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 There was a saying among the mercenaries when Rhode was conferred a feudal rank by Lydia that his noble identity would be an excellent shield for his guild. The restrictions of manpower in a guild was limited to 800 members, but Rhode's feudal rank had given him the rights to another 2000 private soldiers. If there were any conflicts with other guilds or mercenary groups in the future, would they be facing Rhode's mercenaries or his private soldiers?

The former would be easier for them since they were mercenaries. However, it would be different if they faced the latter. Mercenaries didn't have the background of nobles and the mercenaries would be unable to bear the consequences of failure if they despised the nobles. When that happened, what would the mercenaries do if Rhode used the chance to expand his forces? Rebel? Or cooperate?

From the start, this was nothing more than random concerns. However, after Rhode became the overlord of Grenbell, such voices of concern became louder. As an overlord, he could basically have as many private soldiers as he wanted as long as he didn't cause dissatisfaction to the Royal Family. It was due to this that the criticism and worries revolving him had gotten much stronger among the mercenaries. They were concerned that his forces would expand so quickly that he would suppress all other mercenary groups. Besides, his identity as a noble wasn't well-received by the mercenaries. Moreover, there was still a problem bugging their mind-Starlight belonging to Paphield. But now, he had become the overlord of Grenbell and looking at it this way, did Rhode having both mercenary forces in Grenbell and Paphield comply with the rules of the Mercenary Association?

Rhode knew that there was a name given to him by the outsiders-Mercenary Overlord.

However, this term of address wasn't a good one. Normally, nobles and mercenaries didn't have a favorable relationship with each other. The nobles believed that they had higher status and becoming a mercenary would be demeaning. Previously, Marlene often faced disapproval from her family whenever she left home and learned through experience. However, she was determined and didn't receive any official feudal rank and identity. Therefore, it wasn't beyond reasonable limits. But Rhode was different. He had the official identity of an overlord and still had to lead a team of mercenaries to complete missions all around the continent. How ridiculous would that sound.

Not to mention, mercenaries were born with a lack of favorable impressions of the nobles. They believed the nobles were devious, crafty, and only took advantage of others. It went without saying that the noble identity of the overlord was naturally unpopular among the mercenaries.

There were also rumors that several mercenary group leaders had joined hands and requested the Mercenary Association to disqualify Rhode's guild. This was because he had already become a noble, was no longer the working class, which was deeply ingrained in a long-standing resentment, and had no rights to own a guild. Besides, they felt that if they didn't restrict him, Rhode's forces would overpower everyone one day.

And they were right about that.

Those were Rhode's intentions.

Although it sounded strange for others to manage a guild and territory at the same time, Rhode didn't feel anything wrong about it because many players had done so in the game. They established a guild and gathered sufficient strength, equipment, and EXP before opening up land and receiving the rights to the territory. Then, everyone treated it as normal for guild leaders to expand their forces toward the territorial rights.

Although Rhode realized the differences in educational level between reality and game and that he couldn't imitate everything that he had done in the game, this didn't mean that he would just give up on the guild. Even though the right of being an overlord was much more important than being a guild leader and it was pointless for him to hang onto the guild, Rhode knew clearly that both were great on their own.

In a territory, mercenaries were much more popular than the town guards because the guards' main duties were to guarantee the stability of the land and they wouldn't abandon their duties to penetrate into the deep forest to search for a civilian's lost kin. If a group of bandits ambushed the towns, the guards wouldn't protect civilians vigilantly due to a lack of manpower. So, who would be responsible for the damage?

This was the difference between duties and identities. The guards' main duty was to safeguard the town, not to search for missing people in the mountains and plains. The mercenaries were the experts in that, and so they were well liked by the civilians.

But now, Rhode intended to set up his private soldiers to defend the land and maintain safety while the guild would carry the responsibilities of 'serving the people'. Of course, they would get paid doing that.

In the Land of Atonement, Rhode's thoughts had relatively been put into practice when he led the elites in his guild to carry out the 5 Star Missions. The other mercenaries in the guild didn't sit by idly either. They formed small groups and accepted simpler missions like searching for missing kin in the forest and escorting the merchants. The mercenaries were relieved with Rhode's background as an overlord in Starlight. After all, even though mercenaries disliked the nobles, ordinary civilians and merchants treated the mercenaries as crude, barbaric, and unreasonable. Currently, since the guild leader of Starlight was a noble-that person should be a reasonable and trustworthy person. At the very least, they didn't need to worry that the members of Starlight would turn into traitors and seek riches and annihilate them... This was the main concern of many merchants when hiring mercenaries.

In order to maintain 'peace and harmony' in his territory, mercenaries were a necessity. If Rhode abandoned his guild and troubles arose among the mercenaries, he would be treated as an intimidator. Therefore, he might as well keep the guild under his control and it would be easier for him to learn of any slightest signs of disturbance. Besides, there would also be unexpected surprises... when gathering forces.

So, Rhode had decided that Starlight would develop alongside wherever his territory had expanded to.

This was also what the other mercenary groups were worried about.

But now, it was tough for the Mercenary Association to change this rule.

Rhode was the only mercenary who had a noble identity. If the Mercenary Association changed the rules, it would undoubtedly be announcing to everyone that they were going against Rhode. It would still be fine if Rhode was weak and gullible, but the Mercenary Association wouldn't commit the same mistake as the Alchemist Association. Besides, there was another lethal point-Royal Highness Lydia's standpoint on this.

After settling the chaotic battle in the South, Lydia was discontent with several mercenaries who had participated in the rebellion. She had even formally warned the Mercenary Association to constrain the mercenaries under them and not do anything that was 'above their identities'. The Mercenary Association was undoubtedly frightened. After discussing over it with the Royal Family, the Mercenary Association had no choice but to cooperate. Thereafter, the Munn Kingdom would temporarily not adopt the methods they had been using to evaluate and promote mercenary groups into guilds. Instead, the Purple Lily Guild, Cole Falcon Guild, and Starlight Guild would share the management rights of all mercenary groups in Munn Kingdom. This also meant that the three big shot guilds in the Munn Kingdom would take shape!

Under such circumstances, Rhode's expansion of forces would also be a matter of course and the Mercenary Association had no way of stopping him.

But even so, Rhode had to personally express his opinion to make the idiots understand this point. They would pay a huge price if they went against him!

But this wasn't his only purpose in participating in the Winter Ceremony.

When the first layer of snow slowly descended, the chariot Rhode was on had just arrived at the entrance of the Munn Mercenary Association HQ, located in Sphinx City. Unlike the low-key Mercenary Association in Deep Stone City, the building in Sphinx City was much more massive and prestigious. It was the day before the Winter Ceremony, and countless mercenaries entered and exited the building. Rhode's arrival had captured their full attention.

Rhode wore his black noble attire, which had become his signature style. However, there wasn't a sword hanging by his waist. Instead, he held a small bag in his hands. Under everyone's gazes, he entered through the entrance and spotted Viktor and Barter chatting in the hall. They turned around and saw Rhode too.

"Hi there, Sir Rhode. Long time no see."

Viktor displayed an elegant smile and bowed slightly. Meanwhile, Barter burst into laughter and waved his big, strong arm at Rhode.

"Yo, Kid. Long time no see. Seems like you're doing well!"

"Hi there, Mr. Viktor. Mr. Barter."

Rhode nodded in response. Then, he stepped forward and... revealed a heartwarming smile, exchanging handshakes with Barter.

"Long time no see, Mr. Barter. I hope you still remember our bet."

He said in a resolute and decisive tone.

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