Currently, the Mercenary Association's training field was filled with people. When they heard that there was someone who wanted to challenge Sereck, they all came flocking in droves. It wasn't always the case though, as normally, people wouldn't be very interested in the usual mercenary assessment.
'Light Swordsman' Sereck, was one of the legendary figures of Deep Stone City. Every mercenary held him in high regard. Though he rarely conducts assessments personally, this time, upon the order of the president, he had to do it. This event sparked the curiosity of the mercenaries as they gathered in the corner of the training field.
Naturally, as mercenaries, all of them had already completed their mercenary assessment, which was in actuality, a very straightforward process. The Association would appoint a recognized mercenary to assess the newbie, and as long he or she received the recognition of the veteran, then they would pass. But as for someone as distinguished as Sereck? Even many of these veterans had never seen Sereck conduct an assessment personally. Thus, they were incredibly curious about the 'newbie' that had the qualifications to receive Sereck's personal evaluation.
The first one who entered the training field was the 'Light Swordsman', Sereck.
Clad in a white, leather armor with a golden lion mark imprinted on the chestguard, he appeared out of the shadows in his signature golden hair, which was combed backward neatly. When he displayed his gentle, yet confident smile on his face, an astounding wave of cheers echoed among the surrounding mercenaries. It really wasn't surprising because Sereck had a high reputation within Deep Stone City.
"I'll leave it to you, old buddy."
The Mercenary Association's president came to Sereck's side and smiled as he patted his shoulder.
"Don't worry Moby." Sereck returned the president's friendly gesture with an elegant smile. But still, he couldn't help but inquire about his opponent.
"It's a rare occurrence seeing you this agitated, which youngster had done it?"
"An ungrateful little devil."
The old president grunted coldly.
"I see. Very well then. Then I will make him understand that our mercenaries aren't easy to mess with!"
Meanwhile, Rhode and Lize finally arrived at the training field after being guided by the attendant. When the crowd noticed them, they gave the duo a puzzled look. Compared to Sereck's entrance, the difference in reception was glaringly apparent.
"Big sister, Isn't that Lize?
At that moment, Barney who was within the crowd suddenly exclaimed. Shauna, who was standing beside him, frowned when she noticed Rhode and Lize but she still kept her silence.
"Isn't it that guy from before? Is he the one to be assessed today?"
The mercenaries who saw the duo from before started gossiping to one another.
"Where did that guy came from? He could actually force the President to summon Sereck?"
"He even tries to maintain the air of mystery around him with that cloak. From a glance, I can tell that he's not a good person."
"What is he? Looking at his appearance, is he a mage?"
"No way. He didn't even bring a wand. Can you see what he is holding.... eh? EH!!?? Isn't that our usual sparring sword!?"
Even both the president and Sereck was somewhat surprised when they noticed Rhode's choice of weapon. The sparring sword was a piece of common equipment provided by the Association, and certainly not a weapon that mercenaries would use in an assessment of this caliber. Most mercenaries would prefer to use their own weapons just for the fact that they were more familiar with it. Even if they wanted to use a common sword, they would still use something more comfortable, and not this sparring sword which had no modification at all.
Did he intend to wield this sword to fight Sereck?
When everyone was busy discussing that matter, Rhode had already walked up to the Sereck and the old president. He briefly paid his respects to both of them and pulled his hood.
"I'm ready. The two of you can start anytime."
"Are you going to use this sword to challenge me?" Sereck frowned and said.
Since it was rare for him to conduct an assessment, he didn't particularly have any ill feelings about Rhode. But if the opponent used ordinary weapons to fight, then it would be meaningless even if he won.
"Young man, don't be pressured, do what you need to do. It is only a sparring match and we hope to assess your real strength and level. The outcome is not important."
"We think alike, Mr. Sereck."
Rhode was still calmly holding the sword in his hand.
"So, please don't mind about my choice of weapon... Since I also wish to experience the might of the Light Swordsman."
"Very well then."
Since Rhode had made his decision, Sereck's face also turned serious. In the beginning, he thought that it would be unfair if he used a magic sword against an ordinary weapon, but since Rhode took the initiative to affirm him of his own choice, then he had no more qualms about etiquette.
Sereck nodded lightly and glanced towards the president. It wasn't until now that he finally understood why his old buddy got mad with this kid.
But who is he?
Sereck didn't think much, he shook his head and unsheathed his sword.
"Bring it on!" His low voice echoed throughout the training grounds.
Rhode didn't say anything as he pulled out his sword slowly while carefully observing the Light Sword on Sereck's hand. In an instant, Rhode leaned his body forward and disappeared as he activated his shadow flash.
When Sereck analyzed Rhode's skill, he was slightly surprised, but he quickly calmed himself down and activated his own skill. The sword in his hand suddenly shattered into countless shards of light which rained down towards Rhode.
Since it was only an assessment, Sereck did not use the full power of his attack. No matter how skilled Rhode was, he assumed that Rhode wouldn't be able to withstand this attack. Light Swordsmanship's skills were very fast, and to escape from the myriad of light shards wasn't an easy feat.
However, Rhode totally destroyed his expectations. Jumping and dashing from side to side, Rhode nimbly dodged the shards as he slowly closed the distance.
This isn't possible!
It was as though Rhode recognized that this attack was used to confuse the enemy.
Now, Rhode's decisiveness and comprehension made Sereck's facial expression change visibly. He was utterly shocked.
But what he did not know was that Rhode was familiar with his skills. Even though there was a vast difference between Rhode and Sereck's level, Rhode was completely aware of the Light Swordsmanship's attack range. While this move might work against those newer mercenaries, but to him, it was still somewhat lacking.
While Sereck was being surprised continuously, Rhode managed to close in, and he lunged forward with his Moon Shadow Swordsmanship. The Light and Moon Shadow Swordsmanship were total opposites, the former was akin to sunlight, shining brilliantly and forcing those nearby to yield, while the latter was more of a shadow, lurking in the dark, waiting for the prime opportunity to strike.
Noticing the shadow that suddenly appeared beside him, Sereck's eyes widened and hastily changed the direction of his attacks. His magic sword revealed a glorious light, drowning the shadow which attacked him.
Naturally, Rhode failed to penetrate his defenses. That goes without saying because, with a 30 level gap, it would be akin to defeating an elephant as an ant. If Sereck used his full power, Rhode would be sent flying out of the training grounds long ago. That was why, when facing Sereck's counter-attack, Rhode immediately retreated and stabilized himself with his sword.
Dodging once would be considered as luck, but twice...? Sereck started to doubt this young man who was draped in a cloak. Was he someone he knew? If not, how could someone be so familiar with his swordsmanship?
However, as an experienced veteran, Sereck soon discovered that Rhode tried to avoid direct contact with him. Since that was the case, he retracted all the light shards back into his sword and began to attack him head-on.
Once again, Sereck miscalculated. Although he was pretty confident in his speed, Rhode still managed to slip out of his fingers constantly and retreat when they fought.
After clashing for three to four times, the surrounding dumbstruck mercenaries began to murmur to each other.
"Big sister, Mr. Sereck sword is so fast, but why it can't it hit that guy?" Barney subconsciously asked with a shocked expression.
He had simulated in his mind that if he was in Rhode's position, he wouldn't even be able to escape from the first attack and would immediately surrender after that. But this odd young man could escape Sereck's attack three times and he didn't even receive a single injury! Does it mean that this guy is also a sword master?
It wasn't only Barney who thought this way, the rest of the other mercenaries were equally dumbfounded. They simply did not understand how could that guy dodge Mr. Sereck's astonishingly fast attacks.
The old president's expression turned grim because he knew what was wrong.
While Sereck's Light Swordsmanship was indubitably fast as the word 'light' suggests, but the crux of the problem was that only the sword skills were fast, and not the person. To a common person, as long as one witnessed fast swordsmanship, they would assume that the person using it would be equally as fast. However, the fact was that these two were completely different.
The old president also realized that the young man was using his own speed to dodge Sereck's attacks. It was also apparent that he understood the characteristics of Light Swordsmanship. This made him furrow his brows as he tried to guess about Rhode's origin. Sereck had never left Deep Stone City in 30 years, and the people that fought with him were only a handful. So where did this strange young man originate from?
Meanwhile, both Sereck and Rhode had already clashed numerous times. Rhode was still maintaining his strategy of avoiding direct contact while Sereck's facial expression finally began to relax, but not to the point of losing its seriousness.
"You're really fast. You'll become a promising thief one day." Sereck smiled and said in a depressed tone when Rhode dodged his attack once again.
"Thanks for the compliment, but I'm a swordsman."
Rhode's voice was indifferent; his face was hidden behind the hood so no one could see his expression.
"Then show me some swordsmanship, lad."
Sereck raised his sword and pointed towards Rhode. He had decided to take it up a notch. Not because Rhode managed dodged his attacks countless of times, but it was because he was curious. He wanted to see if this young man in front of him still had something up his sleeve.
"As you wish."
Just at this time, Rhode finally moved.
A faint light started to congeal at the tip of his sword. And in an instant, followed by an eruption of light, a beam shaped as a crescent moon emerged from the sword.
Sword energy condensation?
Looking at this, Sereck's face became tense. Then he shouted, "Very good!" and rushed forward while holding his sword.
A barrier of light emerged as it welcomed the crescent moon which came towards it. At this moment, Sereck the sword master, displayed his full power. A violent wave exploded out from his sword. Even the mercenaries watching from the sidelines had to take a few steps back. And when Rhode's silver crescent moon finally clashed with Sereck's sword light, it disappeared without a trace.
Although it made Rhode's attack seem like child's play, Sereck was pleasantly surprised as he nodded his head in satisfaction. This man in front of him is so young, yet he is able to condensate sword energy. Also, from the previous clashes, he knew that this kid could fight wisely. Sereck even thought that it'd be a pity to have such a young promising talent to become a mercenary. He glanced towards the old man on the sidelines, thinking whether to make this young man his disciple. After all, a rare talent such as this man doesn't grow on trees.
Suddenly a chirping sound could be heard, and he saw the surrounding mercenaries displaying a surprised expression.
He quickly turned his attention back towards Rhode. But at this time, Sereck was shocked to find a green figure passing through his light barrier towards him!