Rhode has said. If the Chairman had simply fallen ill, the situation wouldn't have ended up in this plight now. After our investigations, we have concrete evidence to prove that the Chairman didn't fall ill due to the infection of diseases. Instead, he was poisoned by someone."
Dasos twitched his brows and scrutinized Rhode silently. However, he was disappointed to see that Rhode remained unaffected even after hearing this news as though it had nothing to do with him at all. Well, that was actually the truth. Rhode adjusted his posture to a more comfortable spot on his seat. At the same time, he interlocked his fingers and gazed at the senior nonchalantly. "That's interesting, Master Dasos. If I recall correctly, you said you're from the Alchemist Association, right? So shouldn't your Alchemists... be knowledgeable about creating antidotes?"
"Just as you've said, Mr. Rhode," Dasos nodded. "If it were an ordinary poison, the Alchemist Association could surely get rid of it. However, this poison is incredibly unusual and we've tried all methods, but to no avail. All we could do was to temporarily slow down the invasion of the poison to the bloodstream. According to our investigations, the concocting methods for this poison is extremely rare and ordinary Alchemists can't achieve it."
"So?" Rhode sat up straight. He knew that this was the true, crucial moment.
Dasos didn't respond immediately. Instead, he reached into the fold of his top and retrieved a small crystal potion bottle and placed it on the table. The senior looked up and stared at Rhode. "I think Mr. Rhode must be familiar with this."