The odd circumstances which befell the Red Hawk mercenary group caused Rhode to harbor some doubts and became increasingly vigilant. Although on the exterior it appeared to be an accident, he felt that something was amiss. Just as Shauna had mentioned, that person gave her a whopping 150 gold coins as a deposit. That sum of money was a little too much for just some random fun.
Undoubtedly, there was something happening behind the scenes.
Rhode weighed the consequences in his mind, and in the end, he refused to allow Lize to gather information from Red Hawk. Since Barney caused a rift between both of their mercenary groups, Rhode didn't intend to cross the line and requested Old Walker to return to the Mercenary Association, assuming back his 'old-self.'
"When you return to the association, help me to watch out for any abnormal movement," Rhode said to Old Walker while sitting behind an old wooden desk in the study while writing something on a paper.
"Notify me immediately if there's anything particularly strange. Then, if possible, find a tank for me."
"Tank? Never heard of it."
Rhode reached out his hand and smacked his forehead. Then, he quickly corrected his sentence.
"Err... find someone who can hold the front when in crisis."
"Remember, we require no more than two people. Although at the moment, we lack members, the aspect we need to improve on is our teamwork."
"Someone who can hold the front...?"
Hearing Rhode's request, Old Walker stroked his beardless chin and fell deep into thought.
"Hmm... I have some people in mind. But kid, I think should be prepared to spend quite a bit."
Rhode raised his head and looked at the old man who was sitting in front of him.
"300 gold coins."
Old Walker grinned.
Rhode frowned. The gold reward for completing Pavel Cemetery was only 500 coins. Now, Old Walker said that he needed more than half of it which left Rhode slightly puzzled. Typically, recruiting a mercenary didn't require that much money. A decent mercenary was only worth roughly 100 gold coins. There were even mercenaries who didn't want money to join a group. For example, Marleen and Old Walker. Old Walker only wanted 50 coins while Marleen was only interested in gaining experience. But now, Old Walker wanted 300 gold to recruit people?
Old Walker smiled wryly at Rhode's reaction. Ever since he joined the mercenary group, Rhode always kept this sarcastic attitude towards him. So, he wanted to somehow let him taste a little of his own medicine. Of course, he wouldn't explicitly express his intent since he was already part of the group, but hehe... when gains are involved, spending money is inevitable.
But to his dismay, even though Rhode expressed shock at first, he neither became mad nor unhappy. Instead, he pulled open a drawer and grabbed a bag of gold before throwing it casually on the table.
"Here is 500 gold coins. Take it."
Seeing this, Old Walker's face turned stiff.
"Hey, boy, isn't this our payment? You're just giving it to me just like that?"
Rhode shrugged, "It doesn't matter either way. At the moment, we don't need to use the money. Since you require it, then just take it with you."
He didn't even bat an eyelid when he threw the bag of coins. To Old Walker, 500 gold coins was a considerable sum of money, but as for Rhode, 500 was just a mere drop in the ocean. Back in the game when he was a guild leader, managing millions of gold coins was a daily affair. Thus, these measly 500 coins weren't enough for him to feel heartache. Frankly, he was more worried that Old Walker would hesitate to spend. If that happened, he would deduct from his share of the payment.
If only Old Walker knew what Rhode was thinking right now... he would immediately reconsider his suggestion without a doubt. Unfortunately, reading other people's mind wasn't his forte.
Thus, Old Walker's impression of Rhode improved because he saw this as an act of generosity.
"Don't worry, boy."
Old Walker picked up the bag with a solemn expression.
"I promise that I will bring back a suitable candidate that will satisfy you."
Old Walker bowed and exposed a subtle smile.
"I will ensure that your money is well spent."
"I hope so."
As Rhode's attention was focused on the paper, he did not notice Old Walker's odd smile. After a moment of silence, Rhode put down the pen and looked up at Old Walker.
"Is there anything else?"
"Yes, I would like to ask; when will we accept another mission?"
"I've already accepted one. We'll head out two days later."
Old Walker frowned.
"Then when will I have the time to gather information?"
"Only Marleen and I will be on this mission."
Rhode shook his head and replied.
"Lize needs time to study her new spell, and you also have your things to do. That's why only both of us will go." Rhode glanced at the young lady sitting in the corner reading a book. "Worry not, we are merely heading for Twilight Forest to pick up some alchemical plants. A simple two Star-Ranked mission."
Marleen, who was aware of Rhode's glance, exposed a proud smile in response. This haughty act made Rhode shake his head helplessly and sigh inwardly.
Frankly, Rhode wasn't planning to bring Marleen along. He wanted to head out by himself and dig out some decent equipment which were hidden within the Twilight Forest. However, Marleen found out about this matter and insisted on tagging along. Since her priority here was to gain experience, she wanted to get out of Deep Stone City as much as possible. Facing Marleen's demand, Rhode eventually agreed to take her along. No matter what happened before, she was now a member of his mercenary group, plus her strength as a middle circle mage would be useful if something went awry along the way.
"Okay, I understand."
Old Walker nodded his head and stood up.
"Then I will prepare my own matters and observe the situation within the association. I'll be at that place if you wish to find me."
Once he finished his sentence, Old Walker turned and walked away. But right at that moment as he was about to leave, a knock came from the door.
It was Lize. She opened the door and walked towards Rhode, handing him an envelope.
"Mr. Rhode, this was sent by the Keller family."
There was a trace of confusion on her face when she passed the letter to Rhode. The engravings on the letter were beautiful. The gold symbol of their family emblem revealed the identity and status of the sender.
"The Keller family?"
Rhode was puzzled and furrowed his brow. Then, he reached out and took the letter from her.
"Do we know these guys?"
Hearing Rhode's question, Lize stared blankly at Rhode.
"Umm...Mr. Rhode, have you forgotten?"
"When we were returning to Deep Stone City from the Twilight Forest, you've saved a lady..."
Rhode replied decisively. Judging by his expression, he clearly forgot about the matter. Lize was stunned, but she swallowed her saliva and decided not to say anything. After all, both of them weren't exactly on best terms and thought that after that incident, there wouldn't be any further communication. Unexpectedly, the Keller family actually took the initiative to contact Rhode. She didn't know what they intended to do.
"The head of Keller family invited me to a dinner party to thank me for saving her daughter."
Rhode read the content out loud and put the letter on the table.
"So... who is going to go with me?"
Old Walker was the first to reject. He walked out of the room and waved his hand at Rhode.
"Drink tea with a group of boring noblemen? Count me out. I will head out first, kid. Rest assured that I will complete the mission you assigned me to."
"I, I also...."
Lize said hesitantly, exposing awkward smile. Then she quietly took a few steps back.
"I'm learning that new spell recently, and I think ... I can't make it.
Seeing that Old Walker and Lize weren't interested in going, Rhode turned his attention to the last person in the room. Marleen contemplated for a moment before nodding her head.
"Though I'm not exactly interested... but I guess its good to relax occasionally. Come Lize! Let's go together."
"Eh? But I..."
"Spells aren't something you can learn within a day. Moreover, you've not participated in a tea party in ages."
"This ... I..."
Due to Marleen's pestering, Lize's face flushed red, and she quickly glanced at Rhode. When she saw that he didn't say anything, she felt slightly relieved and nodded her head.