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Chapter 276.2: Child Bride...

    Zhang Lexuan stared at her, amused, and said, "You're not? I've been there and done that, and I'm all too familiar with how you are right now. You're just like me all those years ago. Ever since you returned with Huo Yuhao, I haven't seen a smile appear on your face. You're always daydreaming when you're not pushing everyone during training. It must be because of Huo Yuhao, am I right?"

    Wang Qiu'er froze a little, but remained silent. She didn't attempt to argue the point.

    Zhang Lexuan said plainly, "Do you think you stand a chance?"

    Wang Qiu'er still said nothing, but unwittingly clenched her fists.

    "You have no chance, eh? I didn't expect you to be so much like me. Heh!" Zhang Lexuan laughed. She seemed to be laughing happily, but tears appeared deep within her beautiful eyes.

    "Like you?" Wang Qiu'er stared at her with a doubtful look.

    Zhang Lexuan smiled and said, "That's right! That's because we both love someone that we can't possibly be together with. Perhaps you still have some hope, as you are quite a match for him, after all. But me... heh." She finished the wine in her glass one gulp and began to walk back into the villa.

    Wang Qiu'er watched her subtly trembling and dejected figure and began to follow her subconsciously.

    Zhang Lexuan suddenly paused in her tracks. Her back was still facing Wang Qiu'er as she asked, "Tell me, Qiu'er, do women have to rely on men for life?"

    Wang Qiu'er answered without hesitation, "Of course not!"

    Zhang Lexuan turned around, and her eyes became as sharp as ever. "Then you have to show him that you are stronger than he is. Even if you can't obtain his love, you can't let him see how fragile you are, and you can't let him see your weak side. This is the last dignity that we can have."

    Wang Qiu'er focused, and could see Zhang Lexuan's stubbornness, and even a little craziness in the middle of everything. She nodded her head forcefully and replied, "Yes!"

    ------

    The competition's rules were finally announced the following day, and every participating team received some instructions from the organization committee.

    Huo Yuhao couldn't help but frown when he received the instructions. The rules were indeed different, just like Elder Xuan had said.

    According to the competition's rules, the entire competition would be split into a preliminary segment and a final segment. Teams representing sects and academies would be competing in the same pools.

    The preliminary segment would consist of elimination rounds, but these elimination rounds seemed a little different. The arena was designated in a spot outside Radiant City, and not right in the city center like they were originally supposed to be. There was a clause that caught Huo Yuhao's attention. Both the preliminary rounds and the final rounds placed a limit on the arena's diameter, but a maximum height wasn't specified.

    This was a very simple instruction sheet, but Huo Yuhao began to feel a lot more alarmed than before. What did not setting a maximum height imply? Could there be Soul Sages among the participating students? That was quite impossible, as becoming a Soul Emperor was the limit for people at twenty years of age. This also meant that the lack of a maximum height meant nothing at all to soul masters, as most of them couldn't fly, except for some soul masters that possessed martial souls that could. However, this would be drastically different when soul engineers came into the picture.

    Even four-ringed Soul Ancestors soul engineers could soar through the skies as long as they had flying-type soul tools, and they could launch attacks on the ground from the sky. There was no doubt that this clause was extremely beneficial for soul engineers.

    The Douluo Continent was divided into four nations: the Sun Moon Empire, the Star Luo Empire, the Heavenly Soul Empire, and the Dou Ling Empire. The only nation that possessed masses of soul engineers was the Sun Moon Empire, and this competition rule practically meant they were being openly biased. The Sun Moon Empire was being excessively dominant.

    Of course, the Sun Moon Empire didn't dare to be too outrageous. There were other changes to how the elimination rounds' results would be calculated. Among them, the points would be allocated according to the number of people left in the team. That implied that if one party could defeat all seven members from another party with just one of their own in the single elimination match, then they would be allocated seven points, as their party would have seven people left, and they wouldn't even have to go through the group battle afterward. The reason was because the group battle only gave five points, and there was no way the other party could turn the tables around. Of course, it was nigh impossible for one person to defeat seven opponents in a row in a competition like this.

    Therefore, if the team that emerged victorious during the single elimination matches didn't obtain more than five points, they would have to go through the group battle, and the other side would have a chance to turn it around. Of course, minor scores were also important, and every round's accumulated points would be recorded. These minor scores would be decisive if a unique and unforeseen circumstance cropped up.

    For example, if there were one hundred and sixty-seven teams participating in the competition, and there were only twenty teams who made it through the single elimination rounds during the round of thirty-two, the remaining teams that were needed to fill the slots would be chosen with their minor scores, and these accumulated scores would become even more important once they entered the round robins. The teams would be ranked according to their accumulated points during the group stage. The quarter-finals would revert to an elimination format, while these minor scores would determine the loser's rankings.

    This change in how the points were calculated was a good thing, and it made the entire competition system more complete and organized.

    The change in competition rules would definitely change how the competition would unfurl. Knocking sounds could be heard just as Huo Yuhao closed his eyes to ponder.

    Boom, boom, boom! The hurried and forceful knocking clearly announced how frustrated and anxious the arriving party was.

    Wang Dong'er was still washing clothes for Huo Yuhao in the bathroom, and she hurriedly came forward and asked, "Who's there?"

    "It's me, Jiujiu!" the Star Luo Empire's princess, Xu Jiujiu, could be heard from outside.

    Wang Dong'er turned around and glanced at Huo Yuhao. Their gazes met, and their eyes flowed with faint amusement. The princess hadn't taken too long to give them a response, in the end!

    Wang Dong'er opened the door and invited Princess Jiujiu inside.

    Xu Jiujiu was wearing a flowing pale-gold dress today, and had tied her hair into a bun that brought out her noble and graceful qualities. However, her face seemed a little flushed. Even though she was trying her best to hold it down, there was no way she could hide the dash of excitement in her eyes.

    The red-dressed old woman followed closely behind Xu Jiujiu. Huo Yuhao had sought out Zhang Lexuan to find out more about this old woman. It turned out that she had made a name for herself a long time ago, and people only knew that she was called Yi Man, but nobody knew her surname. Her martial soul was the Cloud Fan, and she was also the Titled Douluo Starcloud! According to Zhang Lexuan's information, the Starcloud Douluo hadn't reached Rank 95, so she wasn't a Transcendent Douluo yet. Rank 95 wasn't that easy to breach, and going beyond Rank 95 was a level that was far superior to the one that normal Titled Douluo reached.

    "Greetings, princess. Please, have a seat." Huo Yuhao was sitting on his wheelchair, and he tilted his head towards Xu Jiujiu courteously.

    Xu Jiujiu knew that she had to be as calm as she could be in a time like this, but there was no way she could calm herself down, no matter how hard she tried. The Starcloud Douluo had returned in the morning, and Xu Jiujiu thought she might go crazy when the field-test results were reported to her. What she was feeling inside could no longer be described as astonishment, and she eagerly headed to Huo Yuhao's room immediately afterwards.

    Xu Jiujiu took a deep breath and forcefully suppressed the emotions that were roiling in her heart, and she looked at the youth before her that could only move one arm.

    Huo Yuhao was all smiles, and he seemed as harmless as ever, as if he had no idea what the princess was doing here.

    "Huo Yuhao, I'm sure you know why I'm here." Princess Jiujiu had seen and experienced many different situations after all, and she ultimately managed to force her emotions back even though she was stirred up inside.

    Huo Yuhao nodded, and he swiftly withdrew the smile on his face. He said angrily, "You must be here because of the competition's new rules. The Sun Moon Empire is too outrageous, they didn't set a height limit for the competition! This is a rule that's almost specially created to benefit the Sun Moon Empire's soul engineers!"

    Xu Jiujiu was slightly taken aback. "What did you say?"

    Huo Yuhao handed the instructions in his hands to her. Even though Xu Jiujiu was thinking about something else, the big competition was still extremely important, and she still had to pay attention to it.

    Xu Jiujiu briefly scanned the instructions and immediately understood what Huo Yuhao was trying to say. Her eyebrows locked together as she said, "What do you think we should do?"

    Composure took over the indignant look on Huo Yuhao's face. "We should collectively protest against it."

    Xu Jiujiu grunted and said, "And you think that will work?"

    Huo Yuhao smiled and said, "We still have to try. At least, we have to give them some pressure, so that they won't add anything else afterwards."

    Xu Jiujiu tiled her head and said, "We'll discuss this later. We've experimented and field-tested your Zhuge Divine Crossbow Cannon and the Milk Bottle that you've given us."

    Huo Yuhao's expression remained unchanged. "How did it go?"

    Xu Jiujiu stared at the casual smile on his face... she really wanted to pinch him as hard as she could! She muttered coldly, "Are you very proud?"

    Huo Yuhao reacted in shock. "Am I?"

    "Then what are you smiling about?" Xu Jiujiu answered angrily.

    Huo Yuhao didn't know whether to laugh or to cry. "Isn't smiling a form of respect for you, princess? If you're not willing to see my smile, then I won't." He withdrew his smile as he spoke, and he put on an upright and solemn look and posture.

    "......" Xu Jiujiu looked on as this guy in front of her put on a serious and professional look, and she didn't know whether to laugh or cry. The awkward indignation in her heart dissipated a little.

    "We've experimented with and field-tested your Zhuge Divine Crossbow Cannon, and that sealed Milk Bottles of yours. They're very good. Do you think you can give us a discount if we purchase them in bulk?" Princess Jiujiu regained her composure in an instant, and she leaned back on the sofa gracefully as she spoke.

    Huo Yuhao shook his head and said, "I'm afraid that's not possible."

    "Not possible? Do you know how many of these we're going to purchase?" Princess Jiujiu sounded a little more high-pitched than before.

    Huo Yuhao shook his head and said, "I don't know how many you wish to purchase, but I imagine it must be quite an amount. All I know is how much the Tang Sect can produce. As of now, our soul tool manufacturing department is undergoing a second expansion, and much of our labor has gone toward that endeavor. Therefore, we are very limited in the amount that we can currently produce. Furthermore, even though I feel a little embarrassed to say this, I have another piece of news for you - I've just received news from the Tang Sect that the price of our products might be inflated by about thirty percent due to resource scarcity and a lack of materials. Please forgive me, princess."
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