Rhode was obsessed with completing this mission flawlessly. His head was fully occupied with ways to accomplish it without Christie getting hurt. He could use the teleportation ring to return to the fortress instantly. But the problem was how he could reach his destination safely...
This challenge ignited his fighting spirit.
If it were others, perhaps they would have chosen not to risk it. Christie was so important to him while the Fantasy Key was ultimately a lifeless object. Moreover, he already had the keys to the Silver Ocean and Fiery Plains. Was it still necessary for him to risk Christie for the Astral Temple?
That's right. It wasn't necessary.
But he was determined in getting the Astral Temple without Christie getting hurt at all!
He knew that this was greedy of him as though requesting for a 50-man party to not lose a single point of health against a BOSS. Was it possible? Of course not, and every player knew it. Even though there might be a slim possibility, players were humans, after all, and there were times where they were distracted. What if someone couldn't keep up with the pace? What if one of them had their ears twisted by the wife and had to go 'offline' temporarily?
This was just a game. If it were reality, more accidents would have happened. What if Christie sprained her ankle? What if she ate something bad? What if she got poisoned by the Undead Creatures? These were all sorts of 'what ifs' waiting to happen. So this became an impossible mission for him. On the other hand, these challenges ignited his fighting spirit.
He loved challenges in the game. The more that others thought something was meaningless, the more he found them meaningful. He wished to attain flawless victories. No matter the accidents or what the enemies came up with, there were no 'what ifs' in his dictionary because he 'had to' succeed in them. After the Munn Kingdom was destroyed, many players lamented that this was ultimately just a game and no matter how strong they were, they were only players. That was how the script was planned and they didn't have any other paths to take apart from following it. However, Rhode didn't think of it this way. In the end, he found Mini Bubble Gum, formed a group with players who were equally unwilling to give up just yet, and rewrote history.
If Rhode didn't annihilate the Dark Dragon back then, the new chapter wouldn't become the 'Chaos and Order', the players' era wouldn't befall, the demon army wouldn't invade and start the Deepest Labyrinth that led to the return of the Void Dragon... Everything would only be froth and shadows.
In order to ensure that everything was absolutely safe, Rhode came up with tons of ideas. He had even come up with the ridiculous idea of boarding the thousands of fire elemental creatures on the floating boat and crashing into the group of Undead Army directly like a terrorist attack. But it was a pity that the natural gales weren't blowing in the direction toward the Battle Mage Group's encampment, so the floating boat wasn't usable in this case. The other method he thought of was to wipe out all the Undead Creatures before bringing Christie in. However, this was basically impossible because the number of Undead Creatures was endless due to their years of clashing with the Eastern Plains. If Rhode eliminated all the Undead Creatures in the encampment, the Undead Creatures from other regions would swarm over and they would be submerged completely.
The other method was most commonly used by players. They escorted the NPC, sneaked past the Undead Army, and completed the mission. However, Christie had a weak body and slow movement, which made it almost impossible. Moreover, the Undead Creatures were sensitive to the presence of mortals...
Rhode had been considering the problem whenever he practiced his sword skills, ate, walked, or slept. He considered all the possibilities of accidents and solutions to resolve them perfectly. He was as though one who held onto broken blocks and tried to build them altogether. However, it just wasn't that simple.
He was so obsessed with 'building blocks' that when Canary smacked the table and dragged him back to reality, he didn't respond immediately.
"What? What did you say, Canary?"
"I asked if you're facing a tough problem."
Canary folded her arms helplessly. She revealed a bitter smile.
"How long do you think we've been together? Even Marlene and the others have realized that something is wrong with you. Do you think that I won't know it? This problem shouldn't be harder than you annihilating the Country of Darkness and Light Parliament in the game, right?"
"In fact, it isn't anywhere simpler from a certain aspect."
Rhode shrugged hopelessly. He gazed at the sky through the window and realized that it was already dusk. The tea on his table had turned cold... If he recalled correctly, this was the tea that Agatha poured after he returned to his room in the morning.
"I'm back to my bad habit."
Rhode showed a bitter smile at the mess on his table with papers filled with words, drawings, and meaningless doodles. They were all written inadvertently while he pondered on his strategies and he couldn't even recognize them. He lifted his head, sat back on the chair, and rubbed his temple. When he reopened his eyes, Canary had leaned in closer to him.
"Alright, you can tell me the truth now, Rhode."
Canary said with a smile, but her tone was stern.
Rhode shook his head. However, he admitted that he alone wasn't invincible at times. He let out a sigh and told everything about the situation to Canary.
Canary nodded slightly. It seemed that Rhode had tried his best in considering all the necessary matters. If the chance of accidents didn't exist, there wouldn't be any difficulties for him. But now...
"You can get Anne to protect her. Haven't you done so all this while?"
"It was different back then. Besides, without the Holy Maiden Statues, Anne will have a harder time facing the skeletons. There are basically no low-level Undead Creatures in the Eastern Plains. I'm afraid that Anne will not be able to handle the pressure."
"I do believe that Anne is more than capable."
Canary refuted to his surprise.
"Anne is great in this aspect. Don't forget that we're the ones who trained her. Also, there are basically no players who can defeat Anne at her level. No matter if it is PVP or PVE, Anne does it all impressively. Why don't you give it a try?"
"We only have one shot in this."
"But how will you know if you don't try?"
"Because the risk is huge."
Rhode puckered his brows. Then, he gazed at the young lady and spread his arms apart.
"If we fail... We can't revive and start over again just like in the game."
"Isn't it the same for you?"
Canary knitted her brows and pointed at Rhode.
"You are unlike us, Rhode. Have you forgotten that you'll die? If you're dead, this place will be doomed and we will all vanish from here. Not only that, but perhaps this fortress built from the construction system will also crumble completely. Everything that you've done up until this point will go down the drain. Why are you not afraid of death?"
"Because I'm confident enough."
Rhode was oddly calm when he said it. He knew that he would die to his negligence, but he didn't believe that he would. This was the confidence and experience of a top player. If he faced the Shadow Demon, he was confident in defeating it and could escape safely even if he failed. He wasn't worried because he knew that he was capable enough.
"Anne is too."
But it seemed that Canary was here to specially deal with him.
"She's a mercenary. I heard from her that she has been in this line since she was five where she had seen countless corpses and slaughtered many. Although you've also killed countless people after transmigrating into this world, can your experience compare to Anne's?"
"But I have experience in dealing with the Shadow Demon..."
"So you're resting on your laurels now? What if a creature that you've never seen before emerges in this world like the Void Dragon back then? Would you use your lack of experience as a reason to avoid battle?"
This time, Rhode didn't answer immediately. He crossed his arms and gazed at the smiling young lady.
"We have our pride and I know that you're confident in dealing with everything. But sometimes you just need to trust others. Think about it. How many times did we die in the game to gain the precious and valuable experiences to reach where we are today? No matter if it was me, you, or Bubble, haven't we all been through that path? Which one of us didn't die during a BOSS raid? Just like you said, this is the real world and we can only live once. But haven't Anne and Lize lived until this day? Judging from this, players like us aren't even as good as them. If I transmigrated into this world when I was a newbie, perhaps I would have died a long time ago. Why did you think that the experience they've earned is less than ours?"
Rhode didn't reply, but he knew that Canary was right. He held so much confidence because he had turned blood into rivers in the game and had gotten used to attacking and resisting. In fact, when he first played this game, he was also a complete newbie who had never experienced a real virtual-reality game. As a result, he explored the woods and was frightened to death by a creature that ran out of the bushes. It could also be said that Rhode had died many times due to such ambushes. But it was just a game. If he transmigrated into this world in that state... Rhode thought about it deeply and believed that he would be a rotten corpse by now.
Rhode knew everything about the geographical locations, cultures, raid strategies, and characteristics of BOSSes that the natives weren't aware of. Come to think of it, Anne had been by his side whenever they went for adventures, but he wasn't worried about her at all because it seemed to him that as long as he reminded her of the dangers, everything would turn out fine. He gave some serious thoughts about Canary's words-was everything turning out due to the way he thought it was?
In the game, no matter how he commanded, there would always be players who couldn't adapt and end up getting killed. However, Anne had always followed his commands and ensured that he wasn't hurt in any way. Was it really all about him and his guidance?
Rhode came to the realization that he seemed to have neglected something important. He looked up and instantly saw Canary's mesmerizing pair of eyes. Her soft, gentle voice rang in his ears.
"You must learn to trust others too, Rhode."