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 Snow fluttered.

Pure white snowflakes descended and landed in the silent fortress. Apart from the soldiers serving sentry duty above the city walls, the rest had returned home or headed to pubs and enjoyed alcohol by the warm bonfire. But the peaceful atmosphere couldn't conceal their nervousness. They knew that the sinister, large-scale Undead Army would launch their attacks anytime. It was due to this that the soldiers appreciated such tranquility because this might be the last time that they could gossip, chat idly with their companions, whistle at flirtatious dancers, or accompany their families and loved ones.

However, the war had already begun for some.

\"The skeletons are insane. They sent five scout squads in three days.\"

Rhode tossed the report on the table and shrugged. The enemies had been dispatching scouts increasingly quicker and their range widened. But it was a pity that they had lost the instant they stepped into Rhode's territory. Rhode definitely wouldn't deal with every single scout by himself. The reason why he took the initiative the first time was because he wanted Bayer and his men to witness how powerful the Undead Creatures were and he didn't need to worry about them thereafter. Mini Bubble Gum and Canary were more than powerful enough to eliminate them.

But Rhode was resentful that perhaps he had used too much of his Spirit Extractions that the enemies no longer sent high-level creatures like the Liches or Vampires. Instead, the enemies dispatched low-level Skeleton Cavalrymen and Specters. It was apparent that they were using their advantage in quantity for their intelligence gathering and avoiding leaking crucial information to Rhode. Rhode was left with no choice. Spirit Extraction was a precious technique and there wasn't any value in capturing low-level Undead Creatures without much wisdom and information. Besides, they held low attribute values and weren't comparable to a Zombie Puppet like Sara. Rhode discovered that even though Sara appeared as respectful as a lowly Undead Creature, she was at least level 45, which was higher than Marlene and Serena. Although she was groomed as the trusted aide of a Lich, it wasn't strange that she held such strength. But Rhode thought about it and realized that apart from Mini Bubble Gum and Canary who were basically 'cheat codes' in this world, only Marlene and Serena were level 40 while the external Mages among the nobles and armies were around level 35. On the other hand, Sara was a Zombie Puppet and held strength of a level 45 Mage. There were at least ten of such Zombie Puppets around each Liches. If it wasn't for Mini Bubble Gum and Canary, Rhode guaranteed that his side would be devastated in terms of spell casters.

The only flaw about Sara was that even though her level was higher, her skills were rather uniform. She learned undead spells, some alchemy skills, and minimal elemental spells, but they were only low-level spells like the lightning chain and fireball. However, Rhode was surprised that Sara's alchemy skill level was high. Judging from a player's point of view, her alchemy skill had reached an advanced level, which was the standard of an Elite Alchemist. But it was inevitable since a Zombie Puppet's duty was to serve the Lich and Lich didn't need food, water, sleep, or mate. The Zombie Puppet's service to the Lich was naturally the management of spells and production of alchemy spells. Since Sara had been valued highly by the Lich to become a Zombie Puppet and was even chosen to become the experimental product of a Zombie Puppet, it proved that she was outstanding in her work. If not, the Lich wouldn't have chosen her for such an important experiment.

Another surprised came about. As Cullen's trusted aide, Sara knew his potion research, recipes, and techniques inside out. It went without saying that the Undead Creatures were expert in undead spells. On the other hand, it was the technique and essence of their poison that Rhode valued highly. Undead Creatures had no moral values and it was apparent from how they turned a living human like Sara into a Zombie Puppet. The Undead Creatures gathered data through cruel experiments on humans to perfect their potion concoction and process. Even though some fallen Liches and Necromancers had also done this, they were the minority, after all. Besides, it was reprehensible and they would be doomed if they were found. However, it was different in the Country of Darkness. Research on living creatures was officially permitted. Liches could publicly dissect their slaves and even if they chopped and sewed them up afterward, no one would utter a word.

Through such bloody and cruel means, the Undead Creatures had invented unique techniques such as the 'Flesh Cream', where a small amount of herb would be refined and produced an alchemy medicine. Sara had provided him with that. As long as one who wasn't gravely injured applied the medicine on one's wound, one could recover in a short period of time. This method was simple, effective, and cheaper than the healing potions by almost half. Rhode knew how useful this medicine would be for the army. And ironically, this medicine was only a sub product which Cullen had conveniently invented while experimenting on a main, flesh-eroding spell.

Almost every alchemy recipes that Sara provided was attained through the sacrifice of thousands of lives. Of course, Rhode felt no psychological stress on this since the ones trapped in the poison gas chamber or gunned to death before getting dissected weren't him. Besides, literarily, those who died were also humans and they used their lives to create things that benefited other humans, so they weren't sacrificed in vain. Rhode copied every recipe and handed them to Lapis for testing. Whereas for the poison and other recipes that would leave Lapis blushing in embarrassment, Rhode didn't pass them to her.

In fact, he also had the intentions of building a group of alchemists around Sara. There were no doubts with her abilities and she was pure and kind-hearted, after all, which was a good and bad thing. There were many things that alchemy potions could achieve. Besides, he also knew that the Behermes Family had several dark, evil alchemy techniques and one of the most popular was their outstanding 'blood alchemy'. This was their origin and the reason why alchemical elves and other elves parted ways. The Behermes Family was the foremost expert in body modification. Rhode didn't believe that Lapis knew nothing about that. No matter what, she was the final heir to all the wisdom of her family and it would be ridiculous if she didn't know the core secrets of the alchemical elves. But Lapis refused to mention anything and had never applied them. Since she opposed them, Rhode didn't find it nice to force her to use them.

On the other hand, Sara was different. Thanks to the Lich, she lacked the slightest morality that existed in the Light Mainland and Rhode needed such a subordinate. Those who grew up in the Light Mainland had more or less received guidance from humans, and unless they hated humans to the core, even there would be days where barbaric bandits discover their conscience. It was impossible for Rhode to appoint any humans to do such crazy things. But he also knew that this was essential. Just like when Christie was attacked in the Midsummer Festival, perhaps the situation wouldn't have ended that easily if Rhode didn't kidnap the opposition leader's son. Every force had their bright and dark sides, where even Lydia also had a team of secret spies. Of course, this team wasn't her direct subordinates, but she knew what they were up to. She wouldn't do some things personally, but this didn't mean that others wouldn't. Just like when Rhode lit the entire plain into conflagration during the internal battle and slaughtered thousands of people. Lydia definitely knew that it was his doing.

Rhode was aware that such conflicts existed even in his team. Marlene and Anne weren't supportive of the use of such methods, but they didn't oppose either. Lize and Lapis felt uneasy while Marfa and Randolf weren't in the right position to criticize their leader. Sol and Joey were born in poor conditions and didn't take it to heart after witnessing the nice and ugly sides of humans. However, a soldier like John who had gone through regular professional training found it hard to accept.

But Rhode knew that his enemies weren't only the Undead Army. He was almost convinced that this preparation wasn't for the war between them and Country of Darkness. The war with the Country of Light would erupt sooner or later. When that happened, he would use some effective, homicidal means which he had applied in game. But he was aware that it was merely a game for the players and NPCs were eventually NPCs. They wouldn't feel guilty no matter how many NPCs they slaughtered and cared more for the reward, reputation, and missions. Rhode led his army from the rear when he retaliated against the Country of Light and burned down every inhabited land, including player territories and NPC residences. Rhode's popularity took a huge hit in the Country of Light and fell from 'Friendly' to 'Hostile'.

He had a unique way of gaining back his popularity. He led his player army in destroying the Country of Light and removed them from the surface of the gaming world. Then, the 'Hostile' popularity in his data column instantly disappeared.

Of course, that was killing to their hearts' content from the players' point of view, but it was complete hell for the NPCs. The places where Rhode and his men had been to perished and the NPCs had given him a nickname: Destroyer.

Rhode was the only one who received a title from other means apart from clearing missions and gaining reputation.

He had no doubts that Marlene and the others would stay by his side and do the cruel work. But they were natives, after all, and multiple attempts would destroy their trust and relationships. He met some players with stubborn opinions, which eventually led to rebellion. All in all, his subordinates couldn't accept their honorable leader's moral values.

A subordinate like Sara who lacked the 'mainstream moral values' was even more precious. She fit Rhode's requirement and as a Zombie Puppet, he restrained her every movement, which was why he kept her for some unscrupulous activities. But it was a pity that he couldn't take actions as the Battle Angel Army was distributed all around the fortress. He wasn't interested in starting a second war in his fortress.

Rhode let out a sneer, sat on the chair, and gazed out of the window at the snowy scene.

\"It seems that the Undead Army is approaching soon. Any concerns to raise?\"

\"All we can do is to strengthen our defense now.\"

Marlene knitted her brows, pondered for a moment, and replied softly. On the other hand, Lize nodded. In this huge meeting room, apart from Rhode's close companions, Bayer, Frederick, Serena, and their men were also present. Of course, representatives from the nobles, army and Beni, the leader of the Battle Angel Army was also present.

Everyone discussed softly after hearing Rhode's question. Rhode looked at everyone and felt a slight sense of accomplishment as an overlord. Now he finally understood why real world rulers often organized meetings every other day: it felt rather great.

\"But Sir Overlord, the intelligence we received is incomplete. If we rely solely on that... We are still unable to accurately judge the enemies' quantity and strength based on the young lady's report.\"

Frederick stood up and said. He pondered hesitantly at the thought of Sara and continued.

\"This is a problem.\"

Rhode nodded in agreement. In fact, Sara was captured rather early. A few days had passed, but the Undead Army didn't take any action, which worried him. No action was usually good news, but he knew that it wasn't that simple. Even though the Undead Army was flexible in their maneuvering, he knew that some high-level creatures had slow movements, but held massive strength and defense, like the Abominations. They were as though movable hills with rock-solid skin. Rhode was concerned that the Undead Army didn't launch their attacks as they were waiting for the arrival of the Abominations. Besides, it was crucial for them to gather the enemy quantity and this wasn't as simple as determining how long they could hang on in the battle.

Rhode didn't send out scouts because the Undead Creatures were scheming. As soon as his scout was captured, the entire situation in his fortress would be crystal clear to them and all his efforts in wiping out the enemy scouts would go to waste.

\"Are there other concerns?\"

\"In... In terms of supplies...\"

Lapis raised her arm timidly and shrunk as everyone gazed at her.

\"Sir Rhode... We should have sufficient supplies, but with the increase of people in the fortress... We may be running out of them sooner than expected...\"

\"The Battle Angel Army is around to share our burden.\"

Rhode gestured for her to calm down.

\"We don't need to produce more magic arrows and there isn't time for that. Lapis, from now onward, you can try to produce other flammable items. They are easier to make, convenient and won't take too much time.\"

\"Okay, Sir, I understand.\"

Lapis let out a sigh of relief. She nodded and sat down while another person stood up. Orchid Heart sleepily placed her hand on the thick, black hardcover book. She yawned with narrowed eyes.

\"As for the garrisons... Yawn... They have improved swiftly with the assistance of the two army commanders... Yawn... Don't worry, Rhode, there are no issues.\"

\"Sir, I think we should investigate the status quo of the Undead Army.\"

Randolf spoke.

\"Our soldiers are most worried about the enemy's formation and quantity. Miss Sara has given us useful information, but it isn't enough. If you allow me to, I can lead the elites while Sol can...\"

\"The situation isn't as simple as you think, Randolf.\"

Rhode waved his finger.

\"It is an entirely different concept to investigate humans and the Undead Army. The latter leaves putrid air everywhere and ordinary humans can't withstand it for long. Besides, they can extract information from your brain and blood even from your corpse and everything that we've done will go to waste.\"

\"...\"

The air froze instantly. Many of them were aware of how terrifying the Undead Creatures were, but they didn't know it was to this extent. If that was true, sending scouts to investigate would be as though falling into their traps. But if they didn't investigate... How were they going to fight enemies which they had no information of? Only through knowing oneself and knowing one's enemies would one come unscathed through a hundred battles. No matter how strong the fortress' defense was, there was still a limit, wasn't it?

\"Leader Beni.\"

Rhode knocked on the table and lifted his head after pondering for a few moments. He looked at the leader of the Battle Angel Army who was silent throughout the meeting.

\"How's the situation with the Dawn Angels? Is there any movement in the enemy camp?\"

Rhode's only way of investigation was through the Dawn Angels' incredible line of sight. But such observations were limited, after all, so he didn't look forward to receiving great information from them. Actually, the best method was to let the Angels be scouts. But Rhode wished to keep them as his final trump cards and not only did he request Beni to stop the Battle Angels from flying in the air, but he also secretly kept the magic fleets behind the mountain ridges. Only the unexpected changes in the beginning of the confrontation between two armies could change the direction of the entire war and all that had been achieved would go down the drain if the enemies were prepared.

\"Currently, there are no movements.\"

Beni shook her head.

No movements meant that the enemies weren't deployed yet and there was a guarantee of at least three days before the start of the war. Rhode was familiar with the Undead Army and naturally knew their troop deployment styles and movements.

\"I will handle the issue with the scouts,\" Rhode said.

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