Chapter 28: Lou Lan's suspicion
Translator: Irene Editor: Pranav
When Lou Lan put the training hall's mask on his face, he realized that he was actually wearing two layers of masks. It was an entirely original experience, just like how, at this very moment, he was standing on a stage in front of an audience.
While buying his usual groceries, he had passed by many training halls, seen many banners promoting blind battling, and had even heard many discussing it as well.
However, before today, he had never imagined that he would someday be standing on a stage and participating in a blind battle.
He truly would never have dreamed of it. Yet the reality was right in front of his eyes.
A battle awaited him; either he or his enemies would prevail. However, Lou Lan had a belly full of doubts; he wanted to tell Ai Hui that this situation was somewhat different to what the staff had described.
He reached upwards and lightly brushed his hand against the soul-fogging grass.
What he had wanted to tell Ai Hui earlier, before he had been rudely interrupted by his own thoughts, was that the soul-fogging grass seemed to have no effect on his ability to detect people. He could still "see" them.
Lou Lou deemed it weird. He was familiar with the soul-fogging grass, and according to what he had learned, it really should have been able to restrain his powers. But then why was he still able to "see" others?
This was the first time that he had noticed that his body was different, but he could discern it only because of this blind battle and the blade of soul-fogging grass stuck on his head.
Lower level sand puppets were significantly affected by the soul-fogging grass. Could it be that he was not one of them? Lou Lan felt that that was impossible. When a low-level sand puppet was perfectly adequate for cooking and cleaning, why would a high-level one be required? It was much more likely that his abnormalities were because of Master Shao's experiments. Master Shao was fascinated with research; whenever he gained inspiration, he would immediately test it out on Lou Lan.
However, these experiments had often led to problems arising in Lou Lan's body. For instance, during the time he had first met Ai Hui, his core had malfunctioned, and hence his body had started to fall apart.
Maybe it was some kind of new technology?
He reminded himself to ask Master Shao when he returned home.
In reality, the soul-fogging grass was not completely ineffective; his field of vision was affected, and his surroundings had become much blurrier. Lou Lan also found out, that unexpectedly, the opaque mask on his face had the most noticeable impact.
Had he been using his eyes to observe the outside world? How strange...
Lou Lan was surprised; he really had not expected this. Sand puppets seldom used their eyes to observe the world because earth elementalists, with their exquisite techniques and colorful experiences, knew that their sight would be greatly impaired. Under Master Shao's meticulous guidance, Lou Lan had come to understand a lot about sand puppets. However, Lou Lan had never examined his own body and had never realized that it had so many unique qualities.
When he thought about it, Lou Lan felt relieved. Master Shao had never been one to abide by conventions.
It would have been odd if he had been like other sand puppets.
Lou Lan suddenly noticed that during the short moment he had been distracted, Ai Hui had already initiated contact with an opponent.
Ai Hui strangely groped in the dark; his legs were apart in a half-squat, while both his arms were spread out and open, like a crab's pincers. That's right! Ai Hui's posture was remarkably similar to that of a crab.
Ai Hui's movements were silent. His soles were like those of a cat, uncannily inaudible.
Lou Lan inwardly exclaimed with admiration. Compared to Ai Hui, his opponent seemed much more amateurish; even Lou Lan could tell that the latter's movements carried a tinge of panic.
The sight made Lou Lan recall scenes of wild beasts hunting. Ai Hui was like a slowly advancing wild beast, and his opponent was like an alarmed, fidgety prey.
Suddenly, while Ai Hui was in a crouching position, his palm made contact with his opponent's waist.
At the moment of contact, both parties reacted simultaneously.
The opponent's first response was to immediately direct a punch towards Ai Hui, but contrary to his expectations, Ai Hui was in a half-squat. The punch flew past Ai Hui's head and struck empty air.
Ai Hu's attack was much more effective.
The moment he felt his opponent's waist, Ai Hui instantly reacted by swiftly gripping onto it and pulling it close. He then borrowed this momentum to thrust himself sideways and lunge for his opponent's calf.
The force, when compiled from top and bottom, momentarily threw Ai Hui's opponent off balance and prompted him to fall towards Ai Hui.
Ai Hui subsequently displayed his astonishing combat techniques. Like a nimble python, he did not retreat, and instead went forward and smoothly wrapped himself around his target. Ai Hui's feet shoved against his opponent's chin. His opponent, who had his hands crushed behind his back, was quickly immobilized before passing out after twenty seconds.
The referee, who had long since been watching from the sidelines, rolled out a snake-like whip and wrapped it around the unconscious contestant, before expertly pulling him off the stage. An experienced doctor swiftly attended to him, and it was only after a short while that he indicated that the contestant was all right.
Although the contestant was not injured, the incident had made the two referees tense up. Their expressions quickly turned serious.
"That earth elementalist was too relentless."
"Yes, his sand puppet did not move at all. An earth elementalist who can fight is quite rare."
"It's unsurprising, actually. Earth elementalists are a group of abnormal fellows. The abnormality is normal for them."
Even though they both were idly chatting, their gazes remained completely fixed on the stage.
The members of the audience were absolutely silent; they were shocked by Ai Hui's sharp and fierce attack.
Ai Hui's previous move was neither dazzling nor exceedingly elaborate; in fact, he did not even engage his elemental energy. However, it had made the audience feel the scent of fresh blood waft towards them; it carried with it a sense of sharp danger. During the past several days, in the various training halls, they had witnessed all types of contestants with their unique fighting styles; some were meticulous, some were eccentric and hilarious, while others were disorganized and acted without thinking.
However, no match came close to the scene that had just unfolded in front of them-it had stunned them greatly.
A few seconds later, everyone came to their senses, and a commotion broke out off stage.
"What's that move called? Anyone knows?"
"Are you kidding me? So ferocious, and he's an earth elementalist! How is anyone else going to win?"
"It's okay, it's okay. Hey, look at his sand puppet. Doesn't it look silly?"
The usual moves in previous competitions were all flowery and fancy, yet highly impractical and weak. However, upon witnessing Ai Hui's violent and sharp move, everyone's interest was immediately piqued, because it was much more unique.
Lou Lan stared blankly at Ai Hui as he stood on the stage, dumbfounded.
Unlike Lou Lan, the observers downstage were far away from the action, and so their reactions were less surreal. However, the moment Ai Hui had launched his attack, Lou Lan had felt his heart skip a beat.
After taking down the contestant, Ai Hui immediately started to quietly grope around as he stealthily advanced towards the next one.
The remaining opponent's earlier movements had inadvertently revealed his position.
As Ai Hui continued to feel around for the next target, Lou Lan couldn't help but widen his eyes; he was afraid of not catching all the details. As an utterly inexperienced combatant, he had already forgotten his purpose of being onstage. He was completely immersed in Ai Hui's battle and was incredibly tense.
The audience observed Ai Hui as he locked onto a new prey; everyone held their breaths with their eyes wide open.
A blanket of silence had descended upon the training hall yet again.
Ai Hui was unaware of what was happening outside; the training hall had used a special method to soundproof the stage. Like a cautious wild beast with a silent bloodlust, he carefully and patiently approached his target.
However, at that very moment, an unforeseen event suddenly occurred.