GDK 787: Third place, at most
Although it was clear that Han Shuo was an excellent lad filled with potential, no father would be open to the idea of becoming his father in law. Han Shuo already had a horde of female companions at his disposal and none of them had any formal recognition of any kind. If that wasn’t enough, there was no telling if Han Shuo might further expand his harem. Wallace did not think that Carmelita could keep Han Shuo in check.
From the way Wallace looked at it, Carmelita would not lead a happy life if she was married to Han Shuo. Han Shuo, having such valiant strength and with a constant stream of wealth generated through Celestial Pearl Pharmacy, the House of Han was certain to have a bright future. When one day, the House of Han’s presence inevitably threatened the position of the House of Sainte, without any firmer bond that ties the two families together, Wallace was sure that the elders in his family clan will do something about it.
After thinking about it carefully, Wallace realized that the outcome of him doing nothing about it would be disastrous. Andre’s proposal, if carried out soon, could avoid the disastrous outcome they foresaw. Although Wallace was tempted to do so, he also felt that Han Shuo was just too much of a womanizer. He could not come to a decision in a short time.
“Let’s not be hasty. Although I am very pleased with that youngster’s performance in almost every aspect, he just has too many romantic partners around him. Besides, Carmelita hasn’t shown any interest in him romantically. This needs to be carefully considered,” replied Wallace after he kept silent for a long time.
Andre nodded and said nothing. He knew exactly what Wallace was concerned about but had no advice to give.
The competition between the Seven Corps had yet to begin. Most of the participants were using their free time to study the terrain of Soaring Clouds Mountain Range, except for those from the Fifth Corps. They had arrived at the Mountain Range much earlier and had completed their preparations long ago. Han Shuo did not permit his men to wander around the mountain range, so wander they did not, instead using the time to rest and save up energy within their camping zone.
Han Shuo, however, took liberties of his own. He often went to drink and chat with Erebus and Aobashi. Carmelita would often join them as well. These Divine Guard Chiefs did not display the same tension or solemness before a competition.
On one of those days, Han Shuo, Erebus, and Carmelita were happily chatting with Aobashi over at the campsite of her First Corps. Without any warning, a young man with dark-green skin and sharp eyes walked into appearance. He had short and neatly trimmed hair that stood firmly on his head. He appeared icy and stern, and unabashedly arrogant.
When he showed up to the party, he merely gave a slight nod at Erebus before walking straight to Aobashi and proceeded by staring intensely at her without speaking. A few seconds later, he coldly nodded and said, “Not bad, you have not declined in strength!” He then announced over his voice, “Aobashi, this year, I’m going to defeat you!”
Aobashi seemed to have known what this man would say. With a smirk, groan and a roll of her eyes she said, “It’s been many centuries but you have never been able to defeat me, not even once. It won’t be any different this time.”
“It will be different!” replied the man, certain but solemn. Those who did not know better would easily be influenced by his confidence.
“Oh, don't be silly. You’ll lose to me again, like always,” rebutted Aobashi. She jeered at him and said, “Ralph, you have always managed your troops with the cruelest method. You train them in the most dangerous environment with absolutely no regard for their lives. That is the only reason your Second Corps can get first place in the team competition!” Aobashi took a short pause before she continued, “I absolutely disagree with your methods. Although your Second Corps has always taken first place in the team competition, it doesn’t justify your cruel methods!”
“How I manage my Second Corps is none of your concern!” Ralph coldly groaned and said, “Let me put this in a way you'll understand. This time 'round, just like every time before, my Second Corps will obtain total victory! And I will defeat you in the duel!”
“Brassy punk!” Carmelita couldn’t take it any longer. Although Ralph was loyal to her father, he wasn’t particularly friendly to other members of the House of Sainte. When Ralph walked in just then, he did not nod nor greet Carmelita. This meant that Ralph was a servant to Wallace alone and not the House of Sainte’s.
Ralph glared at Carmelita and said indifferently, “You have been severely injured twice in just a few years and have wasted so many of His Lordship’s divine essences. Do you not feel ashamed? You should be cultivating instead of coming to the competition.”
Carmelita was enraged. She pointed at Ralph and said, “What’s so terrific about you? All that you’ve ever done is make every divine guard of your Second Corps as cold-blooded and inhuman as you are. First place in team strength? At what cost? Don’t think that we are unaware of just how many have died to your needlessly harsh training!”
Although the City of Shadows was huge, very few dared unreservedly criticize Carmelita like Ralph just had. Carmelita had always despised Ralph. But as Ralph was highly trusted and regarded by Wallace, there wasn’t much that Carmelita could do to him. On top of that, Ralph was stronger than Carmelita, which made her feel helpless when she had to face Ralph. It was also because of this that Ralph did not need to care about her feelings when speaking to her.
“Bryan, teach this guy a lesson for me!” Carmelita was seething with rage. She sought Han Shuo, the only person in the party who was not a member of the House of Sainte, to back her up.
Han Shuo forced a smile and replied in a helpless manner, “This is a personal matter of your family clan. It is not my place to step in.”
Although Han Shuo did not find Ralph likable, he was nonetheless a member of the House of Sainte and an important henchman of Wallace's. The matter between Ralph and Carmelita could be considered a private one of the Sainte Family. He wasn’t in a suitable position to intervene.
Han Shuo may have been disinclined to have any friction with Ralph, but Ralph didn’t seem to reciprocate. He shot a cold glance at Han Shuo and sneered disdainfully. Leering, he remarked, “This guy? Pfft, he doesn’t have the capacity to do so!”
Han Shuo bunched his brows for he was now triggered. Han Shuo had long heard about Ralph’s infamous temperament. He had absolutely no scruples in anything he did or spoke and didn’t even save any respect for the patriarchs of the other three major family clans. Unlike Aobashi and Erebus, Ralph didn’t know what courtesy was. After finally meeting Ralph, Han Shuo learned that the rumors were indeed true.
This isn’t going to end well for Ralph! thought Aobashi and Erebus. The two knew that although Han Shuo may appear innocent and inoffensive at all times, he didn’t take provocation lightly and once he erupts, all hell would break loose.
And as they had expected, after Han Shuo looked at Ralph for a moment, he did not show any anger but put on an insincere smile and said, “I heard that the Second Corps ranked first in team combat strength, but I just find it quite hard to believe. Well, my newly assembled Fifth Corps is looking forward to discovering what the Second Corps is made of on the battlefield!”
After a short pause, Han Shuo put on another fake smile and remarked, “Oh, by the way, I’m sure that Lord Ralph isn’t going to take second place in the competition between the Divine Guard Chiefs.”
“And neither will he get the first place!” added Aobashi.
Han Shuo turned to Aobashi and smiled, “That’s for certain!” Han Shuo took a short pause to let darkness brew on Ralph’s face before he confidently claimed, “From how I see it, he’ll get third place, at most.”
Aobashi raised an eyebrow, put on an amused smile, and said, “So you mean you’ll be taking the second place?”
Han Shuo put on a mischievous smile and replied, “I’m pretty sure I can defeat him. It won’t be that difficult!”
Carmelita and Erebus were astonished. Erebus shook his head in a strange manner while Carmelita cheered and clapped. She happily said, “Very good, Bryan. I like this confidence of yours! If you defeat him in the competition, you will have my gratitude!”
“Consider it done!” replied Han Shuo arrogantly.
Ralph’s face had been growing darker and darker as he listened to their conversation. Finally, he snapped. He suddenly shouted, “No need to wait until the competition! Let's see if you have anything to back up your bravado right here right now!”
Upon finishing those words, Ralph suddenly attacked. His palm filled with the divine energy of destruction shot at Han Shuo who was just a few arm's lengths away.
The cordial smile on Han Shuo’s face did not diminish as he coldly watched Ralph’s hand approach. Cauldron Spirit’s energy suddenly filled his body and a tremendous amount of energy gathered in Han Shuo’s right index finger. It moved at lightning speed and made contact with Ralph’s palm. Light radiated from the energy.
A violent surge of energy came from Han Shuo’s finger and halted Ralph’s palm completely. Han Shuo then closed his pointed finger closed into a fist. An explosive force even more ferocious than the last smashed into Ralph’s palm.
Thud, thud thud… Ralph was forced to take a few steps in reverse by the tremendous power.
When Ralph finally regained his balance, there was no longer a trace of disdain on his face when he looked at Han Shuo and it was replaced with solemness. He nodded coldly and remarked, “Not bad, you have proven yourself to be more than just a big mouth. However, with what you have, defeating me is nothing more than a pipe dream!” Ralph turned on his heels, walking away while saying, “Lord Wallace prohibits fighting outside of the competition. I will crush you to the core when the competition comes!”
It was obvious that Ralph’s attack only meant to test Han Shuo’s power and he had not used his full strength. Ralph was not discouraged after he stumbled backward from Han Shuo’s counterattack. From that little engagement, he gained a rough understanding of Han Shuo’s strength.
Ralph had not exerted his full strength, but neither did Han Shuo. He had not even utilized the seventeen flying swords.
Han Shuo couldn’t help but laugh. He said to the leaving Ralph, “Let me tell you this, not only will I defeat you in the individual category, but your Second Corps will also have to step down from the first place in the team category. Too long have you held to that title!”
Ralph stopped and turned to give one look at Han Shuo. He sneered, “We shall see!”
The Second Corps had always been the champion in the team competition. Ralph had more confidence in the strength of his Corps than in his own. He suddenly felt that Han Shuo was being more arrogant than he was!
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