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Chapter 172: Ambush, and the Mysterious Metallic Man

    Four separate bursts of light appeared in four different directions; they all appeared in locations that were densely packed with researchers.

    The explosion came too suddenly, resulting in the soul engineers near them having almost no chance to react. At least a hundred soul engineers were immediately vaporized by the explosions. Hundreds of tables were ripped apart by the terrifying explosion, and bits of metal flew everywhere like a horrifying wave of shrapnel. Cries of pain mixed with the smell of blood. Under the terrifying explosion, these shot everywhere.

    The terrifying explosion even caused the ground to shake. In the huge underground facility, over one-third of all personnel were either injured or killed.

    Huo Yuhao was a relatively new entrant, as he had been in there for less than half a year. Hence, his table was located near the periphery, and not at the center of the explosion.

    Even so, the powerful shockwave from the explosions pushed him and his table back by over 10 meters.

    The survival instincts of the soul engineers manifested themselves at this moment. One-third of all soul engineers were affected, but only a few hundred were killed, mainly from the initial blast. Every soul engineer from the Illustrious Virtue Hall activated their protective soul tools, which helped to mitigate the effects of the explosion. While many were severely injured, the number of deaths was still under control.

    After the explosion, black shadows emerged from the ground. These people were clad entirely in black, and were extremely agile. When they appeared, they started a killing spree in all four directions.

    Looking from the sky, one would discover that a hole about 10 meters wide had appeared at the location of each of the explosions. These men in black emerged from these holes. Not only were they prepared, but they were also very powerful. Immediately, they turned the place into a slaughterhouse.

    While Huo Yuhao hid underneath his table, his spiritual detection was still active. He never expected that a place like the Illustrious Virtue Hall, which possessed such tight security and defenses, would be attacked. The power of these people was beyond his imagination.

    Among them, none seemed to be below the level of a Soul Sage. The moment they appeared, they revealed their martial soul true bodies and started a wild massacre.

    It would be hard to assemble a team like this, even in Shrek Academy!

    Quickly, Huo Yuhao discovered something. Because these men in black were so powerful, they inadvertently revealed their weaknesses.

    When Huo Yuhao triangulated his spiritual detection on the right shoulder of one of the men in black, the man's power suddenly increased 10 times. He was then able to pulverize a Grade 5 soul engineer who was just about to fire a soul tool at him. At this moment, Huo Yuhao understood their origins.

    Body Sect. They were from the Body Sect. However, why would they suddenly attacking the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy? And the Illustrious Virtue Hall?

    Were they mad?

    However, regardless of what he thought right now, there was no way he could leave. These people from the Body Sect did not care about anything else. The moment they entered, they started their killing spree without a second thought.

    After a short while, hundreds of soul engineers lay in pools of blood on the floor. While the soul engineers had started to counter-attack, the people from the Body Sect were more powerful than they had expected. Among them, there were at least 10 of them with the power of a Titled Douluo. How could their soul tools resist?

    Furthermore, all these people wanted to do was destroy. In their hands, the precious tables were ripped apart like scrap. After a short while, the cost of the damage they had done was unthinkable.

    However, Huo Yuhao took solace in the knowledge that He Caitou and Teacher Fan Yu were both not there. They had followed a bunch of students from the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy out to test their soul tools. If not, he would not be able to just hide there.

    However, he could not do this forever. Who knew when men the from Body Sect would come over to his table? While Huo Yuhao was confident in his own abilities, his opponents were Soul Sages! A Soul Sage from the Body Sect was more powerful than a Soul Sage from other places. He could not beat them.

    Damn it! If they came, how could I escape?

    As he thought about that, Huo Yuhao's two hands had already turned into the Ice Empress' Pincers. His right hand released his Darkgolden Terrorclaw as he tapped the floor underneath him forcefully.

    While the floor was covered with a metal layer about 17 centimeters thick, it was soon torn apart by his sharp Darkgolden Terrorclaw. Using both of his hands, he dug furiously at the ground underneath him. Soon, he made an indent. Huo Yuhao then used his strength to tilt his table. Coordinating with his Darkgolden Terrorclaw, the table soon fell over flat on the ground, covering the indent in the ground that he had dug. Unless someone flipped this table over, they would be unable to discover his presence.

    Huo Yuhao lay in the hole in the ground, unmoving. He breathed through a tiny slit between the table and the ground. He used his Spiritual Detection to sense the situation outside.

    As the most powerful research facility for soul tools on the continent, the Illustrious Virtue Hall was not so easily defeated. After a short moment of panic, a piercing alarm sounded, and the Hall's counterattack began.

    A huge soul tool appeared from the domed ceiling. This soul tool was in the shape of a screw, and about 5 meters long. At its thickest, it was about 2 meters wide, and a purplish-blue light started to swirl around it. Then, from its pointy end, it began to shoot rays of purple light at the Body Sect invaders, as if it had eyes.

    When it started, the Body Sect invaders treated it as if it were nothing. They tried to resist it using their powerful soul power. However, they soon realized that something was amiss.

    The purple light which came from the roof gave off a terrifying current. While they were able to avoid being injured by the current, they were unable to shake off the paralysis the current caused. A Titled Douluo was struck by at least 10 rays of purple light, causing him to be pinned to the ground.

    The soul engineers, who had been on the verge of retreat before this, vigorously counterattacked. Soon, the Body Sect began to take casualties too.

    At this moment, a figure dashed through the sky and was soon suspended in mid-air. Pursued by countless rays of purple light, his boy shone like an illusory shadow. However, not a single ray of purple could land on him.

    Then, the domed ceiling turned green. Under the terrifying green light, all of the soul tools on the domed ceiling melted.

    "Go." The figure stabilized himself in mid-air and waved his hands. Instantly, the green liquid started to fly in the direction of the soul engineers.

    "We won't be poisoned, how dare you!" A voice resounded. A film of red light suddenly started to spread as it blocked the green liquid.

    From the depths of the Hall, dozens of figures zoomed out. Leading them was Jing Hongchen.

    When Jing Hongchen saw the carnage underneath him, his eyes almost popped out of his head in rage. Since the establishment of the Illustrious Virtue Hall, it had never experienced carnage like this before. Everywhere he looked, he could see the corpses of soul engineers.

    On a battlefield, he was confident in his ability to destroy the Body Sect invaders with his soul engineers from the Illustrious Virtue Hall. However, their attack came too suddenly. Furthermore, the Illustrious Virtue Hall was a few hundred meters underground. Not only did outsiders not know of its location, but they shouldn't even know how to penetrate it! Who could have thought that the Body Sect would chose the dumbest, but most effective, way? They dug a tunnel from an unknown location, and then attacked its most vulnerable spot and broke through its defenses.

    The black-robed man in mid-air appeared to not have heard Jing Hongchen's words as he said coldly, "Kill!"

    The black-robed man who had just destroyed a large amount soul tools was naturally the leader of the Body Sect, Du Busi. However, since he had brought the black-robed men here, he would not reveal his identity, even if everyone knew who he was.

    Jing Hongchen also roared in rage. "Spare no one!" As he said that, a powerful red light shot out from his body. Behind him, a metallic light that resembled red lotuses spun rapidly and came together. In a split second, thousands of slender, red rods were aimed at the sky.

    A red helmet appeared on Jing Hongchen's head, a metallic mask covered his face, and countless rays of red light flew rapidly towards the leader of the Body Sect.

    The other powerful members of the Illustrious Virtue Hall who accompanied Jing Hongchen revealed their soul tools as well. They attacked the Body Sect vigorously as both sides clashed head-on. Instantly, soul power brimmed in the underground space, rocking it with the sounds of explosions.

    Huo Yuhao felt his heart thumping rapidly in his chest. This was the first time he had seen something like this.

    Why did the Body Sect attack the Illustrious Virtue Hall so brazenly? Could it be for the benefit of the three countries on the Douluo Continent? Impossible! According to what teacher had said, the Body Sect only cared about its own interests. Everything it did was for its own interests. Right now, they had made themselves enemies of the Illustrious Virtue Hall. What benefits could they reap?

    Huo Yuhao wracked his brain, but he couldn't think a reason for it. All he cared about right now was his own safety.

    Three rays of light from soul tools had already landed on Huo Yuhao's table. Every single one of them was capable of dissolving metal, leaving the table heavily damaged. Once the table was completely destroyed, he would have nowhere to hide. In a fight between so many powerful cultivators, if he was exposed he would be torn to pieces.

    What could he do? Huo Yuhao didn't know... Right now, all he could do was dig deeper into the ground beneath him and fully expand his spiritual detection, praying that he would remain safe from the clashes above.

    However, the battles between soul powers was too powerful, already causing a strong soul power storm. Under these circumstances, his spiritual power would be torn to shreds when exploring. After he tried unsuccessfully to probe the outside world with his spiritual power, resulting in him bleeding from the mouth and nose, he gave up.

    He wouldn't die here; that would be too frustrating. It would be better for him to go out. However, if he did go out, which side should he help?

    If not for already being directly in the midst of it, Huo Yuhao would steer clear of this cesspool. It would be good for the Body Sect to kill more members of the Illustrious Virtue Hall, as this would delay the impending war. However, he was directly involved right now! If he died here, it would be a tragic.

    At this moment, Huo Yuhao felt his spiritual detection picking something up. As he could not explore outside, he used his spiritual detection to sense the earth underneath instead, and pick the best spot to dig.

    As his power increased, his spiritual detection also became more powerful. Even though he was buried in dirt, he could sense everything within a certain radius. Just now, he felt the powerful spiritual power crushing him since he began digging relax temporarily.

    This made Huo Yuhao think of something as he probed.

    Indeed, just as he'd predicted, there was a tunnel about five meters long underneath him. The tunnel was extremely narrow, and only one person could crawl through it at any one time. Evidently, it was new.

    "Excellent, if I can enter this tunnel, then I won't be attacked. Furthermore, the air circulation in this tunnel should be okay. Breathing won't be a problem."

    Happily, Huo Yuhao used all his strength to continue digging underneath him.

    Boom! His table was struck by a soul cannon shell, sending it flying into the air. Some shattered metal pieces were blocked by Huo Yuhao's Ice Empress' Armor. By now, he'd already dug two meters, and he extended his body. His left hand using an Ice Empress' Pincer, and his right hand had the Darkgolden Terrorclaw. Using every ounce of his strength, he smashed forward, and finally breached into the tunnel.

    Huo Yuhao didn't delay, not even for even a second. He wriggled, and dropped into the tunnel.

    Indeed, when he dropped into it, he felt the previous sense of danger dropping drastically. Huo Yuhao sighed in relief. However, he couldn't stay here for long. Above him, a battle raged. What if it caused the tunnel to collapse? Once he got his bearings, he discovered that this tunnel stretched far into the depths of the Illustrious Virtue Hall. Naturally, there would be more powerful Illustrious Virtue Hall soul engineers there. It would probably be safer.

    Unfortunately this tunnel was not tall enough, and he could only advance by crawling forward. First, he had to leave the danger zone. Anything else was of secondary importance.

    When he entered the depths of the tunnel, the sounds of the explosions outside began to soften. Huo Yuhao sighed in relief. He'd managed to dodge this bullet. In the end he still did not know who would be crowned victor.

    This place was a few hundred meters deep. Regardless who it was, they wouldn't use their most powerful attacks. If the entire underground facility collapsed, even a Titled Douluo won't be able to carry the weight of a few hundred meters of earth! Huo Yuhao savagely thought, that the best outcome would be for both sides to be severely injured in this battle.

    When he advanced forward, he felt the air clearing up. Could it be an exit?

    The moment he thought about the word 'exit', he tightened up. Now he realized that this tunnel was evidently not dug by the Illustrious Virtue Hall...

    Could it be that the attack of the Body Sect was only a diversion to capture Jing Hongchen's attention? Could their true target actually be through this tunnel, which he had coincidentally ventured into? Were they after some precious soul tool from the Illustrious Virtue Hall? Or... Huo Yuhao trembled. He thought of a possibility, which was also one of his objectives in this expedition. Even though it seemed impossible to him, he had to consider it. If the objectives of Body Sect were identical to his own, then everything would be easier to explain.

    Embryo, the hundred thousand year soul beast embryo. They were after that.

    When he thought about the three red hundred thousand year soul rings around Du Busi, everything became clear to Huo Yuhao.

    He personally witnessed the highlight of the Star Luo Auction held in Star Luo City being awarded to the highest bidder.

    He also knew that someone said that they were willing to purchase the item for 100 million golden soul coins. After this was announced, the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy never rested. Even when they came over as exchange students, many people were still coveting that item. But the defenses of the Illustrious Virtue Hall were too powerful, and no one knew where the embryo was hidden.

    100 million golden soul coins. An astronomical sum. This was aside from the immeasurable value of the hundred thousand year soul beast embryo.

    Huo Yuhao heard Elder Mu say that in the past one hundred years, very few hundred thousand year soul beasts had been killed, particularly within the Great Star Dou Forest. The soul beasts became more powerful, and word went around that the killing of a hundred thousand year soul beast would have terrible consequences on its killers.

    However, a hundred thousand year soul beast could bring a Titled Douluo's strength to another level. Not only did its soul ring and soul bone provide soul skills, but the overall strength increase it gave a soul master was much more terrifying. It could be said that as long as a soul master's ninth soul ring was a hundred thousand year one, he would definitely be able to become a Rank 95 Transcendent Douluo.

    Even Du Busi, who had three hundred thousand year soul rings, may not be able to reach the level of a Rank 99 Ultimate Douluo. Of course, at his level, there were some negative consequences attached with increasing his power using soul rings. Which was why he did not dare to face off against Elder Mu.

    What bravery, Body Sect! They dared to rob the Illustrious Virtue Hall. Only after they made their preparations, of course. After all, they were only a sect, and not a whole country. If the Illustrious Virtue Hall wanted revenge, they still had to find them first. Furthermore, they took steps to conceal their identities, meaning that no one could say for sure they were responsible.

    After he had discovered their goal, what should he do? Huo Yuhao was put in a difficult spot, because the hundred thousand year soul beast embryo was part of the reason for his journey too!

    Elder Mu had spoken with him about this, and because Huo Yuhao himself had his Spiritual Detection and Imitation, Elder Mu told him that if he was given the chance, he should make a go for it. Of course, the pre-condition was that he had to ensure his own safety. Even if he were discovered, his opponents would not hurt him. At most, they would send him back...

    When Huo Yuhao came to the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy, he abandoned this idea. The defenses of the Illustrious Virtue Hall were tight, and it was equipped with the latest and most powerful soul tools. It was impossible for him to enter undetected. Perhaps he could sneak in easily, but he could not get rid of the defenses.

    Who could predict the arrival of the Body Sect? They unleashed a vigorous attack, and then sent someone to sneak in and steal it. This plan was surely formulated over a long time. Evidently, the Body Sect was not confident of destroying the Illustrious Virtue Hall in one blow. Attacking them head-on like this was only a diversion; their true objective was past this tunnel.

    So... should he head over, or not?

    Huo Yuhao knew that whoever the Body Sect sent to infiltrate the Illustrious Virtue Hall must be someone that Du Busi viewed as extremely important and powerful. Someone he couldn't beat easily. However, would Huo Yuhao just abandon it so easily? This was a rare chance!

    Faced with the Body Sect's powerhouse, his only advantage was his familiarity with soul tools.

    Time waited for no man. Without giving much thought to it, Huo Yuhao decided, No!

    Compared to the hundred thousand year soul beast embryo, his life was far more important. Furthermore, he already had a million year soul ring and a hundred thousand year soul ring. He shouldn't be too greedy, as it would lead to catastrophic consequences. Could he betray the trust of Brother Skydream, the Ice Empress, and Electrolux?

    When he thought through it, Huo Yuhao calmed down quickly. But he still couldn't allow the Body Sect to get the hundred thousand year soul beast embryo. If it remained here, he at least had a chance to get it. If the Body Sect took it, he would have no such chance.

    He had to find a way to contact the Hallmaster.

    Just as he thought about any way to contact Jing Hongchen, a violent vibration could be felt.

    The entire building appeared to have started trembling. A boom sounded where Huo Yuhao had been, and a chunk of the tunnel collapsed. Thick mud and dust came straight towards him.

    Oh no! The color drained from Huo Yuhao's face. The battle outside was too ferocious, causing the tunnel to collapse. Furthermore, the entire underground facility was trembling violently, and the surrounding earth and mud were on the brink of collapsing.

    No matter what danger lay at the end of the tunnel, it was better than being buried alive! Heaven toyed with humans. Huo Yuhao did not even take a second before he ran into the depths of the tunnel.

    Just as he ran out, the tunnel behind him collapsed. It was impossible for him to exit the way he had come unless he wanted to be buried alive.

    He did not know whether he should laugh or cry, but Huo Yuhao only had one option right now. Taking a deep breath, he thought, Since heaven wills it, I shall try and obtain salvation through peril.

    After he moved ahead a bit, the tunnel in front of him suddenly started to twist and turn. This confused Huo Yuhao. While he had never been to the mysterious parts of the Illustrious Virtue Hall, he could tell from the tunnel that the intruder had done his planning. Even underground, he was able to accurately sense the shape of the earth. How could the secrets of what lay underneath the Illustrious Virtue Hall be leaked?

    -----------

    The underground base underneath the Illustrious Virtue Hall...

    A fierce explosion and tremors forced both sides to stop. All of them realized that if the place collapsed, no one would make it out alive.

    "Du Busi, why?" Jing Hongchen asked through gritted teeth. Suddenly, he sensed something. Immediately, he trembled in rage as he cursed in anger, "Bastard, you dare to...!" As he said that, he ran toward the interior of the Illustrious Virtue Hall. He suddenly recalled where exactly the large explosion came from.

    However, how could the Body Sect members, who were so close to their goal, allow him to interfere? A terrifying green storm descended from the sky. Du Busi, who did not fear tapping into his origin soul power, vanished. A countless number of terrifying figures flew towards the powerful members of Illustrious Virtue Hall.

    They evidently wanted to kill Jing Hongchen. Hence, they disregarded the attacks of the other soul engineers.

    Helpless, Jing Hongchen could only retaliate. With his Grade 9 soul tool, his power matched that of Du Busi, who was likely the only Transcendent Douluo on the continent. With Rank 99 soul power, if he did not fear the collapse of this underground world, more than one-third of the soul engineers would have already perished.

    The battle resumed as both sides resumed their intense fight. Yet, the number of casualties did not increase much. After all, they did not fight with all their strength, but instead focused on defending! Du Busi's aim was to pin down the powerful soul engineers of Illustrious Virtue Hall and create a chance for his people.

    ------

    "Ahh..." Huo Yuhao left the tunnel and went into another one.

    Soul tool lights flashed from both sides of the tunnel, indicating that the structure was unstable.

    This should be the interior part of Illustrious Virtue Hall. However, where was the person who came in before him?

    As Huo Yuhao ascended, he cloaked himself in a layer of fog. After some deliberation, he also changed his form.

    Hidden in the fog, he put on a face mask to make himself look ordinary. Then, using Imitation, he transformed into Du Busi!

    One must say that his control over his spiritual power was extremely precise. Not only did his stature and appearance resemble Du Busi, but he even conjured a black robe that looked like the one Du Busi was wearing. In short, he looked like Du Busi without his veil.

    His heart pounded quickly. However, since he was there, there was no chance for escape.

    As he thought, he slowed his steps and expanded his Spiritual Detection, probing out in front of him.

    After he walked forward a bit longer, he felt a tug in his heart. He quickly entered a tunnel to his left, where a metallic black door stood open. Inside it was an extremely spacious lab.

    Right now, the lab was completely empty. From the energy he sensed, he could tell that many of the powerful Illustrious Virtue Hall members had rushed out from here.

    Since he was here, Huo Yuhao had to explore. He dispelled the fog around him and put on a veil. He then entered the vast lab.

    The lab was indeed large, round and at least 100 meters wide and 30 meters high. When Huo Yuhao entered, a huge object immediately caught his attention.

    It was a huge man made out of steel. It was at least 15 meters tall, and its huge frame was almost completely made of steel. From its appearance, it looked simple, but the frame of its body was complete. Its chest was propped open and inside there was a chair-like object.

    Huo Yuhao did not just look at it with his eyes. He even made a sweep of it with his spiritual detection. After he swept it, he retreated quickly, and almost fell down.

    He found thousands of formation arrays on the metallic man's body. He had almost never felt such precise formation arrays before. Even more terrifying, he could sense a horrifying power in the body of the metallic man. This belonged to the metal itself. Yet, how could he fully understand it in such a short time?

    What... what exactly is it?

    Huo Yuhao paused, and then walked forward quickly, stopping in front of the metallic man. The closer he got, the bigger it appeared to him. Before the metallic man, he felt like an ant.

    He tried to use his Darkgolden Terrorclaw to slash at the metallic man. Sparks flew, but all that he did was leave a white scar on the metal. Huo Yuhao did not use his powerful soul power, but normally, not even gold or silver could resist his claws. This metal man was incredibly resilient!

    This was the highest level of research in Illustrious Virtue Hall. Could they be developing the metallic man for war?

    He raised his head to look at the opening in the metallic man's chest. The control chamber should be there. As he thought about how he controlled the all-terrain exploration soul tool, he realized how insignificant it was compared to the metallic man. This confirmed his suspicion that this metallic man was extremely important to Illustrious Virtue Hall, and that it was at the highest level of research for them in terms of soul tools.

    However, how could he take it away? This was too huge, and it was not something Huo Yuhao could store with his storage-type soul tool.

    If he couldn't take it away, he had to destroy it. At the very least, he could inflict some damage on Illustrious Virtue Hall. However, it was too strong, and with his power, there was no way he could do that in such a short time.

    As Huo Yuhao agonized over it, he directed his Spiritual Detection from the metallic man to the area around him.

    "Eh, what's that?"

    There was scaffolding at various heights around the metallic man. They were made so that its creators could further refine it. Near Huo Yuhao, there was a low metallic platform. Some of the items on this platform were connected to the metallic man.

    His body flashed, and he arrived before the platform, the connected items in front of him.

    There was an item that was slightly larger than a palm, which resembled a mirror. A silvery-white ornamental layer surrounded it. Formation arrays were engraved on top of it. At its center, there was a huge sapphire that protruding. The sapphire was originally light-blue, but six rays of starlight now shone on it with an oddly hypnotic light.

    "Could... could this be a starlight sapphire?" Huo Yuhao's face changed color. "What a large starlight sapphire!"

    Starlight sapphire was a mystical sapphire that contained a massive amount of energy. It contained mysterious spatial energy, and was a good material to make space-type soul tools. Placing one piece the size of a thumbnail into a storage-type soul tool could increase its storage space by almost a cubic meter.

    Starlight sapphire was valuable because there were very little of it. There were even fewer large pieces, which were extremely precious.

    No one had ever seen or heard of a piece as large as the one before him! How could Huo Yuhao not be surprised? At the same time, he pondered its uses.

    Could that be all? Huo Yuhao thumbed the huge starlight sapphire and lifted it, along with the metallic formation it was inlaid into. He used his Mysterious Heaven Technique and slowly inserted a bit of his soul power into it.

    A powerful sensation started to spread from the starlight sapphire. Huo Yuhao felt his soul power leaving him rapidly. In a matter of seconds, almost a third of it was gone.

    At this moment, he suddenly realized that the top of the metallic man's head had started to glow blue in tandem with the light emitted from the starlight sapphire.

    A ray of blue light from the starlight sapphire shone out, and started to spread. The metallic man's head gave off a similar light. When the two lights met each other, a bright blue glow suddenly illuminated the entire lab.

    The odd distortion in space shocked Huo Yuhao once more. However, all he could do was stand there, unmoving.

    Fortunately, the blue light did not last too long. When the light faded, Huo Yuhao discovered to his surprise that the metallic man had disappeared.
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