Lan's determination was indeed commendable.
The fully armored young woman not only has determination but also has the courage to fulfill that determination. That cold murderous intent that could make people freeze demonstrated that she had experienced the mountain-of-corpse-and-seof-blood kind of trial, absolutely not just boasting about it. Nowadays, the Gray Mountain has been in decline, leaving she alone. Yet, she was actually able to prop up this Gray Mountain. This meant that her strength was not to be underestimated.
However, even if factoring in the more positive factors, Wang Lu didn't feel that their situation could be a bit better. Among the five families, Gray Mountain was the weakest to the point that it would not be a surprise if it fell at any moment. Yet, Lan herself said that the situation was delicate, so that no one dared to make an arbitrary move, but that was for the other four families! Only Golden City, Eternal Tree, and the other two could check and balance each other out. Meanwhile Gray Mountain, at any time, could be trampled to death. Quite possibly, it was not even qualified to become an equal part of the competition.
Therefore, upon hearing that Lan, in good faith, fully showed her determination to win the crown together with him, Wang Lu very much wanted to ask, based on what? Based on the two population of Gray Mountain that might thrive and flourish into many in the future? Or based on intelligence to do mental arithmetic of fourteenth root of a sixteen digit number?
Confidence alone could not solve any problem. In achievement sense, achieving victory from zero was certainly far superior to any normal situation, but the difficulty of that victory was needless to say. In Wang Lu's view, the biggest and the only chance for this to happen was for the remaining four to be just puppets in the immortal dream land and he was the protagonist in this story. When it came to the protagonist, it was not surprising that there would be a down and out beginning, it was a common trope even.
Of course, in the immortal dream land, to expect that with the protagonist aura, one could defeat everything would be a foolish act. In Wang Lu's view, the key for the protagonist treatment was that the immortal dream land would not deliberately shape a situation where the protagonist would certainly die. The immortal dream land might the pitfall for any person, but not the protagonist. Although the present situation was desperate, in the future, there would be a turning point. Otherwise, if the most powerful player Golden City came down hard on Gray Mountain and crushed it, the game needed not be played in the first place...
However, even so, in this kind of dangerous situation, if one wanted to make a step by step comeback, one had to be doubly careful that even a single step could not go wrong. And at present, the first step that Wang Lu must take was to seize away the leadership authority from Lan.
This was the key to everything, and the biggest difficulty in this game was actually this. Wang Lu was accustomed to lead his team to create a miracle, but he almost never had the experience of being led. Because he had always believed in one point: one incompetent general would exhaust the army to death. He would rather fight alone than be led by an incompetent leader. Lan might not be a stupid, hopeless person, not to mention the inability to find the fourteenth root of a sixteen digit number was not an irredeemable sin, however, with respect to the relatively grim situation of this game, Lan did not have the ability to lead her team to victory.
"Lan, if you really want to win, then I want you to accept my one condition."
Lan nodded. "Please speak up."
"Abandon your identity as the master and become my follower, and be at ease in following my order."
"In your dreams!" Lan did not hesitate to reject Wang Lu's proposal on the spot, and moreover, an unpleasant expression appeared on her face.
Wang Lu was not at all surprised by her reaction. What kind of leader would willingly discard their own authority? And regarding the unpleasant look on Lan, Wang Lu just sneered and asked, "Do you think based on your ability you have the chance to win the five blood spirit crown? Right now, your only hope is me. Whether it's by force or by intelligence, I have far dominant qualifications than you."
Lan was silent for a moment and then said, "Yes, perhaps your intelligence and strength is above me, but I can't possibly hand over my authority just because of that. Given your previous actions, I can't completely trust you. Who knows if you'll immediately surrender to another force? So, if you think your ability is higher than me, if you have any good strategy, you can share it with me, then I will seriously consider to implement it."
Wang Lu interrupted, "Yes, this is indeed a sound approach, but do you think you are qualified to choose the safe path? Right now, in the battle for hegemony between the five parties, Gray Mountain is already at the absolute disadvantage. In this case, only by a desperate gamble can we grasp a sliver of opportunity. A safe path? That is the sole privilege of Golden City!"
Lan deeply furrowed her brows, not saying a word.
"At present, in Gray Mountain side, there are only you and me, two people. Do you want to have internal friction in such a case? Interesting, now I understand why Gray Mountain could fall to this point from previously being on par with Golden City."
The young woman still maintained her silence and only keeping a close eye on Wang Lu. Until much later did she finally open her lips, "Very well, we'll do as you said. From now on, we no longer have a master and follower relationship, and I will earnestly obey your instruction, as long as it helps us win the five blood spirit crown."
The young woman's decisiveness was beyond what Wang Lu expected. He thought that he had to spend some effort to convince Lan to give up her authority, but unexpectedly, when she made a decision, it was without any hesitation.
And as she declared the termination of the master-follower relationship, a red light flashed once again from the back of her right hand only to quickly disperse. At the same time, Wang Lu felt that the invisible binding around him had also disappeared.
The young woman did things in earnest, without any delay. Wang Lu was quite appreciative of this. He at least didn't have to worry that when he needed her, she would hesitate for various reasons and thus waste the opportunity. Moreover, this kind of decisive person, once they had made their decision, would not easily change. Wang Lu would not have to spend his mind on the infighting, and instead he could truly have a free hand in dealing with the enemy.
Thus, Wang Lu was at a loss for words because he originally thought he had to take much effort to accomplish this. However, thinking about the red light that flashed several times from the back of the woman's hand, without knowing why, he had an unknown foreboding.
"So, what was that on the back of your hand?"
Lan earnestly explained, "It's the blood mark used to carry out the blood sacrifice summoning ritual, which can summon the blood spirit to come or when necessary can exercise a higher degree of control.
"... Wait a minute, what do you mean by when necessary can exercise a higher degree of control?"
"For a higher degree of control," Lan explained, "every summoner obtains a varied quantity of blood marks. The function of blood mark is to exercise enforcement control of the blood spirit. And this control power, if played properly, can play the intensifying function. For example, I can use a blood mark to compel you to follow my instructions, or use it to command you to do something that you normally can't do."
Wang Lu immediately understood the role of the blood mark, but after he understood, he became shocked instead.
"This is clearly a treasure to be used in a critical moment to make a comeback, yet you previously wasted two of them consecutively to suppress me?"
Lan's facial expression was calm and serene, even righteous. "As you said, in the case of us two persons, we can't have any internal friction, and an uncontrolled follower is unacceptable."
"... So, in order to reduce the internal friction, you spent two precious blood marks? What's the difference between you and when an organization that holds power establish office but cut back the excess personnel? No wonder you're reduced to a sole commander… How many blood marks do you have on?"
Lan said, "After blood sacrificing the last dozens of soldiers in Gray Mountain, I managed to get five blood marks. Two of which I used to suppress you when you tried to rebel…"
"So there are three more left?"
"No, in order to completely terminate the master-follower relationship, I have dispersed the other three."
Wang Lu could not believe his ears. With eyes wide opened, he sized the young woman up and down, trying to find if there was any evidence of mental retardation.
"Yes." Lan confidently stared back at him. "Did you not advise me to abandon my status as the master and just follow your instructions? I have weighed it and decided to trust you. Do you want to blame me for this instead?"
Wang Lu was silent for a long time. In his heart, it took a lot of time for him to convince himself not to care about mental retardation in a person too much. In any case, the situation was already dire enough, so adding a louse would not bite him too much. He already had more debt to worry about so he didn't care about the loss of a few blood marks.
"Then, what are we going to do next, Earth Spirit?"
"Earth Spirit… That's actually a good name." Wang Lu shook his head and then said, "First of all, we have to leave this place as soon as possible. Although there are still many doubts about this five blood spirit crown showdown, but inferring from common sense, I'm afraid that someone will soon come knocking at our door. But right now, we are not fit to immediately fight against the other four."
Lan asked, "Knocking at our door?"
"Naturally. Golden City, Eternal Tree, Harmony River, and Flaming Valley can keep each other in check, but it's different for the Gray Mountain. In view of the huge strength disparity, we are simply a tasty dessert that is too good to miss. As long as one of them can swallow me, this earth spirit, before the other three, they would occupy a lot of initiative in the next confrontation. If they were me, I am also going to target the earth spirit first."
Lan thought for a moment, nodded her understanding, and then asked, "So where are we going?"
In her tone of voice, she seemed to have no nostalgic emotion towards Gray Mountain.
"For the duration of the blood crown showdown, we shouldn't be able to sense each other's location right?"
Lan said, "At least I don't."
"Then good, I don't either, so let's assume that the others don't either… For us, two-person group, our lack in number is also an advantage. Because it allows us to hide easily. And as long as we stay hidden, it would be impossible for the other four fully complete the competition. And when they fight, we will have the opportunity to take benefit from others' dispute."
Lan nodded her head, indicating her approval.
However, at the same time, there came a strange and slightly frivolous sound from outside the hall.
"Benefit from others' dispute? That's not good, right?"
At the entrance of the hall, a tall figure, carrying a huge spear, slowly walked in. Although the step was lithe, that person's murderous intention seemed to form into essence, which extinguished the torch in the hall one by one.