"Achoo!" Rhode rubbed his nose .
"Are you okay, leader? Are you sick?"
Although she was sitting in the chair, Anne wasn't relaxed for even a second . She kept moving left and right while curiously looking at Rhode, who was sitting behind the desk .
"Do you need Anne's help?"
"There's no need; I think it's because there's someone who's having me in their thoughts… It definitely wasn't something good . "
Rhode shrugged his shoulder and easily brought up this topic .
Although everyone managed to escape from that damned mage, it didn't mean that no one was injured . As a human, Marlene received a very heavy injury . Perhaps it was because the duel between the black-cloaked mage from before . Not long after the battle ended, she collapsed to the ground . According to Lize, she was hurt because of the shock caused by the magic power . Because of that, after they went back to the Deep Stone City, Marlene always stayed on her room to rest and rarely get up from her bed .
After they went back to the Deep Stone City, Lize, who's half angel, and Anne, who's half beast, were also injured . However, their mixed blood helped them to recover quickly . As expected, there was no end to comparisons, only misery… Fortunately, Marlene was still in a deep sleep, or else there was no way to tell what kind of reaction she might have made .
Shauna and the other mercenaries also received heavy injuries, but they were all flesh wounds and not considered serious, so Rhode didn't really care about it . The only pleasant surprise he received after the battle with the Wind Serpent was noticing the improved skill of Randolf and the others . It seemed that that bunch of people needed to face danger first to be able to improve .
Rhode, who had been fighting constantly, also felt a little bit tired . Although he was a mercenary group leader, he definitely wasn't the leader of the Mercenary Association's reinforcement group . He had saved many mercenary groups and he was almost fed up . He couldn't just keep honing his combat skills, right? Occasionally practicing skills in life would also prove to be very interesting, right?
The Jade Tears mercenary group no longer had any movements after that incident . Rhode already asked Old Walker to investigate it . Although that old man was old, he was unlike normal old men in being able to resist loneliness . Whenever he had time, he always visited the tavern to drink and hang out, which was why it was better for him to make use of it . At least, it was better than letting him crawling on the table while having a nice dream .
However, there was no news from the Mercenary Association lately . Every mercenary group was busy on recruiting and resting . Rhode knew that this wasn't the end, but rather a new beginning . If they didn't gather enough members by the time assessments came, then their upcoming days wouldn't be too good .
Because of the Mercenary Association's prohibition, the tavern that had always been crowded had become a lot more relaxed . The Mercenary Association didn't allow mercenary groups to recruit outside help . People who usually hung out around the tavern and wished to join a mercenary group finally found a ray of hope: to become a regular . To a mercenary group that had been driven to the corner, right now, the significance of the quantity of members was far greater than the quality . As long as one could kill a chicken, they could already became a full-fledged mercenary .
It was chaos .
Rhode lifted his head to look at the window . The dark clouds looked repressed and there were also some changes in the top area . It seemed like there was a problem between nobles recently, but it wasn't something he should ponder . Right now, he was thinking about the next problem that might occur .
It was an accidental gain for him to meet the black-cloaked mage and finished him off, but also because of that, the Country of Light's plan had also been destroyed . As least, in Paphield area, their plan had also failed . However, because of his understanding toward the pig members of the Association who only knew how to eat, sleep, and talk sh*t, Rhode was sure that they wouldn't just let this go . There was definitely a new challenge awaiting him .
When that time came, what should he do?
Rhode frowned and lightly knocked the desk . This time, the matter was quite serious . Starlight most likely had been seen eyes by the Country of Light . If he couldn't think of any way, then it would definitely be troublesome .
Rhode thought that it's impossible for the Country of Light to take a large action now . This incident definitely had caught the Golden City's attention . Grand Duke Lydia had never been a person that could be provoked; even if the Country of Light dared to look for more trouble, at the very least, they would consider whether their decision might affect their future plan . Since Rhode clearly knew the reason that the Country of Light was making a move on the Munn Kingdom wasn't as simple as giving them a lesson for being too arrogant . Politics were all about interest; the same with war . No one would do free labor if there was no interest . Although the people from Country of Light kept talking about freedom, liberalism, and power, if they couldn't see the real gold and silver, then they wouldn't actually care whether those words should be spread throughout the world or not .
However, that didn't mean that there was no way .
In fact, when he gathered people to join him, Rhode had already thought of the same thing . But because of this sudden incident, his plan was postponed . When everything turned back to normal, Rhode would once again add it into his schedule .
He was planning to increase the group's soft power .
To a mercenary group, hard power meant the number of people and their combat power . Having both of these was already enough for a mercenary group . However, to a player, it wasn't enough . They needed soft power and support . There were a lot of things that need to be improved in this area . For example, potions, money, equipment, and information . All of those fell into soft power category .
In this continent, the mercenary group that was created by NPCs didn't have to think about this issue since they were more accustomed to selling the equipments they had gotten in an adventure . Once they received the payment, they would buy the things they wanted . But to a player, this was definitely not a good way to deal with it . A player's mercenary group had a clear role for every person . There was someone responsible for forging and repair, someone for collecting materials and make potions, and someone for selling goods and exchanging it for profits . In this way, they could reduce the waste and shorten the time required, also bringing in profits to the mercenary group . Because the mercenary group would have a lot of expenses once it expanded, if they couldn't prepare it in advance, then when that time came, things would be hard .
This was how the mercenary guild survived . After mercenary groups leveled up into mercenary guilds, the increased size and structure no longer made them able to reap the profits in the way they did before . At this kind of time, the leader of the mercenary guild must make a decision: either choose a strong Trade Association to fund the guild or choose a powerful noble for backing .
To use a modern metaphor to describe it, the nobles and merchants were buying their shares in the mercenary guild to obtain authority . Through their funding, the mercenary guild would be able to operate normally, but they also had to obey the order of whoever was funding them . After all, mercenary guilds were considered strong combat forces . If this kind of force wasn't linked to formal channels or the location they were in, then it would be dangerous for the manager of the territory .
Rhode didn't want his mercenary group to become a plaything for others once it became a guild . He didn't have any interest in getting involved in the struggle between money and power . To those merchants and nobles, having authority in mercenary guild wasn't a simple matter; it was like owning a private army . Naturally, if a battle occured, they would inevitably sacrifice their mercenary guild to make sure they won .
Even if the sacrifice was human lives, who' would care?
So becoming economically independent was very important to Rhode . Unlike those NPCs, Rhode was more familiar with various missions and commissions . That was why he could assure his win as soon as possible . If so, he could use his spare time to increase the mercenary group's soft power . Being independent economically was very important .
Knock knock knock!
The door sounded . Rhode turned around and saw Lapis pulling her cloak tightly and nervously entered the room . To her, this was already considered a courageous move . Before, she even had to go in together with her brother .
"Are-are you looking for me, leader?"
The girl said in low voice, both of her hands twisting the cloak hem uneasily . Anne curiously looked at her as though she was considering something .
"That's right . "
Rhode nodded and gestured for her to sit down . The poor girl walked toward the chair with some hesitation . She was holding the chair and slowly sat down, as if she was going to be sold at the black market soon .
"It's like this . "
Rhode decided to ignore Lapis's nervousness in the name of her self-protection . He had tried to comfort her before, and told her to not be scared . In the end, she quickly jumped away like a rabbit whose tail had been stepped on and ran away as if she had seen a wolf . From that moment on, Rhode had given up on this stupid idea .
"I think that you know that you aren't strong enough to take risks and fight . "
Facing Rhode's words, Lapis lowered her head silently and kept holding onto her cloak tightly . After that, she loosened up, then tightly held onto it once again .
"That's why I plan to give you a new job . "
Rhode opened his hand and handed a piece of paper to Lapis .
The girl curiously look up to read the content, her expression showing a little doubt .
"As you can see, this is a recipe for lower level potion . "
Rhode shrugged .
"Your next job is to create a potion according to the content above it . What do you think of this job?"