In the end, Rhode 'rescued' Nell and even though she was displeased, she knew that she shouldn't enrage him. Rhode surely wouldn't let her off easily because no matter what, she caused trouble in his territory and deserved to be punished. But his punishment for her was rather different from what others imagined. He didn't lock her up in the cell. Instead, he gave a command which others couldn't understand-make her in charge of lookout duties on the fortress platform for a week!
This punishment appeared ridiculous to others, but Nell's reactions baffled them. After hearing Rhode's decision, she became as pale as a sheet of paper. Even though she had a healthy-looking and fair skin tone, it looked as though the blood flowing inside her had instantly froze into ice.
She couldn't be blamed because most underground creatures were afraid of a common thing.
However, the fear of heights of the underground creatures was unlike that of humans. They weren't afraid of overlooking the scenery beneath them. Instead, they were fearful of lifting their heads and looking at the sky. The Dwarves were an extreme representative. One of the rumored reasons why Dwarves seldom headed outdoors was because they preferred living within the mountain range and disliked adventures. There was no doubt that Dwarves hated the outdoors, but it was untrue that they disliked adventures and the main reason was... they were afraid of the sky.
There was once a King Dwarf whose famous sayings spread widely in the underground world.
"The moment after I stepped out of the cave and onto the land, I swore with my beard that I've never been this frightened. When I looked up at that damn sky, my knees trembled. If my legs weren't tied up with chains and boulders, perhaps I would have escaped this boundless land!"
No one on the surface understood such a reaction. However, all the underground creatures including the Dark Elves held the same sentiments. Not only that, but apart from 'fear of heights', there was also something else that hurt them. They had lived in the dark underground for years and evolved a strong night vision. They could see clearly in a dark environment without the need of the sun. As a result, it was radiance that the Dark Elves were most afraid of and it was the same for the Dark Elves living in the Country of Darkness where the radiance of the night sky wasn't as glaring as the morning sun, so they could tolerate it. On the other hand, in the Light Mainland... It was an entirely different matter.
Nell was no exception. She basically hid herself in the shadow or underground training grounds during the day, which was why not only did Rhode put her on lookout duty on the tower, but also make her work an entire day... Nell felt so desperate that she wished she could die on the spot.
But what other choice did she have? She was in the wrong to begin with. In fact, after she saw Corina, the blood and tears of the Dark Elves flowing inside her surged. After she came back to her senses, she had already laid hands on Corina... This was the instinctive reaction that the Dark Elves held toward the Elves. Therefore, Nell didn't retort and admitted her wrongdoing.
This incident was only an accident and Rhode quickly shifted his attention to the main topic. But before that...
"Erm... Rhode, there's something that we want to apologize to you about."
Rhode widened his eyes curiously at Canary and Mini Bubble Gum who put up awkward expressions. He rarely saw them behaving this way. Canary was always smiling while Mini Bubble Gum was full of confidence. Rhode was baffled.
"This was what happened, Rhode... A few days ago... Hmm... Her Highness Erin came to the fortress."
Rhode exclaimed and stood up in attention.
"Did you two... Forget it. I guess everything should be fine. So then, what exactly happened?
Canary showed a helpless bitter smile and explained everything that happened.
Back then, after Christie gifted her painting to Erin, she returned to the fortress and met Mini Bubble Gum... In the Land of Atonement, only Anne and Mini Bubble Gum had the time to accompany Christie. Anne had been brought to the Winter Castle by Rhode, so Mini Bubble Gum was the only one left. Christie was delighted after her painting was complemented by a stranger and she told everything to Mini Bubble Gum. Initially Mini Bubble Gum didn't take it to heart, but quickly broke into cold sweat after hearing the name 'Erin' and hurriedly looked for Canary.
Fortunately, even though Canary was also baffled, she was much calmer than Mini Bubble Gum. She didn't take precautions in the fortress because she knew that mortals were nothing more than ants to a superior being like Erin. The number of people in the Land of Atonement was also insufficient for dealing with her. Not only that, but the situation would also turn horrible if the army messed with her and she destroyed the fortress thereafter. As a result, Canary said nothing about it and secretly investigated the entire territory with Mini Bubble Gum. But Erin was nowhere to be found. Of course, Canary didn't reveal this matter to startle others and it appeared to be a wise choice for Rhode to hand over the management rights to Canary.
"I think she must have left the Land of Atonement already..."
Canary was uncertain. Rhode shook his head and let out a sigh.
In fact, even though Canary and Mini Bubble Gum took responsibility for this matter, Mini Bubble Gum held lingering fears because she should have been accompanying Christie in Anne's absence. It was due to her not waking up on time, so Christie headed out alone and allowed this matter to happen. If Erin killed Christie, Mini Bubble Gum wouldn't have known how to explain to Rhode and even committing suicide to apologize for her offense wouldn't bring the dead back...
However, they couldn't be blamed for not being on their guard because Rhode had perfect preparations. He passed the system rights of the Holy Maiden Statues to Canary, so there shouldn't be any hiccups. In fact, he wasn't too surprised because no Undead Creatures could escape the detection from the statues' enchanted field. The only ones who could escape detection had to be stronger than Canary and Mini Bubble Gum and weren't Undead Creatures... How many of such beings were there in this continent?
Indeed, there weren't many of them, but it didn't mean that they didn't exist. Didn't Erin just make her way here?
Erin was on par with Canary and Mini Bubble Gum in terms of strength. Moreover, her strength was enhanced with the powers of the dragons and she wasn't an Undead Creature, which made it impossible for the enchanted field to detect her. However, Rhode didn't expect her to come all the way here. The Undead Army had been repelled, so what was she doing here? Besides... she had also taken one of Christie's paintings?
Rhode felt that it was ridiculous. In the game, there were sayings that Erin was just a princess version of Lydia. However, compared to Lydia who represented the glaring sun, Erin was as reserved and gentle as the moon. Now it seemed that Erin was truly a young lady who appreciated fine arts, which made her a perfect match with Lydia. Canary mentioned that Erin wasn't found anywhere in the Land of Atonement. Erin couldn't have gone to the Golden City to talk about art with Lydia... right?
If it were others, Rhode would have believed that they had gone into the Munn Kingdom to wreak havoc. However, it wasn't possible for Erin. Rhode was Lydia's loyal supporter and knew clearly of her eccentric personality. There were many rumors regarding Lydia sneaking into the Country of Darkness for the sake of collecting beautiful and expensive masterpieces and now it seemed like they were similar in this aspect...
"Since we can't find her, we'll just treat it as if she's gone."
Erin didn't capture Christie as hostage, destroy the fortress, or murder anyone, so Rhode heaved a sigh of relief and became rather curious about her. In the game, his understanding of Erin was only that of what ordinary players knew about her. He couldn't figure out whether Erin passed by his fortress while on her way to the Golden City or held other motives. Judging from her actions, the latter possibility was more probable. After all, the mountain ranges couldn't stop that formidable strength of hers. As long as she concealed her identity, she could enter the Munn Kingdom without anyone's detection and didn't need to show herself in the Land of Atonement.
"But we need to inform Lydia about this. Remember, don't let anyone else know about this. Inform only Lydia."
If the Munn Kingdom was aware that the princess of the Country of Darkness had entered their country, perhaps chaos would break out immediately.
The problem regarding Erin had ended. Although Rhode was still dubious, he wasn't that concerned since she was no longer in his territory. However, this proved that his method was wrong. No matter what, there were a limited number of figures who could avoid the detection of the Holy Maiden Statue, Canary, and Mini Bubble Gum... This unfortunate case was just an exception.
Apart from this surprising piece of news, everything else in the Land of Atonement was going on smoothly. On the other hand, Marlene brought a piece of good news for Rhode-the Battle Mage Group finally arrived at the fortress. Back then, he valued their abilities, which was also what the Land of Atonement was lacking the most. They appeared at the right time as it would replenish his insufficient manpower. But the problem was that...
"They're not doing as well as you think, Rhode."
Marlene poured cold water over him.