GDK 801: The moment he appeared, I lost
Han Shuo’s victory was out of most people’s expectations. He was greeted with gazes of respect after he returned to the center of the mountain range. The three major patriarchs, five Divine Guard Chiefs, and other influential characters of the City had their gazes gathered on Han Shuo.
Han Shuo had expected this reaction from them. He believed that it won’t be long before the news of his triumphant against Ralph and his Second Corps spreads throughout the City of Shadows. By then, Han Shuo wouldn’t have to worry about the recruitment issue. People would beg to be a divine guard of the House of Han and the Fifth Corps.
“Bryan, did you actually just defeated Ralph?” Carmelita was still in disbelief even till now. Ralph, the Chief of the Second Corps had just lost everything he could be proud of to Han Shuo who had made an official debut only recently.
This was a significant change to the general situation in the City of Shadows which had not occurred for many years!
After that day, Ralph no longer had anything that could back his arrogance! The City of Shadows would no longer be a place that Ralph could throw his weight about because he had just lost all his pride to Han Shuo!
Han Shuo calmly smiled, pointed at the sand table, and responded, “Didn’t you see it?”
Carmelita stared blankly for a second before she turned annoyed and said, “See what? We didn’t see one bit of the process! Why did you produce that mist and conceal the whole fight?”
“Process isn’t the important part - what matters is the results!” said Han Shuo as he wore the most punchable mischievous smile. “In short, I have won the battle. That is all that matters!”
“Indeed. It’s not the process that counts but the outcome! Every one of us here has witnessed Bryan pressing his sword on Ralph’s throat. All of us here are eyewitnesses. Bryan has won, and Ralph has lost. It’s that simple!” remarked Caspar before he looked at Wallace smilingly.
For all these while, the House of Sainte had control over the First, Second, and Third Corps. No matter in team-combat strength or in the capabilities of the Chiefs, the House of Sainte had overshadowed those of the other three major family clans. In all of the competitions, the top three Corps and Chiefs would always be those from the House of Sainte. Their supremacy had never been challenged.
That was until this day when Bryan shook up everything!
Wallace nodded indifferently and asked in a deep voice, “Alright. Bryan is victorious in this match. Any objections?”
Who would have any objection? The fact was plain for all to see!
Caspar and the other two major patriarchs exchanged meaningful glances with each other. Although they were rivals, the three patriarchs shared a mutual understanding. They knew exactly what each other were thinking right then.
Before the departure of the House of Lavers, there were five major family clans in the City of Shadows. Although they were called the five major family clans, it was common knowledge that the House of Sainte was much more powerful and had always kept the other four family clans contained. The House of Sainte had the City of Shadows firmly in its grasp and no one could come close to loosening its grip.
But were the other family clans satisfied with what they have?
The answer was obvious - absolutely not! No matter if it was the House of Kinson, House of Kisa, House of Buller, or even the lesser family clans, all of them yearned for the position of the City Lord.
The City of Shadows had limited territory and resources which had mostly been split among big and small family clans. A new family clan needed territory and all kinds of resources to grow. Without any unexplored land and unexploited resources, this new family clan must obtain what they needed from another family clan in order to fuel their growth.
The rise of a major family clan often means the downfall of another - a fact that had not changed since times immemorial. The abrupt rise of the House of Han was a great example. How was it that the House of Han could grow so rapidly and become one of the most influential powers in the City? It was because they had taken over the territory of the House of Lavers and their tremendous manor!
When the House of Sainte first started out, similar to the Houses of Kinson, Buller, and Kisa, they were all just small family clans in the City of Shadows. Eons ago, the former ruler of the City of Shadows, the House of Tianluo, suffered disastrous losses in a war against the Life and Light Dominions. The weakened House of Tianluo was annihilated by the joint forces of the Sainte, Kinson, Buller, and Kisa families. That was how they came to possess what they had this day.
And, if there ever came a day that the House of Sainte declined, then the current House of Kinson, Buller, and Kisa could fill their place and become the new ruler of the City of Shadows. They could possess what the House of Sainte had, or even more!
Who could resist this temptation?
The reason that the Kinson, Buller, and Kisa Families never dared rebel was that the Sainte Family had managed to firmly inhibit them in every aspect. They were also intimidated by Wallace’s terrifying strength. But on that day, when Han Shuo managed to defeat Ralph with ease, the colossal House of Sainte which had been untouchable in the City of Shadows seemed to have quivered very lightly.
But even the slightest quiver was more than enough to reignite their greed!
The three major patriarchs understood each other even though they did not speak a word.
Wallace was just too strong. The three patriarchs understood that if they were to go on an all-out fight with the House of Sainte, they must have someone on their side who could fight Wallace. The three patriarchs of mid-stage highgods strengths knew that they had around the same strength as Ralph. They were certain that even if they could defeat Ralph in a battle, it would never be as effortless as Han Shuo had done.
<i>Can Bryan defeat Wallace?</i>
The three major patriarchs simultaneously asked themselves the same question. Their heads which were lowered in contemplation were raised and their gazes yet again gathered on Han Shuo. The three astute and circumspect foxes thought, <i>I shall wait and observe. If he could also defeat Aobashi just as effortlessly, then it can be certain that he has the strength to fight Wallace.</i>
“Next battle, Erebus versus Camilla!” announced Wallace.
“Here I come!” Erebus who was chatting happily with Han Shuo left impatiently after he heard the call-out from Wallace.
Based on Han Shuo’s understanding of Erebus, Han Shuo reckoned that it wouldn’t be difficult for Erebus to win this battle.
And the results were as Han Shuo had expected. After half a day’s time, Erebus successfully defeated Camilla. Next in line was Batúk and Rugersey. The results of this match were rather unexpected. Batúk, who was the last place in the ranking, with great difficulty, managed to defeat Rugersey who had previously defeated him. With that, the ranking of Divine Guard Chiefs changed slightly.
The victors continued to fight for higher ranking while the defeated strived to stay as high up as they could. Han Shuo, Erebus, Batúk, and Aobashi went for another round of lot drawing.
“Batúk, if you got the lot against Bryan, just surrender,” the Buller Family patriarch, Laurel, advised Batúk softly before he would draw lots.
Batúk forced a smiled and replied, “Lord Patriarch, can’t you have a little more confidence in me?”
Laurel smiled and replied, “Well, Batúk, do you have confidence in defeating Bryan?” Batúk was a member of the House of Buller. As the patriarch of the Buller Family, Laurel knew Batúk’s strength well. He did not think that Batúk could come close to defeating Han Shuo.
“Nope, not the slightest shred of confidence,” said Batúk as he shook his head. “But I have not seen how Bryan attacked just then. Even if I were to be defeated, I should at least try to gauge his true strength, right?”
Laurel stared blankly for a bit and thought for a moment. He nodded smilingly as he replied, “You’re right. Might as well make use of the defeat. A little bit of fighting wouldn't hurt.”
The results of the lot drawing were obtained in no time: Erebus was matched against Aobashi and Batúk matched against Han Shuo.
“I surrender!” Erebus declared loudly and shamelessly before Wallace could announce anything. Under the astonished gazes of the crowd, Erebus shrugged and explained, “I have fought Aobashi many times in private and I know for a fact that I am no match against her. I don’t want to waste everyone’s time.”
The crowd unknowingly smirked after hearing Erebus’ words. It was known to everyone that Erebus had been pursuing Aobashi and that he was no match against Aobashi in strength. However, the crowd couldn’t help but suspect that perhaps something else was going on, given how straightforward Erebus was in giving up. They couldn’t help but look at Erebus and Aobashi suspiciously.
“Who asked you to surrender? Why can’t you fight?” scolded Aobashi in a fierce scowl. She didn’t expect that Erebus would actually straightforwardly give up as he said he will. He showed not the slightest courageous spirit.
“We all know that I cannot defeat you. There’s no point in wasting everybody’s time,” replied Erebus smilingly.
“Alright. Erebus has voluntarily surrendered. Aobashi will make it to the next round,” announced Wallace.
As Aobashi and Erebus will not be fighting, Han Shuo and Batúk proceeded to the arena. Right when the battle between the two started, the mist yet again appeared out of nowhere, completely blocking the spectator's view of the entire fight. It tickled the annoyance of the crowd who wished to have a clear view of Han Shuo’s true strength.
When the mist finally dissipated, the arena was again visible to the spectators and Han Shuo was pointing his sword at an exhausted Batúk. It was similar to the fight between Han Shuo and Ralph but the battle took an even shorter time. Unlike Ralph, Batúk did not even have the energy to get up.
Batúk, whose head was spinning, was helped to his feet by Han Shuo. “Much apologies, Lord Batúk!” said Han Shuo sincerely after giving Batúk a hand. He knew that those surrounding the sand table saw the scene of his victory.
“It is a competition. There is nothing to apologize for,” Batúk, who knew that he will be defeated, couldn’t pull a smile as though nothing had happened as Han Shuo could. He nodded indifferent at Han Shuo and left the arena in a gloomy face.
As Han Shuo will fight Aobashi next, he did not leave the arena. He sincerely apologized to the leaving Batúk a few more times and stayed in the arena, waiting for Aobashi’s arrival.
As soon as Batúk returned from the arena, Laurel hastily went to him and asked in a low voice, “So, did you get anything?”
“It felt as though I was pulled into another dimension. I did not see Bryan even once from start to finish. By the time he appeared, I was already defeated. It’s basically the same as what you would see through the sand table,” said Batúk resentfully. He did not feel angry about the results. There was no shame in losing, but he couldn’t accept not knowing how he was defeated!
Batúk turned more sullen the more he thought about it. He remarked, “Had I known this earlier, I would have just surrendered. What’s the point of wasting all the energy!”
Laurel was astounded. The other two major patriarchs who had come to them at an unknown time also put on astounded faces.
<i>Just how powerful is this Bryan?</i>
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