When Rhode stepped into the hall of the castle, he sensed plenty of gazes on Lize and himself from the nobles. But that lasted for only a while. The nobles continued their passionate conversations with one another. The banquet would be held on the evening of the 15th and the nobles had rushed their way back to Golden City. Of course, they were aware that the banquet wasn't just a grand dinner. Instead, it was more like a session to share a delicious cake. The King's Party army was mainly formed from the nobles' private soldiers and legions. After this war, the higher-ups of the Southern Fleet and Southern Legion would be re-selected. Although the current Southern Legion Commander didn't participate in the armed rebellion and was imprisoned by the Reformist Party for resisting, everyone knew that this was enough to get him out of his position.
However, military affairs weren't related to the nobles. The Munn Kingdom had always treated the military and nobles as unique entities. Therefore, even though the Southern Legion had suffered huge damages, it was imaginable that the King's Party would eventually select outstanding candidates from other legions to replenish vacant roles. Therefore, it was impossible for nobles to poke their noses into military affairs. This time, the nobles were most concerned about the remaining slices of cake left behind by the southern nobles and merchants. They had been eyeing them for a long time, but they couldn't find excuses to have them. But now, since the other party had to bring about their own destruction, it would be rude of them to stop them. Please go ahead bravely. We won't have any issues safekeeping the things that you left behind.
Rhode held a low feudal rank and his performance wasn't as outstanding as Marlene's. Apart from a few remarkable performances in the Cloud Summit Fortress battle and assisting General Garcia in defending the Southern Legion's attack twice, he was nowhere to be seen in contributing to other areas. Not only that, but one of the battles was also commanded by Lize and he couldn't claim credit for that. The only achievement he could present was capturing General Dade, a leading commander of the Southern Legion.
Judging from this, Rhode's achievements were unmatchable to Marlene's. However, the nobles had their own news channel and they knew that even though Rhode didn't perform outstandingly well, the conflagration in the Grosso region and the collapse of the underground mine in the Fiat region were closely linked to him, which was the key to dissolving this war swiftly. The strength of the armed rebels weakened drastically after losing their source of food supplies and the Reformist Party lost their resources to forge armor and weapons after the Royal Fleet sealed off the Southern Port. During the final days of the war, many of the Southern Legion soldiers didn't have food for days and the blades in their possessions were terribly blunt.
In such a condition, it went without saying how they performed against the perfectly well-equipped King's Party army.
However, these rumors were only spreading among the nobles. Lydia had kept this matter a secret and not many nobles noticed it. But they knew that they shouldn't make irresponsible remarks about such matters. Therefore, they didn't appear exceptionally passionate or show disdain when Rhode's group arrived. Since Lydia had appointed such an important task to Rhode, it undoubtedly meant that this mysterious and powerful young man would be a force to be reckoned with in the King's Party.
The banquet hadn't begun yet. The nobles were waiting and chatting in the hall. However, not many of them spoke to Rhode and he didn't seem interested in joining their circle either. Although he was indeed a member of the nobles with a low feudal rank, he wasn't close to any of them. He had been busy managing operations of the Land of Atonement, his Guild, and accomplishing various missions. He seemed more like a mercenary than a noble and he didn't have time to invite nobles to his territory and build relationships.
Therefore, even though the nobles were curious to know more about this impressive young man and the forces behind his back, they couldn't do much as they weren't familiar with each other. Moreover, Rhode had shown that he was a tough and dangerous character in the Midsummer Festival and it would be best for them to not act recklessly before understanding his interests. If not, it would be troublesome if they messed with such a mysterious and formidable person.
It was due to this that many of the nobles carefully kept a distance away from Rhode. On the contrary, Rhode enjoyed the momentary peace that he was getting. He stood far away from the crowd and leaned on the wall at a relatively isolated corner, shutting his eyes for a rest while Lize and Anne stood beside him quietly. Corina didn't come to Golden City to participate in the banquet. Instead, she was here to report to Lydia about her transfer matters. No matter what, as one of the important members of the Elf Dominion, it was nothing out of the ordinary to greet the ruler of the Munn Kingdom.
Although it was a solemn occasion, Anne didn't behave appropriately at all. Since the crowd hadn't gathered and there was no sight of delicious food yet, she curled up, hugged her legs, and leaned on her shield for a short nap.
Although her actions weren't respectful, they were resting at a relatively remote corner, fortunately. Even if she were seen by one, one would at most show a hopeless smile and move on. They weren't that sick of living to mess with Rhode yet.
Lize would have usually reminded Anne to not sleep so soundly with that many people around her. Although Anne had an adorable sleeping face, she still had to be aware of the environment and venue... But Lize didn't do so because her mind was wandering off...
And the reason to her absent-mindedness was similar to Rhode's-Marlene.
Lize felt perplexed. She didn't know how to explain everything that had happened. Besides, she couldn't discuss this problem with Rhode because this was a problem between Marlene and her.
In Lize's mental world, Rhode had admitted his relationship with Marlene. It was due to this that Lize's phantom went out of control entirely and gave Rhode the chance to dominate the situation. Even though Rhode didn't mention this matter after returning to reality, Lize subconsciously realized that what he said was the truth. The increase in intimacy between Rhode and Marlene had actually existed for a long time. However, Lize didn't have any experience in love and she thought that they were simply close with each other. Although Lize did feel that there was something unusual between them, she couldn't put a finger to it.
But now, she detected their relationship after experiencing it for herself and putting some thought into it.
Although Lize had overcome the hurdles in her heart with Rhode's help, this matter still bothered her to a certain extent. She took advantage and dove into Rhode's embrace when Marlene wasn't around. If Marlene were to find out, what would she think about her? Lize had been tortured by her own thoughts and she didn't have the time to consider this question. And now, she discovered the bigger trouble that she had to face.
Fortunately, the Dragon Soul Continent didn't practice monogamy and Lize was clear that similar situations had emerged among the nobles. If two good friends fell in love with the same man, they could marry him with their families' approval. Not only that, but strange rumors were also spreading in the nobles circle. Lize heard that the daughter of the Chelton Family loved and adored her best friend, the daughter of the Burlington Family. Therefore, after the daughter of the Burlington Family married off to a man, the daughter of the Chelton Family also married him.
This scenario prevented a soap opera with a third-rate plot involving two close friends who had fallen in love with the same man and ended up becoming enemies. However, Lize wasn't concerned about this. She wasn't worried that Marlene would make her leave Rhode's side after she found out the truth. Instead, she felt guilty for not discussing with Marlene over her 'adultery' beforehand and was concerned that this would destroy their friendship. After all, they had grown up together since a young age and it would be a pity if cracks were to form in their friendship over a man.
Everyone had their own standpoint. As time passed, more nobles arrived in the hall and they crowded over and struck up conversations with the more reputable ones. In this internal battle, the three largest families in the Munn Kingdom were the most dominant apart from the Northern Army. Although there would be many forces rising abruptly to towering positions after this internal battle, everyone knew that the three largest families still influenced the nation the most. Besides, they had also received several compliments on this celebratory banquet. As long as one supported them, perhaps one could build a favorable relationship with them, which was of utmost importance for any nobles.
Rhode puckered his brows as he leaned on the wall and gazed at the passionate nobles. It was apparent that these people were elated and glad for victory and the end of the internal battle. But what was there to be happy about? The conflict between the King's Party and the Reformist Party couldn't be considered a war. It could only be considered a local dispute at the very most. And yet, they were overflowing with confidence and behaving arrogantly. How would they react when the war between the Country of Light and Country of Darkness broke out and when the Undead Army crossed their border?
Lydia was a great ruler, but what about her subordinates?
Rhode shook his head helplessly. He didn't need to worry about blindly for her since she was more than capable of reading the situation.
Suddenly, Rhode felt the lively atmosphere quietened abruptly. He subconsciously looked toward the hall and spotted a familiar figure.
Marlene was no longer clad in the Mage robe that he had always seen her in. Instead, she wore an elegant burgundy dress that showed off her slim waist and splendid curves. Layers of interweaving ruffles lined her skirt and let off a mysterious, luxurious vibe. Not only that, but he also saw faint silver magical radiances flashing around her like protection circles. Rhode couldn't help but twitched his brows slightly.
It seems like I'm not the only one who has grown from this battle.
Marlene had attracted a lot of attention as soon as she arrived in the hall. Many young nobles widened their eyes and came to her side one after another, greeting and praising eagerly for her achievements in the battle. The smarter nobles knew that Marlene would surely be awarded with generous rewards by Lydia and it would definitely be a great help for their families if they could build a close relationship with her. Moreover, they might even have the chance to capture the heart of a beauty.
Marlene presented a calm smile in response. No matter how much they flattered, she wasn't moved at all. At this moment, Rhode spotted a young man clad in a black attire stepping out of the crowd. He approached her side, placed his arm before him and bowed respectfully. As he was seemingly speaking about something, Marlene puckered her brows as though she had sensed something and turned toward where Rhode was standing. The smile on her face instantly widened to a charming grin and she stepped forward.
Marlene's every action attracted the nobles' attention. Their gazes followed her and they were astonished after spotting Rhode at the corner. Then, her next action left the crowd startled.
Rhode nodded to her as a greeting. According to his understanding of her, he was confident that she would respond politely in such a formal occasion. At this moment, Lize had also returned to her senses. She saw Marlene approaching them and she revealed an awkward smile while waving her hand.
"Marlene, long time no..."
Before Lize finished her sentence, Marlene had stood before Rhode and did something unimaginable: she embraced him tightly and tiptoed to press her lips against his.
The air froze in an instant.
Lize looked at Marlene vacantly while the nobles widened their eyes unbelievably. Rhode was slightly taken aback by her actions, but he swiftly wrapped his arm around her slender waist and pulled her in.
Marlene's aromatic fragrance assailed his nostrils and her soft tongue slithered around his. She closed her eyes and her fair cheeks were smeared with reddish pink. After a few moments, both of them separated.
"What a passionate welcome, Marlene. It seems that you've found yourself another man."
Rhode looked at the beautiful face before him and said softly. Marlene winked cheekily.
"How did you know. Rhode?"
"I was the one who taught you this and you haven't changed at all. So, I'm really confident."
Rhode extended his finger and slid across her back in a teasing manner. Marlene tensed up immediately and he let go of his embrace.
"You're still the same."
Rhode pressed down the creases on his clothes and looked at the crowd behind her. Time had as though frozen. All the nobles stood blankly on the spot as though they had just witnessed a nightmare.
"It seems that you've had a hard time holding it in for a long time... Is this considered a punishment for me?"
Rhode swept a glance to the crowd and gazed meaningfully at a young noble walking out of the crowd and beckoning for Marlene. He looked with an ashen complexion and bloodshot, widened eyes. However, Rhode had no interest in entertaining him.
"Huhuhu, I know that you are aware, Rhode."
Rhode shrugged. In the past, Marlene seldom appeared this cute and helpless-looking. It seemed that the ancestor's way of saying 'absence makes the heart grow fonder' made perfect sense in this case. They used to meet each other everyday and she had always revealed her feminine side only when they were alone. It was extremely rare for her to behave this brazenly before everyone.
"Lize, long time no see."
After a series of passionate, thrilling kisses, Marlene relaxed herself and greeted Lize with a smile. Lize nodded awkwardly in response and Marlene turned to Anne who was snoring away and let out a chuckle. She stroked Anne's hair gently.
"Anne still loves to sleep this much. I didn't expect to see her sleeping so soundly in Golden City..."
Anne puckered her brows and opened her eyes in a daze. She instantly unrolled a wide smile as soon as she recognized the person before her.
"Sister Marlene! Long time no see! Anne misses you so much!"
Anne jumped to her feet and embraced Marlene tightly. Then, she let loose of her embrace after a while.
"Sister Marlene, what have you been up to? Anne feels so bored without you around. Everyone misses you a lot. When are you coming back?"
Rhode twitched his brows, but Marlene simply nodded to Anne and wrapped her arms around his.
"Rhode, my father has gone to meet the Royal Highness. The banquet is about to start, let's go."
"The banquet is about to start?"
Anne threw her questions to the back of her head and darted to Marlene's side. She gazed with glinting eyes.
"Anne heard that there will be plenty of food, right?"
"Of course. There's so much food that you can fill your whole tummy up, Anne."
Anne jumped with joy.
"What are we waiting for? Leader, let's go!"
Lize lifted her head hesitantly to gaze at Marlene. But, the latter was speaking to Anne and she didn't notice Lize... I-I don't intend to give up, Marlene. I will let you know the truth.
Lize approached Rhode's left silently and wrapped her arms around his. Then, she bit her lip and looked at the man before her bravely.
"Let's go, Mr. Rhode."