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Chapter 136: The Sea Gods Pavilion has an Entrance Fee

    Jing Hongchen nodded his head and said, "Yes, you're right. The stronger the person using the soul tool, the higher the limit of the soul tool."

    "We've yet to develop soul tools that are powerful enough to be used without a soul master apart from stationary soul tools. I can't predict any future developments. But the rise of soul engineers can't be stopped, just like how soul tools replaced cold weapons." He sounded very sincere, but he was actually very baffled in his heart. Had Elder Mu gone to the Illustrious Virtue Hall before? "If such an unpredictable, Transcendent Douluo has gone there before..." He broke out in a cold sweat.

    Elder Mu smiled and said, "You can't bring the Judgement Sword with you. You can tell me what you're here for. If you point soul tools towards Shrek City from outside Shrek Academy again, I will pay a visit to the Sun Moon Empire's capital."

    Jing Hongchen's expression finally changed. Why was he daring enough to enter Shrek Academy? He didn't only possess Class 9 automatic soul tools. He also had his setup outside. But he didn't expect Elder Mu to know about this. As he recalled Elder Mu's avatar, he became fearful for the first time since he took up the position of Hallmaster of the Illustrious Virtue Hall.

    "Elder Mu, you're indeed admirable." He bowed slightly and tried his best to repress the shock that he felt. "I'm here for another reason. Many months ago, Shrek Academy agreed to an exchange between our academy's students. But it was put aside for some reason. Both the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy and Shrek Academy are top-ranked academies in the continent now. I believe that this exchange is necessary, and I feel that it will improve integration and learning between both parties."

    Elder Mu answered, "It's fine for us to have an exchange, but can you ensure the safety of my students? In addition, what can my Shrek students learn from your academy?"

    Jing Hongchen seemed to have expected this question, and answered without any hesitation, "I can ensure their complete safety, and I'll swear to that by the Illustrious Virtue Hall's honor. During the exchange period, your students will receive the best guidance. If they're capable enough, they can even enter the Illustrious Virtue Hall to learn."

    Elder Mu replied, "There's no evidence to prove your words."

    Jing Hongchen said, "If you're worried, you can send Shrek Academy's teachers with them. You can even send many of them to tag along."

    Elder Mu shook his head and said, "That'll be unnecessary. The exchange is fine. Send Xiao Hongchen and Meng Hongchen to my academy before bringing my students to your academy. I can guarantee that they'll learn in my academy's inner courtyard. You shall personally send my students back and bring your students back to your academy once the exchange is over."

    Jing Hongchen shook his head immediately. "That wouldn't be appropriate. Although I believe in your character, I think it's best to be cautious. What if, when I send your students back, Shrek..."

    Elder Mu smiled and asked, "What's your proposal then?"

    Jing Hongchen replied, "There's no rush to have an exchange now. I suggest that we hold a three year long exchange two years from now. That way, it will be the start of the next Continental Advanced Soul Master Academy Soul Dueling Tournament. You can send your academy's teachers to observe the tournament. When it's over, they can bring your students back. At the same time, they can send my students back too."

    Elder Xuan couldn't help but ask, "How will you settle the same problem?" The suggestion that Jing Hongchen gave was similar to Elder Mu's previous proposition. The only difference was in the identity of the host.

    Jing Hongchen replied, "The Sun Moon Empire is organizing the tournament, and everyone will be watching us. We'll become a laughingstock if we do anything behind your backs. I'm willing to come to Shrek Academy to act as collateral, and I'll only return once the tournament is over and your students are back safely. However, the Illustrious Virtue Hall shall be blameless if anything happens to them during the tournament."

    "Alright. That's a promise. You shall bring them here 2 years from now. I will ask Little Xuan to send my students to the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy, including Huo Yuhao." Elder Mu said.

    "That's a promise." Jing Hongchen was also elated. Although he had been demeaning soul masters and elevating the status of soul engineers, he was clearly aware that the development of soul masters was very crucial to the growth of the Illustrious Virtue Hall. Especially since Shrek had been around for years, learning even a little from them was beneficial to the overall enhancement of the Illustrious Virtue Hall. Perhaps Shrek Academy could also gain some knowledge of soul tools from the Illustrious Virtue Hall. But it was pertinent to note that Shrek Academy didn't belong to any empire, while the Illustrious Virtue Hall belonged to the Sun Moon Empire. This difference was bound to benefit the Illustrious Virtue Hall more greatly, and allow them to accumulate more long-term profits.

    There was another reason why Jing Hongchen agreed so readily. It was that Elder Mu proposed for Huo Yuhao to go to the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy. He wouldn't have to worry about Xiao Hongchen and Meng Hongchen's safety with Huo Yuhao as an exchange student. The statuses and potential of the students sent out by both academies were equal. In addition, Huo Yuhao had twin martial souls. He had to expend a lot of effort to master his martial souls. Even if he specialized in soul tools too, he wouldn't be able to focus much on them. At least to him right now, Shrek Academy would be sending Huo Yuhao to ensure that the students both academies sent out were of equal standing.

    Elder Mu smiled. "Since things are settled, you can leave now."

    Jing Hongchen bowed once again and said, "Thank you, elder, for your kind treatment. I want to ask you something before I leave. Can Shrek have an even deeper exchange with the Sun Moon Empire?"

    Elder Mu picked his brows, "Shrek Academy is Douluo Continent's Shrek Academy."

    "The Sun Moon Empire is also the Douluo Continent's Sun Moon Empire."

    Jing Hongchen was slightly moved. "Alright, I understand." He turned around and left after he finished speaking.

    "Wait a minute." Elder Mu stopped Jing Hongchen.

    Jing Hongchen asked, "Do you have something else for me, elder?"

    Elder Mu smiled and said, "You're the first outsider to enter the Sea God's Pavilion in all these years. It's also not a place that one can come in and leave easily. Leave a Class 9 soul tool behind and teach us how to use it. Think of it as your admission ticket into the Sea God's Pavilion."

    "Admission ticket..." Jing Hongchen was stunned as he looked at Elder Mu. He didn't expect him to suggest something like this. This was an obviously blackmail! Furthermore, this 'admission ticket' was a little too pricey.

    "Elder, you're bullying me!" Jing Hongchen laughed bitterly. He might be a little more headstrong if he hadn't seen Elder Mu's avatar. But he was a little hesitant and fearful in foreign territory and inside the unpredictable Sea God's Pavilion.

    Elder Mu smiled without saying anything. He remained calm as he looked at Jing Hongchen. Jing Hongchen discovered to his horror that the walls, floor and ceiling all started to exude a dim golden light. It was as if a formless hand had gripped his throat.

    "Elder, you invited me into the Sea God's Pavilion." Jing Hongchen laughed bitterly. He was trying to hint at Elder Mu's lack of scruples for demanding an admission fee.

    Elder Mu smiled slightly and said, "I invited you into the Sea God's Pavilion, but I didn't invite you into Shrek Academy. Although it isn't some secret territory, I have to think of the students' safety too. If you're unwilling to pay the admission fee, I won't force you. But you'll have to stay here with me until the exchange 2 years later."

    "Remain here for 2 years?" Jing Hongchen's expression stiffened. The Illustrious Virtue Hall and Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy would be a mess if he stayed here for 2 years. Without him holding the fort, the soul engineers under him couldn't be repressed easily by anyone. Elder Mu might seem very friendly, but he exerted great pressure on Jing Hongchen. Although he was confident that he had a fighting chance if he went all-out, there was no doubt that he would remain here.

    Jing Hongchen took a deep breath and nodded his head. He said, "Since this is the case, I shall follow your orders. It's my fault that I entered Shrek Academy without permission. I shall leave behind soul tool as a gift."

    As he spoke, Jing Hongchen lifted his hand and fumbled around his chest. A metal chip that looked extremely thin appeared in his palm.

    This metal chip was circular in shape and very thin. It released a gentle, golden halo. The most special part of it was a carving on its surface. The carving pattern was very fine and neat, but it was filled with a sense of creation and imagination. No undulation of soul power came from it, but it had a special feel like a solid mountain as it appeared on the chip. A dim golden halo flashed across it subtly. The radiance wasn't intense, but it was very distracting.

    Jing Hongchen said, "I made this soul tool myself. I call it Hongchen's Blessing. It's an automatic defense-type soul tool. Placing it at the chest area will allow it to stick close to a soul master's body and absorb the soul master's soul power to become a single entity. It will mount a defense when the soul master is under attack. It can be initiated and shut down with the soul master's mind. I'm quite satisfied with a few parts of this Hongchen's Blessing. Firstly, it places no restrictions on its user's cultivation. Even a one-ringed or two-ringed soul master can use it. Its defensive effect is equal to the strongest attack unleashed by the user with all of his soul power without initiating any soul skills. But the soul power depleted is only 1/5th of that strongest attack. It's suitable for all soul masters. In the hands of a Titled Douluo, it has the defensive strength of a Transcendent Douluo."

    "Furthermore, it has a unique activation method.

    "It can only form an Invincible Barrier capable of lasting a full 15 seconds when its core formation is activated using this method. The defensive strength of this barrier can reach up to three times the user's cultivation. The reason that it's classified as a Class 9 soul tool is because of this Invincible Barrier. However, it can only be activated like this once before it needs to be recharged, but it doesn't have to be manually charged. When the user cultivates, it will naturally charge itself with the required soul power over time-around three days. Of course, the user can also charge it deliberately. Doing so will take an entire day and night of meditation, during which the user will have to inject all of their soul power into the soul tool."

    Elder Xuan was shocked when he heard Jing Hongchen's introduction. He realized that Jing Hongchen truly had the ability to get out of almost any dangerous situation with this Class 9 soul tool, despite his cultivation only being Rank 93. No wonder he'd dared to sneak into Shrek Academy.

    Elder Mu nodded, and Jing Hongchen felt that the weight in his hands disappear as Hongchen's Blessing appeared in front of Elder Mu. Elder Mu squinted his eyes and lifted it in front of him. He then said, "You're able to adapt well; no wonder the Illustrious Virtue Hall is improving every day under your leadership. You may leave now. However, if you intend on coming here without permission again, I hope that you're fully confident. If you aren't, your entrance fee won't be as simple as just one Class 9 soul tool."

    Jing Hongchen revealed a smile on his face. Even though it was bitter, it was also filled with stubbornness. He bowed slightly towards Elder Mu, then turned to leave.

    Once he'd left the Sea God's Pavilion, he leapt up into the air, and a pair of dark golden wings opened behind his back. He disappeared almost instantly; he wasn't willing to remain in Shrek Academy even a second longer.

    Jing Hongchen had wanted to get back what belonged to him, yet had ended up suffering even more losses. He hadn't managed to get back the Class 8 Judgement Sword, and had even lost a Class 9 soul tool. It's important to know that Shrek Academy hadn't had a Class 9 soul tool prior to this, as Class 9 soul tools were only utilized for strategic purposes even in the Sun Moon empire. Even though the Class 9 soul tool that Jing Hongchen had given Shrek wasn't the best, it wasn't the worst either. He'd chosen Hongchen's Blessing because it wasn't offensive at all; its core formation was very resilient, and wouldn't be overcome easily.

    However, Jing Hongchen wasn't exactly returning empty-handed. He'd seen Elder Mu, and had gained an even deeper sense of Shrek's background. This had been his greatest reward. Furthermore, he'd made other arrangements; failure was the mother of success. He wasn't afraid of being repressed for once. Despite how depressed he felt, Jing Hongchen had several other ideas.

    However, he almost spat blood when he reached the soul tools that he'd set up beforehand.

    Jing Hongchen had set up eight automatic soul tools over a thousand meter distance before he'd entered Shrek Academy. Four of them were Class 9 soul tools, while the other four were Class 8 soul tools. With them in place, he could remotely mount an attack on Shrek Academy and Shrek City with the push of a button. Even the most powerful individuals wouldn't be able to resist an attack of such a magnitude without sufficient preparation. They might be able to escape, but ordinary soul masters and all of the buildings present would be destroyed.

    But when he reached the locations where he'd placed these Class 8 soul tools, he realized that only traces of them were left behind-all of them had disappeared. He immediately realized that Elder Mu must've done something to them. He used his remote to test them out, but didn't get a reaction. It was obvious that their receivers had been destroyed.

    "Bastard, I knew I should've had that old man equip them with self-destruct devices. Damned Shrek Academy." Jing Hongchen cursed in fury. He didn't act like how he had in the Sea God's Pavilion.

    However, his temper disappeared as quickly as it'd come. He turned around to look at Shrek Academy, an evil radiance appearing in his eyes. He snorted coldly, then turned around again and quickly left.

    "Elder Mu, we've succeeded." Xian Lin'er and Qian Duoduo reported the good news to Elder Mu.

    Where had Jing Hongchen's soul tools disappear to? They'd taken them away of course! Elder Mu had stalled Jing Hongchen in the Sea God's Pavilion in order to buy them enough time.

    Elder Mu smiled and said, "I hope that your Soul Tool Department will be able to make some progress this time. However, take due caution; it wouldn't be a good thing if such powerful soul tools were to explode."

    Xian Lin'er said, "Elder Mu, please rest assured. We'll only research the core formations for now. We won't take them apart without understanding them. Even when we do, we'll only do so in the academy. Fan Yu's already taken them back to the academy so that we can begin researching them."

    Huo Yuhao was stunned as he listened from one side. He only barely managed to piece together that Elder Mu had most likely instructed the two Soul Tool Department deans to gather up some powerful soul tools.

    Qian Duoduo looked at Huo Yuhao and couldn't help but laugh. "Little Yuhao, you must be curious. Well, Jing Hongchen snuck into our academy and was discovered by Elder Mu. Elder Mu also sensed what he'd setup outside the academy, and told us to go and gather up his soul tools. Of the soul tools he set up, four are Class 8 and four are Class 9. No matter how deep the Illustrious Virtue Hall's coffers are, this will definitely be enough to make them feel a pinch for some time."

    Huo Yuhao was stunned. He clearly remembered the auction prices for the top-ranked soul tools sold at the auction house. The Illustrious Virtue Hall had definitely suffered a heavy loss since they'd relinquished these 8 soul tools alongside the Hongchen's Blessing that Jing Hongchen had left behind for Elder Mu.

    Elder Mu passed the Hongchen's Blessing to Xian Lin'er and said, "Study this soul tool too. I tried it out just now; Jing Hongchen wasn't lying when he explained its usage. But don't ruin it-I have other uses in mind for it."

    "Yes." Xian Lin'er excitedly received it. Even though she wasn't young anymore, she was still as excited as a little girl right now.

    Shrek Academy's Soul Tool Department had been making slow progress all these years; this was a great opportunity for them! Researching the soul tools that they'd obtained today would definitely help Shrek Academy's Soul Tool Department make significant progress. It wasn't easy for one to obtain top-ranked soul tools from the Illustrious Virtue Hall.

    Elder Mu gestured and said, "Go on then. Yuhao and Wang Dong, help me up to the third level. Xiao Xiao, follow Little Xuan and learn well from him. Little Xuan, take them to Star Dou Forest first thing tomorrow morning."

    "Yes." Elder Xuan acknowledged.

    Huo Yuhao and Xiao Xiao's eyes brightened when they heard that they were going to the Star Dou Forest. Their cultivations had already reached the Rank 30 bottleneck, thus heading to the Star Dou Forest could only mean one thing: They were going there to obtain their third soul rings! Becoming a Soul Elder represented a significant step forward in one's cultivation.

    Only after one had overcome the barrier at Rank 30 would they be considered to have advanced from the beginner stage to the intermediate stage of cultivation.

    Huo Yuhao and Wang Dong helped Elder Mu up from his chair slowly, then helped him up to the Sea God's Pavilion's third level again. Beneath Elder Mu's guidance, they entered the left tunnel and walked all the way to the room at the end of it.

    Golden light shone, and the door to the room opened, afterwich they entered the room.

    The room wasn't big; it was only around 30 square meters in size. There was a simple wooden table, a chair, a bed, and a bookshelf that covered one of the walls. The interior design was very simple, and the natural scenery of Sea God's Island could be seen through the window.

    "Eld... Teacher." Huo Yuhao almost addressed Elder Mu incorrectly, as he still wasn't used to the new way he had to address him since he'd just accepted Elder Mu as his teacher. "How's elder sister? Is there any way to heal her? My second martial soul is Ultimate Ice. I'll do my best to help heal elder sister so long as I'm able to and you tell me how."

    Huo Yuhao was more concerned with Ma Xiaotao's condition than becoming a Soul Elder. He'd only just established a relationship with Ma Xiaotao, yet she'd suffered such an enormous injury. It had taken him a great deal of effort to gain kin!

    Elder Mu replied, "Don't be too anxious. Xiaotao's condition right now is special. It's not entirely a bad thing for her martial soul to have transformed. Once I sealed her, the Dark Phoenix flames began to lead her body in the direction of Ultimate Fire. It's just that the aura of darkness within her is like a parasite-it can't be neutralized so easily."

    Huo Yuhao continued to probe, "How can we make the aura of darkness disappear?"

    Elder Mu smiled and replied, "I've thought of a way, but we can't do so now. She needs to remain asleep in my seal for a longer period of time. It might be two, three, or even four to five years. It'll depend on what destiny has in store for her. I'll truly need your strength when the time comes however. For now, just remember what you said."

    "I'll save elder sister no matter the price, so long as I'm able." Huo Yuhao answered resiliently.

    Elder Mu said, "Yuhao, Wang Dong, let me ask you this: Do the two of you know why I let Jing Hongchen enter the Sea God's Pavilion today?"

    Huo Yuhao and Wang Dong looked at each other, then Wang Dong said, "Are you trying to stamp your authority on the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy and the Sun Moon Empire? I've heard from Teacher Wang that the Sun Moon Empire's development in soul tools has been extremely rapid. It seems that the beginnings of a war are brewing."

    Elder Mu didn't judge Wang Dong's analysis and turned towards Huo Yuhao. He asked, "What do you think?"

    Huo Yuhao answered, "I have the same general idea as Wang Dong. However, I also think that you seem to value the exchange and interaction between us and their students that you discussed."

    Elder Mu nodded and said, "Both of you are right. Stamping my authority, scaring him, and reaping the benefits. These were some of the reasons that I let him enter. However, the main reason was to fight for time-time for all of you."

    "For us?" Huo Yuhao and Wang Dong were stunned.

    Elder Mu replied, "My existence is Shrek Academy's greatest secret. Only the elders of the Sea God's Pavilion currently know about me. Yet, I revealed myself in order to fight for more time so that you young people will have time to develop. This is because I can't protect Shrek for much longer."

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    Chapter 136.3: The Sea God's Pavilion has an Entrance Fee

    "Teacher, you..." Huo Yuhao was shocked.

    Elder Mu smiled and said in a carefree manner, "All people will eventually die, unless they manage to overcome that barrier. But doing so is simply too difficult. I've already been alive for over 200 years; death isn't scary to me. Both Du Bisi and I suffered critical injuries back then, but I managed to ascend to Rank 99 because I overcame my limits in that life and death battle. That's also what has allowed me to stay alive until now. Just this makes me very fortunate compared to Du Bisi."

    "I've clearly been able to feel my body's degradation over these past few years; it's irreversible. I'm not exactly sure how long I have left though. At the very least, I have three years, while at the most, I have five to six years. I can't protect Shrek for much longer. That's why I need to use what limited time I have left to do something for Shrek."

    "If I were still in good shape, it'd be best for me remain in the dark. In that case, I'd be able to use my power to greatly rock the Sun Moon Empire even if I can't decide the result of the war. However, I can't do so now; my body's on the decline. The only thing I can do is instill fear in them by letting them know of my presence, in order to stall them from doing anything for now."

    In fact, the reason that Elder Mu had allowed Jing Hongchen to enter the Sea God's Pavilion wasn't as simple as he'd said. There had also been a deeper meaning behind his actions.

    "The next two years will be very important to you all. There won't be any time for you rest. Yuhao, you must go to the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy in two years. Wang Dong, what about you?"

    Wang Dong was dazed, and hesitated. "Teacher, I don't really like soul tools. I don't have any talent in them either. However, Yuhao and I..."

    Elder Mu nodded slightly and said, "Your martial soul fusion won't disappear simply because you're distanced from one another. You aren't inferior to Yuhao in terms of talent, but your paths of development will still differ in some ways. As such, I hope that you'll remain in the academy in order to further your learning while he goes to the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy."

    Wang Dong hesitated, as he was still unwilling to part with Huo Yuhao. Furthermore, it would be an entire three years of separation. However, he didn't say anything against it, as it would still only happen two years from now.

    Elder Mu squinted. "Jing Hongchen was right. Soul tools will enter every household in the future as they continue to develop. They'll inevitably replace the cold weapons that we have now. This is also one of the reasons that the war is inevitable. The other three empires are also developing soul tools much slower than the Sun Moon Empire. I'll only be able to fight for up to ten years of time from now. After that, many things will change when the war comes."

    Wang Dong asked, "Teacher, why didn't you kill Jing Hongchen today?"

    Elder Mu replied, "Killing him would only cause the Sun Moon Empire to go all-out. Furthermore, he wasn't lying. Many of the soul tools on his body were very threatening. Both parties would've suffered if we weren't careful. In addition to this, we couldn't afford to put Shrek's many years of foundation at risk. Jing Hongchen is extremely powerful and adaptable. He's able to make accurate choices decisively when he's forced to; he'll become a huge enemy of Shrek in the future."

    ......

    Early the next morning.

    The weather was a little gloomy, which caused the mist above Sea God's Lake to be more concentrated than usual.

    Four figures left Shrek Academy, but stopped after they'd gone through the gate.

    Elder Xuan hugged his wine gourd and looked at the two young men and the young lady in front of him. He said intoxicatedly, "It's alright, you three can head forwards on your own. You're all young. If I keep following you, I'll only be a pain in the ass. You should know where Star Dou Forest is. Go and find suitable soul beasts for yourselves. I'll follow all of you secretly. However, you'll be deducted 10 points from your outer courtyard test this semester if I have to intervene while you're getting your soul rings."

    "Yes."

    The three of them were naturally Huo Yuhao, Wang Dong, and Xiao Xiao. Only Huo Yuhao and Xiao Xiao needed to obtain their third soul rings, but Wang Dong had volunteered to accompany them. His reasoning had been simple: Huo Yuhao would be twice as strong with him around. Their martial soul fusion skills were able to achieve crucial effects at critical times. It wouldn't be a problem for the three of them to deal with a thousand year soul beast if they were to team up. Furthermore, Huo Yuhao and Xiao Xiao only needed to obtain thousand year soul rings.

    After Elder Xuan addressed the three of them, his figure flashed, and he disappeared. However, they were still confident despite the fact that Elder Xuan wasn't directly following them. With a Rank 98 Transcendent Douluo secretly protecting them, they were bold enough to even enter the core regions of the Star Dou Forest.

    The three of them determined the direction to head, then rushed towards the Star Dou Forest that was located to the south of Shrek Academy.

    Shrek Academy was quite close to Star Dou Forest. Otherwise, the wave of soul beasts from the Star Dou Forest wouldn't have swept over Shrek City first back then.

    They arrived outside Star Dou Forest in less than two days.

    The air along the way had become much fresher, and their breathing had in turn become smoother as they'd neared the forest. The three of them were feeling quite good even though they'd rushed along the road for two days.

    They'd been very busy with learning and cultivating ever since they'd entered Shrek Academy; they'd hardly had any time to relax. Once their first year had ended, Wang Dong and Xiao Xiao had managed to return home and rest. However, Huo Yuhao had gone to the Extreme North. Even though he'd managed to obtain the Ice Jade Empress Scorpion, he'd still undergone tough training and many ordeals. He'd then continued to cultivate effortlessly once he returned to the academy, and had competed in the tournament afterwards. His mind hadn't been able to calm down since he'd entered Shrek Academy.

    They were extremely excited to finally be getting their their third soul rings. They all felt like they'd changed after their closed-door cultivation, thus they were incredibly confident right now. They were excited to use their skills in the Star Dou Forest.

    That was why they weren't fatigued despite rushing for two days straight. They were both thrilled and in their peak conditions.

    As they walked, Huo Yuhao asked Xiao Xiao, "Xiao Xiao, what's your plan for your soul ring?"

    Xiao Xiao answered, "I have a plan. However, teacher mentioned that a lot of luck is involved when it comes to obtaining a soul ring. If I see a better alternative, I'll take it. I'll even consider fusing with a soul ring that's extremely suitable for my Ninephoenix Worshipping Flute. To be honest, I'm raring to go right now. If I wait for my first martial soul to get all nine soul rings before I start cultivating my second martial soul, the advantage of my twin martial souls will be realized too slowly. I'm planning to add three or four soul rings to my Ninephoenix Worshipping Flute while I cultivate the Threelives Soulcrush Cauldron. If I don't, I won't be able to keep up with the two of you."

    Since there were only the three of them present, Xiao Xiao didn't hide what she really thought.

    Xiao Xiao could clearly sense the gap between her and both Huo Yuhao and Wang Dong after the tournament. Huo Yuhao had more than caught up with the both of them; he was the one in the lead now. Meanwhile, Wang Dong's Radiant Butterfly Goddess and Clear Sky Hammer were both rather powerful martial souls. Her martial souls were slightly inferior in comparison to theirs, thus she didn't want to lag too far behind them, regardless of whether she chose to be an auxiliary-type battle soul master or to add a soul ring to her second martial soul beforehand. She was intelligent; she sensed that she wouldn't have a chance to catch up to them if she lagged too far behind them now.

    Wang Dong asked, "Xiao Xiao, what's your second soul bone?"

    Xiao Xiao laughed and replied, "It's a secret; I'm not telling. However, I know that Yuhao's second soul bone is the Ice Jade Scorpion's Left Arm Bone."

    Wang Dong laughed. "It's fine if you don't tell us. You'll still have to use it when you hunt soul beasts anyway. You haven't revealed what type of soul ring you want for your Threelives Soulcrush Cauldron though."

    Xiao Xiao answered, "I chose to be an auxiliary-type battle soul master. As such, my soul ring naturally needs to have an auxiliary effect and be able to display my special trait. My plan is to use a control-type soul skill as my main soul skill, or to enhance the defensive strength of my Threelives Soulcrush Cauldron. After the tournament, I had the feeling that, so long as my Threelives Soulcrush Cauldron is defensively strong enough, it will achieve unprecedented effects when coupled with its ability to separate itself and my enemies. Furthermore, I still have the Cauldron Quake and Cauldron Sweep."

    Huo Yuhao was awed when he heard this. "Xiao Xiao, you've analyzed your martial soul very thoroughly. I also think that a defense-type soul ring suits you. Your Threelives Soulcrush Cauldron is indeed very outstanding in separating your enemies. When we fought Class 2, we wouldn't have won so easily without that skill and control of yours."

    "What about you?" Xiao Xiao asked, "What's your plan? It won't be easy to find a soul ring to add to your Spirit Eyes. Spiritual-type soul beasts aren't common. Furthermore, they're good at concealing themselves."

    Huo Yuhao concurred and nodded. He replied, "We can only take it step by step and see how our luck plays out. Besides, we're only circling the Star Dou Forest's perimeter. We'll hunt when we find suitable ones. Contrarily, we need to kill as few of them as possible."

    Xiao Xiao agreed, "Yes! To a certain extent, soul beasts are resources that soul masters like us need. If we kill too many of the lower-level soul beasts, future generations will find it difficult to obtain soul rings."

    Wang Dong creased his brows and said, "You shouldn't put it that way. Soul beasts are also living beings. How could you call them resources? We're already preying on the weak by hunting them."

    Xiao Xiao was a little stunned and looked at Wang Dong. She commented, "I never realized that you were actually so kind."
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