It was already noon when Rhode stepped into the park . The sunset glowed in a scarlet radiance by the horizon . Soldiers and mercenaries rotated their duties anxiously . Entire streets were filled with nervous tension because they knew that the battle would begin after the sun set completely .
Rhode felt worn out . He looked around him before sitting on the stone chair in the park . As the most bustling public area in the Land of Atonement, this park was always filled with laughter and conversation . However, the solemn atmosphere of war turned it into a strange, chilly place . Rhode gazed at the sky boringly and occasionally toggled his system interface . If it was possible, he wished to go ‘offline’ just like in the game and return to the casual, real world for a couple of drinks or meet up with friends to tease their younger female juniors . That was where he didn’t need to worry about war or survival even though he complained that jobs were hard to find, queues were insanely long, or he couldn’t find a great job even with a dozen diplomas…
Perhaps in that world, he might be busy paying for his mortgage and car or finding a new job . But he would never need to worry about risking his life . He lived in a country that was peaceful, where all worries were insignificant—graduation thesis, work, interview, love, break-ups, mortgage, marriage, and divorce . All these should be his concerns . On the other hand, it was never his concern about the future of this continent and his survivability . Even in the game, he mostly achieved his ambitions for the sake of players . But that was just a game, after all . Perhaps one might lead a group of players to conquer the entire game, but the achievements and reputation added no value to their resume . Just like Old Ryu, who was Rhode’s trusted aide in the game and a Grand Mage who dominated the game but was simply a white collar worker in reality . Even though many players respected him or shivered at the sight of his back, he didn’t benefit from it in real life . In fact, Rhode often heard about Old Ryu’s grumbles about his mundane job, incompetent boss, worthless colleagues who only knew how to flatter their higher-ups, vain wife who loved buying knockoff leather goods, and daughter who often returned home late . Rhode remembered clearly that when he first led Starlight to the world competition organized by the gaming company, they almost failed to compete due to their different real life working professions . There were many average players in Starlight, which led to a whole lot of troubles in the competition . For instance, Canary had to pay tuition and write a research report, Mini Bubble Gum’s summer vacation homework had piled up on the table, and Old Ryu wasn’t sure if his request for leave application could be approved…
If it wasn’t for the gaming company that reimbursed the flight tickets, meals, and lodging, perhaps Rhode would have been the only one to participate in the individual matches and there would be no way for Starlight to attain the glory of being on top of the world . But no matter how glorious it was, it was just a game . Perhaps it was honorable for the players to participate in the world competition and be crowned the best in the world . But what purpose did it serve in reality? Even if Canary won, it wouldn’t add an additional point to her exam results . There also wouldn’t be anyone helping Mini Bubble Gum with her assignments after she soaked in cheers for her victory . Even Old Ryu would need to worry about explaining to his wife that he was only participating in a competition and not carry on a clandestine love affair with his colleague .
This was only a game . No matter how honorable it was, it didn’t affect the society or world . Their victory wouldn’t change the fate of the world while failure wouldn’t lead the world into destruction . Although online gaming was getting more recognized, accompanied by the ever-changing technologies, they couldn’t compete against large scale events like the Olympics or World Cup at all .
Perhaps it was due to this reason that they could enjoy the fun of it .
But now… Rhode didn’t enjoy it one bit . He only wished to live on and even if he couldn’t care less about the changes that would happen to this continent or the lives of others . The overwhelming pressure left him breathless .
“This isn’t fun at all…”
Rhode toggled the system interface off and murmured .
Previously, he discussed with Canary and the others for a long and felt utterly hopeless . Although Erin was still young and her abilities weren’t as terrifying as she was in the game yet, her moon attribute was still the same . As long as the moon existed, it was impossible to defeat her and if she destroyed the three Holy Maiden Statues, Rhode was sure that his side would be completely wiped out . Even though concealing the moon might be a great idea, the problem was that not even Mini Bubble Gum and Canary were capable of doing so .
What left him between laughter and tears was that Erin came to the battlefront simply because she heard that the Land of Atonement had repelled the Undead Army . Although other regions had different degrees of stalemates, the Land of Atonement was the only battlefront that completely repelled the Undead Army . This was what piqued Erin’s curiosity and she wished to personally see who their enemies were .
Rhode was speechless . It seemed like being too outstanding was also a crime . If he knew that this would attract this troublesome figure of Erin, he would have kept a low profile and struggled in the battle much more . This way, perhaps Erin wouldn’t find it interesting and would return straight home, which would be best for everyone .
But it was a pity that there wasn’t any medicine for regrets .
Rhode blinked—the massive golden ritual slowly rotating in the sky was so striking .
Is anything else more interesting than this?
He wouldn’t reveal such an expression before anyone . As a leader, it was most important that he maintained his majesty and confidence at all times . If his men were to see him in a miserable state, they would also be worried . Even if the situation was horrible, Rhode would need to convince them that it wasn’t as bad as they thought . But, the fact was… it was really terrible .
Rhode wasn’t confident in facing Erin at all . Most of the time, she spent her days in the Moon Castle, royal library, or enjoyed operas and symphonies in theaters . Back then in the game, when Rhode led his men into battle with the four legendary generals on the Light Mainland or ambushed the Light Parliament, Erin didn’t look for him at all, which was why he didn’t interact with her and couldn’t figure out her personality or thoughts . All he could do was to read up about her on the forums regarding the Country of Darkness . But even so, he refused to believe that she would watch idly by as the Undead Army crumbled—because this would be treason . Read more chapter on NovelFull
In the end, the conclusion he had gotten after discussion was that Canary and Mini Bubble Gum would spare no expense to stop Erin from destroying the Holy Maiden Statues while he eliminated the Undead Army as quickly as possible . After Erin realized that her side was utterly defeated, perhaps she might leave immediately . Of course, Rhode was also aware that Canary and Mini Bubble Gum could only delay Erin for a short while even if Gillian was present with her powers unsealed . Also, there would also be around 150,000 Undead Creatures, which was an astronomical number .
At this moment, a crisp, gentle voice sounded .
Rhode felt a rather cold, tiny hand caressing his cheek . He lowered his gaze and saw a face that looked exactly like his, but was much younger and tender .
“… What’s wrong…? Are you feeling unwell…?”
“I’m fine, Christie . ”
Rhode straightened his back, revealed a gentle smile, and held her tiny hand softly .
“I’m resting because I feel a little tired . ”
Rhode paused and scanned her . All this while he had been busy dealing with the Undead Army and didn’t spend too much time looking after her . But she never grumbled . Her exceptional maturity made her understand what was appropriate at certain times . Rhode learned about her situation from Lapis from time and time and found out that Christie was doing fine . Besides, according to Lapis, Christie held alchemy talents and a certain extent of magical powers, which was affirmed by the Mages who Marlene had brought from the Mage School . They also thought that Christie could consider learning alchemy or magic spells, which would be an achievement for her .
“How are you feeling, Christie? It’s dangerous during this period of time . Are you feeling alright?”
“… Yes… I’m good…”
Christie nodded with a smile .
“… Sister… Lapis… Everyone… takes good care… of me… I’m also… working hard… to help everyone… But… I feel… lonely… because I haven’t seen… Rhode… for a while…”
“Glad to hear that you’re feeling well . ”
Rhode felt as though his fatigue had been washed away . The problems troubling him before didn’t seem as important anymore . He stroked her hair gently while the little girl narrowed her eyes and leaned her cheek closer to his palm like an adorable kitten .
He felt rather guilty . Even though she was leading a good life, he felt as though he had abandoned her, just like he rescued a child begging on the streets, handed her to the welfare agency, nodded at the sight of her having fun with other children, and turned his back on her . Was this what she wanted?
Rhode clearly sensed that she was fondly attached to him and he was the same toward her . He never treated her as a replacement for his younger sister, but he cared for her . He could send her to a safer place and give her a better life . But he knew that she wouldn’t like it .
“… Are you really okay…? Rhode…?”
“I’m fine, Christie . I’m feeling great . ”
Rhode shook his head . But the little girl knitted her brows slightly and gazed in uncertainty .
“But… I feel like Rhode… is feeling troubled…”
Rhode pondered in silence . The peaceful park became even quieter at this moment . He lowered his head, gazed at the ground, and it was due to this that he didn’t notice the purple flare glinting in her eyes .
After a few moments, the sound of bells broke the serenity . Rhode looked ahead and the sun had fallen below the horizon . Darkness emerged and enveloped every part of this world ever so slowly .
The Undead Army is here .
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