Rhode went up and supported her hurriedly . Then, he scanned her complexion and realized that she was blushing heavily . Not only that, she was also breathing hastily and perspiring hard . He also felt that her unusually high body temperature was perhaps more than 50 degrees Celsius . If she were an ordinary human, perhaps she would be a goner even if the temperature subsided .
“Lize, get over here . Hurry . ”
Rhode laid Marlene against the stone column gently and beckoned to Lize . Although there were indeed illnesses in this world, Rhode and the others basically neglected the ordinary pains . Besides, Marlene didn’t seem to be ill before coming to this place, so what exactly was going on?
“Let me have a look, Mr . Rhode!”
Lize scuttled over and half-knelt beside Marlene, placing her hand over her forehead . Then, a white, gentle glow emanated from her palm and enveloped Marlene entirely . This was the Cleric’s healing spell, which could heal basically everything unless it was an incurable condition . But judging from Marlene’s expression, Rhode couldn’t let loose just yet . Based on his experience, the situation wouldn’t be this easily resolved if something happened to the native responsible for leading the way in dungeons . Although this was the real world, that logic should still apply accordingly . There were no signs of warning before she broke out into such a high fever . Just a while ago, she was still looking fine when she looted the spider’s corpse . If not, Rhode would surely have noticed .
As expected, Lize’s healing spell took effect immediately, and Marlene’s body temperature dropped and her breathing became steadier . But as soon as the healing spell ended, the high temperatures suddenly erupted and her complexion turned reddish again, and it seemed even worse than before .
“T-This isn’t just an illness…”
As a Cleric, Lize was experienced in this aspect . She quickly raised her arms and a beautiful, circular magic ritual appeared between her hands . Then, it slowly descended and scanned Marlene from head to toe .
“This isn’t a curse either… What’s wrong with Marlene?”
“Not a curse?”
Rhode twitched his brows and asked . He thought that this definitely was the cause of a curse . After all, in the game, it was a common occurrence for the descendant of an ancient family to have his or her cursed blood awakened when returning to the ancient ruins . But it seemed like this situation wasn’t one?
“No, Mr . Rhode . This isn’t any kind of curse . ”
Lize said .
“I’ve scanned her body entirely with my spiritual spell, but I can’t find anything wrong with her . She is neither hurt, sick, or cursed…”
What exactly is this situation?
Rhode puckered his brows as this situation was much more troublesome than if she was truly cursed or poisoned . Could it be that it was due to something that he neglected?
At this moment, Anne narrowed her eyes and her little nose twitched .
“This smell… Feels just like Anne back then, Leader . ”
“Yes . Just like when Anne awakened Anne’s powers back then . There was a powerful force like a fireball wrapping Anne and it kept burning and burning . Back then, Anne felt like Anne was turning into barbecued meat . This smell now is exactly the same and Anne is sure about it . ”
Rhode didn’t ask what the ‘scent’ smelled like exactly, but as long as it involved battles or was something related to strength, Anne possessed a talent and sharp senses others didn’t have . Since Anne mentioned it, could it be that Marlene’s strength was about to be awakened? But this wasn’t right because unlike a half-beast like Anne, Marlene was the heir of the Senia Family . Weren’t all members in her family pure humans? He didn’t hear any strange rumors about her family at all .
Rhode suddenly realized that something was amiss . He scanned the surroundings and realized that faint golden rays above them had enveloped the whole hall like a spider web .
Under normal circumstances, Rhode wouldn’t have missed this strange occurrence . But it was only after Lize cast two dazzling spiritual spells that the faint golden rays became slightly visible . At this moment, he detected that the flow of magical powers in the hall was shifting, but it was all too late . He didn’t know if it was coincidental or not, but when he was about to summon his holy spirits to deal with the situation, the faint golden radiance became incredibly bright . Then, he felt emptiness underneath his feet and endless darkness engulfed everything .
After an unknown period of time, the loss of gravity that he felt finally vanished . He slowly landed on the surface, but everywhere was in complete darkness . But at the next moment, a dazzling radiance ripped through the darkness and illuminated the place .
Rhode squinted . Under the bright illumination, he clearly witnessed that his group was standing on a metal, circular platform while on the edges were numerous fences carved with beautiful patterns and buckled down like bird cages . However, he couldn’t see what was happening outside the cage . There was no sky, ground, or anything strange in sight . Not only that, but Anne and Lize also laid unconsciously beside him in a coma .
Rhode suddenly realized a problem .
Then, he heard a voice .
“Woah… I didn’t expect to meet you here…”
The rather familiar voice rang in his ears . But it also felt unfamiliar because there was an unprecedented sense of pressure that he never felt from the owner of the voice in the past .
He lifted his head and turned to the direction of the voice . Then, he widened his eyes .
At the top of the bird cage, Marlene hovered silently . Her body was completely wrapped in a metal cage like a coffin with only her head revealing . Countless metal wires extended from within and connected to the edge of the ‘bird cage’ . Marlene’s eyes were tightly shut as though she was in a coma .
On the other hand, there was another young lady who looked exactly like her, sitting on a throne made of metal . But unlike Marlene, this young lady was clad in a scholar attire and there were also two pitch-black horns carved with golden floral patterns sticking out from both sides of her silver hair . Not only that, but her eyes were also golden in color like those of a cat, glinting with immense pressure .
The young lady leaned back casually on the throne while supporting her chin with her slender left hand . She narrowed her eyes and displayed a rather sly smile at Rhode .
“Frankly speaking, I didn’t expect you to survive the obstacles and come to this place . It seems like my vessel is full of loving emotions for you . But it’s fine too . I was still worried that something would go wrong during our fusion . Since she used her final mental strength to protect you and your friends over there, it saves me the trouble . But…” the young lady let out a snort . “… It seems like you’re unaware of what’s happening, is it? Is it really alright? I don’t think this is a way to resolve the problem . ”
“… Who are you? What are you trying to do to Marlene? Where is this place?”
Rhode asked, at the same time taking two steps back and shielding the unconscious young ladies behind him . Although he wasn’t sure of the situation, it seemed overly strange . Besides, judging from her words, it didn’t seem like she held kind intentions . Perhaps there might be a huge battle taking place soon . What was most important to him now was that he sensed an incredibly strong aura from her . Although it wasn’t as powerful as Erin’s, it was enough for him to treat her as a formidable opponent .
The young lady didn’t answer his questions immediately . Instead, she continued to show a smile .
“I didn’t expect her to not tell you about it . It seems like I have to admit that humans are indeed strange and naive at times . Perhaps she thinks that you won’t be as worried if she didn’t tell you about this? But this is the result . Since you’re already here, you will know the truth sooner or later, isn’t it? I just can’t understand why my vessel is so stubborn and lacks proper judgment . It looks like a cause of concern in the future…”
Rhode remained in silence while pondering about what happened . It seemed like Marlene was indeed hiding something from him and the matter was detrimental to her . Besides, it must be related to this young lady who looked exactly like her too . So then, what exactly was the secret that she was keeping from him…
The young lady interrupted his thoughts before he came to a conclusion .
“So then, let’s start with intelligence gathering . How much do you know about the Senia Family?”
“I heard from Marlene that the Senia Family was the first humans who received the magical technologies to create the tinder and they swore to serve a Creator Dragon Soul for eternity . ”
“That’s right . ”
The young lady nodded slightly . Then she raised her head and looked at Marlene with a mocking gaze .
“But this isn’t all that you know, right? So then, I shall complete what’s left behind by her… Just as you said . The Senia Family was bestowed magical technologies to create the tinder and relative to this, they’ve indeed paid a huge price . The so-called exchange in value wasn’t this simple . It was a foolish, reckless, and dangerous behavior to attain the power of God in exchange for a mere human . Therefore, they had an agreement to present the life and flesh of the heir to me . Due to certain agreements, I represented them in protecting the sacred tinder and protecting it from being devoured by Chaos . But in exchange, they had to hand the perfect vessel to me . Two thousand years ago, we had this agreement: when the door is opened by the chosen one, my duties shall end and I will return to the vessel . Now, the moment has finally arrived . ”
Rhode’s expression turned gloomy . Although he didn’t know what transaction the Senia Family and this young lady had 2000 years ago, this development to the story definitely wasn’t what he was expecting .
“So then, you are…”
“Right . I forgot to introduce myself . ”
The young lady stood up and the metal throne behind her moved away on its own .
“I’m the person who taught the magical technologies bestowed by the Creator Dragon Souls to the humans and unlocked the seal on their family 2000 years ago…” The young lady held her hand against her chin and revealed a confident, vibrant smile . “… Even though I’ve gained memories of you through my vessel, I have to say that it is my honor to meet the traveler who came from a faraway land . ”
“… What do you intend to do with Marlene?”
Rhode readied his arms by his waist . The young lady chuckled at the sight of his stern expression .
“Just as you expect . According to my negotiations with the Senia Family, the perfect vessel has finally arrived . As agreed, the Senia Family shall present her as the vessel for my grand return . But I advise you to not act brazenly . After fusing with her, I have all her memories, so it basically doesn’t hurt you at all . Besides, I will become your strongest assistant . Judging from her memories, you aren’t doing too well currently . Mr . Rhode—you are a calm, calculated man to her . So, I guess you understand what’s best for us . Besides, I’m not threatening or lying at all as this is indeed the decision made by my vessel . I swear in my honor that she knows what she should do and the consequences . But she has decided to come here to become the sacrificial offering for my strength and soul . Could it be that you’re willing to destroy the hard work and effort that my adorable vessel has done for this moment?”
Tsk… No wonder…
Rhode gnashed his teeth . He knew that this young lady wasn’t lying and this was definitely Marlene’s decision . If not, she wouldn’t have taken the initiative to join him into the Land of Chaos . Perhaps she already had this realization back then, which explained why she didn’t mention this to him . She knew that if she spoke the truth, he would surely knock her out to stop her from risking her life .
“… I understand what you mean, but I’m sorry, young lady . I have no interest in this at all, so I would like to ask you to stop everything and return Marlene to me . ”
“… How interesting . ”
The young lady’s brow twitched .
“I don’t think this is anything bad for you, Mr . Rhode . After I fuse with my vessel, I have all her memories . I won’t forget you and I will always be around you just as she hoped for . I will become your strongest backing and satisfy you whenever you want . Not only that, but you will also receive massive support from me . And yet, you’re giving up on everything? I can’t understand . What good does this do for you?”
“Well, I can’t say that there is anything good about it . ”
Rhode waved his right arm . Then, a pitch-black sword appeared in his hand .
“But young lady, perhaps you aren’t aware that men are dominating creatures . For instance, men can’t tolerate their women having any previous lovers or them making decisions . Indeed . There’s nothing wrong with Marlene’s decision . But this is simply what I dislike . As my woman, she has made a foolish decision without seeking my permission and even tried to escape… I’m sorry, I don’t intend to accept such an outcome . Besides, as a form of punishment, I intend to give her a good whipping to let her know who calls the shots between us . ”
“Interesting thought . It seems like men are just as you described—unreasonable . It seems like keeping things a secret will only bring unpredictable consequences . ”
The young lady revealed a smile .
“But it’s a pity that her body is full of my energy now . Besides, my spirit has merged as one with hers . This process is irreversible and I have no intention of stopping . This is my reward for the transaction . ”
“Since that’s the case…”
Rhode smiled . Then, he swung the pitch-black sword and dashed ahead with a trail of afterimages .
“I apologize . Because I have my opinions . ”
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