Volume 18, Chapter 162.1: The Mysterious Ju Zi

“Wow, it’s so tasty.” Unlike Ju Zi, who ate the meat in a daze, Ke Ke could not help but leap up the moment she tasted the meat. She was extremely excited.

This taste… Ju Zi appeared lost, but she felt an indescribable emotion in her heart. Tears flowed down her cheeks, and she looked at Huo Yuhao in a completely different light.

Huo Yuhao’s attention was completely devoted to the meat. He wanted to maximize his control over the fire, and he even used his Spiritual Detection to help him with that. As he grilled every single piece of meat to perfection, and then delivered them into the hands of the two girls, he himself began to eat too. It tasted good, and he couldn’t help but sigh in admiration. Most importantly, he had been lucky today, as he had caught a deer that was perfect for grilling. If not, no matter how skilled he was, he could not have made a meal as tasty as this.

The deer, which had weighed about five kilos, had about two to two-and-a-half kilos’ worth of good meat. In less than an hour, it was in their stomachs. The tasty juice from the meat made them content in a way that words could not express.

“Is there anything else you want to eat?” Huo Yuhao asked the two girls as he ate the last piece of meat.

Ke Ke patted her slightly bulging belly and said, “It’s so tasty, it really is. It tastes awesome, but I can’t eat anymore. Eh, Sister Ju Zi, why are you crying? Why are your eyes red?”

Huo Yuhao, who had devoted all his attention to cooking, and Ke Ke, who had devoted all her attention to eating, realized that Ju Zi was not in a normal state. Her eyes were puffy and red. Carefully, she inserted the last piece of meat Huo Yuhao gave her into her mouth and chewed softly.

She did not reply to Ke Ke, but instead mumbled to herself, “This taste, it’s really this taste. I thought I would never taste it again.”

Ke Ke saw her slightly unstable state of mind and rushed to her side. She grabbed her arm and asked worriedly, “Sister Ju Zi, are you alright?”

Ju Zi gently lowered the bowl in her hands and nodded. She looked at Huo Yuhao, and her warm voice croaked as she said, “Thank you, Yuhao, for letting me taste my father’s cooking again.”

Huo Yuhao did not expect Ju Zi to say something like this. A look of shock crossed his face as he said, “Fa…father?”

Ju Zi nodded. Her eyes were blurry and she appeared to be in her own world as she said softly, “Father was the best cook. I was born in a small border town of the empire. Mother was the prettiest woman in the entire town, and father opened a small restaurant that did very well. Father said that his greatest joy in life was to cook for mother. Your food tasted like my father’s. While I haven’t tasted it in a decade, I will never forget it.”

“A decade?” Huo Yuhao looked at Ju Zi. Her eyes were so warm and sweet. They also brimmed with longing and admiration for her father. This look shocked him greatly. In his memory, he never had a father.

Grief now filled Ju Zi’s eyes. Huge teardrops started to roll as she continued, “War, war ruined my family. Father was forcibly conscripted, and he perished in the war against the Star Luo Empire. Mother was grief-stricken and fell deathly ill. Three years later, she passed on too. Hence, like you, I am an orphan, too.”

An indescribable feeling engulfed Huo Yuhao. Faced with this girl, who shared the same fate as him, he had a sudden desire to embrace her. She had lost her father and mother, and was an orphan just like him. No wonder she treated him differently after she found that he was an orphan, too.

However, he did not know how to comfort Ju Zi. His heart was filled with an intense sorrow. He thought about his mother, who had raised him with much difficulty, and his father, whom he hated. At this moment, he was wracked by emotions too.

Ke Ke stood up and spoke in a loud voice, with her hands on her hips, “What are you guys doing? Don’t be sad. All those things are in the past. The more you think about it, the sadder you will be. Look ahead, and don’t wallow in your grief. There are many nicer things waiting for us, no?”

Looking at her, the heavy atmosphere suddenly changed.

Huo Yuhao and Ju Zi were both stunned. Then, they couldn’t help but burst out laughing.

Ke Ke was confused as she said, “Am I that funny? Sister Ju Zi, don’t you find it embarrassing to be crying and laughing at the same time?”

Ju Zi stood up and tugged her elbow. She said, “It’s not early, let’s rest. We need to be well-rested should we wish to enter the mountains tomorrow.”

As she said that, she pulled Ke Ke toward her tent.

After a few steps, she suddenly stopped and turned around to look at Huo Yuhao. She said, “In the future, you will be responsible for our meals.” With that, she flashed him a smile. When he saw that smile, he felt that the tension between them had been reduced. The distance they kept from each other in school was gone.

Her smile is beautiful indeed, Huo Yuhao thought. However, another figure filled his heart. He couldn’t help but to mumble to himself, Raiment of light, raiment of light, Wang Dong, that’s truly…

It was a quiet night.

---

In the morning, when Ju Zi and Ke Ke woke up, Huo Yuhao had already made breakfast. Because of his dawn training, he would wake earlier than everyone else. Everyone present was a soul master, and they all felt rejuvenated after a good night’s rest.

Ju Zi was especially chirpy. Her smooth face had a tint of pink, making the desire to nibble on her almost irresistible. She was like a sweet and juicy peach.

Huo Yuhao made a simple breakfast. Soup, roasted buns, and some simple meat. He had brought all the ingredients himself. However, despite their simplicity, Ju Zi’s heart raced with every bite. She did not say it, but she had dreamt about her father last night. It was almost as if her father had coaxed her to sleep. While she did not train beforehand, it was one of the best nights of sleep she had ever had.

Even Ke Ke felt that something was amiss about Ju Zi. Over breakfast, she stole eight glances at Huo Yuhao. Every time she looked at him, her gaze would become warmer. It was as if she had found her soulmate.

Huo Yuhao noticed this, too. Unlike Ke Ke, he felt that Ju Zi now viewed him as her father. He felt as if he was lying on a bed of nails. Ju Zi was older than him by at least four or five years!

After breakfast, they continued their journey. This time, they did not proceed with flying-type soul tools. The skies above where soul beasts congregated were off-limits. Unless someone had a death wish, or was immensely confident in his or her abilities, no one would attempt to fly.

At this time, Huo Yuhao finally saw the soul tool they planned to experiment with.

It was an extremely odd-looking item. It was shaped like a ball with a diameter of two meters. Inside, there were three seats, one in front and two behind. The ball was sealed shut, but it had windows made of crystal on its front, back and two sides, which one could look out.

At the bottom of the ball, there were six metallic legs. Every leg was split into three segments. The last segments were extremely sharp, and could easily be stuck into the ground. The second segment raised the contraption up, and the first segment connected the leg to the ball. It looked very weird.

“What is this?” Huo Yuhao asked in surprise. It was his first time seeing something like this.

Ju Zi said, “Teacher Xuan named it the all-terrain exploration soul tool . You see its six legs? We can sit inside the ball, and with its formation arrays, we can control it. The ball is formed from high-density metals, and can resist attacks from Grade 6 soul masters and below. At the same time, the ball can let us release our protective soul tools. Right now, its protective gear is Grade 5. Both Ke Ke and I can control it.

“Furthermore, it can seal off our life energy. As long as we sit inside, we need not fear soul beasts sensing our energy. It can adapt to different scenarios. For example, if we encounter danger on a mountain, it can retract its legs and release a thick layer of rubber, rolling down while protecting us. The ball is sealed, but if necessary, there won’t be an issue if it falls into water. The all-terrain exploration soul tool emphasizes life energy. Hence, its armor is very thick, but it drains soul power quickly, too. With my cultivation, I can control it for an hour before I need to meditate to regain my soul power. However, if the three of us take turns controlling it, it can last much longer.”

Huo Yuhao was stunned. This was the first time he had seen a soul tool a human could fit inside. While it was only an exploratory tool, what if soul cannons were added to it? That wouldn’t be too hard.

Ju Zi’s explanations were very detailed. “Yuhao, don’t underestimate this soul tool. More accurately, it can be said to be an amalgamation of many soul tools. To research it, the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy took thirty years, as we tried to match different formation arrays and further refine it. Only in the last two years have we achieved something significant. The highest level of research in the Illustrious Virtuous Hall concerns ways to weaponize it.” 

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Translated by: Chevrons
Edited by: GNE and RED

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