Chapter 533 - Council of the Sea God's Pavilion

Chapter 533 - Council of the Sea God's Pavilion

The Pavilion Master said, “The malum soul masters are becoming increasingly audacious with their actions lately. We cannot afford to continue holding back when dealing with them. But it's damn near impossible to track them! We can only reinforce the security of cities and dispatch military forces to keep an eye out. The Federation has also requested our assistance in retaliating against them, and I’ve agreed to lend our strength.

“Our inner court students will participate in the subjugation of the evil soul masters! We will also be working with the Tang Sect to create a network of informants, so we can root out their scheming and have some advance warning. The moment either of us discovers anything, we’ll report it to the other.”

“Understood,” the elders said in a chorus. 

Elder Cai interrupted him before he could continue the discussion, “Pavilion Master, there is a smaller matter to discuss first. The delegation from Star Luo would like us to send a group of our students to an academy on Star Luo in an student exchange program.” She handed him some papers before continuing, “Here, take a look at their proposal.”

The Pavilion Master flipped through the proposal for a couple of seconds. Then he looked up and smiled. “Tell them that this student exchange is acceptable to us. We’ll send the best students from the outer court’s first and second grades. Let’s say… ten students, and Wu Zhangkong will take charge of the group. Our two recent classes have been excellent, especially the latest one. That Tang Wulin is always getting into trouble, so make sure he’s in the exchange group. This is a good opportunity to place him far outside the sight of the malum soul masters.” 

Zhen Hua clenched his teeth when he heard the last part of the Pavillion Master’s plans. He opened his mouth to voice what might have been a protest, but then thought better of it and closed it without saying a word. 

“Pavilion Master,” Zhuo Shi said. “Those kids are still growing. If we let them go now…” 

The Pavilion Master waved dismissively. “The delegation from Star Luo won’t be returning any time soon. While we’re waiting for them, let’s invest extra resources into the students going on the exchange. We’ll help them grow as much as possible! Besides, this is just a simple exchange to foster relations, we don’t have to be that concerned about peacocking. It isn’t necessary to send a group of our senior inner court students out. We just need to send the best of our younger students.” 

Elder Cai nodded. “I agree. The exchange should take place roughly half a year from now, so the students will have that time. I suggest that we begin by creating a shortlist of candidates.”

“Then it’s settled,” declared the Pavilion Master. “Yue’er, please handle the shortlisting and selection of students for the exchange.”

“Understood,” Cai Yue’er answered.

Since the relatively straightforward matter of the student exchange was settled, they returned to the discussion of countermeasures and retaliation against the malum soul masters.

☀ 

Meanwhile, completely oblivious to the machinations being devised behind the curtain, Tang Wulin and Gu Yue reached their classroom. Fortunately for them, today’s class was led by Shen Yi instead of Wu Zhangkong. She was, of course, astonished by how late they were but she let them join the class without interrogating them.

“Oh? Mister Class President finally decided to show up? This late? Did he get too caught up enjoying himself and completely lose track of time?” Xie Xie snickered as he elbowed Tang Wulin. 

Tang Wulin glared at him. “That’s right! I was absolutely enjoying myself! How about this, next time I’ll let you have a taste and you’ll understand exactly how much I was enjoying myself.” He crossed his arms. Let’s see how happy he is after he nearly dies! Tang Wulin was so caught up in his resentment that he was completely unaware of what he had just implied, and invited Xie Xie to participate in, with his sarcastic outburst. Xie Xie gave him a dastardly wink, enjoying the moment. On the other hand, the looks that Xu Xiaoyan, Xu Lizhi, and Ye Xinglan gave him and Gu Yue as his quip sunk in contained hints of awkwardness. Farther away, Wu Siduo also heard their conversation. She stared at Tang Wulin. Then her eyes darted to Gu Yue briefly, and then back to him. She frowned, unknown thoughts swirling in her mind.  

When class ended, Shen Yi called out, “Tang Wulin and Gu Yue, both of you stay behind.” Then she led them to the teachers’ office to speak to them privately. When she opened the door to the office, she found Elder Cai was already there waiting for her.  

“Shen Yi, tell those two to wait outside for a minute. There’s something I need to speak to you about,” Elder Cai said as they entered. Shen Yi nodded at Tang Wulin and Gu Yue, and they stepped out and closed the door behind them.

Once they were alone, Elder Cai briefed Shen Yi on everything that had taken place at the Council of the Sea God’s Pavilion, focusing on the student exchange with Star Luo and the shortlist that she was building. Then Elder Cai left the office. Moments later, Tang Wulin and Gu Yue walked back in.

“Why were the two of you so late? The class President and Vice Presidents are supposed to be role models for everyone else in the class. You showed up to class an hour late! So, tell me why? What happened?” Shen Yi asked, her tone firm but fair. She wasn’t as strict as Wu Zhangkong was, but she couldn’t afford to be lax with them either. With all of the first grade’s shining achievements, the many eyes of the other teachers and students from other grades remained fixed upon them. 

Tang Wulin scratched his head, while his eyes darted around the room. “Uh, we ran into an malum soul master and nearly got killed.” While he wasn’t trying to be glib, he realized from Shen Yi’s shocked expression that this was not sufficient and that he needed to explain. He recounted every detail of their entire trip to Heaven Dou City, the deadly incident, finally culminating to how Zhen Hua had personally escorted them back. 

“I cannot believe that the malum soul masters would have the temerity to do something like this!” Shen Yi exclaimed, her complexion still pale from Tang Wulin’s story. 

“Yeah!” Tang Wulin nodded quickly. “They even tried to assassinate my uncle-master! It's obvious that they’re conspiring to weaken all of us good soul masters!”

“Alright then. I’ll forgive you for being late this time,” Shen Yi said. She crossed her legs and slumped back in her seat, her thoughts consumed with everything she had just learned. “Run along now. You’ve only got a few more days until the competition with the third grade, you’d better be preparing to win.” 

Tang Wulin grinned, “If you put it like that, then we’re definitely going to lose!”

Shen Yi scowled as she realized that Tang Wulin had no understanding of the stakes behind this particular competition.“You better win! If you do, everyone on your team will have all of the materials needed to make their one-word battle armor completely covered by the Academy.” 

“Really?” Tang Wulin asked, eyes shining. The amount of raw metal needed for a single set of battle armor was enormous, and expensive to boot. Then there were the circuit cores to consider, which required special gemstones that served as the conduits for soul power. The circuit cores were essential, battle armor wouldn’t be functional without them, and each set required two. One for the chest plate and one for the helmet. These circuit cores were the most expensive component in battle armor.

“Yes, I just got approval from Elder Cai. She also mentioned that the Star Luo delegation wanted Shrek to send over a group of students as part of an exchange, and she wants the group to be from the lower grades of the outer court. If you show enough strength in this competition, you’ll stand a good chance of being chosen. That means you’ll have extra resources invested into your development.”

“Wow! That sounds great!” Tang Wulin was on the edge of his toes, holding back the urge to jump up in excitement. Shrek Academy had tens of thousands of years to accumulate resources, and he was certain that they would have have a treasure trove fit for an emperor. He had learned that while the Spirit Pagoda had astronomical amounts of money, not everything could be purchased. He was confident that with Shrek Academy investing resources into his team, they would be able to complete their one-word battle armor in no time at all. 

 

Since she had said everything that needed to be said, Shen Yi dismissed Tang Wulin and Gu Yue. 

Once they were outside the teachers’ office, Gu Yue asked, “Where are you going?” 

“I’m going to go to the specialized cultivation rooms. Gotta sharpen the blade before the battle, you know,” Tang Wulin replied. Then he looked right at Gu Yue before continuing, “I don’t think we need to worry about our teamwork. So how about this, we’ll all just think about battle tactics and share our ideas tomorrow or the day after? We’ll see how well we match up against the third grade soon enough. Who knows if we stand a chance or not against them?” 

Gu Yue pursed her lips in thought for a brief second and then said, “Our odds aren’t good, that’s for sure. Our real opponents are one-word battle armor masters, and none of us will be before the competition. We just don’t have enough time to complete a set. Let’s not forget that the battle armor masters produced at our academy are nothing like the ones outside,” Gu Yue said. Their greatest obstacle to victory were the two one-word battle armor masters in the third grade. 

“We’ll just have to do our best then.” Tang Wulin said, shrugging.

☀ 

Time flew by, and it was now the eve of their competition with the third grade. There was a tense atmosphere had settled on the shoulders of the students from the first and second grades during the past few days, and this was especially true in the working students dormitory. 

For two whole days, they exhaustively discussed tactics and countermeasures against the third grade. They had debated endlessly on who would be going up for each of the matches, trying to decide on the best strategy. The duels were each worth a single point, the two-on-two battle earned two points, and the final team battle granted the victorious side five points. On top of this, there were other ways to have points awarded. The team that had the most victories overall would be given three points, and there were two points to be handed out for meritorious conduct. In order to win, they needed to score at least six points. Every single match mattered. 

Unlike the match between the first and second grades, this particular competition had garnered the attention of the entire outer court. It was rare even in Shrek Academy’s long history for a competition to happen between classes with such a large age gap. A difference of six years was the divide between heaven and earth. 

☀ 

Over at the third grade classroom, the students were quite boisterous. 

“Class President, the Academy has gotta be spurring us on with this competition! I can’t believe those kids in the first and second grades think they can challenge us. They’ve ridiculously overestimated their abilities,” said a slender young man. His lips curled up in an arrogant smile as he crossed his legs and glanced at the young man beside him. 

Since they were in the third grade, they were all around eighteen years old. 

The class President of the third grade was a tall man with ruggedly handsome looks, akin to a young Nathan Fillion with almond eyes. Although some would argue that he wasn’t exactly handsome, there was an air of mischievous dignity about him. He sat upright with perfect posture, perfectly still as the pillar of the room or as a captain would on the bridge of the Serenity. Even if the sky fell down or the show was cancelled, he seemed as if he could easily hold it up. 

He was Li Qiankun, the third grade’s class president and one of their two battle armor masters. He was eighteen years old and a rank 52 defense-type. His martial soul was a peculiar one that was known as the Orb of Heaven and Earth, a rare variant tool martial soul. 

“I’ve heard some rumors about the first and second grades. We cannot underestimate them,” Li Qiankun rumbled in his bassy voice. 

The arrogant man beside him sat up. “Boss, there’s no need to worry so much. The strongest ones they got only just reached rank 40. How strong could they be? Let me go up for one of the duels. I reckon the Academy also wanted this competition to serve as motivation for those kids to work harder and make sure they don’t get too arrogant.”

This young man was Ye Wu, an agility-type. His battle armor was 70% done. Currently seventeen years old, he expected to finish his armor by the time he turned twenty and enter the inner court. He was one of the core members of the third grade. 

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