The Giant Skeleton fell before Rhode.
Sereck stood up, relieved. With his strength, defeating a Giant Skeleton wasn't too difficult, but to kill it within the time limit was another story. If he was at Legendary, perhaps he would be able to disintegrate the Giant Skeleton with one wave of his sword.
Rhode confirmed its death when he received his EXP points. He once again appreciated the usefulness of the system prompt. As long as he had this, it was almost impossible for an enemy to fake its death before him. But he had no time to celebrate as...
At that moment, a deep drumming sound came from afar and broke the silence.
Rhode was shocked.
He was really shocked.
What is Anne doing?! That wasn't in his plan!!
Many believed that duels could only be held between knights because they naturally associated them with honor and glory; but in fact, not only knights had those traits.
Because there was a class that could rival their prestige!
The Shield Warrior!
Swords and shields were always opposite each other, like how offense and defense were eternal nemeses.
The war drum was a signal that a Shield Warrior would declare when they requested a duel with a knight. Rhode remembered that he had seen a battle record a long time ago in the game. It was a brilliant battle between a large country and a small country. The former had a sizable cavalry while the latter had no horses and no weaponry. Out of desperation, the weaker country built a barricade layer after layer to buy time for their final confrontation. They had no weapons, but at least they could use this barricade to slow the invaders down.
The two armies finally collided; the larger country's army was spirited and overconfident as their heavy armor shook the battlefield. And as for the weaker country? They hid behind their construct, trembling in fear as they waited for the calvary to clash with their defenses.
Pale-faced and frightened, no one believed that they would survive.
But suddenly, out of nowhere, a drum sound echoed.
Boom, boom boom...
The low and deep sound reverberated around the battlefield, penetrating into the hearts of the frightened men. Those fearful souls who heard this sound suddenly felt calm and began to knock their shields according to the beat of the war drums. As time passed, they beat increasingly louder... and soon, without them realizing, their expressions turned from fear to confidence.
That fateful day, when the resounding beat of the war drum reached its peak, was the first time the invincible calvary felt overwhelmed. It was as though the tiny blockade in front of them transformed into a towering bulwark.
After that battle, the Shield Warrior became a selectable class in the game. The war drum became an iconic trait of the Shield Warrior and, at the same time, also the knight's humiliation.
There was no offense they could not stop once they displayed their shield on the battlefield! No matter if it was a Mage or a powerful Ranger, they could only rely on the sturdy fortress, aka the Shield Warrior, to defend their front.
Buuuut... no offense that could be stopped...eh? Right now it had completely turned into a joke.
Ever since then, the knights and the Shield Warriors had become eternal nemeses. The knights thought that Shield Warriors were wrongfully dishonoring them - and that was precisely why the Shield Warriors felt gleeful as they had broken the legend of the 'Undefeatable Knights.'
To put it nicely, the war drum behaved like a sort of taunt towards the knights as well as an indication of a duel.
But in the game, the inhabitants took it as...
"Hey you, knight brat. Your shield grandpa is here. Come and see if your huge toothpick can break through grandpa's shield?"
It's an intolerable insult to any knight.
Thus, when Rhode heard the drum war, he was surprised!
What was Anne trying to do? That was a direct declaration of war! He clearly instructed her to hold her ground against the Death Knight, but right now she was actually provoking him...
Rhode quickly gave Celia an order by telepathy. Then he quickly turned around to face the others.
"Kudla, lead your group to the exit immediately. Follow the direction I've told you previously. Move!"
He then shifted his gaze to Lize, beckoning her with his hand.
"Lize, come with me!"
Rhode no longer wasted any more time and threw out a black card. Soon, a centaur appeared out of thin air, causing the mercenaries to gasp in surprise as Rhode had never shown his summoning ability along the way.
Rhode ignore them as he had more important matters to attend to right now. In a swift motion, he mounted the centaur and pulled Lize behind him. Fortunately, the Centaur Knight's back was broad enough for two of them. Then, he patted the centaur's shoulder and signaled it to move at full speed.
Sereck, who was by the side, was equally surprised. He didn't ask anything unnecessary and followed Rhode closely behind.
"Mr. Rhode, what happened?"
Lize asked with a hint of anxiety in her voice. She had never been in such close contact with Rhode. Her rational mind told her that Rhode wasn't trying to take advantage of her and that probably something dire had happened, but she couldn't help but turn red slightly.
Rhode didn't answer her. Instead, he frowned and creased his brows.
By doing so, Anne would undoubtedly attract the Death Knight's attention, but it was equivalent to a death wish. She could just pester him with regular attacks... and that would be more than sufficient... so why would she make this kind of decision?!
A Shield Warrior's honor?
Rhode refused to think that Anne would care about that. It was just that her personality was far too skewed for him to believe that she would care for something such as honor or pride. But why would she make this move?
Since this was her first official mission after entering the mercenary group, Rhode didn't think that she would regard Starlight as her home yet. Perhaps if she was a senior member of the group, then maybe he could understand why she would make this move.
This was completely irrational!
Though mercenaries acted on orders, they weren't soldiers. A soldier's primary objective was to follow orders; even it meant their death. But mercenaries weren't the same. They could choose not to follow orders based on their thinking!
After a short while on the centaur's back, Rhode finally saw what was happening.
Anne clenched her teeth; her usual smile had disappeared, replaced with a serious expression. She was holding up her golden shield that was embedded with Rock Heart. Needless to say, Rock Heart was handy for absorbing damage.
In front of her, the Death Knight held his lance while glaring at the center of the shield. Countless sparks scattered around as he threw lunges at the shield one after another.
Celia, who had already arrived, didn't choose to attack. Instead, she floated in the air as she watched the battle.
Rhode cursed. Of course he knew what Anne was trying to do. It was the most frightening skill of a Shield Warrior --- Reverse Block!
To put it simply, when a Shield Warrior used the skill, he or she would spin around and entangle with the enemy's weapon, forcing them to fight one-on-one. If the enemy wanted to withdraw their weapon, they would be pushed forward and sucked towards the front of the shield.
That was how she could maintain her aggro with the Death Knight. According to the players, it was a skill used to mock others, and it was also a skill where it was extremely difficult to break out from.
It was a skill that defies the law of physics. Rhode also didn't understand how it worked, but every class was afraid of getting entangled with this move. Once this move was used, the battle would only end when either one fell.
That was why Celia didn't make a move. Though the Death Knight was being thoroughly engaged and wasn't vigilant of its surroundings, she could indeed inflict heavy damage on it if she attacked right now. But her attack might also affect Anne who was concentrating on her opponent. If she lost concentration, the consequences would be unimaginable.
Lize was stunned when she saw them fight. It was as if time had stopped; the way they were still moving was eccentric. She really didn't know what to say.
At that moment, Rhode spoke with a gloomy face.
"I will count later. When my count reaches 'one,' you must cast barrier on Anne and heal her at the same time."
"Yes, I understand."
Lize nervously clenched her fist and bit her lip.
After speaking to Lize, Rhode took out his sword and narrowed his eyes, focusing on the Death Knight's most vulnerable location. Rhode knew that both of them were competing in endurance and concentration. With the Death Knight's perception, he should be able to notice him. If he lost his focus, Anne's winning chance would be higher. After all, having someone stare at your most vulnerable part wasn't a pleasant thing.
Meanwhile, Sereck finally arrived. He looked at what was happening and was equally dumbstruck. But soon, the Swordmaster immediately calmed down. He held his sword and began to study the Death Knight carefully. Apparently, he has the same idea as Rhode.
Kudla and the others continued to run out from the valley. When he looked at the battle, his expression also changed. Still, he didn't stop running. Instead, he made a hand gesture and signaled his subordinates to lead the Clerics to run to the other side quickly. According to Rhode, as long as they get out from that area, that they would leave the border and Silent Plateau.
But time was something they lacked.
Rhode's expression darkened. He could see that Anne's hand was trembling and her face was drenched sweat. She could no longer keep up anymore. It was no surprise though-after all, her opponent was a Death Knight! If it was any other ordinary Shield Warrior, perhaps he or she would've already been sent to heaven. But Anne was able to hold for so long before showing signs of losing; it was already considered to be quite good!
Unfortunately, no matter how well she did in the process, she still eventually lost.
Right now, Rhode wasn't thinking about how to win. He was thinking about the current biggest problem, which was how to protect Anne's life!
Clang!! Suddenly, the frozen time finally returned to normal.
The shield on Anne's hand was flung aside, and the very next moment, a sharp lance lunged towards her body at frightening speeds.