After sending off another batch of guests, Shauna stood up and shook her head, sending an instant crackle to her aching neck . The red-haired maiden pouted and heaved a long sigh of relief before facing out the window .
“It’s already noon… I didn’t even notice . ”
Shauna was entranced as she overlooked the scenery . Rhode and the others had left Deep Stone City for over ten days and there weren’t any updates from them . Although she wasn’t worried about their capabilities, she couldn’t help but felt uncertain as it had been awhile . This ex-mercenary female leader felt immense pressure, especially after Rhode passed on the stronghold for her to manage before he left . She was clear that this responsibility was of utmost importance, as well as her position and authority . Although she had only been taking up the role of guarding the stronghold, she had gained Rhode’s trust . However, that role, after all, was only just looking after the house and was entirely different from managing the entire stronghold .
Shauna was clear that her position was unsettled . Not only because her abilities weren’t the strongest, but mainly because she’s a woman . Shauna felt the dissatisfaction from Kavos and the other mercenaries when Rhode made this decision . But, this wasn’t too surprising as male chauvinism prevailed within the mercenaries . In any ordinary mercenary group, apart from Clerics who were well-respected and were also life-savers, there were also others like Anne who relied on her own capabilities to make a name for herself . These type of female mercenaries would receive a certain extent of independent and respected statuses . Whereas, for the other female mercenaries with some capabilities, they could still enjoy the treatment as warriors . However, those that were incompetent held lowly statuses . Some of them even became the plaything for the mercenary group . Such females couldn’t battle, so they could only ‘help’ the mercenary group with their own assets . After all, mercenaries were a group of people that favor strength and were very realistic . Those maidens with mediocre strength and yet loved to dream of adventures, wouldn’t end up too well if they didn’t get to meet any kind-hearted people within the mercenary group .
In fact, when Lapis and the others first approached Rhode, it was also due to a similar reason . Initially, after Lapis and the others joined the mercenary group, they were under Anne’s charge . Anne held a high position within Mark White Mercenary Group and was also the adopted daughter of the senior leader . This was why the mercenaries weren’t up to no good . However, some of the mercenaries felt that Lapis was useless after Anne had left the mercenary group . Not only Lapis was incapable of battles, she was also timid and always dragged the others down . To them, such a girl wasn’t suitable to be a mercenary at all . Although Joey and Randolf had been protective of Lapis, most of the other members in Mark White Mercenary Group agreed that it’s pointless to keep this girl . But luckily, Lapis looked pretty . And if she’s willing to ‘service’ everyone, then they would allow her to stay . If not, she would have to leave . The lives of mercenaries were tough and no one wished to see a leecher amongst themselves .
Of course, Lapis didn’t wish to live a life of prostitute which was why they finally chose to leave Mark White for Starlight . Lapis was lucky, but not so within a mercenary group with so many females .
With such a background story, the red-haired maiden often heard malicious rumors ever since Rhode passed on the managing rights of the stronghold to her . Of course, no one secretly decided that Shauna had offered her body to Rhode in order to get picked — Even Shauna couldn’t believe such ridiculous possibilities . However, those with the ‘male chauvinism’ mentality were ubiquitous .
It was also thanks to Rhode for leaving Canary and Mini Bubble Gum in the stronghold . Other than completing their own missions every day and in charge of training schedules, they didn’t need to interfere with matters of the stronghold . This allowed Shauna to lead a peaceful life and after all, strength equaled respect in the eyes of all mercenaries . So, since both these ladies of the Legendary stage didn’t grumble to Rhode’s orders and decision for Shauna to manage the stronghold, what gave the mercenaries the rights to do so? Could it be that they were much stronger than these two ladies?
Furthermore, Shauna knew her position wasn’t stable, which was why she sought perfection in every matter under her lead and it worked out well . As a female mercenary who build up a mercenary group from nothing, Shauna’s worldly affairs, sleek methods of handling matters and prudence were all skillful and this gave no chance for others to nitpick .
Shauna applied pressure on her forehead due to fatigue . These days along with the growth of Starlight’s popularity, Shauna was overwhelmed by visitors . Previously, when she was her own mercenary group leader, the most that she had met was merely the second-in-command of some authority organizations . But now, the owner of Deep Stone City, the Patriarch of Keller Family and some other popular representatives even personally visited Starlight for discussions . This gave Shauna tremendous pressures and furthermore, Rhode didn’t respond to her and she couldn’t make decisions for urgent matters .
Forget it, there’s no point thinking of these .
Shauna shook her head and turned towards her room . And at this moment, someone spoke out of the blue .
“It seems that you’re doing fine . ”
No matter what, Shauna was still a capable mercenary . She innately took two steps back and drew her sword — Up until this moment, she witnessed Rhode sitting on the sofa beside her . He was casually sipping on the piping hot red tea .
Shauna widened her eyes in shock . However, she quickly recovered her senses and unsheathed her sword, before bowing respectfully .
“Sir, you’re finally back… Is everything alright? Where are the rest?”
“Everything is going well . ”
Rhode placed the cup of tea on the table, at the same time lifting his head and gazed at the female mercenary . In fact, he actually didn’t quite understand Shauna too well . Initially, as for why Rhode decided on Shauna, he had another set of views apart from Lize’s good impression on her . As a female mercenary who spent years working hard for a livelihood, Shauna conducted herself in society extraordinarily well and she was meticulous with her thoughts which many men weren’t capable of . Of course, this would restrict her growth and development — Males, after all, would plan much more ahead and wouldn’t be mindful of some small details . However, Rhode didn’t mind her tedious and careful nature because, in future, this stronghold would only serve as an ‘office’ to receive intelligence, execute and communicate commands, and didn’t need it to get involved with the development of mercenary groups .
“Don’t worry about the Fortress . I’m here to discuss with you on what’s coming next… But before that, I would like to hear your report on the recent happenings in this stronghold . ”
“Yes, Sir . ”
Shauna swiftly bowed and started giving a detailed report of the entire going-on with this place .
After Rhode led the others out of Deep Stone City, the upsurge that Starlight brought up had decreased . After all, the main character wasn’t present and the main topic of discussion wasn’t available . However, although this upsurge had passed, the matters of Starlight didn’t decrease . Many nobles, merchants, and representatives of some powerful organizations had visited this stronghold, with hopes to meet Rhode in person for some discussions . From the start, most of the visitors were locals from Deep Stone City and Paphield . But recently, there were more and more foreigners that came to Deep Stone City to meet him . However, when Shauna questioned their exact purpose of the discussion, they didn’t let the cat out of the bag at all . And once they knew that Rhode wasn’t present, they even chose to temporarily stay in Deep Stone City just to wait for his return .
Shauna sharply detected that within these people, a great deal of them was from the South and Country of Light!
“This is the list of all the visitors who wish to meet you . ”
Shauna retrieved a name list from the fold in her clothes and passed it over to Rhode . Rhode took over the name list and nodded . Got to say, Shauna’s meticulous style of work was impressive . Other than the names of these people, there were also clear pieces of information about their positions and affiliations .
It was within Rhode’s expectations that most of the names were members belonging to some political bodies and Trade Associations . It was obvious that after Starlight’s promotion to a guild, they wished to be sponsors and at the same time rope in Rhode’s forces . However, Rhode wasn’t interested at all because he didn’t wish his guild to become like other guilds where they were under the constant control of others . After all, this wouldn’t be anything worth feeling proud of .
At this moment, Rhode’s gaze focused on this name .
“Lilia . Daniel . Cranfield — The Church Saint?”
Softly mumbled this name, Rhode frowned and turned towards Shauna .
“What’s with this Church Saint?”
“It’s like this, Sir . ”
Shauna pondered for a moment and answered .
“According to what I’ve gathered . The Saint was here to discuss with you on setting up a Church in your new territory . After all, many were aware that you had chosen the Land of Atonement . Previously, due to many reasons, no one was able to station for long in the region and now that you are building a Fortress there, it would be an excellent expansion point for the Church… Also, according to his explanations, the Church seemed pretty interested in Madam Bubble . ”
Rhode’s interest caught on at the last sentence .
“It’s like this… The Church seemed to be very interested in Miss Lize’s battle techniques which she displayed in the midsummer festival . They thought that this might be a good opportunity to change a Cleric’s battle style . So, they sent some men over partially for carrying out preaching activities in your territory and also to work with you on learning such battle techniques . The Saint had also requested for a similar request to Madam Bubble but she…”
Shauna paused and closed her mouth in some misery . But, without the need of her explanations, Rhode had guessed the outcome .
However, the Church preachings weren’t too bad too . After all, unlike earth and some novels, the Church of Dragon Soul Continent didn’t have a specific God to worship . They preached and spread fairness, equality, and observance of order . This was also one of the reasons why other countries were able to accept them . After all, the successor of the Creator Dragon actually existed . If one were to preach their worship to God, it would be similar to Christians publicizing to Buddhists . That’s how awkward things would get .
Of course, the Church wouldn’t possibly rake in money using God’s name . However, the Church in Dragon Soul Continent were actually rich — Because in here, the Church functions additionally as notary offices and banks of a similar sort . Merchants could choose to store their gold coins with them and they could withdraw them from other locations using unique proofs . On the other hand, various business trades could also be transacted in Church . As mentioned previously, as long the contracts and transactions were authenticated by the Church, there’s no need to worry about either party going back on their deals or breach the contracts . If not, the Church would represent the victim to engage in the punishment procedures . Of course, the Church would also receive a certain sum of fee and this would be their main source of income . Moreover, the ‘Board of Directors’ of the Church were the Judgement & Ruling Twin Dragons of Country of Law and not any illusory legendary beings . As the saying goes, you can run, but you can’t hide . Everyone didn’t need to worry that the Church would deceive them of anything, which was why they were assured with them .
Towards such an organization, Rhode naturally wouldn’t hold anything against them . At least with the Church, he could save some efforts in maintaining order . It’s all the better for the Church to be present .
Rhode picked up a pen and circled on a few lucky names, before returning the name list to Shauna .
“Get these people to meet me here tomorrow . Whereas for the rest… find an excuse to dismiss them . Also, inform Kavos to prepare his men for a trip to Land of Atonement as the area had been swept clean by us . Next, most of the mercenaries will be heading over to our Fortress . But, you can choose some of them to stay with you . I’ll let you decide who to stay . ”
“Yes, Sir . ”
Shauna took over the name list and nodded in acknowledgment . But, after hearing the final sentence, Shauna was dumbstruck .
“That means… Sir, you will…”
“I will be here temporarily, but in future, I will hand this stronghold over to your care, Miss Shauna . ”