Rhode opened his eyes.
He had no choice but to admit that it was probably the best sleep he got after leaving Deep Stone City. The feeling of letting everything go and focus on relaxing was indeed quite addictive; it was particularly so when he had a comfortable and fluffy 'pillow' under his head which emitted a light fragrance.
After waking up, the first thing Rhode saw was Marlene's sleeping face. Her exhaustion was quite evident. She leaned against the pillar, eyes closed, with her hands on her knees. The light spell that she previously cast had already dispersed, and only the orange glow from the torch was left.
Rhode slowly sat up, but when he pushed his left hand against the floor, he realized that the sensation was quite peculiar. Subconsciously, he turned his head and looked at his hand. When he noticed the five 'carrots' which was supposed to be his fingers, he became utterly speechless.
As expected of a noble young lady...
Rhode sighed and shook his head helplessly.
He proceeded on to remove the bandage and discovered that the gash on his palm was almost fully healed. Whatever his race was, the self-healing ability was off the charts. If he were an ordinary human, perhaps this gash wouldn't recover even if he gave it two weeks.
At this moment, Marlene's eyelashes fluttered.
She made a soft groan and opened her eyes. Both her and Rhode's eyes connected.
Rhode chose not to avoid her eyes and returned her gaze. After interacting with her for the past few days, he had discovered some interesting thing about her. For example, she had low blood pressure.
For a mage, lightheadedness wasn't a good thing.
Frankly, when Rhode first found out about this, he was quite shocked. He wanted to wake Marlene up from her dream, but she hugged him tightly in her arms. Although she appeared quite fragile on the outside, Rhode knew how powerful her spells were. If it weren't for her being stuck in a dream, most likely she would've blasted him to death already. Furthermore, what was even more frightening was that she didn't remember anything about it!
(ED: I rearranged a few paragraphs so that you guys can understand better. But IMO, it's still quite confusing in the original TL and raws. What does it have to do with low blood pressure lol? I'm just guessing that the author is referring to lightheadedness, one of the symptoms of low blood pressure.)
From that moment on, Rhode decided to keep a distance from her - especially before she woke up.
Even now, both her eyes were blank, as though she was under hypnotism. She resembled an obedient doll, and in addition to her exquisite face, her current state could easily drive a male to act on their primal instincts.
But Rhode knew, that if anybody did that, they'd be dead in the next moment.
Because, the very next moment, her body began to sway like a pendulum.
A short, stifled scream left her mouth.
"Ahhh!" Marlene's formerly sleepy eyes snapped open when she noticed Rhode staring at her. "M-Mr. Rhode, are you awake already?"
Seems like she's finally awake.
"Good morning, Ms. Marlene."
Rhode waved his hand to greet her.
"It looks like you had a nice dream."
"Well... I did not have much sleep last night," Marlene replied helplessly.
She swept her gaze around the area, but she then realized that it was underground, so she wasn't able to tell the time.
Marlene attempted to stand up, but her legs felt numb and she fell to the floor with a bump. "Ah, so painful..."
"Get ready to move out. We are returning to Deep Stone City."
"Okay..." Marlene lowered her head when she replied, apparently she was still quite embarrassed.
She stood up once again and made her way to the crystalline gem before picking it up and shoving into her storage. Suddenly, Marlene thought of something. She walked towards Rhode and took out a few objects from her pocket.
"That's right, these things..."
"What are these?"
"According to you, it would be referred to as 'loots.'"
She'd finally reverted to her usual self.
"I found these things on those assassins. I think it might be useful to you..."
"Eh?" Rhode was slightly shocked; he knew that she hated dealing with corpses and recalled that she previously claimed that she wouldn't do it ever again.
But what was this?
It wasn't Marlene's style to retract what she had said, or did the young lady had a change in attitude?
Marlene appeared to be oblivious to Rhode's doubt. Whether did she notice or deliberately disregard it, no one knew but her. She merely took out all that she found and handed it to Rhode with an 'it's all yours' expression.
Ah, what an arrogant lady.
Rhode sighed to himself inwardly and chose to keep silent as he received the items Marlene had looted.
Although Marlene hated to do it, she was still quite a decisive lady. Once she set her mind to it, she would accomplish the task meticulously. From the bodies of the three dead men, Marlene discovered four Magic Equipment. Most of them were fairly ordinary, which increased Sense and Intelligence. Rhode felt that it was better than nothing. Since the mercenary group was in its infant stage, these Magic Equipment could still be used or sold for money.
However, one Magic equipment attracted his attention. It was the dagger that the female assassin previously used. It had a passive attribute that could penetrate middle-tier protection magic. Moreover, it also possessed an innate paralysis poison attribute. The weaponsmithing was also rather exquisitely done; its blade was tempered with an iron-gold alloy which made it a perfect weapon to kill.
Unfortunately, Rhode's current roster had no thief, and his swordsmanship didn't allow him to fight with a dagger. It was a bit wasted, but according to his estimation, if he auctioned this dagger on the black market, he would surely be able to gain a significant amount of money. But he was worried that if he revealed this dagger to the public, it might bring him unnecessary trouble.
After checking his acquired loot, Rhode nodded in satisfaction and shoved it into his spatial bag.
Their quest was finally done.
When they were leaving, Rhode discovered the bodies of the two unlucky men who guarded the entrance. After Rhode and Marlene left the secret passage, the stone entrance automatically closed and the sculpture returned to its original place.
If he had a choice, Rhode wouldn't want to come back to this place ever again.
The duo dragged their exhausted bodies back to Deep Stone City. When they reached the city gates, it was already two days later in the evening. They immediately made their way to the Mercenary Association to submit the mission to Old Hank. After handing over the magic herbs, Rhode also passed the badge which he had found in the Twilight Forest. Now that Starlight had completed three missions, their rank rose to the 6th from the bottom.
Well, at least he finally managed to escape the last place.
"Kid, you did a good job." Old Hank patted Rhode's shoulder in a friendly manner.
"In only half a month, you managed to complete three missions and earned yourself five points. I really need to get those group of lazy mercenaries to learn from you. Hmph, if they don't work hard, they can only cry when they get disbanded!"
"It's nothing." Rhode shook his head.
He really did not focus on mundane matters. On the contrary, he was more worried about other things.
"How's Lize? She did not encounter any trouble, right?"
"Lize is well behaved... It isn't really a problem, but..." Old Hank frowned as his words trailed off.
After a while, he continued, "I don't know what happened recently, but all she did was lock herself in her room, claiming that she was learning new spells. Her daily meals were personally delivered by me, otherwise, I'm afraid that she might even forget to eat. I don't know why she is working so hard... she's still young and has much time to learn. Wouldn't it be a waste if she hurts her body in the process? Kid, help me persuade her. She will only listen to you."
"Okay, no problem."
Rhode nodded his head. He also did not wish Lize to fall ill because of her excessive training. Her ability only allowed her to heal physical wounds; if she fell sick, it would be troublesome.
Rhode waved to Old Hank and turned to Marlene beside him.
Marlene revealed a complicated expression, but she quickly slapped her face gently with both hands to freshen herself up.
When both of them was about to leave the Mercenary Association, suddenly a voice sounded from behind.
"Hey boy, you're finally back!"
They turned towards the source of the voice and saw Old Walker's flushed face as he walked out from the crowd.
"I thought that the wolves had already eaten you guys. But looking at both of you now, it seems like you guys have worked hard!"
"Mr. Walker," Rhode frowned and asked, "why are you here?"
Old Walker took out a jug of liquor from his waist and drank a mouthful of it. Then he narrowed his eyes and smiled while looking at the man before him.
"Thank me, boy. I've got the person that you are looking for!"