Chapter 26: The First Win
Translator: Irene Editor: Lis
Lou Lan stood in front of the stage, feeling extremely nervous. The mask on his face concealed it well but his tightly clenched fist gave it away. While he was a stranger to battling, even he could tell that the situation onstage was subtly and abnormally dangerous. With a single moment's carelessness, anyone would be knocked down immediately.
On stage, Ai Hui used a simple yet exceptionally fierce technique to take the last contestant down. Lou Lan, who had been tense from the start, suddenly jumped up and cheered loudly with both arms raised.
Ai Hui got down from the platform with a few bruises and ten thousand yuan.
"You're too amazing!" Lou Lan's eyes shone brightly with unending respect for Ai Hui. Ever since his creation, his daily life revolved around the same routine: shopping for groceries, cleaning the rooms, and learning Master Shao's designated lessons like medicine.
Fighting was a novelty to him. His first time launching a fist at anyone was when Ai Hui had taught him.
And now, for the first time, he witnessed his first battle today. It was so intense that he felt breathless, completely forgetting that breathing was unnecessary for a sand puppet. Affected by the stifling atmosphere, his eyes stayed glued to the match in total concentration.
His current lifestyle was peaceful and repetitive, and he had never thought to question it until today, when he suddenly felt that something was missing from his life.
He never thought it a bad thing in the past, until today. He suddenly felt that something was missing from his life.
His gaze fell onto Ai Hui's face.
There were a few bruises on it, making it look somewhat pitiful. Ai Hui, however, was not bothered in the slightest; his bruised face carried a trace of firm austerity, as if nothing could obstruct him. His gaze was determined, the light in them not bright like the stars but rather deep and reserved. Their depths were cold and distant like the faraway horizon when the morning sun had yet to rise.
Lou Lan's emotions were stirred. He felt a different kind of ice-cold passion from Ai Hui. It was a passion that never died out in spite of this dull life. A lonely passion that fought on through difficult times.
Ai Hui's silence was like the deep, dark sky, waiting quietly for the next break of day.
Lou Lan realized then what he was missing-it was this very passion for living. His own life and fate had already been decided, and he had no choice but to abide by these commands.
Lou Lan knew these thoughts were senseless.
He was a sand puppet, he reminded himself.
Ai Hui noticed Lou Lan's gaze and assumed it was for the bruises on his face. He said carelessly, "I'm fine, they're all small injuries. Such superficial wounds look scarier than they actually are."
As they made their way out, someone yelled from behind-
"If you're capable, stay where you are! Let's have another match!"
It was the last contestant defeated by Ai Hui. Unwilling to accept his defeat, he came to the conclusion that it was due to his carelessness. Seeing that fellow's course techniques that seemed to come from street gangsters made him even more unwilling to admit his loss to such a guy.
Lou Lan stopped but Ai Hui said while walking onward, "Ignore him."
"Spineless! Good-for-nothing! Coward!" Flustered, the contestant continued his verbal assault.
One after another, the other defeated contestants started chiming in, also feeling that their loss was unfathomable.
"He had an accidental win. You can't count on him being so lucky every time."
Lou Lan took offense. How could these people act like that when they shouldn't? They clearly lost-how dare they spill such ugly insults!
After a while, Lou Lan noticed Ai Hui's lack of reaction and asked, "Ai Hui, aren't you angry? Don't you want to go back and beat them up?"
"What's there to be angry about?" Ai Hui casually plucked a blade of grass from the roadside and put it into his mouth. "In the Wilderness, they're all dead."
Lou Lan fell into a daze. He found it difficult to describe the feeling he felt upon hearing Ai Hui's words. They were steady and confident, yet also tinged by a slight melancholy.
Out of curiosity, he asked, "Have you been in the Wilderness?"
"Yes." Ai Hui chewed on the grass. "Stayed in there for three years."
"How awesome!" Lou Lan felt deep veneration for him.
To Lou Lan, the Wilderness was a mysterious and faraway place. The thought of leaving Central Pine City had never even occurred to him, and the only understanding he had of the Wilderness came from books. He was aware from the descriptions that danger lurked in every corner, but he did not know the sort of difficulties that had to be endured to stay there for three years.
Ai Hui was so amazing!
At this point, Lou Lan, was full of admiration for Ai Hui. He believed that in this world, the most powerful man was Master Shao, followed by Ai Hui. Oh, wrong. Both were powerful in different ways, so they should both be ranked first.
"Where are we going now?" Lou Lan thought of the ten thousand Ai Hui had just won and felt happiness bubble up at once.
"Next hall," Ai Hui responded matter-of-factly.
"The next one? You want to continue?" Lou Lan was startled.
"Such a good opportunity." Ai Hui involuntarily licked his lips and narrowed his eyes. He was like a wild beast that marked its prey and was ready to pounce.
Lou Lan was unsure why he felt a chill in his heart upon seeing Ai Hui's expression. As expected from an expert who stayed in the Wilderness-, Ai Hui had such a murderous spirit. It made Lou Lan curious aboutas know what the Wilderness was like.
They walked into the second training hall and were immediately were drowned in the clamor.
It was not unreasonable for blind battling to become a trend since it was a new mode of competition that proved to be a new challenge for people. This foreign method of fighting was highly unpredictable as it added a new variable besides skills. It was not uncommon to see practitioners with four palaces to be defeated by those with two. Even those with unsurpassable skills had to be careful on stage-a moment of neglect could result in failure.
Under such circumstances, past experiences were useless, and everyone became so clumsy it was even funny.
When Ai Hui walked in, a contestant on stage was being manhandled by an opponent who had no idea what he was grabbing on to. As he hurriedly applied force-rip!-the contestant's pants were pulled down, revealing his white, fleshy buttocks.
Those before the stage shrieked with laughter, their loud screams and whistles on the verge of making the roof collapse.
In such an environment, Ai Hui's facial expression was exceptionally jarring. He seemed to have overlooked the contestant's shining, white bum and instead seriously observed the battle while scanning the other contestants onstage.
Everyone had opaque masks on their faces, but what interested Ai Hui even more was the fact that it was a partnered team battle!
If only Fatty was here, Ai Hui thought subconsciously.
He continued his solemn observation before he internally shook his head. There was no teamwork whatsoever between the contestants.
Ai Hui could not help but wish again for Fatty to be here. If they combined their powers, their chances of victory were high.
He glanced over the rules hanging on the signboard. Interested parties had to sign up in twos.
Another hall? But Ai Hui felt somewhat adamant in joining. He looked to the side, only to see Lou Lan highly engrossed in the match. His heart stirred.
Or, should he let Lou Lan try?