Chapter 157: An Oath Made by a High-Five

    That thirty or so year-old teacher went up the stairs inside the second block of the sixth grade. This classroom block was six stories high, and he brought Huo Yuhao to the fifth before they turned down a corridor. They walked down it a few dozen meters until the teacher stopped before a door.

    There was a tag on the door that read '3rd Laboratory.'

    He's already taking me to the lab? Huo Yuhao had some doubts in his mind when he saw where they were. However, he didn't have any control over what he was going to learn while he was here.

    The young teacher took out a nameplate from his pocket and waved it in front of the door. A similar sight to what Huo Yuhao had seen at the measuring room yesterday presented itself-a single beam of light flashed, followed by the door opening.

    "Come in." The young teacher's voice was simple and pithy as he led Huo Yuhao into the lab.

    The lab was extremely large and spacious; it was larger than Fan Yu's lab in Shrek Academy. There were all sorts of soul tools and metallic materials on display, while the gigantic lab desk was more than thirty square meters in size. The matte, silverish-white metallic surface was squeaky clean, and gave off a pleasant sensation.

    The lab was empty save for them;  nobody else was around. The young teacher said in an uninterested manner, "My name's Xuan Ziwen, and I'll be your teacher from today onwards. I don't care what the assessment rank you've received from Shrek Academy is; you'll have to retake my tests from the very beginning. If you can't pass my assessments, you'll have independent learning in the library so that you don't waste my time."

    Huo Yuhao was taken aback. He'd never expected this teacher to say something like this; he didn't want to teach him?

    Huo Yuhao couldn't help but ask, "Teacher Xuan, is every teacher in charge of the exchange students like you?" It would spell immense trouble for them if this was the case. He was confident that he'd be able to learn something by himself in the library, but he knew from his experiences with Fan Yu that there were some topics that one would have to ponder for several days to understand alone, rather than being able to simply resolve it in just a few minutes with a teacher's help.

    Xuan Ziwen didn't seem to react to Huo Yuhao's jibe, and he replied coldly, "I don't care how others act; this is just how I do things. My schedule is tight, so if you find this unfair, go and take your dispute to Lin Jiayi and request a change of mentorship. I didn't want to take this responsibility anyway, so I'm telling you what choices you have."

    Huo Yuhao thought about Zhou Yi when he gazed into the coldness in Xuan Ziwen's eyes. Teacher Zhou's strictness and fierceness was different, but learning under Zhou Yi gave Huo Yuhao some experience with teachers who had strange personalities. Teachers with characters meant they had standards, and tests were just tests anyway - how could he be afraid of assessments?

    Huo Yuhao tempered his emotions momentarily before he gave his answer. "I'm willing to take your assessment."

    Xuan Ziwen's calm but cold eyes flowed with a strange emotion, and he shot a mildly surprised glance at Huo Yuhao and said, "Alright, then let's begin. The badge on your chest should represent a Class 3 soul engineer from Shrek Academy. I'll give you fifteen minutes - you can select from any of the materials here, and you will forge your best Class 3 soul tool formation arrays for me. It's not about how low your class is, it's about a soul engineer's thoughts and his or her creativity. This is my only prompt for you - you may begin."

    With that, Xuan Ziwen stepped to one side. He flipped his wrist, and a small timer appeared in his hands. Fifteen minutes were entered, and he placed it on the lab desk after starting the countdown.

    Huo Yuhao started on his work as soon as possible. Ever since he had joined the Ultimate Soldier Plan, he had simply put in too much effort. However, he was still a fourteen-year-old teenager after all. He had passed his soul physique measurement with flying colors, and an arrogant flair rose from his heart after he received Xuan Ziwen's neglect and indifference.

    He walked towards the metallic materials before him. He didn't even bother inspecting them closely, but instead immediately activated his Spiritual Detection and perceived everything in his mind. He raised his right hand, and five dark golden blades protruded from his fingertips. He swung his hand gently, and sliced off the corner of a bright silver chunk of metal.

    Huo Yuhao raised his left hand, used the Controlling Crane Capturing Dragon technique, and this piece of metal was securely in his grasp. He withdrew the Darkgolden Terrorclaw, and diamond ice crystals suddenly appeared on both of his hands. He placed his hands together and gradually kneaded the metal piece that he had just shaved off.

    Xuan Ziwen gasped in surprise when he first saw the Darkgolden Terrorclaw. He was already more than thirty years old, but he had been immersed in soul tools for more than twenty years, and he could clearly tell that Huo Yuhao wasn't using a soul tool. The metal that he had chosen was the notoriously tough and hard titanium - it was a rare metal that was only produced within the Sun Moon Empire. Xuan Ziwen's first impression when he chose titanium was: did he make a mistake?

    However, his pupils immediately contracted when the dark golden blade swiped across the silver-white titanium chunk and effortlessly chopped a piece off without even making a single sound. His brain started to work quickly as he attempted to calculate the dark golden blade's sharpness and toughness.

    What shook Xuan Ziwen even more was what came after. A series of crackling sounds could be heard from between Huo Yuhao's palms, and a fine silver-white powder started drifting down from his hands. The diamond ice crystals looked incredibly brilliant as they reflected the light from inside the lab.

    Huo Yuhao came before the lab desk without giving Xuan Ziwen a chance to deliberate. His demeanor changed a little as well, and Xuan Ziwen could subtly feel Huo Yuhao's otherworldly focus and stability - a silver-white sphere that was about as large as a lychee appeared on the table.

    He... He used his hands to knead titanium into a sphere? Xuan Ziwen was in awe once more. He hadn't collected any of Huo Yuhao's assessment details and particulars from Lin Jiayi before this, so he had no idea what this fifteen or sixteen-year-old teenager's abilities were like. He hadn't even seen Huo Yuhao's soul rings, but he had already used two soul skills. Xuan Ziwen was finally attracted by Huo Yuhao's behavior. However, he told himself that Huo Yuhao's display of abilities was that of a soul master. Huo Yuhao was from the number-one soul master academy in the Continent, Shrek, so his possession of these abilities wasn't that wondrous. He was here to test Huo Yuhao's soul engineering abilities.

    Huo Yuhao started working while Xuan Ziwen continued thinking to himself. A silver-white carving knife appeared in his hands, but it wasn't the Life Guardian Blade - it was just a normal fine golden carving knife, and there was a layer of diamond powder on the blade. It was enough to carve and sculpt most metals, but it wasn't the best of the best. It would be extremely difficult to cut certain hard metals, and it could even break.

    Huo Yuhao's left hand pinched the small silver-white sphere while his left hand waltzed swiftly. His movements were incredibly fast - at least, it seemed this way from Xuan Ziwen's perspective. Every slice connected to the next without pause, and deep grooves began to appear on this silver-white metal sphere's surface.

    Xuan Ziwen came next to Huo Yuhao out of curiosity, and meticulously monitored his work.

    Huo Yuhao worked with tremendous speed. It didn't take long for sophisticated and intricate patterns to appear on the metal sphere's surface. However, Xuan Ziwen's brows knitted into a knot, and he muttered to himself, "Charge, Speed, Speed, Speed, Speed, Speed, Speed. Adding seven arrays to such a small body is outstanding, but why are you making six Speeds? If this were used as a soul thruster, a single use would break your back in half. Titanium is strong and tough, but seven arrays being added to a piece this size - and six Speeds. You are pursuing something so extreme, so you can only use it once. Don't you feel like it's a waste due to the fact that you will discard it after a single instance?"

    Xuan Ziwen's voice wasn't that soft, but Huo Yuhao seemed to be paying no attention to outside matters and focused on his work. The titanium sphere constantly rotated as the carving knife in his right hand sliced down repeatedly. Thin and fine titanium powder scattered subtly all over the lab desk.

    Xuan Ziwen became even more interested in Huo Yuhao at this point. He could tell that this teenager's foundations were good, and even though this was a Class 3 soul tool, adding so many arrays at once was something that only a Class 4 soul engineer should be able to do. His hands were steady while his movements were quick yet rhythmic. What was more impressive was that he didn't make a single mistake despite all his bewildering speed, and Xuan Ziwen could tell with one look that it wasn't Huo Yuhao's first time creating formation arrays like this. Formation arrays were a soul tool's heart and soul, so there was no room for errors. Even a tiny error or mistake would cause the soul tool to be discarded as worthless.

    Five minutes - Huo Yuhao took only five minutes to sculpt his formation array. He blew on the metal sphere gently, and a layer of metallic powder drifted down; the carving was complete.

    What was previously just a normal titanium sphere now looked like an exquisite art piece at this point. Deep and shallow grooves, vertical and horizontal lines snaked all over the metal sphere, giving it a formidable three-dimensionality.

    "I'm done, teacher Xuan." Huo Yuhao clasped the small formation array sphere in his hands.

    Xuan Ziwen said coldly, "That's nothing impressive. Do you think creating such an extreme formation array is considered creative?"

    Huo Yuhao glanced at the timer and said, "Teacher Xuan, there's still some time left. With your permission, I hope to be able to forge the entire soul tool and demonstrate it to you. The profundity of this soul tool I intend to create isn't about its formation arrays."

    "Oh?" Xuan Ziwen watched him with astonishment and said, "Alright, show me. If it's actually that creative, you are allowed to exceed the time limit by a little bit." His interest was now sufficiently piqued by this youth from Shrek Academy.

    "Yes." Huo Yuhao acknowledged and immediately returned to the pile of metal from before. He didn't pick titanium anymore, but chose iron instead, which was the most normal metal. It was a typical metal that was rarely used even when forging a soul tool's shell. Iron was typically used for molds, and people rarely used it directly for forging soul tools.

    The Darkgolden Terrorclaw appeared once again, and chopped off piece after piece of iron. From Xuan Ziwen's perspective, Huo Yuhao's methods of creating soul tools were extremely special and unique.

    Huo Yuhao could use his hands to knead a metal as tough as titanium, and even knead it into a perfect sphere - it was needless to say what he could do with iron.

    Huo Yuhao quickly converted the iron pieces in his hands into the desired shapes. He used the carving knife after kneading the iron to carve them into the precise shapes and forms that he wanted.

    If the time Huo Yuhao needed to create the formation arrays was considered quick, then the speed at which he was working now could only be described as frighteningly fast, almost to the point where Xuan Ziwen's eyes couldn't distinguish his movements. Huo Yuhao would subtly shift and tilt his body from time to time during his work, intentionally blocking off Xuan Ziwen's line of sight. When Xuan Ziwen changed his own position to continue watching, several metal pieces would already have been swiftly completed, and Xuan Ziwen never got a chance to witness what Huo Yuhao did during that time.

    Xuan Ziwen could gradually discern some clues, however. Huo Yuhao wasn't just carving and sculpting the iron pieces when he was making the shell - he looked like he was engraving something on their surface, while piece after piece of arrow-shaped metal sticks were incorporated within that emanated soft metal clanging sounds from time to time.

    "Crack, crack, clang, clang..." A series of crisp metallic sounds could be heard, and a iron box that was roughly one foot long, three inches wide and two inches thick appeared before Xuan Ziwen. The formation array that Huo Yuhao had designed before had already been infused inside. Despite his extraordinary memory, Xuan Ziwen couldn't remember much, as Huo Yuhao's forging speed was simply too fast, and he had intentionally blocked off his vision at times. He could feel that Huo Yuhao's soul tool was extremely fine and exquisite, especially for a shell formed by iron. He even felt a little eager to discover what it could do.

    "You're done?" Xuan Ziwen asked Huo Yuhao.

    Huo Yuhao nodded and pressed down on its surface with his right hand, as if he were making some final touches.

    "Alright. Show me what this consumable can do." Xuan Ziwen muttered indifferently.

    Huo Yuhao wasted no words, stepping out from behind the lab desk and moving into the soul tool testing area. Every large laboratory would have a soul tool testing area, which was used to test completed soul tools. Of course, the testing area had a limit to how much it could take, and soul tools that were too powerful couldn't be used here.

    Huo Yuhao raised the rectangular box in his hands and pointed at the alloy wall more than fifty meters away, which was two meters thick. He pressed with his fingers, and Xuan Ziwen only heard a buzzing sound.

    A series of ear-piercing explosive sounds could be heard from fifty meters away, and metal powder erupted from the alloy wall.

    The iron box in Huo Yuhao's hands groaned and shattered into pieces with a splat. Huo Yuhao pressed his hands inwards, and the broken soul tool in his hands was immediately kneaded into a metal sphere with his Mysterious Jade Hands.

    Any soul engineer below Class 4 probably wouldn't understand what Huo Yuhao had done. However, Xuan Ziwen wasn't a soul engineer below Class 4! The Illustrious Virtue Hall had given him special subsidies, and he was also one of the Illustrious Virtue Hall's research consultants. He was also a special teacher in the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy, and he was a Class 8 soul engineer. He couldn't be more clear about what Huo Yuhao did in that instant.

    Xuan Ziwen's eyes sparkled like the stars in the night sky, and he immediately gave his feedback. "Class 4 soul tool, name unknown. If better original materials were used, its offensive abilities would be close to a Class 5 soul tool - no, more accurately put, this should be considered a stationary soul tool that doesn't come with explosive projectiles. It's very difficult for soul barriers to defend against this, and its speed can rival that of a soul ray, while its force is far superior. What's more outstanding is the fact that this soul tool has impressive extensibility. Wait - when you fired that shot, you only pressed a button on the soul tool, and you didn't inject any soul power? I understand now. You used the Charge array to infuse soul power, to activate the entire soul tool when you were placing the entire formation array inside. Ingenious! What an ingenious plan! In other words, even normal people can use this soul tool as long as it's completely charged. However, how can the overall discharge system be so small? There's something about this soul tool's shell, and you must have included elements that I don't understand."

    Huo Yuhao was filled with awe as he listened to Xuan Ziwen's analysis - every statement was right on point. There indeed was something within the shell. The shell's structure was so compact and sophisticated that it could rival even the formation array inside. This was the most important feature of the entire soul tool - the formation array was nothing much, but this shell was Huo Yuhao's secret.

    This soul tool had a name that shook the entire Continent ten thousand years ago - Zhuge Divine Crossbow. Tang San, the person that established the Tang Sect, was its inventor. However, the Zhuge Divine Crossbow that Huo Yuhao had just forged was a soul tool that incorporated the Zhuge Divine Crossbow's principles and structures.

    Even though he had had the Zhuge Divine Crossbow's original blueprint, Huo Yuhao had had to study it for more than half a year before finally completing this creation. Even Fan Yu didn't know this soul tool's actual structure, as this was the first soul tool that he had created for the Tang Sect. Just as Xuan Ziwen said, the Zhuge Divine Crossbow's force wasn't that formidable, but its authentic extensibility and that normal people could also use it could be considered exemplary and extraordinary features - it could even be said to be something that the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy had been pursuing for a long time.

    The number-one research topic pursued by the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy was how they could enable normal people to use soul tools. This research topic focused on empirical principles, and not how soul tools were made or how they operated.

    Xuan Ziwen grabbed Huo Yuhao's hands and said, "Tell me right now, how did you do that? How did you create such an impressive soul tool? No, sorry, I'm too excited. Sell it to me - sell your research to me. You can name any price you want. How about that?"

    Huo Yuhao's impression of Xuan Ziwen became a little better as he watched Xuan Ziwen's exhilaration. He could feel that Xuan Ziwen was the kind of person that would give everything he had for his research, and these kinds of people were usually purer, and didn't have too many ulterior motives.

    "Teacher Xuan, I'm here for your guidance. Did I pass the assessment?"

    "Of course you've passed. Are you selling this soul tool? Even though its empirical principles may not be enough to solve the problem, it will be able to give great inspiration... Wait, I don't know your name yet."

    Huo Yuhao sounded a little exasperated, and replied, "My name is Huo Yuhao."

    "Alright, alright. Huo Yuhao, tell me - can you tell me your research findings?" Xuan Ziwen asked eagerly.

    Huo Yuhao shook his head without hesitation. "I'm sorry, teacher Xuan, I can't sell it to you. I'm sure you're aware of the competition between the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy and Shrek Academy. More importantly, the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy belongs to the Sun Moon Empire. You should understand how frightening it could be if soul tools that could be used by normal people were eventually dispersed to the military."

    Xuan Ziwen's brows creased tightly and said, "That means you're not willing to sell?"

    Huo Yuhao replied with a resolute and uncompromising tone, "No, I'm not. You don't look like a belligerent, so do you really want to use my research to incite conflict and war? Even if it's for assistance, I belong to the Star Luo Empire, and I cannot give my research findings to the Sun Moon Empire."

    Xuan Ziwen's facial expressions changed continuously as he said. "Aren't you afraid of me doing something to you because of your research?"

    Huo Yuhao smiled plainly and answered, "You probably wouldn't have told me that if you did harbor any such intentions. Furthermore, Shrek Academy can't be so easily bullied and pushed around by others. Even though your cultivation is much higher than mine, I have a ten percent chance of taking you down with me at this distance - do you believe me?"

    Xuan Ziwen didn't explode in a fit of fury like Huo Yuhao imagined he would. Instead, Xuan Ziwen had a look of genuine sincerity and said, "Alright, then tell me - what will it take for you to share your research findings with me? How about I give everything I have to teach and mentor you? I will use my own research findings in exchange for yours. You have to know that my latest research findings are extraordinarily impressive, and one of them is controlling soul tools from a distance. This is something that only I can do within the entire Illustrious Virtue Hall. Even though it's a Class 8 soul tool, people have touted it to be the Class 9 soul tool among Class 8 soul tools."

    Huo Yuhao still shook his head with a calm expression on his face. He didn't know that if Jing Hongchen, the Hallmaster of the Virtuous Hall, heard Xuan Ziwen's words, he probably would have vomited blood.

    "Don't you understand?" Xuan Ziwen could tell that Huo Yuhao disregarded his own research findings, and immediately grew furious.

    Huo Yuhao said plainly, "I don't really understand, teacher Xuan. However, I can tell that your research findings are more suitable for the national military, and not so much for personal use. However, I'm not a soldier. As for reconnaissance abilities, do have a look."

    Huo Yuhao's eyes glowed as he spoke. Pale golden light flowed out, and his Spiritual Detection immediately landed on Xuan Ziwen's body.

    Three-dimensional images immediately appeared in Xuan Ziwen's mind. He felt his body quiver vigorously as he could clearly feel everything within five hundred meters around him. Everything, including things outside the laboratory, were all part of this mystical detection ability.

    Huo Yuhao didn't give him much time to experience it, and he withdrew his soul skill as soon as he activated it. He was still gazing calmly at Xuan Ziwen. He revealed his abilities because he had a faint feeling that he could make a breakthrough with this teacher Xuan. This breakthrough would be immeasurably beneficial for both Shrek Academy and the Tang Sect.

    "You..." Xuan Ziwen gazed at Huo Yuhao, his words stuck in his throat, rendered completely speechless momentarily. "That's not possible! You can't be a spirit-type soul master, just judging from the soul skills you displayed forging the soul tool. You..."

    "Heh. It's not really a secret-I have twin martial souls; one assault-type, one spiritual control-type. The files you academy has on me should say about as much." With his experiences in the Continental Advanced Soul Master Academy Soul Dueling Tournament, there wasn't much hidden about him, in the eyes of the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy, from two years ago. Huo Yuhao was a spirit-type soul master, making his instincts keenly accurate, and he could sense that this teacher Xuan wasn't someone sent with malicious intentions at all. His blistering passion for soul tools gave Huo Yuhao an idea.

    "Spirit-type? Assault-type?" Xuan Ziwen's eyes instantly began to sparkle. He grabbed Huo Yuhao's shoulders and said, "A soul master with twin martial souls-and one of them is a spirit-type! What a heaven-sent blessing!. This is great, just too great."

    Huo Yuhao forced a laugh and said, "Don't be so excited, teacher Xuan. Can you let go of me first?"

    "Oh, sorry." Xuan Ziwen's face was flushed red from all the excitement. "Spirit-type-you live up to the Shrek Academy name! Wow, you actually have a spirit-type martial soul. Yuhao, what's your soul power rank?" It wasn't as simple as just accepting Huo Yuhao, within this brief conversation he even changed his form of addressing him.

    "Rank 40. However, my spirit-type soul is the primary soul for now, and spirit-type souls are just too few and far between, so I just haven't been able to get a fourth ring yet. I'm still a three-ringed Soul Elder." Huo Yuhao gave a detailed explanation. The thought from earlier flared up again as he saw the fiery passion in Xuan Ziwen's eyes.

    Xuan Ziwen frowned and said, "Rank 40? That's a little too low. We could have a go if you had at least six soul rings."

    Huo Yuhao was momentarily speechless, and couldn't help but remind him. "I'm only fourteen this year, teacher Xuan! Not twenty-four!"

    "Uh... Right, I forgot. Regardless, you've won my approval with your abilities. I will admit that with the Spiritual Detection alone, I am confident in mentoring you to become a top-tier soul engineer, even if you'd never touched soul tools before. I just have a few more questions for you, Yuhao."

    Huo Yuhao nodded.

    Xuan Ziwen contemplated for a short while, lowered his voice and asked, "First off, can you control your Spiritual Detection's area of effect? More specifically, can you reduce the area of effect in exchange for accuracy and precision?"

    Huo Yuhao nodded and said, "I can do that for myself. However, I can't do that if I'm sharing my Spiritual Detection with others."

    Xuan Ziwen said contentedly, "That's impressive enough as is. Soul engineers need to rely on hard work to learn and research, they can't just rely on strength to create things-strength is a supporting tool. My second question is: Can your Spiritual Detection reach deep into physical materials to perceive the transformations within them?

    Huo Yuhao said without hesitation, "Yes, but only to a certain level. To put it simply, I can't look deep inside the most complex things, but a human body is no problem. Naturally, that also means that I can perceive soul power transformations inside someone."

    Xuan Ziwen didn't expect Huo Yuhao to be so honest and straightforward with him. He gave an astonished glance as he looked over at Huo Yuhao, then he tilted his head slightly as he said, "Truly a powerful spirit-type martial soul. My last question: Will you accept me as your teacher, as a disciple? My hope is that you leave Shrek Academy and join the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy. This might sound outrageous, but I can guarantee you direct entrance to the Illustrious Virtue Hall, without any entry examinations at all. I will teach you all I have to offer, and mentor you into a top-tier soul engineer, and you will be a part in our most important and substantial research projects. Plus, I daresay that the Illustrious Virtue Hall is at least dozens of years ahead in soul tool research from any other power."

    Huo Yuhao smiled and replied, "I realized that in the trip to The Radiant City, teacher Xuan, and I'm sure what you've just said is true. Dozens may even be a conservative estimate. However, I need to know what will happen if the day comes, where the Illustrious Virtue Hall's technology and soul tools leave them entirely unafraid of even the most powerful soul masters. Will the Sun Moon Empire be as peaceful as they are now?"

    "Uh..." Xuan Ziwen frowned and replied impatiently, "This isn't something that researchers like us should be worried about. We should only care about how to produce more magnificent, practical, and novel soul tools."

    Huo Yuhao loosed a faint sigh and said, "That's because this is your country, but it isn't mine. I don't want to, nor can I, fuel conflicts because of my passion for soul tools, which leads to the destruction of life."

    Xuan Ziwen muttered indifferently, "You're too full of yourself. You think you can incite a war by yourself?"

    Huo Yuhao said seriously, "Maybe I'm not powerful enough to incite a war, but I won't give my abilities to a rival country-do forgive me. You are my teacher now, so I hope that means you're willing to guide me."

    Xuan Ziwen's face seemed a little black, but he had to admit that this exchange student from Shrek Academy possesses the qualifications to shake him to the core. Perhaps this little fella didn't have much experience in regards to soul tool research and concepts, but he has solid foundations and a creativity that is imperative for soul tool research. Furthermore, he has a spirit-type martial soul, and that's as unique and extraordinary as it could get.

    Xuan Ziwen sighed and said, "That's a pity. However, I'm still willing to mentor you. The only difference is that I can't share some of the most crucial information from the Illustrious Virtue Hall. Of course, we can still negotiate if you're willing to make an exchange using your research findings." He smiled sheepishly after he spoke.

    Huo Yuhao said, "Have you ever thought about leaving this place, teacher Xuan?"

    Xuan Ziwen was slightly taken aback, and shook his head as he said, "No. Why would I leave? I have always wanted to become a top-tier soul engineer since I was kid. I want to enable the civilians, so that they too can use soul tools, so that I can change their lives forever, and perhaps even the entire world. Across the entire Continent, only the Illustrious Virtue Hall can provide sufficient budget and a research direction for me. Even though the Illustrious Virtue Hall can't teach me much, they still have the best research facilities. Shrek Academy may have superior soul masters, but they are far inferior in terms of soul tool research facilities."

    Huo Yuhao smiled. "I wasn't about to convince you to join Shrek Academy. I wanted to tell you that the only way for you to obtain my research findings is to join my sect. I accomplished my research by incorporating the esoteric knowledge from my sect, so it doesn't really belong to myself."

    Xuan Ziwen was stunned momentarily and asked subconsciously, "You have a sect? What sect?"

    Huo Yuhao said, "The Tang Sect. I'm not sure if you've heard of it before..."

    Xuan Ziwen contemplated for a short while, and then exclaimed, "The Tang Sect-the one that invented hidden weapons? The Tang Sect that existed during the time of the Heaven Dou Empire?"

    Huo Yuhao nodded his head and asked with a surprised look, "You know of the Heaven Dou Empire?"

    Xuan Ziwen replied, "Of course I do. I come from the Heavenly Soul Empire, but my parents' generation migrated to the Sun Moon Empire."

    Huo Yuhao was even more moved at this. "Then, are you willing to join the Tang Sect?"

    Xuan Ziwen grunted coldly and answered, "Are those lunatic ravings, or are you trying to deceive me? According to what I know, the Tang Sect no longer exists. Even if there are remnants of it lying around, they are extremely weak. Are you sure you can provide me with sufficient research expenses and facilities?"

    Huo Yuhao could feel the contempt and scorn in his voice, and he was instantly infuriated. However, he took a deep breath and pacified his rage quickly, as he had to admit that Tang Sect was indeed in a declining state, and was currently far from enough to attract the likes of Xuan Ziwen.

    "Yes, the Tang Sect cannot afford a top-tier soul engineer like you right now. However, let's make a bet. If the Tang Sect rises again within ten years, and they have a large enough research budget and facilities for you, then you shall join it."

    Xuan Ziwen answered, "You still don't understand what I'm after. I don't care about the money, and I probably don't care about anything else except the profound world of soul tools-much like the research that you just showed me. How about this? I will join your Tang Sect if you can produce ten of these extraordinary research findings."

    Huo Yuhao raised his right hand and placed it before Xuan Ziwen.

    Xuan Ziwen was a little shocked. "What are you doing?"

    Huo Yuhao said with determination, "A promise must be kept! We will high-five to make an oath."

    Xuan Ziwen chuckled and blurted out, "You think it's so easy to produce similar research breakthroughs? I have to say you could even be considered fortunate to have one-some soul engineers cannot even produce one such research breakthrough in a lifetime, let alone ten in different fields."

    Huo Yuhao's eyes sparkled as he gazed at Xuan Ziwen and said, "Teacher Xuan, whether or not I can accomplish this is my problem. I only want to ask you-if I succeed, will you honor your word?"

    The amusement in Xuan Ziwen's eyes disappeared as he lowered his voice and said, "If you can accomplish it, and every soul tool research direction is different, then I will join the Tang Sect."

    "Clap, clap, clap." Three high-fives, and the oath was made.
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