Chapter 527 - Enemy Traces

Chapter 527 - Enemy Traces

But before the red blur reached the crowd, someone snatched it out of the air. Held in place, the object was now easily discernable: a double-edged sword, slender and scarlet. In the next instant, it disappeared, leaving only the savior of the crowd. The chef. 

Then he disappeared too, off to pursue the assassin. 

Feeling a rush of wind, Tang Wulin turned around to see Zhen Hua now clad in magnificent four-word battle armor. The mighty aura he emitted crushed everyone in the hall with the weight of an ocean. 

“Nobody move!” Zhen Hua ordered, directing the weight of his aura to suppress Zhanggong Yan. 

The assassination attempt was clearly planned. It had happened all too suddenly, too quickly, for him to react. Without Gu Yue’s timely intervention, he would have been dead now. That sword carried enough power to kill him without his battle armor equipped, and only a Hyper Douluo could have prepared such a weapon! Not only that, but the assassin couldn’t be wearing battle armor either, otherwise he would have noticed the uncontrollable aura of power and brought his guard up. 

Zhen Hua’s mind reeled at first from the initial shock of his brush with death, but it was quickly consumed by his flaring rage as he recognized the reality of the situation. His wrathful aura forced the crowd to kneel in submission. 

Zhanggong Yan pulled Lin Yuhan behind him, thrusting his arms out in an effort to protect her. Two yellow, two purple, and four black soul rings rose up around him, revealing his status as an eight-ringed Soul Douluo. But he was nothing before a four-word battle armor master. His show of strength only allowed him to stand a bit straighter. Clear to the eye was how he restrained himself. How he held back from equipping his own battle armor. 

“President Zhen Hua.” Zhanggong Yan’s tone was firm but respectful. 

Zhen Hua drew back some of the pressure emanating from him. 

But the blacksmiths in the crowd had other ideas. “Execute them!” they screamed in frenzy. They were out for the blood of any who would dare to assassinate their illustrious president. Killing the only living Divine Blacksmith would be an unforgivable act, for without a Divine Blacksmith, creating four-word battle armor was impossible. For this reason, while the assassination attempt had struck fear into the crowd’s heart, their fury burned hotter. Zhen Hua was a mentor to all blacksmiths, his dazzling skills inspiring them all to reach for greater heights. 

Zhanggong Yan pressed his lips tight together as he stared down Zhen Hua. Any explanation he had would be useless. He was the one to pose this challenge, and the assassin had taken this opportunity to strike. 

“You’re from a Blacksmith’s Association on one of the other continents, aren’t you?” Zhen Hua asked, sneering. 

Zhanggong Yan felt his heart race.

Apart from Douluo, there were also the continents of Star Luo and Heaven Dou. The hostility shared between the continents was no secret. If not for the oceans separating them, they would likely be embroiled in all-out war. Still, there were plenty of minor conflicts to go around. On the list of people who wanted Zhen Hua dead, the rulers of the other two continents sat at the top. 

 With his origins identified, Zhanggong Yan lost all hopes of weaseling his way out. How did it come to this? 

“It wasn’t us!” Lin Yuhan poked her head out from behind her master and locked eyes with Zhen Hua in defiance. 

“If it wasn’t you two, then who was it?” the blacksmiths in the crowd demanded.

“It wasn’t us,” Lin Yuhan repeated, her eyes shining fiercely, refusing to be cowed.

“Follow me.” Zhen Hua beckoned to Zhanggong Yan, then gathered Tang Wulin and Gu Yue as well.

Zhen Hua’s actions confused Zhanggong Yan. He’s not going to kill us? Although he was also a battle armor master, he was merely at the two-word level. An ant before the four-word Zhen Hua. 

Maintaining his guard, Zhanggong Yan followed Zhen Hua into the elevator, his disciple in tow. The elevator delivered them straight to Zhen Hua’s office.

Zhen Hua unequipped his battle armor and took a seat behind his desk. He gestured to the sofa across from him. “Please, take a seat.” 

Zhanggong Yan furrowed his brow, anxiety biting at the back of his mind. “Do you believe us?” 

“No, I don’t,” Zhen Hua said in a smooth voice. “But I believe in blacksmiths. When you conceded in the first round, there wasn’t the slightest hint of pretense in your words. So I believe that you are at the very least an upright blacksmith.

“Now let’s cut to the chase.” Zhen Hua locked his fingers before him and lowered his head. “How did you come here and why did you challenge us?”

Behind Zhen Hua stood Tang Wulin and Gu Yue. Tang Wulin still felt shaken by what had happened. Utterly inconsequential before the might of that scarlet sword. If it had struck him, there wouldn’t be anything left to mourn afterward. 

But the chef had caught it, and in that moment Tang Wulin had seen his hands bleed gold. Other than that, the chef had not displayed anything out of the ordinary. 

A bitter smile spread across Zhanggong Yan’s lips. He was backed into a corner. Hiding even the smallest detail could mean death. It would be as easy as squashing a bug for Zhen Hua to kill them in his home turf, especially since they were from another continent. No one would dare question Zhen Hua if he justified his actions as taking care of some spies. 

“You were right. We aren’t from Douluo. We’re actually from Star Luo. I’m the vice-president of Star Luo’s Blacksmith’s Association. 

“President Zhen Hua, I’m sure you’re well aware of how much soul technology has progressed in recent years. The hatred between our continents doesn’t burn as hot anymore. In fact, it’s just your government stoking the flames now. I’ve come with my disciple as representatives of Star Luo to engage in cultural exchange. We’re part of an official delegation. As a blacksmith, I’ve heard many tales of your accomplishments and wanted to see your skill first hand. Our visit wasn’t part of the official plans. We’re here solely as blacksmiths, not as people of Star Luo.” 

Zhen Hua listened intently. Leaned back into his chair. He now understood the situation, that some third party had provoked Zhanggong Yan’s competitive spirit and urged him to come here with the challenge. 

“As for the assassin, I have no idea who it could be. That’s all I have to say for ourselves. Whether you believe it or not is up to you.” Fate was out of Zhanggong Yan’s hands now. “But please. If you do blame us, then only blame me. This has nothing to do with Yuhan. I know she’s a foreigner, but she’s still a blacksmithing prodigy. I don’t care what punishment I receive. Just please spare her.” 

Zhen Hua sighed. “The way things are now, I can’t let you guys go without gaining anything. Can you at least tell me who incited you to come here? Was it another member of the Star Luo delegation?” 

Zhanggong Yan lowered his head, shoulders slumping. “No. I doubt you’ll believe me, but it really wasn’t. When we arrived, I met a blacksmith called Ning Fengzhi. I’m not sure if that’s his real name or not. He was a Saint Blacksmith and skilled at forging with one giant hammer. After I narrowly won a friendly competition between us, he told me of how great the Divine Blacksmith was, and how no one could compare to you.” 

Zhen Hua furrowed his brows as he listened, confusion swelling up within him. According to Zhanggong Yan’s words, this Ning Fengzhi person wasn’t from Star Luo. Rather, he was a blacksmith of Douluo. As for whether this man was part of the Douluo Blacksmith’s Association, that was a mystery. However, it was clear that they had some relation with the assassination attempt. Now Zhen Hua had to decide just how much he could trust Zhanggong Yan’s words. 

“Brother Zhanggong, please stay here with your disciple as guests for a while. We need to conduct an investigation into this incident and notify your delegation before we can proceed further.”

Zhanggong Yan jerked his head up, eyes wide. “You believe me?”

Zhen Hua chuckled. “I’m just trusting my gut.” 

The door suddenly swung open and in walked the chef. 

Unfazed, Zhen Hua asked “Did you get them?” 

The chef shook his head. “They were too quick. An agility-type Hyper Douluo, I’m sure of it. While they might not be as strong as me, damn they’re way faster. Even at my full speed, they easily threw me off their tail. Looks like you’ve got quite a handful to deal with now. A Hyper Douluo assassin. Whew.” He grinned, lips peeling back to show teeth.

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Johnchen & Ruze's Thoughts

Evil soul masters are now malum soul masters. Evil was kinda tacky. 

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