GDK 798: She can’t be into me, right?
After much listening, Han Shuo learned all the information Rose knew about the Fringe. The made visiting the Land of Chaos his highest priority.
The divine guards began yet another round of flaunting when Han Shuo was on his way out of the hot spring. They were hoping that Han Shuo would do something to them. However, Han Shuo’s mind was fully concerned about the future of his House of Han as well as his future relationship with the House of Sainte. He did not use his demon general to peep at the ladies but straightforwardly departed.
The female divine guards were very disappointed. They sighed and griefed after Han Shuo left them untouched.
Barnard had distributed the divine essences the divine guards won based on each individual’s performance. With Bollands standing beside him and observing the process, none of the divine guards raised any objection. Those who received a divine essence were excited while those who did not were only slightly disappointed instead of feeling dissatisfied.
Both Bollands and Sanguis cultivated only in demonic arts. Divine essences wouldn’t increase their strengths in any way. Gilbert, however, was a dual-cultivator. He had the divine energy of darkness flowing in his body and therefore divine essences could raise his strength. As one of the main fighters in the competition, Gilbert obtained the largest piece of darkness divine essence.
With the team competition between Divine Guard Corps completed, the Fifth Corps divine guards were completely idle temporarily and could properly relax. However, Bollands did not allow these divine guards to relax for extended periods. On the second day, he gathered all the divine guards for an elaborate debriefing. He wanted to make sure that the Company will learn everything there is to learn from the experience.
In the eyes of the major patriarchs and other spectators, the cooperation showed by the Fifth Corps divine guards were miraculous. But to Bollands who commanded the battles, he thought that the divine guards still had much room to improve. He viewed that the divine guards were not cooperative enough during an actual fight. He wanted to unleash the full potential of the divine guards while slowly altering their thoughts, making them consider themselves as a member of the House of Han.
Bollands did not waste time in instilling new ideas into their minds, telling them that the reason they could defeat the Second Corps was all because of their training in the Eight Desolation and Torment Formation and therefore, Han Shuo, being the person who made the Formation, was the true reason behind their success.
Bollands repeatedly and subtly promoted the idea that everything they have and achieved was all bestowed upon by Han Shuo. Under the constant and subtle influence, the divine guards subconsciously accepted the propaganda. Their opinion and view of Han Shuo slowly began to change.
Han Shuo who had observed all this felt glad. He believed that with his capable henchman named Bollands managing the Fifth Corps, he would have nothing to worry about.
Han Shuo will head to the Fringe. No matter the Fringe or the City of Shadows, it was only by possessing sufficient strength that he could gain a solid foothold. If his Celestial Pearl were to continue its expansion in the Darkness Dominion, they would also need protection from divine guards. It was for these reasons that Han Shuo would try to increase the strength of his family clan at all costs.
Three days went by like the blink of an eye. The patriarchs of major family clans, the seven Divine Guard Chiefs, and other important figures yet again gathered at the center of Soaring Cloud Mountain Range.
For some reason, the patriarchs and experts of all large family clans became extremely cordial towards Han Shuo. As soon as Han Shuo arrived, a wave of people stepped forward to greet him and send him their regards. Han Shuo had trouble adapting to their sudden change in politeness.
Before that, the patriarchs of Kinson, Buller, and Kisa families would only nod at Han Shuo as greetings. They did not take Han Shuo as a character of the same class as them. In their minds, the House of Han ascended by relying on the Celestial Pearl Pharmacy instead of having powerful experts. This class of merchant family clan was far beneath an ancient and powerful family clan like theirs.
Although Han Shuo had taken over the Fifth Corps, they thought that the Fifth Corps which bare had enough men for a single company was nothing more than an empty shell. Too insignificant in their eyes.
But it all changed three days ago when the Fifth Corps divine guards demonstrated their terrifying combat ability. The three major patriarchs finally recognized the House of Han as a force to be reckoned with and took Han Shuo as a character worthy of being treated as their equals.
<i>No matter anywhere in the universe, one will only be respected if one has sufficient strength!</i> thought Han Shuo after witnessing the change in the three major patriarchs’ attitude.
Ralph, the Chief of the Second Corps wore a dark face, completely incompatible with the joyous atmosphere around Han Shuo. He openly gazed at Han Shuo with his ice-cold eyes filled with resentment as he stood alone in a secluded corner. He was like a hissing viper that tried to make Han Shuo his prey.
Han Shuo greeted and socialized with the major three patriarchs greeted and other Divine Guard Chiefs as though they had been in the same social circle all along. He did not seem nervous or reserved as an upstart should have. With a warm cordial smile, Han Shuo greeted everyone in a friendly manner, talked about the fine wine they were tasting, and discussed managing a Divine Guard Corps…
The patriarchs and Divine Guard Chiefs who feigned civility with Han Shuo praised him in their minds. Such an outstanding ability to socialize cannot be gained without at least several hundred years of cultivation. They became even more admiring of Han Shuo after seeing that Han Shuo managed to handle the situation so composedly.
Ralph had outstanding strength, in command of the Second Corps - a group of cold-blooded killing machines, and the backing of the City Lord. The three major patriarchs, however, did not consider him as a worthy match for a simple reason - he did not know how to conduct himself!
A fool, no matter how powerful, remains a fool! A person who does not know patience and worldly wisdom wouldn’t be able to achieve much in the City of Shadow, or would they be able to survive for too long!
But Han Shuo was very different from Ralph. Not only that Han Shuo has succeeded in developing the Celestial Pearl Pharmacy into the House of Han, but he also gained control over the Fifth Corps, and even trained the Fifth Corps divine guards so well, all done in relatively little time. That was very terrifying to the three patriarchs! When Han Shuo had now managed to blend into their social circle like salt dissolving into hot water, socializing with these influential figures like it was a walk in the park, they became even more vigilant towards Han Shuo.
<i>A Wolf!</i> thought the three major patriarchs.
Although the influences over the City of Shadows were tangled and complicated, there was no doubt that the few major family clans were the strongest powerhouses. The City of Shadows was limited in size, resources, and territory. A great majority of the resources were possessed by those few family clans. As the House of Han rises and grows, conflicts might arise between them because the House of Han must seize the resources from their hands to grow even bigger.
Having thought of such a possibility, the patriarchs of the major family clans who were chatting happily and politely with Han Shuo had considered Han Shuo as a possible rival!
The major patriarchs finally realized that Han Shuo was a well-matched adversary. There was no longer the slightest trace of contempt in their eyes when they looked at Han Shuo.
“This year, we will match the participants by drawing lots. And, of course, like all previous competitions, any of the competitors may issue a challenge to another competitor. If the person accepts the challenge, the two may skip the first round of drawing and fight!” said Wallace in a loud voice after he scanned the party with his eyes.
The reason that such a rule existed was to give the participants a chance to make retribution for any resentment they may have. The divine guard Chiefs of the City of Shadows were not allowed to fight each other in usual times. This was the only chance they could legally battle with each other. As long as both sides agreed to it, with a third-party bearing witness, the duel may proceed as part of the competition.
As soon as Wallace finished those words, Ralph, who had been as silent and still as a stone, stepped forward from his corner. He cast a cold glance at Han Shuo before he said to Wallace, “I, Ralph, hereby challenge the Chief Bryan of the Fifth Corps!” Upon finishing those words, Ralph turned to look at Han Shuo in a provocative smirk and said, “Lord Bryan, do you have the courage to accept my challenge?”
Han Shuo had long anticipated this move from Ralph. He was a vindictive man. As he had lost in the team competition, he surely will not let go of this opportunity to get even.
“Of course!” Han Shuo put on a faint smile, bowed at Wallace and said, “I accept his challenge!”
“Alright. The two of you will wait while the other five draw lots. Those who received the unmarked pieces will wait for the next round,” announced Wallace after he nodded lightly. He then looked at Ralph pitifully. How would Ralph even stand a chance against someone who managed to injure City Lord Hofs?
Ralph naturally had no idea about Wallace’s concern. As soon as he heard Han Shuo agreed to his challenge, he sneered, “Good! I shall see if you have the strength to be worthy of the position as a Divine Guard Chief!”
Han Shuo seemed much more unruffled than Ralph. He shrugged and ignored the fact that Ralph existed. He turned to Aobashi and Erebus standing beside him and poked fun at them, “The two of you better not be selected to duel!”
“If my opponent is her, I will immediately surrender,” said Erebus smilingly. He thought that there was nothing wrong with being so amenable to Aobashi and it was what he ought to do.
“Erebus, it is this behavior of yours that I find very uncomfortable! Why do you have to let me have my way in every matter? You will do whatever I told you to. Why can’t you man up a little?” instead of feeling touched, Aobashi rained a round of scolding.
Erebus forced a smile like a miserable wretch and said, “Because I like it.”
Han Shuo was speechless. He thought that no wonder Aobashi had no interest in Erebus for all these while. Han Shuo knew that a strong woman like Aobashi can only be conquered by a stronger man. To Aobashi, a man like Erebus who placed her high on the pedestal was anything but attractive. That was why Erebus had failed to capture Aobashi’s heart even after many years of wooing.
“If you are like Bryan, perhaps I would have accepted you!” said Aobashi angrily as she glared at Erebus.
Upon hearing those words, Erebus’ face turned astounded. He instantly turned his head towards Han Shuo. Han Shuo too was rather surprised. He raised and waved his hands and immediately declared, “There is absolutely nothing between Aobashi and me!”
“Hehe!” Aobashi chuckled and then berated Erebus, “What were you thinking? I was just trying to tell you that you need to man up and be more unyielding. I don’t like a man who does everything I say!”
Erebus let out a sigh of relief after hearing those words. He forced a smile and mumbled to himself, “Is it wrong to treat you well? Duh… Women…”
Han Shuo turned to look at Aobashi. He suddenly felt that Aobashi’s gazes towards him seemed rather strange. His heart jolted. <i>She can’t be into me, right?</i> When Han Shuo thought so, he took yet another look at Aobashi. Even his gazes turned somewhat strange.
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