The situation surrounding Ann was nothing more than an interlude for Rhode . Soon after, he would be facing the most important event of the year . He would be participating in the Dragon Soul Ceremony with Lydia and meet the Light Dragon Soul Heir of the rumors . Besides… this was the best opportunity for him to experience the changes to the Country of Light .
The Dragon Soul Ceremony was an annual event to show appreciation to the Light Dragon Soul’s protection to this continent—this was the official statement from the Country of Light, but players who had inside information were aware that this was a trick that the Munn Kingdom had thought up to hate on the Light Parliament . This was because the Light Parliament had spared no effort to deliberately tarnish the Light Dragon Soul’s reputation in all parts of the continent . They hoped that people would slowly forget about the Light Dragon Soul and that they would replace its existence . However, this trick from the Munn Kingdom spoiled all their moves . The annual Dragon Soul Ceremony had crushed their plans completely, which infuriated the Light Parliament . Every year, they did their utmost to inculcate the people that the Light Dragon Soul wasn’t important to them . Although the Light Dragon Soul had created this land, the Humans were the ones who built homes and great lives . Therefore, they didn’t need to be so respectful to an illusory existence . Just as they were about to use an eraser to wipe out the picture on the paper, the Munn Kingdom stepped out unexpectedly from within and informed the people of the grand Dragon Soul Ceremony and that the reason why they were able to live such tranquil lives . It was due to the Light Dragon Soul’s protection enveloping the entire continent . The Munn Kingdom reminded the people to be grateful and to respect their protector .
This left the Light Parliament gritting their teeth . But they could do nothing to stop the ceremony as the financial funding from the Munn Kingdom was essential to them .
Although the Country of Light was three times larger than the Munn Kingdom in terms of territory, the former’s financial income was much less than the latter’s . Of course, this didn’t mean that the Country of Light was in a state of poverty . Among the three largest families in the Munn Kingdom, Senia Family was the only one who could be considered wealthy . But apart from the five largest financial groups in the Country of Light, there were many families that were rich beyond anyone’s dreams . Arranging in the sequence of total wealth, the Country of Light was five times or more than the Munn Kingdom’s .
But… money had nothing to do with the core authority of the Country of Light . Instead, they belonged to the private assets of financial groups .
Even though the Light Parliament had the authority to demand their assets, they didn’t dare to do so as the political figures of the Country of Light were supported by each of the financial groups . They needed huge sums of money to publicize and draw people to vote for them in all parts of the Country of Light . This sum of money came from the support of major financial groups . Since that was the case, the politicians of the Country of Light naturally wouldn’t wrap their heads around it . Not only that, but they also had to lower the taxes on huge financial groups in order to please them . As for increasing taxes, they would need to target the wool on the flock of little sheep instead .
However, the wool on the flock of sheep was limited; after all, shaving too much would enrage the people . Therefore, the Light Parliament could only hang on to what they had and due to this reason, the funding from the Munn Kingdom was crucial for them . Although, in name, the sum of money from the Munn Kingdom was to express devotion to the Light Dragon Soul, the Light Dragon Soul had become the puppet of the Light Parliament . The Light Dragon Soul definitely wouldn’t have the chance to even touch this sum of money . As its subordinate, it was ‘only right’ that the Light Parliament used it instead .
But the Munn Kingdom wasn’t mindful of this . Anyway, their main purpose was to sweep the Light Parliament’s reputation and secure the Light Dragon Soul’s position on the continent . The Munn Kingdom treated it as spending money to leave the Light Parliament uncomfortable since they had the money to do so .
As for the various huge financial groups, they didn’t give a damn if the Munn Kingdom was trying to fight for the Light Dragon Soul’s position or sweep the Light Parliament’s reputation . As long as they didn’t need to fork out money, they would resolutely applaud and warmly welcome the ceremony even if a Demon were to rule this nation .
They didn’t care as long as there was money to be made .
Participating in the Dragon Soul Ceremony was naturally a huge event for Rhode and several of his subordinates had followed him there too . After all, this was considered ‘going abroad’ and even though the Country of Light’s reputation wasn’t great in the Munn Kingdom, visiting another country was still full of excitement and anticipation . Moreover, it was the Dragon Soul Ceremony, where the participants could see the Light Dragon Soul Heir personally and receive blessings . This was naturally something to long for to the people of the Munn Kingdom, who had always worshiped the Light Dragon Soul .
Rhode initially intended to not bring that many people along because he knew that the Country of Light was unstable at the moment . The quadrennial election was coming up and according to the intelligence Rhode had gathered, the Munn Kingdom’s reputation was terrible in the Country of Light due to the former wiping out the Reformist Party . Not only that, but all the parliament members of the Light Parliament also criticized the Munn Kingdom fiercely in order for them to receive support from their people . Under such circumstances, it was easily predictable as to what the Munn Kingdom’s representative team would face in the Country of Light . Of course . Rhode didn’t wish for his subordinates to get into trouble and he picked out three candidates .
Lize, as Lydia’s younger sister, and also a Royal Family member, was sure to follow . Even though Rhode didn’t wish to bring Anne along, he considered that she could only behave well when she was by his side . Moreover, the start to the end of the Dragon Soul Ceremony would take more than half a month . It would be a waste of effort if Anne were to return to her strange behavior while he wasn’t around . Therefore, he had finally decided to bring her along .
As for Christie and Lapis, Rhode didn’t allow them to come with him as he knew that he was hated in the Country of Light . The two young girls had no ability to keep themselves safe and bringing them to the Country of Light would only draw them into the whirlpool .
The last candidate was Marlene . Although Rhode wished for her to stay in the fortress, she must follow no matter what .
Even though Marlene didn’t receive huge rewards from Lydia back in the celebratory banquet, her political position in the Munn Kingdom didn’t fall due to it . This time, she represented the Senia Family and joined Lydia in partaking in the Dragon Soul Ceremony . Rhode didn’t wish for her to go because it was a busy period in the Land of Atonement at the moment . The strange movements of the Country of Darkness were also worrying . It would be for the best if Marlene could stay in the Land of Atonement…
But this matter wasn’t determined by Rhode .
Fortunately, Land of Atonement was no longer an empty shell like it was in the past . The schoolmates Marlene had brought over from the Mage School had gotten used to life there and familiarized with their new identities . They displayed their young vitality completely; affairs in Land of Atonement had become neat and tidy, so there wouldn’t be drastic changes in the fortress even in Marlene’s absence . But this time, Rhode wasn’t most concerned about political issues . If the Country of Darkness were to have some abnormal movements, his territory would require a figure who could keep everything under control . Fortunately, Canary was around to take the job .
Canary and Mini Bubble Gum were invited by Lydia and Rhode knew the purpose of her invitation . But it was a pity that they couldn’t leave his territory, unless the Country of Light was determined to be his territory by the system .
But Canary and Mini Bubble Gum weren’t mindful of that since they detested the Country of Light bitterly .
Apart from this, there was another matter that left Rhode surprised .
When he received Lydia’s official invitation letter, the always-random-system once again prompted a new mission .
[Territory Construction Mission — Between Light and Light . You shall be heading into a sacred ceremony and become the center of attention in the surging storm . Will you be able to search for the path that decides your future in the ravishing brilliance…]
This mission was inexplicable for Rhode . He had played this game for years and faced countless missions of different varieties . However, he had rarely seen such a strange construction mission . Missions distributed by the system usually would come with an objective and direction . For example, the player had to reach a place and pass something to someone . Or perhaps, the player had to murder an NPC or escort someone to gather materials . These missions had distinct objectives, but this [Between Light and Light] mission was completely baffling . Everything else was a mystery apart from knowing that he had to participate in the Dragon Soul Ceremony .
But Rhode couldn’t remain calm after witnessing the system reward .
[System Reward: Unlocks a Phantom Guardian]
A line of words without EXP and special techniques . However, this was the best reward that Rhode could ask for .
He was given the opportunity to unlock three Phantom Guardians when he first received the Sphere of Mystery . However, he could only unlock two out of three as his levels were too low . Rhode didn’t give much thought about it as the emergence of Mini Bubble Gum and Canary was astonishing enough . Besides, their performances left him genuinely satisfied and he stopped thinking about the third Phantom Guardian . In any case, he believed that the chance to unlock the third Phantom Guardian would come naturally when his level had reached the requirement .
But he didn’t expect to receive an additional opportunity to unlock another Phantom Guardian .
This meant that, in the future, he could have a total of four Phantom Guardians if he completed this mission and his levels reached the requirement of the Sphere of Mystery . Since this was the case… There were many formidable beings on this continent like the three Archangels and Four Legendary Generals of Country of Darkness . Would he be able to create four of his best companions too?
Rhode had made up his mind . No matter how harsh the conditions were, he would need to complete this mission and receive the reward . Although Marlene and Lize coordinated well with him in battle, they lacked the farsightedness and unique perspectives of the players . Currently, he didn’t have the spare time to training up his subordinates . He eagerly hoped to search for a companion and helper who could see through the enemies’ plans in the shortest period possible . In such an ‘accelerated’ process, Phantom Guardians were naturally the best choice .
This Dragon Soul Ceremony was the best opportunity to fulfill his wish .
Howling Gorge .
The ice-cold wind raged over the towering cliffs, engulfing the entire world with fluttering snow . The chariot transporting Rhode’s group had reached the waist of the mountain . Rhode squinted at the tiny flames dancing in the distant . Got to say, Lydia’s invitation was indeed original and ingenious . She didn’t make Rhode’s group head into Golden City . Instead, she invited them to the Howling Gorge to head out from there together to the Country of Light .
“Why must we come to such a place, Leader?”
Anne yawned and gazed at the snowy scenery lazily . If it was spring, perhaps she could have admired the picturesque view below the mountains . But now, the whistling snow had whitened the surrounding entirely . Why would Lydia choose this place?
Rhode twitched his brows and didn’t answer . He also wasn’t clear as to why Lydia had chosen this place . The players weren’t knowledgeable about the Howling Gorge . Even a ‘walking library’ like Rhode wasn’t too clear of the situation as this was considered a forbidden ground of the Munn Royal Family, where players would be prohibited from entering . Rumor had it that only a specific class of players who had gained a certain level of prestige could enter the Howling Gorge . Fearless players who barged their way in were punished mercilessly by the Battle Angel Army . Not only that, but their reputation in Munn Kingdom fell to ‘Hostile’ . Thereafter, no other players were foolish enough to test the system after the previous pitiful players knowingly violated the law and got punished for it . According to the players who had once entered the Howling Gorge, there were some hidden secrets about the Munn Kingdom in that place, but they didn’t know the specific details .
But now, this wasn’t a problem for him to resolve . The chariot slowly approached the flickering radiance, standing out in the fluttering snow .
Shortly after, a majestic, enormous stone-made castle emerged before them with the solid curves and lines of the cliff accentuating its shape . Even though the snow was whistling strongly, the group could vaguely see the dazzling, brightly lit indoors .
They stepped down from the chariot and arrived at the castle entrance . Shortly after, the heavy, pitch-black door opened wide and two female servants emerged . As soon as they witnessed Rhode’s group, they hurriedly approached them and bowed respectfully . Rhode nodded in response before handing over Lydia’s invitation letter . One of the female servants took over the invitation letter and scanned the content . Then, she extended her right hand and touched the letter with the ring on her index finger . In the blink of an eye, a light blue radiance emanated . She returned the letter to Rhode and said .
“Welcome to Purple Lily City, Sir Rhode . Please come with me . Royal Highness has been waiting for your arrival . ”
Anne exclaimed in awe at the decorations of the majestic castle as soon as the heavy doors closed behind them and cut off the whistling snow . Not only Anne, but even Rhode and Lize also widened their eyes in astonishment .
If Golden City had given them an incomparable sense of luxury, then this Purple Lily City was more of a city filled with magical coloration . Several magical light spheres were suspended in the air above the dome, a few meters high, emanating gentle brilliance that illuminated the hall . Not only that, but the magical rays on the sleek walls also zipped skyward as though they were bouncing and flashing to an unknown fluctuation frequency .
At this moment, an indifferent, yet familiar voice greeted them .
“Welcome to Purple Lily City, Sir Rhode . It’s been a while . ”
Rhode turned around and spotted a black-haired young lady approaching him with a harp in her hands . Her black pupils were glinting with obvious dissatisfaction .
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