Chapter 199 - Daggers Drawn
The pale green paper crane danced trippingly, seemingly harmless to humans and animals, and the voice it transmitted was also quite calm. Nevertheless, it caused everyone to feel a chill running down their backs.
After having scared the hell out of everyone to the point that they were all drenched in cold sweat, he continued:
"However, if Chaos Edge Hall forgoes hunting me down and engages in full-scale war with Iron Fist Club instead, then I will attack the Iron Fist Club members with all I’ve got until the outcome is no longer a foregone conclusion!"
"The reason is quite simple. Among all three of us, the Iron Fist Club is the most powerful. Only if the two of us align ourselves together and weed out Iron Fist Club will we have a chance of victory!"
"Zhao Tianchong, and friends of the Chaos Edge Hall, as long as you stand where I stand and calmly think, you will realize that I am not necessarily deceiving you; this is the only method for me to improve my chance of winning!"
"After Iron Fist Club is eliminated, my chance of winning may increase from 0 to 10%, while your chance of winning will increase from 0 to 90%. If we formed an alliance, it would be way better for the Chaos Edge Hall!"
"I rest my case here. Now the outcome of the match in is your hands, ladies and gentlemen. As for where we go from here, it all depends on your decision!"
The paper crane slightly shook as it slowly floated down to the ground.
In everybody's eyes, it seemed as though a thousand kilogram boulder had been smashed onto their hearts, causing a great stir.
Whereas at every corner of the campus, everyone watching this scene through the hologram had long since been dumbfounded.
Before the start of the match, everyone had proposed countless strategies which Li Yao could employ. Many people believed that the only way for the Li Yao to win was to propagate dissent and discord, setting a spark between the Iron Fist Club and Chaos Edge Hall in advance.
However, no one had ever imagined that driving a wedge could be done in such a fair and square way!
The Devil Fist Sect's Elder, Bai Mushen, slightly frowned:
"This tactic is… somewhat despicable, right?"
Most of the body practitioners were straightforward. They had always advocated physical strength and head-on confrontation, and had always been less interested in scheming and such.
Whereas the eyes of the Hundred Saber Alliance's vice president, Long Wenhui, burst forth with a sharp gleam as he smiled and said:
"From the start, Student Li Yao is playing the role of an evil expert. These kinds of tactics totally sync with his identity. And most of all, it's 1 vs. 2,000, how can he win without being a bit despicable?"
Meanwhile, as far as the said victims of all this debacle who were presently at the center of the jungle were concerned, the so-called "despicable" tactic of Li Yao wasn't as simple as it seemed.
Even before the paper crane landed on the ground, the Chaos Edge Hall members already had an ugly complexion.
Everyone whispered to each other:
"Is he serious? Doesn't he just want to drag our Chaos Edge Hall members into a fight? Isn't this bullying? What have we done wrong? Why does he have enmity with us?"
"Of course, it is serious. It's 1 vs. 2,000. He made it quite clear that if he dies, he will drag a few of us down with him. What is so strange about that?"
"Didn't you hear what he said at the end? As long as we fight with the Iron Fist Club, he will stand by us!"
"Thinking about it, he is indeed right. Our overall strength is weaker than that of the Iron Fist Club. Even if they paid heavy price to capture him, in all likelihood, we still could not endure the wanton attacks of the Iron Fist Club!"
"We might as well form an alliance with him first and eliminate the Iron Fist Club...even if we are only left with 100 people, I think we can capture a single person, yeah?"
"What do you think, is this jade chip authentic?"
"Who knows! There is a 99% chance that it is false, but what if it is authentic? Maybe it’s the so-called, ‘when false is taken for true, true becomes false.’ Li Yao is so treacherous. Maybe he has brazenly placed the real jade chip here, and wants us to think that it is false. When we are finished fighting with each other, he will boldly come back and retrieve the jade chip. Wouldn't it be very retarded of us to leave it here?"
"No matter whether it is real or false, let's take the jade chip first and take it to the base to check it; if it's false, we will throw it away, and if it's real, we will keep it!"
Along with the whisperings of Chaos Edge Hall members, the members of the Iron Fist Club knowingly or unknowingly drew close to each other and caressed their spirit tattoos, drawing every strand of their steel-like muscles taut. They each entered a battle state so that they could activate their spirit tattoos at moment's notice.
"Hey, something doesn't feel right, I feel that the opposite party's murderous aura is getting more and more intense!"
"Nonsense, didn't you hear what Li Yao said? If you were a member of Chaos Edge Hall, would you still cooperate with us if you knew you will lose without a doubt?"
"It seems that they are ready to attack us at moment notice. How about we attack first and take the initiative?"
"Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh!"
Numerous gazes turned towards Zhao Tianchong and Lu Tieshan.
Lu Tieshan's complexion looked bleak. A soybean-sized drop of sweat even had oozed out on his forehead as he spoke in a hoarse voice:
"Zhao Tianchong, you can't walk into his trap. This is clearly a trap, I can bet that there is 99% chance that this jade chip being false. Are you going to fight with us over a false jade chip!?"
Zhao Tianchong's eyebrows twitched as he stressed each and every word:
"Of course I know this is Li Yao's scheme. This jade chip is most likely false, but in any case, Li Yao is right: if he targeted our Chaos Edge Hall, we would lose no doubt. Lu Tieshan, tell me, why should we work together?"
Lu Tieshan rolled his eyes in circles as he hastily said:
"How about our Iron Fist Club takes the front line? If someone is going to die, it will be us. Is this good enough to show our sincerity?"
Zhao Tianchong sneered:
"If you are the vanguard, then Li Yao would be captured by you, meaning the jade chip will also be acquired by you. We would still lose, wouldn't we?"
Lu Tieshan was tongue-tied.
He came to realize that this hand of Li Yao’s was quite good. Li Yao was simply unafraid of it being seen through.
It was not a conspiracy, but at the same time, it was!
Zhao Tianchong coldly said:
"Lu Tieshan, I have a suggestion. Let's see if you have the courage to go through with it!
"If you want to work together, we can. However, in order to do so, you have to make up for the losses the Chaos Edge Hall would suffer during the hunt. The Iron Fist Club must choose a hundred people and let us strike them down, eliminating them from the tournament."
"This will balance the overall battle force of both sides. Only then will we continue to cooperate."
"In addition, this jade chip must be kept by me; I will take it to the Chaos Edge Hall's base to check its authenticity."
Lu Tieshan was stupefied:
"Zhao Tianchong, are you kidding? You want a hundred people on my side to 'suicide', and you want us to hand this jade chip over to you? This is absurd! It is impossible!"
While remaining expressionless, Zhao Tianchong stressed each word:
"I know that my request is absurd. However, in all likelihood, Li Yao is hidden somewhere nearby and is ready to perish together with me! If I am finished, the Chaos Edge Hall will lose for sure. Tell me, if you can't satisfy these conditions why should I cooperate with you?
"If you don't agree, then even if I clearly know that it's a scheme, I still have to bear with it and cooperate with Li Yao to eliminate you first!
"This way, at least I will have a better chance of winning!”
Lu Tieshan remained silent. After Zhao Tianchong finished speaking, he too fell silent while grasping the hilt of his sword, waiting for an answer.
The people behind the two discussed in low voices. However, gradually they turned unscrupulously noisy.
Both sides' hostility was getting stronger by the second. The sword cultivators all had grabbed their swords, while the spirit tattoos on body practitioners emitted a strange brilliance. Their murderous aura was like two continuously expanding bubbles which were on the verge of colliding with each other.
"Calm down, for f*ck’s sake, all of you calm down!"
The blue veins on Lu Tieshan's neck stood out. In the blink of an eye, his eyes were completely bloodshot. His throat became hoarse as he spoke:
"Zhao Tianchong, even though your requirements are outrageous, they are not without reason. But give me time to explain them to everyone; it really cannot be done in a short amount of time! Now the most important thing is to restrain our forces. We absolutely cannot have anyone taking any action! Once anyone attacks, everything will turn chaotic!"
Lu Tieshan was someone who acted decisively. Having mused and gnashed his teeth for a moment, Lu Tieshan was actually ready to accept Zhao Tianchong's conditions.
Zhao Tianchong too heaved a sigh of relief as he let go of the hilt and spoke frankly while raising his hands:
"Alright, only you can do it. I will not ask for more; let's work together to find Li Yao and eliminate him. Even if several dozen experts of my Chaos Edge Hall fall, or I am eliminated, I will accept everything and will not make a fuss!”
"Alright, a real man—!"
Lu Tieshan had hardly spoken before sounds of fighting, through the mist around them, came from both far away and nearby.
The two had their complexions change at the same time. Both of them started the communication channel and shouted in strict voices:
"Who the hell attacked?"
"We have not even finished the negotiations here, don't attack, stand down quickly!"
Due to the interference from the mist, "buzz buzz" noises came from the communication channel, mixed in with shouts and sounds of taking attacks. The communication channel was going on and off continuously, no one responded to their shouts.
Only after listening with rapt attention for a while could they make out few words:
"The jade chip is in his hands, ah, quickly grab it back!"
Zhao Tianchong and Lu Tieshan looked at each other:
Wasn't the jade chip in front of them?
The two of them simultaneously thought of one possibility. In the blink of an eye, they felt a chill down to their marrows.
Back at the Institute, tens of thousands of spectators came to know Li Yao's entire plan a few minutes in advance through over a thousand monitoring crystal eyes.
Li Yao had not just placed one jade chip in the jungle, but one hundred.
All hundred jade chips along with one hundred Transmitting Paper Cranes were evenly distributed in conspicuous locations at the center of the jungle.
Once they received even the slightest bit of disturbance, the Transmitting Paper Crane would dance in the air and lay out Li Yao's entire plan without missing anything.
Currently, the contestants from both sides were thrust deep into each other sides. Almost everyone knew of Li Yao's "scheme".
They also understood the dilemma they were facing.
And they knew that the jade chip before them was...
However, what if Li Yao was using this very psychology and passed off the real jade chip as false?
Or maybe they could take it back to the base to check it out, just to be sure. They might as well bet on this 1% chance, they just might acquire the jade chip!
Having thought like this, everyone quietly moved closer to the dubious jade chip.
Afterward, they discovered that not too far away on the opposite side, their old opponent was also eyeing it and was ready to make their move.
In the blink of an eye, Li Yao's words from a moment ago welled up in their mind.
"What if the Chaos Edge Hall's guys are thinking of cooperating with Li Yao and attacks our Iron Fist Club?"
"What if these kids of the Iron Fist Club are afraid of us cooperating with Li Yao and attack us first to take the initiative?"
Each side was thinking like this. Meanwhile, this daggers-drawn situation was getting more and more tense.
Gazes from both sides were ruthlessly clashing in midair, seemingly giving birth to crackling sparks.
Until now, everyone was still exercising patience and didn't take any action.
The nerves of 2,000 people were like 2,000 bowstrings that were stretched to the limit. And all of them were using their last bit of reasoning to restrain their hands.
"They took action!"
From the mist all around them, extremely unexpected voices resounded.
It was another 100 Transmitting Paper Cranes which were all hidden amid the shrubs and grasses and were skillfully imitating the screams.
 假作真时真亦假: A phrase from The Dream of Red Chamber[红楼梦]. The original full verse is 假作真时真亦假,无为有处有还无, meaing—When false is taken for true, true becomes false. If nothing becomes something, something becomes nothing.