Everyone finally recovered after resting for a while and began their journey into the forest.
The forest was dead silent; not even the sound of crickets could be heard.
As the group made their way into the dense foliage, their shadows quickly blended into the darkness. Most of the light couldn't permeate through the leaves, shrouding the whole area in darkness.
Since this area was in between the Country of Light and the Country of Darkness, it was considered the darkest place among the people from the Country of Light.
"There's someone over there!"
One of the Clerics was startled and quickly pointed towards a direction. Not too far from them, a pale face silently watched them.
"Ignore them, let's continue moving."
Rhode didn't bother to turn his head and continued to press forward. However, a lingering fear caused the Cleric to hesitate.
"But those evil spirits... they..."
"If you don't bother them, they won't bother you."
At this moment, Rhode felt like he was bringing along a bunch of noobs. Every time they witness something scary, they would scream. Especially those female players... though their expression varied among the first-timers. Some were indifferent, some were calm, some screamed their head off, and some just froze in fear. Rhode had seen them all. In the beginning, Rhode was kind enough to give them advice, but after several batches of newbies, he finally got tired of it.
They were just scaring themselves; if they could be distracted by these things, what would happen when they enter the inner areas of Silent Plateau? Wouldn't they have a seizure and fall to the ground?
Seeing how Rhode nonchalantly dismissed her fears, the Cleric felt offended. From her perspective, evil spirits were the bane of the living. Since Rhode had the numerical advantage right now, why won't he give the command to attack? And now, as they walked deeper into the forest, the number of evil spirits began to increase. The evil spirits lurked in the shadows, flashing from one tree to another as they observed the group of humans with its dead eyes.
As they went advanced deeper into the forest, the number of evil spirits kept increasing. Even Marlene, Lize, and Old Walker couldn't help but feel nervous. They kept a constant watch on their surroundings in case an evil spirit would suddenly rush out and eat them. The four Clerics almost couldn't walk, if it wasn't because of Rhode's quick pace and the fact that they didn't want to be left behind, perhaps they would've already stopped walking in fear.
Only Rhode and Sereck remained calm. Rhode was confident that the evil spirits wouldn't attack them. Even though their numbers might appear intimidating, it was just a mask to hide their weakness. If no one provoked them, they wouldn't attack. Nevertheless, they would still become aggressive and prey on those who couldn't bear the pressure.
However, Rhode still assigned Sereck to the rear as a contingency plan. If any of the Clerics decided to flee in terror, at least Sereck could prevent them from committing suicide.
Though in the end, none of them were as cowardly as Rhode thought. Yes, they were scared, but throughout the journey, none of them chose to run away. Rhode was slightly impressed and his admiration for them rose. Perhaps it was due to their class which made their mental fortitude somewhat higher than casual players since they had seen real dead bodies before. For players, they might appear confident and brave when speaking about the deceased, but when faced with a real dead body in front of them? They were no better than the other next to them.
Alright, at least right now we won't have this problem.
Rhode swung his scabbard to clear the overhanging branches, revealing a magical scene in front of everyone.
The dense forest was akin to a thick curtain that blocked the backdrop of the stage. Now that the curtain had finally been drawn, everything was laid bare for all to see.
A vast prairie stretched out from end to end. Worn-out weapons and rotting equipment could be seen sprawling on the wide, open ground in the tall grass.
A long time ago, this place had been a tragic battlefield. The Country of Light and Darkness competed and fought for this prairie for two hundred years. In this long and arduous period, countless of people perished, and their blood nourished the prairie's soil. However, even after death, their presence did not vanish completely.
Whether they were the living or the dead, no one knew. Even the upper echelons of both the Country of Light and Darkness could not answer this question. In this wide open prairie, the souls of the dead were summoned once again as they wandered the land, fighting each other for all eternity.
And that was the current situation that Rhode was observing right now.
On the surface, it appeared like the prairie was empty, but in the distance, there was a light that would flash at certain intervals which lit up the darkness momentarily. One can imagine it as a ballroom with the lights turned off — whenever the light was turned on, it would sweep through the dark and reveal shadows of people clashing, shouting and killing each other.
Just at the front of Rhode was a shadow of a warrior whose body resembled an arrow pincushion. It crawled towards Rhode, slowly revealing its skeletal face that was devoid of flesh and somehow managed to produce an expression that clearly reflected its anger.
Suddenly, the warrior gripped its sword and dashed towards Rhode, swinging it downwards at frightening speeds. But as soon as it arrived right in front of Rhode, the light went off, and so did the shadow.
It was as if everything was just a show.
That was the most troublesome and challenging part of Silent Plateau. The undead would appear at random, unpredictable points in time and if the undead did not disappear, their attacks must be blocked. What would happen if the light suddenly chose to shine in the middle of the group?
They would just run...
In this place, the Mage spell Black Curtain was useless. The darkness here wasn't an ordinary kind of darkness; it was even different from the Country of Darkness. The dark in this place had combined with the light and completely turned into another element; it simply couldn't be described just how strange it was.
Then what should they do? To a lot of players, it wasn't a complicated thing.
The best way to avoid being passive was to take the initiative.
"Lize, Holy Light."
Rhode gestured towards Lize.
A magical ball of Holy Light immediately appeared on her palm and illuminated the surroundings.
The warrior who previously tried to attack Rhode once again appeared, but before he could swing its sword down, Rhode used the pommel of his sword to smash the warrior's skeletal body, causing it to crash to the ground and break into pieces. Then, pieces turned into dust and disappeared with the wind.
"All of you should be aware of the dangers of this place by now."
Rhode turned around and addressed the people behind him. Lize and the other mercenaries turned serious. They weren't fools; they understood Rhode's intent of showing them the dangers of the Silent Plateau. They thought that even if was a heavily-armed mercenary group, they would probably think twice before coming here.
"Well, I have good news. All of you don't have to worry about the random appearance of that odd light because I can assure that from this moment on, the enemy will appear from everywhere!"
Rhode didn't turn his head as his sword made a quick motion. A silver arc flashed in the darkness and sliced an undead into two.
"Which is why I need all of you to focus. Old Walker, you must pay close attention to the rear. Marlene, Lize, I need both of you to occupy the left and right side respectively. Anne, it's your job to protect them. Remember, do not stop moving! This place houses countless of undead, and as long as we can pass this prairie, we will win. Do all of you understand?"
Anne was relaxed as usual. She smiled and waved her hand playfully as she answered Rhode's command. Her behavior made the others think that this young miss did not understand the gravity of the situation.
Especially those Clerics — initially, they thought that they could rely on the Shield Warrior for protection, but after looking at her behavior, it wasn't surprising why they were beginning to feel like Anne wasn't reliable.
If it weren't for Sereck, perhaps they would've already ran away.
Rhode took a step forward.
The very next second, something terrifying happened.
The light which penetrated the darkness. Hundreds of undead who were clashing with one another appeared once more. After being exposed to the light, as though as they had been rehearsing for this moment, all of them screamed in unison and rushed towards Rhode's group at the same time!
This is it.
Sereck's expression drastically changed when he watched this scene unfold. Previously, when he had a trial in this place, the incident that left the greatest impression on him was this — the countless of undead that emerged endlessly from the darkness.
When looking at a vast army, though it may seem slightly hopeless, at least they could use their eyes to estimate how many people were there. However, in this ghastly place, one can never see the end of the waves of undead, and can only fight until they were exhausted. It was also because of this that many people weren't able to endure.
There's nothing scarier than the feeling of hopelessness.
Then how would Rhode deal with it?
Sereck couldn't wait to see it. He focused on defending the rear while periodically glancing at the battle to the front. He wanted to see what Rhode would do to 'lessen the pressure.'
When Sereck's eyes fell upon Rhode, he was surprised as Rhode wasn't feeling nervous at all!
"Lize, cast Divine Brilliance to the front."
Rhode calmly pointed towards a direction.
"Yes, Mr. Rhode!"
While wielding the Holy Light on her left hand, Lize stretched out her right arm, and soon a divine beam of light dropped from the heavens and enveloped the undead inside.
"The same goes with all of you. Cast Divine Brilliance at the same place."
The four Clerics was slightly taken aback when Rhode suddenly addressed them. Still, they followed his command meticulously and lifted their arms to cast Divine Brilliance.
A few beams of divine light enveloped the undead, causing their movement speed and reaction time to drop further. By the time when all the Clerics finally cast Divine Brilliance, the undead's movement was akin to an old grandma, seemingly unable to move as though trapped in a swamp.
"Marlene, Chain Lightning."
A crackle emerged from her fingertips, and in a blink of an eye, it shot toward the undead horde.
At first it was a single, faint arc of lightning, but when it hit its first victim, the lightning forked and struck a few undead that were close by. The lightning continued to spread from one undead to another, and soon, the whole battlefield dazzled in a brilliant light. After a series of explosions, hundreds of undead fell to the ground and stopped moving.
Marlene was shocked when she saw how potent her spell was. She looked at her finger absentmindedly as she tilted her head in disbelief. Chain Lightning was one of the lowest-level spells — each lightning arc didn't pack much power, and after forking to the next target, the damage of the spell would diminish slightly. Marlene initially thought that Rhode would've asked her to use a more powerful spell, but look at the situation now... she honestly doubted whether she was fighting a horde of undead or a horde of scarecrows.
Is such a way even possible?
Sereck, who was at the rear, also felt surprised. He knew that high-leveled Clerics and Soul Knights could use their spells to destroy the undead, but how could low-leveled Clerics do the same?
Hmm... That isn't right...
A high-leveled Cleric's Hammer of Judgement or the Soul Knight's Light of Sanction would destroy the undead within seconds, but all these low-leveled Clerics could do was slow its movement. However, it was sufficient.
Sereck could not help but glance at Rhode.
How did this young man figure out this method?
It wasn't only Sereck who was caught off guard. In fact, the four Clerics also felt pleasantly surprised! They reacted in the same way as Lize had when she first realized that her power could significantly influence the undead. Some of them even stared at their hands in doubt.
Unfortunately, Rhode didn't give them the time for them to slap themselves to check whether it was real or not.
"Now you know what you can do. Let's continue moving."
Facing the countless of undead that once again appeared under the light, Rhode raised his sword and pointed forward.
(ED: Healing Spell -> Divine Brilliance)