Old President and Sereck weren't dumb. Naturally they wouldn't want to be entangled in the hot mess between the Munn Kingdom and the Country of Light. Meanwhile, they were also grateful to Rhode for providing them the information regarding the mercenary groups and the undead. As they kept a record of commissions, they came to the exact conclusion as Old Walker, stating that it was truly an unusual occurrence.
The Mercenary Association could ignore the problem between the two countries, but they could not disregard the danger before them. As the highest-ranking members of the Mercenary Association, the President and Sereck had already caught a whiff of matters even before Rhode's warning. It was especially obvious when several mercenary groups came back with severe casualties.
"Looks like something is lurking in the shadows."
Putting down a parchment on his hand, Sereck's expression darkened.
"Something like this actually happened... I really did not expect it. If I knew it earlier, I would've stayed."
"It's too late to regret it now, old friend."
The Old President sighed and rolled his eyes towards Rhode.
"What do you think about it?"
"Perhaps it's because those undead creatures are valuable?"
Rhode was clearly ignoring him, causing the Old President to roll his eyes again. He sighed deeply in his heart, questioning himself why he even bothered asking Rhode anyway.
"The commissioners came from different regions. The only thing they have in common is that they're all not locals..."
Reading the record on his hands, Sereck expression became slightly more stern.
"I can't tell if it's a conspiracy or not from the information we've gotten so far, but even for a coincidence it's slightly unbelievable."
Knock knock knock!
At this moment, a rapid knocking sound suddenly came from behind the door and broke the dull atmosphere in the room. The three of them glanced over, and the Old President's expression turned solemn.
The door pushed open and a mercenary drenched in blood rushed in with Old Hank following closely behind. From his clothing, it can be said that he resembled a thief.
"What happened?!" The President abruptly sprang up and asked.
The bloodied mercenary appeared using all his remaining strength to stand before the President, and it was evident that he couldn't hold on for much longer.
"S-Sir, our mission failed... I finally managed to escape... Please, please send reinforcements to help my comrades..."
Sereck quickly walked towards the mercenary. After carefully looking at him he said, "Aren't you Chad from the 'Victorious Wine' mercenary group? What happened to you?"
"We, we accepted a commission to the Silent Ridge. But, we didn't expect so many undead there... The vice-leader had already died and our leader barely saved our lives. However, they are being surrounded by undead right now as we speak... I don't know how long they can hold on..."
"What the heck? Silent Plateau?!"
Sereck no longer remained calm after hearing this.
"That's a five Star-Ranked mission! Your mercenary group isn't qualified to take this mission!"
"We, we know... But our mission was only to search for an item within the outer borders... so we thought that it wasn't going to be dangerous. Who knew that..."
"Forget it; there's no use saying these now."
"Hank, take him to receive treatment immediately. I will think of a solution with the President."
"Yes, Sir Sereck."
Old Hank agreed and carried the mercenary back. When the mercenary left, Sereck shook his head.
"Foolish! How can they be that stupid! They actually dared to venture into Silent Plateau? That place is the Country of Darkness's border. Bunch of fools... just because of money they dared to disregard their lives."
"What should we do now?"
"Since they requested for reinforcements, we must help them. This is the responsibility of our Mercenary Association. Even if it was a casual group, as long as they've formally registered with us, they will be protected under our wing."
The President's old face revealed a troubled expression.
"Firstly, let's not even mention how dangerous that place is. Even if we wanted reinforcements, there are only a few available mercenary groups left in Deep Stone City. Both of us know that they've just returned from a devastating defeat. Requesting reinforcements from them is practically impossible."
"So... should I go alone?"
"Don't joke, old friend."
The President immediately shook his head.
"What's the use if you go there alone? This is a five Star-Ranked mission! Yes, you are a master swordsman and you can guarantee your own life... but can you also bring the others back safely?"
Sereck did not answer.
He was clear of his own strength. Much of his talent lies within his swordsmanship, so he wasn't good at commanding mercenary groups. Going there to kill the undead wasn't an issue, but killing the undead while bringing a group of injured people back... Hahaha, gotta be kidding...
At this time, a voice sounded.
"I think you have forgotten that there's still a mercenary group without any injuries."
President and Sereck immediately turned towards Rhode who had remained silent for the whole time. Right now he was crossing his arms while leaning against the chair, quietly watching them.
"You mean Starlight?"
The Old President shook his head and laughed.
"Kid... your mercenary group only possess five or six members right now... Even if you have twice or trice of that, Silent Plateau isn't a place for your level. Don't make things even more troublesome."
"That's your opinion, not mine, old man."
Rhode didn't back down. Instead, he moved his body to get more comfortable.
"I have confidence in my subordinates, and believe me — my familiarity with Silent Plateau is far more than you can imagine..."
Both of them were stunned momentarily, then the Old President laughed and opened his mouth to say something. However, Sereck stopped him. He walked towards Rhode and carefully scrutinized the young man.
"Are you sure you can handle it?"
"I never take on a mission that I'm not sure of. Moreover, you're coming with me right? I have no doubts of your strength."
Rhode stood up.
"I have two conditions, however."
"What conditions?" The Old President was puzzled.
Rhode whipped out one finger.
"First, you must look for four clerics for me. There must be some within the Association, right?"
"There is, but..."
The Old President frowned and stared at Rhode suspiciously. He didn't understand what he was going to do with four clerics.
"What do you need them for? You should realize that those kids do not have much adventuring experience since they are mainly responsible for the Association's internal first-aid department. Let me inform you — they do not know any offensive spells. Don't expect them to help you kill the undead."
"That is my problem. You only have to wait for me to bring them back safely. You have my word. Now, I want to know whether you agree to this condition."
The old President didn't hesitate long before agreeing to Rhode's condition. Anyway, it wasn't a big deal, and he was also curious why would he ask for four clerics.
"I'll get them to prepare. After that, they'll follow Sereck to join you guys. What about the second condition?"
"The second condition is simple."
Rhode held out another finger.
"I want to know how many points I can get after this mission."
The Old President's face finally turned green.
"You greedy bastard! You can actually speak of this condition at this kind of time?!"
"That's exactly why I must talk about the conditions with you, old man."
Rhode put down his right hand and shrugged.
"After all, this is also a mission and we are risking our lives... Isn't some kind of compensation appropriate?"
In the end, the President agreed to Rhode's conditions. Old President could choose to bargain further, but he knew that this matter was urgent and thus relented to Rhode's conditions.
If Starlight could complete the mission and come back safely, the Mercenary Association would give them a five Star-Ranked mission reward together with gold coins and some magic equipment.
The reward can't be said to be abundant, but also can't be said to be meager for a five Star-Ranked mission.
After everything, they finally agreed to prepare to move out the next day at dawn. Rhode promptly left the Mercenary Association after the discussion.
"I really don't know what you are thinking!"
The Old President was in a huff as he slumped in his chair angrily, giving a dissatisfied look at Sereck who returned his glare with a smile.
"Do you really think that kid is telling the truth? I think that he's just uttering nonsense. Is the Silent Plateau a resort where he can choose to come and go as he wishes? He even said that he is familiar with it? Nonsense!"
"I don't think so."
Sereck smiled bitterly and shook his head.
"You must recognize his achievements as well. When the kid had just established his mercenary group, he immediately took on Pavel Cemetery and came back without any casualties while saving the Red Hawk mercenary group in the process. That young lad said that he is familiar with the undead... is it really a coincidence? He even felled the Necromancer who had lived for so many years."
"What are you trying to say Sereck?"
"I'm not trying to say anything..."
Sereck turned his head and gazed out the window.
"I just think that young man is a fascinating fellow..."