Chapter 223: Invitation
“Long time no see!” Han Shuo stood outside the door and greeted Odysseus’ group with a half smile.
All six of them cheered when they saw Han Shuo appear, their faces brimming with genuine joy. Odysseus and Gordon even barrelled towards Han Shuo to hug him.
“It really is you! What are you doing here?” The touchy feely Gordon looked at Han Shuo with surprise after he let go.
“Heh heh, come on in. It’s not as frightening as you think, it’s very safe here!” Han Shuo moved aside and gestured for them to come inside.
The six had been rather apprehensive about this place before they’d confirmed that Han Shuo was inside. After hearing his words, they stopped dithering and strode in, making for the center of the yard.
Odysseus’ crew was made of three warriors, two mages, and one archer. Odysseus was a senior swordsman; Gordon and Angelo, journeyman swordsmen; Aphrodite, a water adept mage; Bard, a thunder journeyman mage; and Nia, a female elven archer.
After their last foray into the Dark Forest, not only had they gained incredible treasures, but their strength had reached new heights. From their badges, Han Shuo could tell that Gordon had advanced to senior swordsman, and Bard to adept mage.
“Bryan, this place is Valley of Sunshine’s famous cursed shop. I’ve heard people mention the legends of this place the last time we were here. There’s a warning that no one should enter this shop. How come you’re living here?” Gordon was a straight shooter, completely unable to hide his thoughts. He looked around the yard when he entered the shop and asked Han Shuo as soon as he’d sat down.
“Legends aren’t necessarily real, and those curses could be manmade as well. We’ve been here for so long and haven’t run into any danger.” Han Shuo didn’t explain the blood water demons to them.
“How’ve you been?” As the captain, Odysseus was dependable and upright. He looked at Han Shuo and smiled in greeting.
“Not too bad. What have you encountered since leaving the Dark Forest? Gordon and Bard’s strength have greatly increased, not bad at all!” Han Shuo said.
“We went to Zajoski City after parting ways with you and sold what we’d gained in the Dark Forest. We obtained a sum of money and upgraded our equipment, as well as getting Bard a staff that enhanced his strengtht, After that, Gordon and Bard reported to their promotion exams since they felt they were ready. After passing the exams, we took some protection missions and arrived near the Valley of Sunshine. We entered the valley this time because we were protecting a merchant caravan.” Odysseus smiled slightly and slowly went over all that had happened since they’d parted ways.
Flicking a glance at Trunks, Han Shuo thought for a moment and looked at Odysseus. “We’re friends here, so I’ll speak candidly. Trunks and I have formed a mercenary band, and there’s only a few members right now. I would love it if you joined so we can increase the size of the band.”
Odysseus and the others were all taken by surprise by these words. They looked at each other, at a loss of how to respond.
Snapping his attention back after being dazed, Odysseus looked at Han Shuo and said, “Bryan, you’re not kidding are you? Why did you think of forming a mercenary band? You’ve always been a lone ranger, and you don’t seem the sort who’d want to form a mercenary band?”
“That’s very true. But we’ve already registered the name. I think if the band is run well, the future will be quite bright. Would you guys be interested in joining?” Han Shuo smiled at Odysseus and asked him with great sincerity.
“Just what’s going on, can you tell me about things?” Odysseus seemed interested, but knew that he couldn’t be hasty and questioned Han Shuo closely.
Han Shuo went over the origin and details of the Soul Destroyer mercenary band. He didn’t purposefully conceal the points about Trunks’ hatred or Han Shuo’s recent run-ins with Florida.
The other five’s expression noticeably shifted after Han Shuo had finished, having obviously not anticipated that so much would happen with Han Shuo and Trunks in the Valley of Sunshine in such a short amount of time. They were all very excited and itching to sign up. “I think I need to discuss this in great detail with them before giving you an answer.” As the captain, Odysseus naturally needed to ask the other five for their opinions and thus couldn’t give a response on the spot.
Nodding, Han Shuo smiled, “I understand, please take a few days to think about it!”
The six and Han Shuo fell into talking about the fun things in the Dark Forest. The six didn’t leave until it was almost noon.
Trunks would occasionally toss in a word or two, but Gilbert felt a bit bored sitting there. His shifty eyes kept checking out Aphrodite and Nia. He only stopped, pouting, when Han Shuo glared at him a few times.
“Let’s go out for a walk!” Han Shuo said to Trunks and Gilbert after the six had left.
“Where are we going?” Trunks was a bit confused and asked.
“The situation in the Valley of Sunshine is rather complex right now. Our original target was Florida, but now that Ferguson’s joined the Rainbow Sickle mercenary band, I think we need to discuss his arrival with Laureton. We can also obtain more information from Laureton to decide our next course of action.” Han Shuo said calmly.
This time, the group made their way easily to the Cairo mercenary band without meeting any obstacles. However, before they’d made it past the enormous square, they heard an earth shattering explosion from the depths of the Cairo mercenary band.
When Han Shuo and the others rushed over, they found that a building had toppled over, black smoke spilling out of it. Several charred, bloody corpses were scattered around the building. Standing in the center, the bald Laureton was similar to an infuriated beast, seemingly a step away from going berserk and emanating an exceedingly dangerous aura as he roared at his men.
Harris was standing not too far far from the chaos with an equally darkened expression. He seemed to be in a awful mood and wasn’t as polite as usual when he saw Han Shuo and the others walk over. He looked angrily and guiltily at the corpses on the ground and seemed to be blaming himself.
“Eh… it looks like we haven’t come at the right time.” Han Shuo pursed his lips after walking up.
Restraining the anger in his heart, Laureton sucked in a few deep breaths and turned his head to Harris, “Bury these brothers well. I’m going to find out who did this and rip him apart!”
Harris didn’t say much as he nodded his head painfully, then started directing the mercenaries who were converging on all sides. They lifted the bodies carefully and started cleaning up the premises.
“Come with me.” Laureton had a black face and snorted softly, walking towards the largest building.
It was obvious that the three had chanced upon the aftermath of an ambush on the Cairo mercenary band. They took a close look around but discovered no traces of any enemies, and so had no idea what was going on.
When Laureton entered his own house, he waved his hands randomly around to indicate for them to find a stone stool. He spoke with a darkened face, “The enemy wants to kill me. The room that exploded was where I usually take care of the daily matters of the Cairo mercenary band. I usually go there at noon.”
“However, I was delayed by some matters today. When I was ten meters from the building entrance, I felt a strong magical pulse radiate outwards, with the explosion happening immediately. It looks like a magical device was set up beforehand, otherwise, it wouldn’t have exploded so timely. I almost died inside.”
“There are certainly those who belong to other factions in your mercenary band. This wouldn’t have happened otherwise. In addition, when I was fighting Florida in front of the gates to the Valley of Sunshine last time, the Rainbow Sickles shouldn’t have gotten there so quickly to save Florida. I started suspecting something then, and today, it seems like my suspicions were warranted.” Han Shuo thought for a moment and responded.
“That’s for certain. If I can arrange my men to infiltrate other factions, then the others can certainly do so as well. It was just too dangerous this time, I almost died. I wonder which faction did this.” Laureton growled with a darkened face.
Seeing that Laureton had his own thoughts, Han Shuo said no more. Although Laureton seemed all brawns and no brain, his mind was actually quite calculative. No wonder he could replace the previous Rainbow Sickle mercenary band to be the most powerful in the valley.
“Florida’s grandfather, Ferguson, the light grand magus of the Church of Light has arrived. Florida has also been transferred to another place and I can’t find an appropriate time to make a move against him. I’ve come to find you this time to figure out where Florida has been moved to.”
“Since you have men in the Rainbow Sickles, I think you might know this info. If I don’t know where Florida is, then I have no way to find the most appropriate timing to strike. I’ll need you to tell me where he is.” Han Shuo thought for a moment and told Laureton.
“I already know what happened last night, but since that sly old fox Ferguson has arrived, I think it’d be rather unrealistic to assassinate him now. After your attacks last night, Florida is certainly even more well protected now. Even if you know where Florida currently is, you won’t have the chance to make a move!” Laureton’s expression had completely returned to normal now.
Han Shuo understood Laureton’s words, but now that his three yin demons had formed and he had an earth elite zombie at his beck and call, Han Shuo had full reason to believe that he would still have a chance to succeed after he knew where Florida was, no matter how heavily guarded he was.
“I understand everything you’ve said, but I still hope you can tell me where Florida is.” Han Shuo laughed confidently.
It was obvious that Laureton felt that Han Shuo was overreaching himself. Although he understood Han Shuo’s strength was uncommon, he felt that even if Han Shuo leveraged the power of the Cairo mercenary band, he still wouldn’t have much of a chance to kill Florida.
“Alright, I’ll keep an eye out and send someone to notify you if I have news of Florida.” Laureton’s voice had grown cold as an impatient expression began to appear on his face.
Han Shuo knew there wasn’t much to discuss beyond that and nodded, leaving with Trunks and Gilbert.
“What the hell! We’re doing him a favor and his attitude is so vicious!” Gilbert started complaining loudly as soon as they’d left Cairo mercenary band’s territory.
“If you were almost blown to pieces, I think your attitude would be worse than his. It looks like Laureton was truly frightened today.” Trunks looked at Gilbert and smiled.
“Mm, Laureton was indeed in a bad mood today. I wonder if he’ll be unable to control himself and make a move shortly.” Han Shuo chuckled and paused. “It looks like chaos is growing in the Valley of Sunshine. I think we should change our plans. I’ve got a better idea now.”