Zhen Hua crossed his arms and frowned. “Our association is a place for exchanges between blacksmiths, so we can, indeed, have a match. However, we should take this elsewhere so we don’t disturb the others.”
“What?” Zhanggong Yan said. “I just wanted to see if the Blacksmith’s Association lived up to its fame. Are you telling me the Divine Blacksmith, Zhen Hua himself, is afraid of losing?”
Disgruntled shouts rang through the crowd. Zhen Hua was a sacred symbol for the Blacksmith’s Association. None of the blacksmiths here could forgive anyone who besmirched his name.
Zhen Hua raised a hand to calm the crowd. “Alright then, sir. How would you like this match to be conducted?”
Zhen Hua had been challenged right in the middle of the lobby of the association’s headquarters. He had no choice but to accept. If he didn’t, the association’s prestige would fall. Whatever the case was, he needed details.
Zhanggong Yan pointed to the girl at his side. “This is my disciple, Lin Yuhan. I want a fair competition between her and your greatest talent under twenty years of age. If you win, we’ll join your association and obey your assignments.”
Zhen Hua smiled, his gaze unwavering. “And if we lose?”
“Nothing,” Zhanggong Yan replied. “The great Zhen Hua acknowledging that he lost is good enough.”
While the proposed conditions seemed fair, and even advantageous, for Zhen Hua, there was actually a trap. Obeying Zhen Hua’s assignments was only a vague condition at best, and Zhen Hua acknowledging a loss was no laughing matter. He was the Divine Blacksmith of this generation, the greatest blacksmith alive, and the President of the Blacksmith’s Association. Him acknowledging a loss, that was the same as the entire association acknowledging a loss!
“No way!” one of the cleverer blacksmiths in the crowd shouted. “That’s not fair at all!”
As soon as others began to echo the sentiment, Zhen Hua shouted, “Everyone calm down!” Once silence blanketed the hall again, Zhen Hua looked back to Zhanggong Yan. “I accept your conditions. However, you don’t have to join my association if you lose. It’s fine if just you continue to have friendly exchanges with our members. All blacksmiths are part of one family. For us, nothing matters but reaching the pinnacle of our craft.”
Zhanggong Yan’s stiffened at Zhen Hua’s lofty words. He stared into the Divine Blacksmith’s eyes, searching for weakness, but all he saw was absolute confidence.
“Prepare two blacksmithing tables!” Zhen Hua ordered the nearby staff members.
“Yes!” they responded, and in a short few minutes, two tables were arranged in the center of the hall.
“President Zhen Hua, which youngster will be your representative?” Zhanggong Yan asked.
Zhen Hua cracked a thin smile. “Come here, Wulin.”
“Yes, Uncle-master!” Tang Wulin walked over to one of the tables. Many in the crowd instantly recognized him. His achievements from his
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