Rhode didn't think that he lost much even after transmigrating to this world. Other than his inventory and swordsmanship skills, he somehow managed to salvage the rest such as his memories and the holy card deck which was now mostly a memento.
Rhode couldn't retain his swordsmanship because he lost the prerequisite stats to use them. However, he felt that it was fine because he knew how to obtain them back. Some were learned through accumulating reputation points, some were found in ancient ruins, and some rarer skills even needed to fulfill certain conditions before he could learn them. But after adventuring for several years in the game, he could pinpoint the location and requirements of most swordsmanship skills.
Nevertheless, no matter whether the skill was hard or easy to learn, Rhode knew that the hardest part was always the beginning. And since now he had the opportunity to reduce the time to learn, naturally he would be elated. Now all he had to do was work hard to reach the prerequisites of the skill and he would unlock the skill.
Of course, as a former player, Rhode could vividly recall the prerequisite conditions to unlock the skill. Unfortunately, there was a major problem.
He couldn't check his stats.
Rhode hadn't unlocked his bloodline so all of his stats were in '?' Before reaching level 10, he could still roughly guess his stats, but after unlocking the talent tree, his stats had been increasing with his level which he eventually lost track of. This was because each race had a different stat growth rate and thus, he had to leave everything up to fate to give him a matching swordsmanship skill.
The skill that Rhode wanted to obtain was 'Dark Dance.' As the name suggests, the skill was a stealth-type swordsmanship. It would drastically reduce the user's presence while amplifying their damage and critical chance at the same time.
As the Summoning Swordsman class was somewhat a hybrid, Rhode would preferably refrain from fighting head-on with other pure melee classes especially if they were much higher level than him. So, Dark Dance would fit him perfectly. The only downside of this skill was that it required high dexterity. The skill originated from fallen elves as an evil technique, so it naturally inherited elven characteristics. Without having a nimble body, learning this swordsmanship skill would be a fleeting dream.
Alas, it was a pity that it didn't go as he wished.
The swordsmanship Rhode obtained was not the 'Dark Dance' he was looking for, but instead it was 'Starfall.'
Rhode stared at his newfound skill; frankly, he was feeling quite depressed. While it was true that he named his mercenary group as Starlight, it didn't mean that he wanted to attract words beginning with 'Star.' Well, nevertheless a skill was still a skill.
As a rare swordsmanship skill, Starfall eclipsed Moon Shadow in both strength and value since the latter was a basic swordsmanship skill.
Other than that, there was one more thing Rhode couldn't understand. Every time he leveled up, he always received two Skill Points. Previously in the ruins, as he was busy in the middle of a battle, he didn't think much of it. But now he still couldn't find an answer even after thinking for half a day.
In the game, he had overheard that someone managed to obtain a random bloodline that could increase stats and Skill Points when leveling up. So all he could do now was to assume that his mysterious bloodline would be somewhat related to that 'random bloodline' that person mentioned.
He faced the system prompt before him.
Without the slightest hesitation, Rhode used the Skill Points. A familiar system prompt appeared once again.
[Used 1 skill point, 'Starfall Swordsmanship' unlocked, rank E —— Special skill: Wrath of Judgement]
After receiving this information, Rhode felt a warm feeling emerging from his chest which quickly spread to his entire body. Then another prompt appeared before him.
[Wrath of Judgement: Using the sword as the instrument of death, guide the power of the soul so that the enemy will tremble before your wrath — the power of absolute destruction...]
Rhode clenched his hand in glee, and his eyes flashed a trace of confidence.
Everything went smoothly.
As for the other five skill points, Rhode chose to keep it. Suddenly, he thought of something. If everything went as smoothly as this, maybe he could make another attempt...
But Rhode didn't have that much time because there was trouble in front of him.
He didn't know when, but everyone finally recovered. The mercenaries who had been covered in injuries were totally healed and the Clerics who were exhausted had also regained their stamina. While they wanted to stay in the safety of the cave, the rational part of their mind told them that was just a delusion.
In the end, they still have to leave.
Although reluctant, Kudla kept his word. He gathered his members and instructed them to follow Rhode's orders. While Rhode could tell that he didn't obtain their 100% cooperation, they still respected Kudla enough to keep quiet and follow his orders.
Still, there were always one or two black sheep.
A clear, sharp sound echoed in the cave. A female walked out from the crowd; apparently it was the thief that was almost killed by Rhode from before.
Even though her face was hidden behind a black mask, it still couldn't conceal the doubt in her eyes.
"Leader, I think you've done well so far. Everyone here is still surviving because of your leadership, but now you want to leave our lives in the hand of a stranger? I will not agree! I will only believe in my leader."
"That's your problem."
Rhode didn't even raise his head.
"Whether you agree or not doesn't matter. If you want to escape this place safely, follow my orders. I've already faced so much trouble just to come here and I don't intend to bring a bunch of corpses back. I don't wish to see my hard work in vain. So whether you protest or not, it won't affect my decision."
"You... Mr, Sereck, are you also..."
Hearing Rhode's answer, the girl clenched her teeth. She looked to Sereck for help, but he only revealed a wry smile.
"I'm sorry, but I think it's better like this. Just as Rhode had said, we can't afford to fail after the amount of effort taken to get here. Since we've found you, we will help escort you back to Deep Stone City. Since Kudla had requested us for help, it means that he is unable to bring all of you back safely. Otherwise, why would you seek us out for help?
She was speechless for a moment. Indeed it was so. If Kudla had the power to bring them back safely, why would they need the Mercenary Association for help?
"B-but we don't know this man..."
"You guys don't believe in our leader!"
Suddenly, another voice interrupted the girl. The mercenaries turned and found out that the voice belonged to Anne who was quietly standing by the side. Contrary to her usual joyous expression, her face was now ice cold.
"Anne believes in our leader. If leader says he can bring all of you out safely, he definitely can do it. Since you guys can't do it yourselves, then stop wasting time alright?"
"What did you say?!"
The thief was angered as she jumped and revealed two gleaming daggers in her hands.
"Are you looking down on us?"
"Anne is just telling the truth since you can't see it even if it is right before your eyes!"
Anne snorted coldly and raised her chin. The shield on her hand immediately glowed when she took a battle stance.
"If you don't believe me, then go ahead and try!"
As the conflict was about to reach its peak, like a bucket of ice water Rhode's cold voice drenched the two heated women.
"Both of you shut up and stop."
Rhode's voice wasn't loud, but somehow after hearing it both of them couldn't help but tremble. Anne pouted and retrieved her shield. Since her opponent also put away her daggers, Anne also chose to stop.
"I'll say it one more time."
Rhode's hand pressed against his forehead.
"This matter is already decided. All of you don't have the rights to refuse. I won't use Mr. Sereck to pressure you, but do understand that Mr. Kudla and I already agreed on this. If there's someone who is still unsatisfied with this decision, you can go look for Mr. Kudla. We can't afford to waste any more time right now, and if both of you do similar things in the future, then I will leave you behind to join the undead family."
The atmosphere was tense, but fortunately no one else objected to Rhode's authority. Finally he could move on to the next step.
Both Sereck and Kudla had suggested to return using their path from before. But Rhode's plan was different.
"That's a foolish decision."
Rhode said coolly.
Sereck stared at Rhode, puzzled.
"It's true that we're already familiar with that path, and if we returned from there we would be faster..."
Rhode then shook his head.
"... however, we won't be able to pass through the prairie again."
"But when we came..."
"It's different from before."
Rhode thought that Sereck's skill with his sword was outstanding, but as for his other aspects, he was still lacking in various areas.
Rhode waved his hand and explained to him patiently.
"Previously, I had carefully arranged our numbers before setting out and five Clerics were already barely enough to support the group. Now that we have another six, our formation would surely expand. This means that we have more ground to protect with the same number of Clerics. If they run out of stamina halfway, it would spell death."
"So that's why."
Sereck's eyes lit up after understanding Rhode's point. Kudla who was standing quietly by the side also nodded his head as if he was thinking of something. Then he asked doubtfully, "So what should we do next?"
Facing his doubt, Rhode answered without hesitation.
"Continue to move forward."
Both Sereck or Kudla were shocked. They looked at Rhode in disbelief wondering if they heard him wrong.
Oh Holy Soul... just to travel here was already so dangerous. Why would this young man want to press forward instead...? Why...?