“Woah, so damn close… I thought I was dead.”
Joey frantically fled to his group. Fortunately for him, he wasn’t hurt as badly as Randolf was. But he was covered in blood from head to toe. For a Thief with low defense, even a scratch from Rosen could leave him screaming for his life.
But, even so, Joey didn’t feel great. His right arm had been broken and right now, it was twisted to the side in a strange way. Although he screamed in pain, he continued to put up a smile.
“Everything as you expected, Sir. Woah, that old dude is so much stronger than those mercenaries we fought in Paphield.”
“You don’t say.”
Rhode shot a glance at Joey before shaking his head.
“Go get treated. Take care of yourself. And…”
“I’m here, Leader. Is it Anne’s turn?”
Anne hopped out and raised her right arm like a little child asking for a toy from her father. Then, before Rhode could answer, she leaped onto the arena in a scuttle.
“Don’t worry, Leader. Anne will complete this mission!”
Anne gestured and shifted her attention to her opponent. Rhode frowned and at this moment, Gillian appeared beside him.
“Is this fine, Master?”
“We shall see the situation. Rosen isn’t as strong now and he even missed his attack on a newbie like Joey. It seems like there shouldn’t be any huge problems for Anne. If there’s any danger, I will get her to admit defeat straightaway.”
“Miss Anne seems to not heed your instructions at times though.”
Rhode raised his brows as Gillian made sense. In fact, there were many instances when Anne disobeyed his orders and acted on her own accord, which led to her injuries. Besides, he sensed that Anne seemed to hold a special attachment to Starlight and was even willing to sacrifice herself. If she were a player, he would definitely praise and recognise her for her affections. However, this wasn’t the game and the dead couldn’t be revived. Therefore, Anne’s behavior gave Rhode a headache. As an important force in Starlight, he wished to polish and groom her. After all, it was necessary to have a solid, main tanker.
However, her reckless behaviour gave Rhode a huge headache. Although it was the duty of a Shield Warrior to protect others, her own safety was equally important too. Even though Rhode gave her stern punishments for acting on her own accord, she always promised to not commit the same mistakes again with her watery, puppy eyes. However, she would forget everything about her promise whenever she was enraged.
It seemed that lecturing wouldn’t work too well on a person like Anne, who relied on her instincts to survive.
“All in all, I will observe and if there are any signs… I will get her to back down.”
“Huhuhu, didn’t you tell Rosen that he will be dead before you face him? Are you really going to swallow those words?”
“Doesn’t matter. It’s just honor, and I don’t care. I’ll just swallow them.”
Rhode sneered and turned to the arena.
“Gillian, there are two kinds of people in this world: victor and loser. Glory and honor do not mean anything to me. All I need is to win. Only the victor has the rights to ask for everything and the loser only has to kneel on the ground. What do glory and honor even do in my path to fulfill my goals?”
Rhode groaned and shifted his attention to the audience.
“Just like these guys. No matter how loudly they yell, they can’t change the results of our victory. The ones that can change are ourselves. No matter if we win in cheers or hisses, it doesn’t matter to me at all.”
Rhode sulked and clenched his fists.
“Gillian, you should get prepared too. Be careful, don’t get discovered by others.”
“I understand, Master. I’ll get going now…”
Gillian lifted the hem of her skirt and bowed dramatically with an adorable smile.
Anne plunged her shield to the ground.
“Yo, old man, you ready? Anne is here to defeat you.”
“Hmph. Arrogant, little girl.”
Rosen breathed faintly as he scrutinised Anne’s frame. Although Rhode’s methods were scheming, Rosen had to admit that they were effective, where he had even considered backing down from the arena after his attack missed Joey. However, this thought only emerged for a split second. He wouldn’t behave like that scheming and shameless young man.
If you’re a man, you should face your challenges fair and square!
That was Rosen’s way of doing things and he wouldn’t give up until the end. Also, didn’t Rhode mention that Rosen would be defeated even before they faced each other? If that were the case, Rosen had decide to hang on all the way until Rhode fought him and see if he had anything else to say!
Rosen shifted his attention to Anne before extending his arms and clashing his shields together to release an ear-deafening sound.
The battle began.
Anne was nowhere polite towards him as she lifted her shield with one hand and snarled as she charged forward. The sound of wind whizzed by her shield as she leapt and brandished an arc in midair.
Rosen knitted his brows and held his shield up for the clash. The immense impact numbed his arms and not only that, but he also felt that this intensity was beyond him, which left him rather dizzy for a split second.
I can’t release my powers? And I’m feeling dizzy?
Rosen was baffled. Then, he recalled the green mist that was released from Joey’s broken dagger.
Could it be that I’m affected by it?!
Despicable and shameless!
Rosen sulked and struck out his right shield. Anne backed off immediately and at the same time, Rosen brandished his left shield.
Amongst everyone who fought against him, Anne was the only one who confronted him bravely. He didn’t hold back because he wished to quickly finish her and settle his feud with that despicable young man.
Rosen released a devastating move which instantly exposed the difference in strength between them.
Storm Shielding: a violent whirlwind on the plains which no one could resist. It rose from his left shield and struck out at Anne.
She retreated instantly. Then, she held her shield with both hands and smashed towards the ground.
But Rosen’s left shield had arrived just in time.
Their shields collided, but the powerful whirlwind overpowered her grip. She gritted her teeth and hung on strongly.
Anne let out a snarl and sprung over Rosen. She brandished her shield.
“Don’t overestimate yourself!”
Rosen stood firmly and swung his right shield to sweep Anne’s attack away.
His shield smashed into her where she shrieked and flew off upon impact like a rag doll that landed heavily on the ground.
Anne struggled to lift her head while Rosen leapt up and his shadow enveloped her entirely.
“Go to hell!”
Rosen swung his shield down. This time, he was determined because Anne was a Shield Warrior like him and neither a Cleric nor nimble mouse like a Ranger or Thief. This boosted his confidence.
She must die. She definitely and absolutely must die—that kid must pay a price for taunting me!
It was obvious who was about to win this match.
But Anne didn’t dodge.
“Anne will never admit defeat!”
Anne snarled, lifted her shield, and activated the mechanism in her left hand.
Her shield expanded abruptly and almost doubled in size. At this moment, Rosen’s shields landed!
Anne withstood his menacing attack and the ground beneath her feet sunk as though she stood in a sandbox. A whirlwind rose from level ground and engulfed both of them entirely.
Rosen’s veins swelled while Anne gritted her teeth and revealed a malevolent expression. She pushed her shield with both hands and resisted the powerful whirlwind simultaneously. Her arms trembled and her muscles ruptured. The ghastly scars from her palms to elbows ripped through her flesh. Fresh blood spewed and stained her leather armor.
“Anne… Anne… is not afraaaaaaid!”
She abruptly lifted her head and a green radiance flickered in her eyes.
Rosen sensed a powerful resistance as though a ferocious beast was about to devour him.
He withdrew his shields, protected himself, and rolled to dodge the backlash of this force. Meanwhile, the whirlwind that shrouded them lost its energy source and dispersed instantly.
Anne stood up slowly with lacerations on her arms. Half of her pretty face was smeared with fresh blood and not only that, her legs were also trembling. If it weren’t for the half-beast bloodline in her and the alchemist potion, perhaps she would have been shredded into pieces.
“… It seems like Leader’s potion was effective. But… it didn’t work as well as I thought it would.”
Anne grumbled and wiped the bloodstains on her cheeks. At this moment, she heard a whistle.
That’s the sign to back off.
Anne turned her head dubiously to Rhode.
So fast—and I’m going down? I just started not long ago. What’s the point of everything if I retreat now?
Anne shifted her gaze from the unconscious Randolf to Joey who was accepting treatment from Lize.
Everyone worked so hard, so it should be fine if Anne works a little harder… right? But if I don’t obey Leader’s orders… Leader will be angry… When that happens…
Suddenly, a dark figure flitted by.
A pitch-black shield missed Anne and smashed into the wall behind her. Screams were heard from behind.
Anne subconsciously turned around and was startled.
The wall crumbled to the pitch-black shield and revealed the bewildering faces of Shauna and the others who sat there.
“Where do you think you’re going, little girl?”
Rosen pulled his shield back and pointed it at Anne.
“You should know those people behind you… If you wish to leave, then I will not miss the next strike.”
Anne gritted her teeth.
“It’s Anne’s duty to protect everyone and Anne has never thought of backing off. Never!”
Rosen revealed a sinister smile and swung his arm violently. Once again, the shield in his hand shot out towards Anne like a meteor hammer.
Although Anne lifted her shield on time to defend the attack, her injuries restricted her movements. As a result, she shrieked, flew off upon impact, and rolled miserably on the ground before coming to a halt.
“Argh… This old man is indeed powerful…”
Anne gritted her teeth and mumbled under her breath.
“Sorry, Leader, Anne will work harder to protect everyone. Anne will work harder… Sorry Leader…”
She reached out for a hidden slot in her shield and retrieved a bottle of red potion. Then, she consumed it in a single gulp.
She stood up slowly.
At this moment, Rosen’s ice-cold shield crushed her chest.