Rhode was back in the past again.
The monotonous, crackling voice through the PA announcement 1 , the dreary snow-white ceiling, the nostalgic and revolting scent of disinfectant, the bustling doctors and nurses, the faint sorrowful cries of people all seemed too surreal. A burning, numbing sensation wrapped around his body, causing him unable to move.
Turning his head to the side, he discovered a slim figure quietly laying on the bed with her eyes closed. Her sleeping expression was ever so tranquil as if a beauty from a fairytale. At that moment, it was as if she was completely isolated from the rest of the world.
Slowly, the busy crowd had begun to disperse. Leaving only two figures kneeling on the bed, sobbing.
The PA announcements became sporadic, and his paresthesia gradually faded away. But he couldn't bring himself to be happy. All he could do was to stare at that figure and wait for the inevitable truth to arrive.
Eventually, he heard a loud wail, and then the hospital ward turned deathly quiet.
At that moment, Rhode thought that his heart stopped beating.
It had been ages since he felt this tearing feeling in his heart. Now, he felt it once again.
Standing in front of him, was a young girl.
She had dark and shiny long hair which fell down her shoulders like an angel. A hospital gown wrapped around her thin, and fragile body which made her look like she was going to break at any moment. She had an almost-identical face as Rhode. But contrary to her bleak appearance, her black, bright and round eyes emitted an indomitable personality as she stared as Rhode.
Despite having an identical appearance, their personalities were entirely different. Rhode always sported a serious expression. He was the calm and bold man. But the girl was feminine and perfect in every aspect. No matter who was it, they would think that she was the 'dream girl'. Smart, beautiful, gentle and pleasant.
"Brother..." The young girl stretched out her right hand and a trace of doubt flashed across her face.
"Where is this place? Why are you here?"
Rhode opened his mouth, but no words came out. At the same time, the unconscious self within him started to dissolve his uneasiness in his heart. He didn't know why, but he felt that he did not have to be on guard in front of her. I mean, she is his sister, right?
No. Something is wrong!
Rhode suddenly woke up from his stupor.
His sister was long gone. This woman couldn't be his sister!
It just did not match with his memories!
Rhode felt a chill down to his spine. In the game, he never encountered such a situation. When he thought about deeper into the matter, he realized that his uneasiness might have been born from the game content background description and the subtle contradiction between the player's own experience.
Of course, NPCs in the game could never sneak into a player's memories to use those experiences against other players. But the situation now was different! He was no longer in the virtual world, meaning that there will be changes!
Rhode calmed himself down and he watched the girl in front of him silently.
What should I do?
In the game, the Shadow was supposed to turn into the player's reflection. That was the reason why he could directly cut it down without hesitation. But now? The person that stood in front of him was not his reflection, but his sister's. It made Rhode hesitate. Although his brain told him that the person in front of him was just a virtual image, the girl in front of him was too real; it was too difficult to treat her as an illusion.
The girl took a step forward and stretched her right hand.
"Why won't you say anything?"
When her shadow moved, Rhode felt his surroundings slowly turn into darkness, and the surrounding air also felt heavier which rendered him panting for air. He opened his mouth, but the oxygen that went into his lungs were as cold as ice.
The darkness spread as quickly as a drop of ink falling into the water. In an instant, a fog wrapped around Rhode.
"Mr. Rhode should be okay right?"
Standing in the distance, Matt observed the swirling fog with a worried expression. He held on to the bag tightly. His eyes kept darted left and right continuously, studying at the fog that turned from white to black. Even Matt could see there was something wrong with it.
Lize did not respond to Matt question. She clenched her hands and put it in front of her chest.
At that moment, she truly wanted to rush in and check Rhode's situation. Since she was a veteran, she knew that something went wrong. But in the end, she bit down the impulse to rush in as Rhode's words rang in her mind.
"No matter what, absolutely do not come near me. Even if you manage to see my shadow, unless I walk to you, both of you are not allowed to move. The Shadow is very cunning and dangerous. I can't afford both of you to encounter any danger. To be honest, it will just endanger me further if any of you take any rash action."
When they heard Rhode speak like that to them with his cold and expressionless face, they felt hurt. Lize's was startled by his sharp words, but as a professional mercenary, she understood the reason why he said so. After all, this was a life and death matter.
Lize sighed and kept her silence, but her hands clenched tight.
Meanwhile, inside the dark fog, the girl stretched out her hands and hugged Rhode's neck.
"Why won't you say anything?"
The girl's smile was still as sweet as before. So many years had passed, but her smile was still as gentle as a spring breeze. She had always been so.
Rhode took a step back unconsciously. He could even feel her body temperature. With her face was so close, he couldn't help but reminisce the memories seven years ago. At that time, she also behaved similarly; she sat on the bed, hugging him while he flustered and told her stories about the things that happened outside.
"Let's talk about the things that happened outside like before okay? How did you come here? What is this place?"
Her voice was gentle and went straight into the Rhode's heart.
Looking at her, Rhode suddenly smiled.
If Lize saw him right now, then she would be stunned silly. Ever since Rhode came into this world, he had never smiled before. But now, he actually laughed.
And after seeing Rhode's expression, the girl's smile became more intense.
But this time, her words didn't finish.
A white edge had burst through the darkness in a blink of an eye and pierced through her body.
She suddenly screamed. Her body began to twist and quickly retreated. Followed by her movements, the fog started to recede.
Rhode took a deep breath and shut his eyes, but the smile on his face did not change. When Rhode raised his hand, he could see the dark ring on his index finger emitting a magic light.
"Thank you very much to let me dream such a happy moment once again."
Staring at the girl in front of him, he switched back to his 'indifferent' tone.
"But I'm sorry, I'm in a hurry," Rhode whispered, but his hands did not stop. In fact, when the girl retreated, he already released his Moonbeams, and it flew directly to its target.
Because of her injury, she simply could not escape this blow. When she tried to dodge to the left, her chest and shoulder got punctured by Rhode's attack. For ordinary people, this kind of injuries would be enough to kill someone or put them in a near-death state. But clearly, this girl in front of him was not an ordinary person.
The girl gave a desperate scream, causing the black fog to swirl and coagulate a fog barrier in front of her. At the same time, Rhode's sword also rushed forward.
The black fog barrier shook and became visibly thinner, but it managed to block Rhode's attack. When she noticed this, the girl's eyes revealed a trace of relief ——— But the very next moment, her expression changed from relief to fear.
One, two, three.
The fog barrier that managed to withstand one Moonbeam after another crumbled after the fourth slash. It penetrated the fog barrier with ease and ruthlessly pierced the girl's body. This time, the already gravely injured girl was unable to dodge that attack. She screamed then fell to the ground.
Rhode walked in front of her.
He was very familiar with the monster like the Shadow. Since its strength was not strong, it used its skills to copy the player ability. So it was a bit troublesome.
But since it snooped into Rhode's heart to look for someone to copy, it had indeed made him suffer quite a loss. The Shadow itself also lost the power as it was in the game. Since it was a boss that used by players to practice 'solo bossing,' when it lost its only advantage, it basically turned into nothing but a punching bag.
But Rhode's heart also felt quite heavy. Luckily he activated the Ring of Will on time. Otherwise, he did not know what would happen to him. It was not a strong monster, but the words that it spoke, struck deep into his heart. Every question it asked made his heart waver, it even made him even doubt himself. Fortunately, he encountered such a boss before. As a result, he had a slight immunity to its honey trap. If it was other people, then they truly might fall into the trap.
From this point, it could be seen that the Shadow was indeed a very dangerous monster. But this kind of monster had a big weakness which was their low HP.
At this moment, the shadow that was lying on the floor lost its appearance. The girl's face was twisted and her facial features were blurred. Whenever she opened her mouth only darkness could be seen. Even her limbs had disappeared without a trace. Staring at Rhode who was slowly walking forward, the Shadow shook in fear. Then it opened its mouth again and screamed.
The violent attack which was invisible to the naked eye flew in the air. But it turned into a breeze without any threat before the transparent barrier around Rhode.
The Ring of Will's protection was not something that could be underestimated.
After discovering that its attack was useless, it screamed again. It desperately tried retreat. But before it could get back to the fog, it saw Rhode's sword once again. Rhode's body flashed, in a blink of an eye he appeared beside the Shadow and pierced it again.
A white edge pierced through the Shadow's body. It screamed because of the intense pain. Its mouth was left wide open, and its eyes turned dark and empty. Such a deformed face looked extremely revolting.
But for Rhode, he was relieved. Since it used his sister's appearance previously, he still had some lingering hesitation. However, now that its face reverted back to its twisted figure, all forms hesitation had been lost.
By this time, the Shadow launched its final death throes as it stretched out its right hand and whipped it towards Rhode.
But Rhode had already expected this attack. Just as the Shadow extended its hand, he sidestepped and dodged the attack before activating Shadow Flash to rush forward.
The Shadow did not have time to react. It held its left hand in front of itself in attempt to block, but unfortunately, it was too late.
Star Piercer, activate.
The sword edge emitted a star-shaped light. It pierced through the darkness and brightened the surroundings. In an instant, the fog that encompassed Rhode was divided into two as if a hot knife through butter. When the light reached its peak, the shining blade hacked downwards.
The Shadow split into two and finally stopped struggling. Its body twitched slightly before suddenly shrinking. Then, it converged into a tiny ball of light which danced around in the air, causing the thick fog to recede further. The light then dissipated into the air as though nothing was there in the first place.
It was until he saw this phenomenon did Rhode finally put down his sword.A public address system is a set of electrical equipment which allows someone's voice, or music, to be heard throughout a large building or area. The abbreviation PA is also used.