When Wang Dong woke up, the sun had already risen. Although he had gone to sleep late the previous night, he still slept very soundly.
He had spent many of his nights cultivating. He felt much more relaxed after sleeping through the night instead.
He wanted to laze in bed for the rest of the day! However, what time was it already?
His initial comfort turned to a flurry of emotions, jerking him up from his sprawling position.
He was the only one on the bed. The other side of the bed was empty, except for a sheet of paper.
Wang Dong snatchedup the paper. There was only a single line of words on it: I’ve left. Don’t cry. Wait for me to return.
“That rascal.” Wang Dong jumped off from his bed and donned his outerwear. Before he even finished buttoning up, he had already opened his window and leapt out. A pair of bluish wings flapped open behind his back, flashing with a golden-yellow radiance as the sun shone on them.
He flapped his wings forcefully and flew rapidly towards the main gate of the academy.
Huo Yuhao was very calm, and even wore a smile on his face. He had yet to obtain his fourth soul ring, but he could already use a flying-type soul tool with his Rank 40 soul power.
Wang Dong was sleeping very soundly at dawn, so Yuhao didn’t wake him up. He was afraid of saying goodbye. Wasn’t it good just like this? He had already bid his goodbyes the night before.
The other four members of Shrek’s Seven Monsters sent him and He Caitou off. They were perplexed as to why Wang Dong didn’t come. Huo Yuhao only laughed and joked that Wang Dong was crying in his dorm room.
Huo Yuhao turned and looked back in the direction of Shrek Academy. Huo Yuhao said in his heart, Shrek, Wang Dong, I’m leaving. Don’t worry, I still remember that I owe you two things.
He had come to Shrek Academy at the age of eleven, and now he was already fourteen years old. His entire personality had transformed completely in these three years. Huo Yuhao was overwhelmed as he recalled his three years in the academy. What would the next two and a half years be like?
What would he be like two and a half years from now, when he returned from the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy?
Everything was unknown.
Even if Elder Mu didn’t insist on sending him to the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy then, he would have fought for this chance. Huo Yuhao became more and more interested in soul tools the more he learned about them. Furthermore, he could sense the difference between Shrek Academy and the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy in terms of soul tools. He was certain that the Judgement Sword that had caused Ma Xiaotao’s martial soul to transform was something that Shrek Academy’s teachers couldn’t create even if they worked together.
The difference wasn’t just in terms of valuable resources. More importantly, it was in terms of the concepts behind soul tools, and the amount of accumulated research.
Huo Yuhao and He Caitou chose two different paths even though they were both learning to create soul tools. Huo Yuhao was more focused on close-combat soul tools, and soul tools controlled by one’s body. On the other hand, He Caitou was more into stationary soul tools, and especially stationary soul tool cannons. The stationary soul tool cannons that they had purchased from the Starlight Auction House had many uses.
Elder Mu once mentioned that he had snuck into the Sun Moon Empire for reconnaissance purposes before. Within the next thousand years, stationary soul tool cannons were bound to become the strongest soul tools. That was because stationary soul tool cannons could fuse in more core formations regardless of their size, and use better materials without any restrictions.
When He Caitou realized that his talent in soul tools was incomparable to Huo Yuhao’s, he decisively made a choice to focus on specific areas. Huo Yuhao also gave up learning about the creation of stationary soul tools after He Caitou made his choice. Both of them had their own targets to meet.
Over the past one and a half years, Huo Yuhao and He Caitou had made some progress in the Ultimate Soldier Plan. This progress wasn’t just in terms of their cultivation, but also their knowledge of different aspects. Of course, they needed more time to digest the knowledge they had as they learned more. According to Shrek Academy’s Soul Tool Department’s plan, these two and a half years would be the time for them to assimilate all their knowledge.
Yan Shaozhe was the one leading the group from Shrek Academy this time. Besides He Caitou and Fan Yu, there were eight other outstanding talents from Shrek Academy’s Soul Tool Department’s inner courtyard that were coming on this trip.
Although the Soul Tool Department’s inner courtyard disciples couldn’t compare to the Martial Soul Department’s inner courtyard disciples, they were still outstanding, having been nurtured by the Soul Tool Department. Furthermore, the students from Shrek Academy’s Soul Tool Department were originally from the Martial Soul Department. Their ability to get into Shrek Academy already proved that they weren’t ordinary.
The Soul Tool Department inner courtyard disciples that were chosen this time were at least soul kings, and were at least Class 5 soul engineers. They would be pretty outstanding even in the Sun Moon Empire. Of course, Class 5 soul engineers from Shrek Academy couldn’t compare to Class 5 soul engineers from the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy.
Huo Yuhao and He Caitou flew at the back of the group. There was a Class 6 soul engineer badge on He Caitou’s chest.
Soul engineer badges differed according to class. They all adopted the shape of a star anise, but the badges were blue for Class 1 to Class 3 soul engineers, which were differentiated using diamond-carved stars. The badges were purple for Class 4 to Class 6 soul engineers, black for Class 7 and 8 soul engineers, and red for Class 9 soul engineers. As there had never been a Class 10 soul engineer before, a Class 10 soul engineer badge didn’t exist.
Huo Yuhao’s badge was blue, and had three diamond-carved stars on it. He Caitou’s badge was purple, and had six diamond-carved stars on it. This represented a huge gap between them.
Only He Caitou was aware that Huo Yuhao wasn’t inferior to him, apart from creating stationary soul tools. It was just that Huo Yuhao’s soul power was lacking. In addition, He Caitou even carried a few soul tools created by Huo Yuhao.
He Caitou had managed to reach Rank 50 just a month ago. He had obtained his fifth soul ring and become a soul king. As such, his Class 6 soul engineer title wasn’t just for show.
It was also fitting for Huo Yuhao to wear a Class 3 soul engineer badge, since he had three soul rings. After all, a soul engineer’s soul power rank and soul engineer class had a direct connection, even though it was possible to perform beyond one’s class.
Shrek Academy was situated at the southeast region of the Heavenly Soul Empire, while Maple Leaf City was at the southwest region of the Heavenly Soul Empire. The Sun Moon Empire could be reached by moving west to the border of the western territories. The flying distance was about twice the distance between Shrek City and Star Luo City.
The students had to rest every two hours due to their limited soul power. Yan Shaozhe didn’t carry the rest like Elder Xuan had. They only arrived at their destination late in the afternoon.
Maple Leaf City was on the western side of the Star Luo Empire, near to its very active border with the Sun Moon Empire. Maple Leaf City handled a lot of the military logistics of the Heavenly Soul Empire. At the same time, it was an important trading and commercial city at the border. Even though it wasn’t as prosperous as Shrek City, it wasn’t inferior in terms of size.
After entering the city, Yan Shaozhe brought the students to find a hotel to stay in. He instructed them to rest well.
The eight students from the inner courtyard knew one another very well. He Caitou and Huo Yuhao were younger, and the academy also kept news of them a secret after they entered the Ultimate Soldier Plan, so the inner courtyard seniors didn’t know much about them. However, He Caitou’s Class 6 badge caught their attention. He Caitou hadn’t entered the inner courtyard yet, and he was only seventeen years old.
There was another Class 6 soul engineer among the inner courtyard disciples apart from He Caitou. He was also the leader of the eight students. Yan Shaozhe announced a break, and this Class 6 soul engineer senior started to gesture for Huo Yuhao and He Caitou to join him.
The two of them looked at each other before stepping forward together.
“Senior, what instructions do you have for us?” The two of them greeted this Class 6 soul engineer respectfully.
This senior looked pleased with the both of them. He wore a smile on his face and said, “The two of you don’t have to be so formal. We’re all from the same academy. It’s just that I’ve never seen either of you in the inner courtyard before. It seems like both of you are very talented, since you’re both here in this exchange. Caitou, you’re Teacher Fan Yu’s disciple, if I’m not wrong. Oh yes, my name is Ye Xiaosheng. You can call me Brother Sheng.”
“Brother Sheng.” Huo Yuhao and He Caitou said respectfully.
Ye Xiaosheng nodded his head in satisfaction and said, “A snake cannot crawl without its head. We’re all from Shrek, and this is a valuable opportunity. We have an important mission to carry out, too. If there’s anything either of you need, you can come and find me.”
He Caitou smiled and replied, “Thanks, Brother Sheng. You can also instruct us if there’s anything that you want us to do.”
Ye Xiaosheng was originally worried that He Caitou would snatch away his leadership role. He was much more relieved after this brief conversation. But he wouldn’t make it difficult for He Caitou, either. After all, He Caitou was a Class 6 soul engineer too, and was also Fan Yu’s inheriting disciple. He was fine as long as He Caitou didn’t affect his leadership role.
“I don’t think I’m in a position to instruct the both of you. Brother He, you don’t have to stand on ceremony. The two of you should also rest after this long journey.” After he finished speaking, Ye Xiaosheng waved goodbye before leaving.
He Caitou and Huo Yuhao stared at each other for a moment before smiling. After that, they returned to their rooms.
Shrek Academy’s students quickly finished packing on the second morning, and followed Yan Shaozhe and Fan Yu to Maple Leaf City’s central plaza.
Huo Yuhao immediately recognized both Meng Hongchen and Xiao Hongchen, who were familiar foes. They were both seventeen years old now, and didn’t look much different from adults. They were standing at the forefront of the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy’s group. What stunned Huo Yuhao was that Jing Hongchen had come personally. The teacher that was leading them was Teacher Ma, the same teacher he’d seen during the tournament. Teacher Ma was also Ma Rulong’s biological grandfather, and the chief of the Illustrious Virtue Hall.
The Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy was determined this time. Not only did the Hongchen siblings come, but Huo Yuhao also spotted three of the preparatory team members from the tournament. Jing Hongchen appeared quite relieved.
Both parties met at Maple Leaf City’s central plaza. The Hongchen siblings quickly located Huo Yuhao, who stood at the back of the group. When Xiao Hongchen saw Huo Yuhao’s Class 3 badge on his chest, he instinctively pursed his lips and shot Huo Yuhao a provocative look.
The Hongchen siblings were still very indignant about having lost to Huo Yuhao and Wang Dong in the most critical battle during the tournament. They believed that it wasn’t because of cultivation, but rather because their understanding of Huo Yuhao and Wang Dong was insufficient. In addition, Xiao Hongchen had been gravely injured back then.
Xiao Hongchen didn’t regard Huo Yuhao as being on the same level as him, even though he had lost the tournament. His targets were soul emperors like Ma Xiaotao and Dai Yueheng.
Jing Hongchen said to Yan Shaozhe, “Greetings, Dan Yuan. I didn't expect that you’d be here personally today. It seems like your academy is treating this exchange quite seriously.”
What kind of person was Yan Shaozhe? He was as calculating as Jing Hongchen. He wore a smile and replied, “Hallmaster Hongchen, aren’t you personally here too? Apologies for not hosting you well when you came to Shrek Academy as a guest the other time.”
Yan Shaozhe disliked Jing Hongchen. Although he didn’t have proof, it was likely that Jing Hongchen was behind Ma Xiaotao’s disappearance from Shrek.
Jing Hongchen’s facial muscles cramped a little. His experience at the Sea God’s Pavilion was too memorable. A Class 9 soul tool! He had lost such a soul tool to Shrek Academy; even the automatic Class 9 soul tools he’d brought had been confiscated by Shrek Academy. He’d suffered great losses! Yan Shaozhe was obviously adding salt to his wounds.
“I heard that Elder Mu has passed on. My condolences! It’s a pity that it was our last time meeting then. He was the strongest and most deserving of respect among all the Titled Douluo that I’ve ever seen.”
Yan Shaozhe received those words coldly. Elder Mu’s death had been a huge blow to him. He replied, “Hallmaster Hongchen, let’s cut the unimportant words. Since we already agreed to this earlier, let’s exchange our students now. I’m representing Shrek Academy’s Martial Soul Department in welcoming your students for this exchange.”
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