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Chapter 205.3: Extortion

    Jing Hongchen didn't speak much on the road, and he just silently channeled his flying-type soul tool. Huo Yuhao quietly checked the contents inside his Starlight Sapphire ring.

    He could only describe what he saw as dazzling and dizzying. The truth was that he hadn't expected Jing Hongchen to take out so much in the end - the Zhuge Divine Crossbow's automatic mechanism was good, but it wasn't worth even twenty percent of these precious materials, and Huo Yuhao was satisfied enough with his hoard. If Jing Hongchen hadn't sought him out today, he would have looked for Jing Hongchen anyway to agree to his offer. He hadn't expected to receive such a pleasant surprise. However, Huo Yuhao felt a little wary of Jing Hongchen's generosity.

    After several hours, Jing Hongchen guided them to the spot that both parties had agreed on a long time ago.

    Jing Hongchen brought the group to the ground. The people from Shrek Academy were already there on the other side.

    The people that came forward to complete the exchange were Yan Shaozhe from Shrek Academy's Martial Soul Department, accompanied by Xian Lin'er of Shrek Academy's Soul Tool Department. Both Deans were notable individuals, and their presence indicated how much emphasis they placed on this exchange. However, they were the only two who were here; the others behind them were the exchange students from the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy.

    Xiao Hongchen and Meng Hongchen didn't look that different from before. In the end, they had already grown up before the exchange program had begun. Huo Yuhao, however, had still been in his adolescence.

    The siblings seemed more calm and stable, and they stared at the Huo Yuhao the moment he appeared.

    Huo Yuhao wore a faint smile on his face, and he appeared as casual and indifferent as ever.

    "We meet again, Hallmaster Hongchen." Yan Shaozhe came forward with a bright smile on his face. Even though he was talking to Jing Hongchen, he was looking at Huo Yuhao.

    Huo Yuhao's frame had changed quite a bit, and even his aura was very different from before, but Yan Shaozhe would definitely not recognize the wrong person.

    His demeanor is more withdrawn, and his eyes are more plain and undramatic - this fella has improved so much!

    Xian Lin'er's expression was a lot warmer than Yan Shaozhe's. She understood the contributions Huo Yuhao hade made to Shrek Academy over these two years better than Yan Shaozhe. She could even say that he had relied entirely upon himself to advance Shrek Academy's Soul Tool Department by more than a thousand years.

    Jing Hongchen would never know that Huo Yuhao had refined and perfected much of the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy's soul tool blueprints using his spiritual power, and had passed them on to the Soul Tool Department for research and manufacture. The Soul Tool Department had improved by leaps and bounds over the past two years, and Huo Yuhao could be considered Shrek Academy's hero.

    "Greetings, Dean Yan. Your glamor is the same as usual." Jing Hongchen smiled as he stepped forward to shake hands with Yan Shaozhe and Xian Lin'er. The two sneaky Deans were all smiles, and people who didn't know what was going on would definitely think they were the best of friends.

    Yan Shaozhe smiled and said, "I have brought your grandchildren back in one piece, Hallmaster. They have improved a lot over the past two years. They are hardworking, and their desire to learn is impressive - I am very satisfied, and I hope we can have more exchange programs like this in the future."

    Jing Hongchen chuckled and said, "We can discuss things when we return, and see whether this exchange program can become a regular thing. If it turns out to be the case, I'm sure it will be very beneficial to both our academies' development."

    "Then we shall wait for your good news." Yan Shaozhe released Jing Hongchen's hand, and the two of them greeted each other with smiles on their faces before they gestured to their respective students.

    Fan Yu quickly brought Huo Yuhao and the others behind the two Deans. Xiao Hongchen, Meng Hongchen, and the others acted similarly, and everyone switched positions.

    Only the students knew what they had learned and how much they had taken away from more than two years of exchange learning. At this moment, the exchange program had finally come to an end.

    "Farewell!" Jing Hongchen didn't want to remain any longer, and he greeted the two Deans one more time before he unleashed his flying-type soul tool along with his students, and they all soared into the sky over the city and far into the distance. They weren't afraid of attracting the attention of others.

    Yan Shaozhe watched them disappear over the horizon before he withdrew his gaze. He surveyed the students that had just completed the exchange program and said, "Welcome home, children..."

    It was just a simple sentence, but the students from the Soul Tool Department could feel a surge of warmth in their hearts, and everyone's eyes began to swell with tears. Yes! It's time to go home.

    Huo Yuhao stepped briskly beside Yan Shaozhe and whispered, "I have some things to tell you, Dean Yan."

    "Eh?" In terms of seniority, they were both Elder Mu's disciples, and Huo Yuao could even be considered his little junior brother. Furthermore, Huo Yuhao had gone through so much toil, and had given so much blood and sweat to the academy over the past two years. Yan Shaozhe was acutely aware of the amount of precious resources and whatnot that Huo Yuhao had sent back to Shrek Academy.

    "Take everyone to have a meal in the hotel over there, Fan Yu. We're not in a hurry like Jing Hongchen, and we can hit the road after everyone has eaten."

    "Alright." Fan Yu was now the Soul Tool Department's vice-Dean, and he was also a member of the Sea God's Pavilion. His status was very different from before.

    After everyone left, and only Yan Shaozhe and Xian Lin'er remained, Yan Shaozhe said amiably, "You can speak now, Yuhao."

    Gentle spiritual undulations appeared, and Yan Shaozhe wasn't seen doing anything at all as a layer of spiritual power that the naked eye couldn't detect enveloped the three of them. Even if someone was right beside them, that person wouldn't be able to hear their discussion.

    He was a Transcendent Douluo, after all. Huo Yuhao was a spiritual-type soul master, and he knew that even he couldn't manipulate his spiritual power as precisely as Dean Yan could.

    "Dean Yan, Dean Xian, it's like this: I think the Illustrious Virtue Hall might be harboring some evil intentions against us, and they might attack us on the way back."

    "Oh? Does Jing Hongchen have no shame at all?" Xian Lin'er asked skeptically.

    Huo Yuhao said, "He has too much pride. I sold him a design on the way back and asked for an exorbitant price. I quoted many precious metals to him, and he seemed very unwilling back then. However, he still agreed before we left, and we didn't negotiate any further. I think he might want to ambush me on the way back to take those things back."

    Yan Shaozhe asked curiously, "How much precious metal did you extort from him, exactly? He's the Hallmaster of the Illustrious Virtue Hall, and he doesn't even have that bit of magnanimity? Plus, the design you sold him, will it...?"

    Huo Yuhao chortled and whispered something, and Yan Shaozhe and Xian Lin'er's expression immediately grew strange.

    Yan Shaozhe forced down the urge to laugh and said, "You're becoming more and more evil, young man. What if you make him so angry that he decides to act on it? Come, let me see your harvest."

    Huo Yuhao took out the Starlight Sapphire ring on his finger. He didn't give it to Yan Shaozhe, but passed it to Xian Lin'er instead. Xian Lin'er was ultimately more familiar with the precious metals used to forge soul tools.

    Xian Lin'er took the ring and briefly scanned its contents with her spiritual power. A look of astonishment came over her face, and she stared at Huo Yuhao with incredulous eyes. "You didn't empty the Illustrious Virtue Hall's secret warehouse, did you, Yuhao? This... this is too much! Oh my god! The value of these items almost can't be calculated with money. No wonder that you think they want to attack you. If I were on the other end of the deal, even I might not be able to resist making a move against you."

    "Let me see." Yan Shaozhe took the ring from Xian Lin'er's hands. Even though he didn't know much about precious metals, he still had the ability to recognize certain things. He infused his spiritual power into the ring, and could immediately feel dense undulations of energy, and a tremendous volume of light.

    "Well done!" Yan Shaozhe handed the ring back to Huo Yuhao, and he could no longer hide the smile on his face.

    "I can't wait to find out how the Hallmaster's face will look once he uses your design to craft things. Hahahaha!"

    Xian Lin'er snapped, "Stop laughing. Right now, the most important thing is to ensure the children's safe return home. It's alright if Jing Hongchen does nothing, but once he does, then it will be a heavy attack, and an operation that he will only execute if he's confident of success. At that time, his target may not only be Yuhao; it might include the both of us, and he might make sure that we never return to Shrek Academy. This will be good news for the Sun Moon Empire."

    Yan Shaozhe smiled plainly and said, "Whether he has the ability to do so remains to be seen. What suggestions do you have, Yuhao?"

    A person with Yan Shaozhe's status from another academy would never seek a student's opinion this way. The way his question was phrased practically meant Huo Yuhao had been lifted to almost the same status as himself. He was trying to solicit Huo Yuhao's opinion, and this wasn't just simply asking a question.

    Huo Yuhao contemplated momentarily, then said, "I think we should split up. I am their target, and you two might be their targets as well. This means that everything they do will be targeted towards us, and they need to eliminate us with a single strike, so I doubt they will split up themselves. In the end, the others don't really mean much to them. If we split up, our party will have three people and we will be a lot more mobile than before. If we travel with the other students, we have to watch out for them and protect them, which might put us in more danger."

    Yan Shaozhe nodded and said, "Alright, we'll follow your idea. We are aware of everything you've done for the academy, Yuhao. Xian Lin'er raised this to the Sea God's Pavilion, and the Elders have all approved to give you a seat in the Sea God's Pavilion. Even though you'll only have the last seat, you are the youngest member of the Sea God's Pavilion in history."

    Huo Yuhao was taken aback. He had never expected the academy to accord and bestow such glory upon him. "Dean Yan, I..."

    Yan Shaozhe patted him on the shoulder and said, "You can call me senior brother from now on. We can't mix up the hierarchy - otherwise, our teacher's spirit in the afterlife will not forgive me. It must have been tiring and exhausting for you over these past two years."
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