After everything was over, the banquet once again resumed its festivities. Because of Rhode's bold actions, those nobles who were previously doubtful of him gradually changed their attitudes. Since the relationship between the Munn Kingdom and the Country of Light was irreconcilable, and Rhode mocked the envoy to the extent of driving him away, the nobles slowly regarded Rhode as one of their own. After all, as the saying goes, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.
Having an acquaintance with Sereck and Marlene also reinforced Rhode's reputation. One of them was a famous swordmaster in Deep Stone City, and the other was the only heir of the Senia family as well as a genius mage. With them acknowledging Rhode, it implied that he had the qualifications to stand toe-to-toe with them.
From now on, the people who would make things difficult for him would decrease since no one was stupid enough to create trouble with the behemoths.
Thus, from time to time, nobles would offer a toast to Rhode and made small talk with him. He could also sense many furtive glances from the rich ladies who were hoping to spend a night with him. This act of self-indulgence wasn't uncommon within the nobility as lots of rich ladies loved to meet handsome men and enjoy a good time with them. It was similar to a man who likes to boast about a one-night stand with a beauty.
Unfortunately, before these ladies could approach Rhode for a chat, Marlene's cold eyes shot down their resolve even before it began.
Another girl in a beautiful dress blushed before turning away. Marlene snorted and lifted up a wine glass, sipping a mouthful of it. As a noble, Marlene knew what they were scheming.
"I say... Miss Marlene, are you asking me for a drink? Or to be my bodyguard?"
As Rhode was right beside Marlene, he could obviously see what she was doing. Frankly, he wasn't a stranger to these things. Before the transmigration, Rhode had a few girlfriends, but nothing memorable came out from his relationships. Rhode dumped some of them after realizing their true nature, and some felt pressure because Rhode was more beautiful than them and chose to leave.
Therefore Rhode was quite open-minded about these things. If the other was willing, he did not mind to enjoy the pleasure. Alas, at this moment, even though two beautiful women were sitting beside him... as they say, the fox preys farthest from home. Rhode did not have the faintest intention towards them. The benefit of a one-night stand was that there wasno-strings-attached after that.
"What? Are you interested in those kinds of women?"
Marlene said as she raised her chin and pointed to the side. The group of wealthy ladies immediately jumped in fright after noticing Marlene glaring at them. Then they quickly dispersed and disappeared.
"At least you should give me a choice to choose."
Marlene stared at Rhode coldly, but he didn't seem to mind it at all.
"Marlene... it's not good to be like that. After all, this is Mr. Rhode's personal life..."
Sensing the atmosphere turning awkward, Lize, who sat opposite Rhode quickly tried to mediate the matter.
"What? Are you saying that I must let this man do as he pleases? Lize, you cannot be too tolerating, otherwise, after you're married, you'll be taken advantage of by the man!"
"Ge, get married?!"
Lize was shocked. She secretly glanced at Rhode beside her. Then, her face turned beet red because she choked on the wine that she was unknowingly drinking.
"Cough cough... isn't it a little too early to be speaking about these things? I..."
"What are you talking about? Last year, I was urged by my father about marriage. Hmph. Luckily there were no eligible men at that moment, otherwise..." Marlene then realized something and said, "ah, but I think you don't care about these matters right now."
Then she looked at Lize in envy and nodded.
"It seems like living here isn't too bad. At least everything can be decided on your own... unlike me."
Marlene felt that she had said too much, so she shook her head and became quiet.
The atmosphere turned heavy, but just a moment later, Rhode broke the silence and said, "Ah right, Marlene, I have something to tell you."
"What's up? If it's about those shallow women from just now, I'm not going to hear it."
"It's about our mission."
Marlene immediately turned around and looked at Rhode.
"What is it?"
Unlike the other ladies, Rhode wasn't frightened when Marlene stared at him. Her eyes were sometimes very oppressive, full of confidence and pride. But it didn't affect him in the least.
"I think it's better for me to go alone."
Marlene frowned slightly. Although her time with Rhode wasn't long, she knew that he would rarely change his mind. If she remembered it correctly, it was her first time hearing him take back his own words.
"I think you've heard from Lize about our first meeting."
Marlene nodded and tilted her head slightly. Although Rhode instructed Lize not to mention about the incident in the floating ship to anyone, Marlene was Lize's close friend and a member of the mercenary group, so, she managed to hear about the matter.
"As I've said, the incident before is related to the Country of Light. Moreover, Sereck had just informed me that their spies were looking for my information. I feel that when I leave for this mission, they would definitely look for trouble with me."
"So you don't intend to let me get involved in this matter."
"Your identity isn't suitable for this mission. This matter is also quite dangerous. For the sake of reputation, they are willing to do anything to accomplish their goal. Ms. Marlene, when they attacked the merchant ship, you weren't there. Therefore this matter is unrelated to you and is unlikely that they will involve you."
"What about Lize?"
Marlene furrowed her brows and asked.
"Well, since she'll be in Deep Stone City, there's nothing much to worry about. The Country of Light wouldn't be stupid enough to move in the open. Furthermore, I've prepared security within the stronghold. As long she doesn't totally disregard safety, it should be fine."
Rhode wasn't concerned about safety as he had full control over the stronghold's security system. If someone tried to invade the stronghold, he would immediately receive system prompts, and the intruder would encounter a certain degree of resistance from the stronghold itself.
"As for Lize..."
Rhode looked at the other girl who sat beside him.
"After I leave, you will live in the mercenary association for the moment. I will request for Sereck to look after the both of you."
"Yes, Mr. Rhode.
Lize was a little sad as she had to leave her home. She wanted to go with him, but the number of spells she knew was too little. Moreover, the bulk of her spells were the holy element which meant that it was only useful against undead. Going on the mission with Rhode would burden him instead of helping.
"Then, as for Ms. Marlene..."
After getting Lize's answer, Rhode turned around. But his words have yet finished, Marlene already made her answer.
"Although this matter is not related to me, as a part of Senia family, escaping the problem is not my style and..." Marlene suddenly narrowed her eyes, saying "This is the Munn Kingdom, our country. If those Light scums want to scheme something here, they need to ask for our permission. Mr. Rhode, I hope that I can help you. Just like how you helped me, now it's my turn to return the favor. You are strong, but the enemy isn't only one person. I am a middle circle mage, so I can well-versed in fighting a large number of people. At least, I hope you will consider my proposal."
After hearing her out, Rhode closed his eyes to think.
Marlene did make some sense. If his enemies wanted to attack him when he entered Twilight Forest, most likely they would have to employ an ambush. While he could solve it by himself, Marlene could wipe them clean with much less effort.
If Rhode didn't know to what extent how dangerous this mission was, he would have never considered bringing Marlene along. But now, he was actually very clear of the situation, so if there was an extra pair of hands to help, then... why not?
"Sure, I agree to your request."
In the end, Rhode nodded.
"But I believe you know my condition."
"I understand that I must obey your command. After all, I don't want to lose my life just because of my boring pride."
Rhode stretched out his hand.
"Welcome aboard once more."
"I hope we will work well together."
Marlene shook Rhode's hand firmly with a confident smile.
But the two didn't notice that Lize was staring at them with a complicated expression. Her delicate hands clutched onto the hem of her skirt tightly as she bit her lower lip.
I want to be strong...