GDK 800: Beating up a child

Han Shuo had a good reason to obstruct the spectators’ views. The main weapon he was using to beat Ralph was the seventeen flying swords. If he were to reveal this trump card to the spectators which were comprised of the very observant patriarchs of the three major family clans and the other Divine Guard Chiefs, it wouldn’t be long before one of them realized that the weapon Han Shuo used matched the description of those used against Hushveil City.

There was no telling if these people would keep their mouths shut. If just one of them spread the news to the public, once Hofs had stabilized his control over Hushveil City, he would hunt down Han Shuo and his House of Han at all costs.

This was not an outcome Han Shuo wished to see.

Therefore, he deployed the Banner of Hallucination. It sent out clouds and clouds of fog which formed a vast, white screen of obscurity. This prevented Wallace and the crowd from seeing what was happening in the battle.

Ralph, who was at the center of the banner, was on the back foot against Han Shuo. He could not even counter attack!

It was only now that Ralph realized just how terribly mistaken he had been! Before entering the arena, Ralph even had a short fantasy of Han Shuo’s defeat. He was trapped before he even knew what in the world just happened. Thanks to the Banner of Hallucination, Ralph couldn’t even tell that the magnificent streaks were Han Shuo’s flying swords.

Ralph’s domain of divinity was also firmly suppressed. Every ruse he had seemed all so vain and futile against the wild, unstoppable power bombarding him. Trapped in Ceaseless Pain, Ralph felt as though he was a small boat in a tumultuous sea; as though he would be drowned at any moment.

Despicable! Thinking back to Han Shuo’s performance back in the City of Shadows in comparison to the terrifying strength that he displayed right now, Ralph cursed at Han Shuo in his mind.

He found it utterly despicable that an expert with strength superior to his opponent would launch a sneak attack at the very start of a battle. It was comparable to a well-built adult beating up a child, starting with an unexpected kick to the back. That was how Ralph felt.

The brilliant rays streaked around him as though they were weaving a giant invisible net. A most domineering energy which Ralph had never before experienced swarmed towards him from every direction while intense corrosive power and chilling aura gushed towards him. It whittled away his divine energy and made his resistance weaker and weaker.

Ralph could not be more depressed and frustrated. Inside the Ceaseless Pain, he could not see where Han Shuo was. Neither could he break out from the dimension that the seventeen swords trapped him in. He could only rapidly exert his divine energy to resist the attack.

It seemed as though the outcome had been decided from the beginning! Ralph knew that he had been defeated and that it was a crushing defeat!

***

At the center of Soaring Cloud Mountain Range, around the sand table, Wallace and the spectators no longer had their eyes fixed on the image-relaying divine device. They were whispering with each other, discussing what might be happening behind the mist.

A vast expanse of mist shrouded the region that they were most interested in right from the start of the battle. There was no sign that it was going to float elsewhere soon. By now, it was clear to all the spectators that the mist wasn’t there by coincidence.  

Aobashi and Erebus exchanged glances at the realization. They were both somewhat worried.

“City Lord, this action of Ralph’s is unacceptable! He must have produced the mist to do something despicable to Bryan!” accused Rugersey.

Wallace shot a glance at Rugersey and defended, “Why must it be Ralph?”

“If not Ralph, then it must be Bryan. It has to be the one with the greater strength who has the energy to produce all this fog. Given Ralph’s great strength, he is the most likely culprit.”

All the spectators, except Wallace, held the same assumption as Rugersey. To them, it was only reasonable that the vision-obstruction mist would originate from Ralph.

Aobashi and Erebus had their brows bunched. These two were close to Han Shuo and they do not wish to see bad things happen to him. After a moment of hesitation, Aobashi asked, “The duel between Chiefs should only be heavy-sparring instead of a fight to the death. Ralph is doing this in retaliation to Bryan’s victory three days ago!”

“Just watch till the end!” said Wallace coldly, feeling rather annoyed by the questions.

The party was astounded as they heard the annoyance in Wallace’s tone. They stared blankly, not uttering another word. They were rather confused, wondering what was really going on.

The rules for the duel of Divine Guard Chiefs are set by Wallace himself. Ralph of the Second Corps is absolutely loyal to him and wouldn’t disobey a word of his orders. By that reasoning, Ralph wouldn’t attempt to break the rules set by Wallace. So everything should be alright, right? thought the party.

While the spectators were confused, Han Shuo was laughing grimly in his mind for he knew that Ralph’s divine energy had mostly been exhausted. It was then that he suddenly shot forward, flew into the Ceaseless Pain and dealt a final blow. With the fiercest attack, Han Shuo destroyed all remaining defense Ralph had put up.

The seventeen flying swords suddenly stopped attacking. Han Shuo who had broken through layers of defensive barriers in one blow injected several shots of demonic yuan through Ralph’s chest, completely incapacitating him.

With one thought, the Banner of Hallucination flew back to Han Shuo while the Demonslayer Edge flew out from his arm. He pressed the tip of the blade against Ralph’s throat.

“The fog is scattering!” cried Camilla suddenly. The party’s gazes were again gathered on the sand table.

The noise of people chatting in low voices abruptly disappeared and was replaced with pin-drop silence. The major patriarchs and the divine guard chiefs were all stupefied. They stared at the sand table with their jaws dropped on the ground. They could not believe what they were seeing through the projection.

On the sand table, Ralph looked pale and weak. He had collapsed and lay on the ground like a cripple, devoid of energy. His eyes were wide open and filled with fear, staring at the dark, chilling longsword pointed at him. The spectators had no doubt that if Han Shuo were to lightly thrust the longsword with the oddly-shaped hilt forward, Ralph would lose his life on the spot.

Han Shuo was still wearing that same old faint smile on his face. However, to the spectators, that usually warm smile appeared rather chilling at this moment. The major patriarchs suddenly felt a shiver run down their backs. They felt as though the Han Shuo with whom they had cheerful talks with just moments ago was a demon under a mask. 

“Ralph has lost,” announced Wallace in an expressionless face. He turned his eyes to Rugersey and said, “The mist must be made by the one with the upper hand. Now you should know where the mist comes from, don’t you?”

Under Wallace’s gaze, Rugersey put on an awkward and embarrassed face. He forced a smile and said, “I never expected Bryan to turn out to be such a terrifying expert, much less that he could defeat Ralph.”

“Not just any defeat, but a crushing defeat. Ralph seems too weak to even move. But Bryan looks pretty much the same as when he first stepped into the arena. It's as though he has not spent any energy at all!” Aobashi had on a solemn face as she remarked, “This is an overwhelming victory. Even when I fought Ralph, it never was as effortless as Bryan has done. Perhaps even I will have to hand over my title as the most powerful Divine Guard Chief.

Upon hearing those words, the spectators again focused their attention on the sand table and looked carefully. They immediately realized that Aobashi’s words were true.

One seemed completely unharmed, while the other was utterly crushed. It was a battle between experts with an overwhelming disparity in strengths!

After a moment of silence, the party turned boisterous. Some discussed the battle by whispering into each other’s ears, some were still in shock, while some cheered and praised Han Shuo for his achievement.

The patriarch of the House of Kinson, Caspar, couldn’t help but turn to look at his daughter Jiya who was in high spirits. He thought, If I can get such a powerful a son-in-law in exchange for Jiya, that will be the most profitable trade ever!

Caspar had sensed Han Shuo’s overwhelming might. It was only by taking action now that Caspar could avoid unnecessary disputes in the future. If things went really well, the House of Kinson might even get a firmer footing in the City of Shadows. By then, perhaps even the House of Sainte must pay greater heed to the House of Kinson.

In Caspar’s grand scheme, the happiness of his daughter, Jiya, was not at all a concern. He decided that after the event, he must discuss this plan with his wife so that she could persuade their daughter to ‘take action’.

Caspar wasn’t the only person with this thought. While he was scheming, Wallace suddenly remembered Andre’s proposal. He realized just how important this proposal of Andre’s could be to the future of the House of Sainte. Wallace too couldn’t help but turn to look at his daughter Carmelita. He saw that Carmelita was laughing and cheering with Erebus, chanting, “Bryan! Bryan!”

Wallace suddenly recalled how close Carmelita, Aobashi and Erebus were to Han Shuo and bunched his brows. He wanted to do as Andre proposed a moment ago. But now, Wallace was unsure. He thought, they are growing too close. This isn’t good.

***

Han Shuo stared straight into Ralph’s eyes as he slowly pulled the Demonslayer Edge. He announced, “You have lost!”

Ralph stared fixedly at Han Shuo, heavily panting but without a word.

“I will not kill you today,” said Han Shuo. He turned away and continued indifferently, “But if you dare play any kind of dirty tricks against me in secret, I promise, you will die a horrible death!” Han Shuo started leaving the arena upon finishing those words.

Ralph stared at Han Shuo’s back. All sorts of emotions were welling up in his heart. Half his mind was on seeking revenge while the other half was advising himself to endure the humiliation. He seemed to be at a loss.

“Bryan, why was there mist in the arena?” asked Andre. He already knew how the battle would end.

With no one else around, Han Shuo explained, “There are too many spectators. As I had to use my full strength, they might recognize that the weapons and martial arts I used were similar to those used in the Hushveil City incident. There are just too many mouths and I don’t want to risk any of them spreading the news. Otherwise, it will be bad both for me and for the City of Shadows.”

Andre thought in silence for a moment and nodded understandably. “I see. My elder brother has just asked about it. I will explain it to him later.”

“Thanks!” said Han Shuo before departing the arena.

A moment later, Ralph too had come out from the arena. His usually bold and tough face was now pale and colorless. He looked no different from a terminally ill patient. Even walking seemed strenuous. After watching for a while, Andre finally asked, “Ralph, would you like me to carry you instead?”

 

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