The truth was that when the Sea God’s Pavilion’s Elders were discussing this issue of allowing Huo Yuhao into the Sea God’s Pavilion, nobody questioned the decision, even though Huo Yuhao was only seventeen years old.
Huo Yuhao’s entry into the Sea God’s Pavilion had nothing to do with Elder Mu. This happened because of his contributions to the academy, and he was rewarded accordingly.
One thousand three hundred and seventy-six blueprints – this was Huo Yuhao’s contribution to the academy. This meant he had sent the academy the blueprints to construct one thousand three hundred and seventy-six different soul tools. These blueprints had given the Soul Tool Department a great boost.
Shrek Academy didn’t lack for money. The most important limiting factor for the three native empires of the Douluo Continent to developing soul tools was the lack of precious metals. Shrek Academy’s situation in this aspect was comparatively better, and one reason for that was because of their financial power, while another was because of Shrek Academy’s inner structure.
Shrek Academy bore the weight of Shrek City on its shoulders. They had their own powerful trade association, which had already reached into the Sun Moon Empire. Precious metals had substantial strategic importance and were difficult to purchase, but that didn’t mean nothing could be done.
Over the past two years, as Huo Yuhao continuously had sent back blueprints, Shrek Academy’s Soul Tool Department had seen exponential advancements. Even though they still couldn’t compare to the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy, Huo Yuhao had managed to help them save a lot of time and effort in research.
The blueprints that Huo Yuhao had toiled and wracked his brains to draw were now in the Library of the Sea God’s Pavilion, and the original drafts were safely stored away. They had become a part of Shrek Academy’s history that would be there for a long time to come, and Huo Yuhao had been written into the academy’s history as a hero.
Xian Lin’er smiled and said, “You deserve this, Yuhao. It’s better if only you know about this, and we haven’t announced it to the academy yet. For one, we can protect you this way, and another reason is because you’re still a student at the academy. You will officially graduate from the inner courtyard after the next Continental Advanced Soul Master Academy Soul Dueling Tournament.”
Huo Yuhao was stunned momentarily, and protested, “But I haven’t completed my reconnaissance tasks.”
Yan Shaozhe chortled and said, “What you have done carries ten times more worth than those reconnaissance tasks. Our teacher talked to me about your future path before he passed away – the academy cannot hold you back, and we can only support you and be something that you can fall back on. The Tang Sect has been established, no? That should be your platform for further development. However, you still have to win the championship during the big competition, and we strongly believe you have the ability to do so. You haven’t overlooked your cultivation while you’ve been toiling over soul tools, have you?”
Huo Yuhao said confidently, “I already have five soul rings.”
Yan Shaozhe looked astonished as he said, “Five? You already have five soul rings? So fast?”
For normal students, reaching Rank 50 at the age of seventeen was considered extremely fast. Furthermore, Huo Yuhao was a soul master with an Ultimate martial soul. Cultivation was far more difficult for Ultimate martial souls, but he still managed to reach Rank 50 in just a little over two years! This was a great pleasant surprise for Yan Shaozhe.
Xian Lin’er giggled and said, “I think you can almost be the academy’s mascot now, Yuhao.”
“Because you’re a little monster! You’re the one among all the students that I’ve seen that fits that description the best.”
Yan Shaozhe said, “Let’s go. We should grab something to eat too before we start travelling. Returning to Shrek Academy safely is the most important thing right now.”
Yes, returning to Shrek Academy safely was of the utmost importance!
They had a simple lunch, and Fan Yu followed Yan Shaozhe’s instructions to take He Caitou, Ye Xiaosheng, and the other students to travel ahead. Yan Shaozhe and Xian Lin’er took Huo Yuhao and rested for a while longer before they sauntered out of Mapleleaf city and walked towards Shrek Academy. They took their time and walked slowly, so that they could distance themselves from the group in front of them.
“If we are ambushed, you will protect Huo Yuhao and I will take the offensive.” Xian Lin’er said to Yan Shaozhe.
Yan Shaozhe frowned and said, “Lin’er! The older you get, the more stubborn and hardheaded you become. You still want to fight me over something like this?”
Xian Lin’er raised an eyebrow and said, “You think I’m old? Take a look at yourself.”
“Ahem. In front of the child?” Yan Shaozhe muttered awkwardly.
Xian Lin’er grunted and said, “What child? Yuhao is your junior brother, and that means we all belong in the same generation. Age should never affect seniority in the hierarchy.”
“I can’t out-talk you. You can take the offensive, then. I will support you from the side, is that alright?” Yan Shaozhe’s black-bellied attitude would always be greatly affected in front of Xian Lin’er.
Xian Lin’ier said, “That’s more like it. I haven’t been active for a long time. I hope Jing Hongchen sends a powerful force to ambush us, so that I’m not all excited for nothing.”
Huo Yuhao felt amused as he listened from the side. The two Deans didn’t seem nervous at all; this was the result of solid foundations and abilities. He had never even seen them in battle before. He didn’t know who Jing Hongchen would send after them – powerful soul masters? Long-range cannons? With the two Deans’ perception of danger, long-range cannons would probably not be a threat at all unless Class 9 stationary cannon shells were used. Furthermore, that would be too conspicuous. The Illustrious Virtue Hall wouldn’t want to antagonize Shrek Academy, at least not on the surface. Both parties didn’t have any deep-seated grudges or conflicts. Jing Hongchen would probably give everything he had if this were the Body Sect, but this was Shrek Academy.
After another hour or two, Yan Shaozhe glanced at the sky and said, “It’s about right. Let’s pick up the pace.”
The three of them unleashed their flying-type soul tools and soared into the sky toward Shrek Academy. Huo Yuhao felt much more relaxed and comfortable flying with his Deans. He didn’t have to deal with air resistance, as Yan Shaozhe released his soul power and enveloped the three of them inside it. The propulsion force was released by their flying-type soul tools at the same time, and they flew at a breakneck speed. Both Deans were Titled Douluo; they would be back at Shrek Academy in less than four hours.
Huo Yuhao thought to himself that he couldn’t let himself be a burden in the battle that was to come.
Time continued to pass, and they came closer and closer to Shrek Academy. They were deep inside the Heavenly Soul Empire’s territory after another hour.
“Are they not coming at all? If that’s the case, we will have wasted our efforts,” Xian Lin’er said with a tinge of regret in her voice.
Yan Shaozhe snapped, “Isn’t that a good thing? Returning to Shrek Academy safely is the most important thing. You have never corrected your belligerence, Lin’er.”
Xian Lin’er rolled her eyes at him and said, “Have you forgotten my title?”
Yan Shaozhe laughed and said, “How can I forget? You’re the Valkyrie Douluo. You’re the only person that dares to call yourself that. The Valkyrie that soared through the skies left such vivid memories for many back in the day.”
“Just not with you, yes?” Xian Lin’er grunted.
Yan Shaozhe said, “Don’t be like this, Lin’er. We are both people with families, and you’re still so merciless and unforgiving. We’re already so old – why can’t we just live harmoniously with each other?”
Xian Lin’er turned around and muttered, “Can’t be bothered with you anymore.”
Their expressions suddenly changed while they chatted. Huo Yuhao could feel two frightening soul power undulations rippling nearby, and he automatically gazed into the distance.
The weather was clear today, and the skies were blue for endless kilometers ahead. However, at this moment, the skies had transformed in the distance, and a tremendous patch of dark clouds was drifting toward them rapidly – the dark clouds seemed to be expanding continuously, and it felt like they were bearing down on them and threatening to overwhelm everything.
Xian Lin’er grunted coldly, and stepped out of Yan Shaozhe’s protective circle with a single movement. Her flying-type soul tool slowed in the sky, and she hovered in midair.
“Stay behind me,” Yan Shaozhe said to Huo Yuhao, “All you have to do is watch.”
“Yes.” Huo Yuhao acknowledged.
The dense and gloomy clouds were coming faster and faster, and they were able to see exactly how vast they were when they got closer. The dark clouds gradually took form in the sky, and actually transformed into the appearance of an enormous tiger’s head. A thick voice that resembled rolling thunder could be heard, saying, “Do you still remember your old friend, Yan Shaozhe?”
Yan Shaozhe’s eyes squinted faintly. “You’re still alive, Zhang Peng! Are you preparing to let me finish you today?”
“Your mouth is still so dirty, Yan Shaozhe! I want to see who will finish who today!”
The vast dark clouds in the shape of a tiger’s head released a deafening roar, and terrifying pressure erupted in the next moment that barreled toward the three of them like a tidal wave.
Xian Lin’er made her move at this moment. She howled into the sky, and soared upwards in a flash. Scorching green flames burst from her body. Xian Lin’er body was growing larger, and it didn’t take more than a few seconds before she was more than five meters tall, and a set of green armor appeared on her.
This suit of armor covered her entire body like scales. Huo Yuhao didn’t know Xian Lin’er’s actual age, but he could tell from her conversation with Yan Shaozhe that she must be quite old. But as he watched Xian Lin’er release her armor, and two yellow, two purple, and five black soul rings rose from beneath her feet, her enlarged frame made her seem younger, as if she were a young girl in her twenties. She had a valiant and heroic demeanor that was full of fighting will.
“The Valkyrie Douluo, Xian Lin’er?” The deep voice suddenly became a little strange. “I thought the two of you broke up? How are you still with Yan Shaozhe, this hypocrite, this false gentleman?”