It was precisely because of this reason, Rhode decided to exclude Marlene, Lize, and Anne when he announced the participants of this mission . Although the three of them could increase the group's combat effectiveness, it would be difficult for Rhode to kill Ophenians that way . The girls were extremely clever, so they might notice that something was off . In order to prevent that kind of thing from happening, Rhode decided to exclude them from this mission . Of course, he was not going to tell them the truth; he told them that they needed to train more for the Midsummer Festival . Hearing Rhode's excuse, Marlene and the others did not feel suspicious and agreed . Of course, Randolf and Joey also did not participate in this mission for the same reason . To the contrary, he brought along Shauna, Kavos, and their subordinates . This time, he still could not bring Kavos's team because it might give them the misconception that their status had been elevated . That was why Rhode decided to split Shauna's team into two and brought half of them to the Unicorn Peak in order to balance the forces . In the Blackrock Depth, Kavos's team had gradually merged into the mercenary group, but it was still not enough . If he could not maintain the pressure, soon they would go back to their former state and all of his hard work would be in vain . The trip to the Blackrock Depth would also be a waste .
However, not everything went as Rhode has planned .
Because this time, Lapis suddenly looked for him and asked him to bring her to the Unicorn Peak .
Rhode had almost forgotten that Lapis was an alchemist . Her job was somewhat similar to an archeologist to some extent . But he did not understand why did she chose to go to Unicon Peak . If she wanted to go to ancient ruins, why didn't she say anything when they went to the Black Pine Ruins and Blackrock Depth?
However, Lapis didn't answer Rhode's question . She only said that she wanted to find something in the Unicorn Peak and that it would be helpful for her alchemy . As for the thing that she was looking for, she refused to say what it was . It was very rare to see this girl, who had always been afraid to fight, this determined . Although Rhode's question had troubled her, she still stayed resolute and refused to disclose the specific content .
This made Rhode feel somewhat curious . He knew that it was not strange for people to have their own secrets, but if Lapis acted like this, it was definitely something out of the ordinary . Perhaps, it could be her personal quest . If that was so, then it would not be a bad thing to let her come along . Lapis definitely placed second to last last in the mercenary group—even the Ophenian scholars seemed to be stronger than her . If something happened, he could use Lapis as an excuse to give up on those fellows and let them face the danger alone . After all, to mercenaries, their own comrades were also very important, right?
Even if something actually happened to those pitiful Ophenians, no one would be able to blame him .
From this point of view, it could be seen that Lapis was indeed a good excuse .
That's why Rhode decided to agree to her request . This time, the participants of the mission were Gillian, Lapis, Shauna's team, and Kavos's team . All of them would be led by Rhode . As for the stronghold's safety, Rhode left it in Marlene's care .
These few days, Gillian had also gotten friendly with the group . She was outgoing, beautiful, and welcomed by everyone . Even though as a Fire Elemental Lord, Gillian was quite proud, she actually got along well with the other mercenaries . In just a few days, Gillian's reputation almost exceeded Anne's, Marlene's, Lize's, and the other old members' .
The only thing that differed her from the other three was that she never actually fought together with them and as a mercenary, although they appreciated her beauty, they did not really think of her as a comrade . They would only acknowledge her as a comrade when she fought alongside them .
And this mission was the best opportunity for Gillian to get acknowledged by them .
Rhode's actions were fast . On the third day, the fully armed mercenaries were ready to walk toward the city gate . Not long after, they finally met the Ophenian scholars . Although the sun had just rose, the Ophenians already came prepared and seemed ready to set out . Soon, the Ophenian elder quickly greeted them .
"You finally came, Mr . Rhode . "
"I hope I was not late . "
Rhode looked up at the sky . He nodded and greeted back the elder . The elder quickly nodded back, then shifted his sight toward Gillian who stood beside him and was surprised . Clearly, no matter who saw Gillian, they were all attracted to her . However, the elder did not lose his composure because of this . He only looked at Gillian's ears and tail for a moment .
"Then, shall we go now?"
"Yes, of course . " Rhode made a hand gesture . "Please rest assured, we will protect all of you . "
"Hey, did you see it?"
When Rhode was talking to the elder, the other scholars were curiously gossiping and busily whispering from behind .
"What's with that girl? Don't you think she's a half-beast?"
"It doesn't seem so… According to the record, aren't half-beasts supposed to be just like a human? It was said that they only transform when they are stimulated by something . "
"But how do you explain her ears and tail?"
"Perhaps they're just accessories? I've heard that people from some remote places practice such weird behavior…"
"But it looks real . "
"Ehem! Enough talking . "
When everyone was busy coming up with their own theories, a person walked forward . He stopped and quietly warned them .
"Don't forget; they are the people who will protect us . According to information from the Grandmaster, this mercenary group is very strong . We have to rely on them to complete the mission . Don't cause any troubles, understand? Don't interfere with their personal affairs and just do the things you're supposed to do . "
Hearing his words, the other scholars quickly shut up . After that, they followed the mercenaries and walked out from the city .
Lapis finally felt relieved when they left the city . She uneasily looked around, but she was only able to see crowds . She should be safe here… Thinking of it, she could not help but feel relieved . She relaxed her fingers and looked up toward Rhode .
If leader knew the truth, would he be mad at me? He is such a serious person; if he knew that I was hiding something from him…
Gillian suddenly appeared behind Lapis and scared her off . She quickly pulled her cloak to cover her face . After that, she took a few steps back, anxiously looking at Gillian .
"Miss, Miss Gillian! What's the matter?"
"Nothing, it's just that you seem to be distracted, so I'm curious . "
Hearing Lapis's question, Gillian playfully smiled . She came closer and gazed at her . She did not know why, when looking at Gillian she could not help but feel dizzy as if she were seeing a bottomless whirlpool that would devour her completely .
"Lapis, do you have anything in mind? Just tell me; I promise I won't tell anyone . "
"I… I'm only worried that…"
Hearing Gillian's enchanting voice, Lapis answered with hesitation . However, she only said that when she suddenly regained her senses . She quickly backed down while pulling down her cloak .
"I, I, I'm sorry, Sister Gillian . It's nothing; I'm just a little bit nervous… I, I'll leave first . "
After saying that, Lapis did not wait until Gillian replied and quickly went back to the crowd . Gillian looked at her as she disappeared . After that, she narrowed her eyes, and looking at the distant forest, she quickly went back to Rhode's side and smiled .
"Yes? What's the matter, Gillian?"
"What do you plan to do with that elf?" Gillian casually asked . As for her sudden inquiry, Rhode did not seem to be surprised by it; it was clear that he had long been aware of this matter .
"It depends on her . " Rhode said while looking at the road ahead . "I believe this will be a good opportunity . "
He closed his eyes . "No matter what you see, just pretend you didn't . Understand?"
"Of course, Master, I understand . " Gillian laughed and no longer said anything .
At this moment, in the distant forest, a man wearing camouflage cloak slowly stood up, carefully observing the mercenaries in front of him through the gaps between leaves . He reached out his hand, and soon a bird flew from the air and sat on it .
Then a hoarse voice sounded .
"Inform everyone that the Oriole has appeared . "