Chapter 443 - Challengers
Two hundred kilometers were nothing to Tang Wulin, but how Xu Lizhi handled it was another story. Even though he ate pork buns and soup buns as they ran, he could feel himself get thinner and thinner.
"Damn you, Spirit Pagoda!" Xu Lizhi shouted, shaking an angry fist at the sky.
Gu Yue glanced at him curiously. "What are you doing?"
Xu Lizhi turned to her. "I've decided that I'm never going to sell my buns to them!"
Ye Xinglan scoffed. "We'll see what the future holds."
Tang Wulin, on the other hand, was deep in thought. "The plan was to clear two cities today, but we'll only be able to clear one at this rate. We'll take a break when we reach the city, then we'll go visit the local academy in the afternoon."
They soon found a small inn to stay at, and after a couple hours of rest, they would be good to go. They were soul masters after all.
They were currently in Skyorder City, about two thousand kilometers from Bright City. Several cities still sat between them and their end goal of Bright City, and they no longer had a car nor the money to buy another. After clearing this city, they would have to hop on a train to continue their journey west.
Tang Wulin asked around to see where the local soul master academy was. Just as he expected, there was a fairly respectable academy here. It was called Skyorder Star Ocean Academy and specialized in flying-type soul masters. In fact, that was a requirement for potential students seeking admission. However, it wasn't an advanced academy.
Advanced academies were institutions that raised genius soul masters, mecha pilots, and battle armor masters. Of course, such academies didn't actually have to produce battle armor masters. They just had to have a program oriented toward raising them. Students usually graduated from advanced academies between the ages of twenty-two to twenty-five. Even at Shrek Academy, it was rare for a student to become a one-word battle armor master around those ages. Other academies couldn't even hope to compete.
"I have to call him!" Tang Wulin muttered to himself. He was the only one of his team not resting at the moment. He wasn't too tired yet, and he had something more important to do. He took advantage of the complementary soul communicator in the inn's lobby to make a call.
As soon as the call connected, Tang Wulin said, "Uncle-master!"
"Wulin? How is your exam? Is everything going well?" Zhen Hua asked in a warm tone.
"Things aren't going well," Tang Wulin said. "I ran into some trouble, and I need more money to finish the exam. I'm in Skyorder City right now, but I can't take any blacksmithing missions without my badge. Can you pull some strings to have the association branch here let me take some alloy-forging or spirit refining missions? And have them lend me some hammers too? I need the money for travel expenses."
The line went silent for a moment, then Zhen Hua spoke up once more. "It sure must be tough for you. Just go over to the Skyorder Blacksmith's Association. You don't have to forge, it'll be too much of a hassle to convince them considering your age and rank. I'll just have them give you money."
"Thank you, Uncle-master!" Tang Wulin rejoiced in his heart. Amazing! Uncle-master's so generous! Having an uncle-master like him is the best!
"No need to thank me." Zhen Hua chuckled. "It is only natural that I do this much for you. Just come visit me when you have a chance."
"Definitely!" Tang Wulin said eagerly. If he visited, he would have a Divine Blacksmith to teach him, not to mention all the delicious food he would be able to eat! Nothing could stand between him and food!
By the time Tang Wulin left to visit the local Blacksmith's Association and came back with another million credits added to his card, his companions had finished recovering.
"Let's buy another car," Xie Xie said, his eyes shining with excitement.
"What does everyone else think?" Tang Wulin swept his gaze across the rest of his companions.
Ye Xinglan was the first to voice her thoughts. "I think having a car would be really convenient. It won't be as fast as a train, but it'll good for getting around within cities. We will also be able to use the onboard GPS to save some time finding our way around."
"Alright. Let's buy another one!"
It didn't take long for Tang Wulin's group to buy a car. Fortunately for them, they managed to find one that was the same make as the one they had wrecked, and for roughly the same price too. With everything in order, they continued onward to Skyorder Star Ocean Academy.
Skyorder Star Ocean Academy was situated in the southwest corner of the city limits. The academy was established two thousand years ago, and though its history was not nearly as long or prestigious as Shrek Academy's, it was still a prominent, well-known academy.
This academy produced their fair share of geniuses, and since flying-type soul engineers were favored for military recruitment, they also had close ties with the military. Although soul engineers could fly using soul devices, those capable of flight through their own abilities dominated those who were not.
That being said, even those that did not have a strong martial soul could become powerful with the aid of soul devices. The advent of soul devices reduced the gap between ordinary and genius soul masters. Then, when mechas appeared, the playing field was leveled. Only when battle armor was created did talented soul masters regain superiority.
Skyorder Star Ocean Academy was a soul master academy that focused on producing flying-type soul engineers. As a result, they were famous in the Federation for producing excellent mecha pilots and military aces. With the support of the military, they had grown exceptionally fast, so much so that they ranked among the best of second-tier academies.
A soul car came to a stop in a small alleyway near Skyorder Star Ocean Academy. Six people got out of the car, all dressed in eye-catching green sportswear. They were Tang Wulin and his teammates. They had just bought these clothes, the specific shade of green being the same as Shrek Academy's.
Tang Wulin led them to the metal gates of Skyorder Star Ocean Academy. The gates were a daunting twenty meters talls and forty meters wide, a size that allowed even mechas to pass through easily. The academy's walls were just as tall and surrounded an enormous campus. The academy occupied the entire southwest section of the city.
Tang Wulin glanced at Xie Xie and signaled for him to start.
Xie Xie's mouth twitched, but he quickly took out two long poles, both of which were actually two parts of a banner. He unfurled the banner to its full length of ten meters, words written in provocative green ink spanning its white cloth. The writing wasn't the neatest, but it got the message across. Xie Xie then grabbed one pole and Xu Lizhi took hold of the other, the two of them propping it upright.
Countless people were streaming into the academy, so everyone immediately noticed this curious bunch of people standing right outside the gates. Most importantly, they saw the banner.
"We are from Shrek Academy! We are here to challenge your strongest team of students under the age of twenty!" A passerby's voice rang out in a bored tone. Then the meaning of the words suddenly hit them. W-what? They're here to challenge us?
Indeed, this was Tang Wulin's plan! It was simple, direct, and efficient!
The morning had just begun, and students were walking through the gates in droves. But the moment the banner was unfurled, they froze in place and stared. Many were astonished, some frowned, a few showed anger, and others were simply curious.
It only took a few minutes for a crowd of people to form at the gates, all attracted by the fabled name of Shrek Academy. For young soul masters like them, Shrek Academy was a legendary holy land!
Students from Shrek Academy came to challenge our academy? They're challenging a team of us under the age of twenty? But they can't be any older than fifteen!
Tang Wulin stood at the front of his group, completely stone-faced. He was confident that Skyorder Star Ocean Academy wouldn't refuse a challenge as direct as this. The academy's prestige and the morale of the student body would plummet if they did.
A boy suddenly approached them. He seemed to be around seventeen years old. "Are you guys really from Shrek Academy?"
Tang Wulin nodded. "Yes, we are. We want to have a match with your academy."
The boy eyed them with suspicion. "Do you have any proof that you're from Shrek?"
Tang Wulin gave him a vague smile. His eyes flashed golden, and a golden soul ring appeared from beneath him. Cries of astonishment echoed throughout the crowd.
The boy in particular seemed petrified. A gold soul ring? He has a gold soul ring? Didn't the legends say that the strongest spirit soul is only orange? How is his gold? Wait! Legends say that soul rings of the gods are golden!
No one here could have known that Tang Wulin's golden soul ring was actually a blood essence soul ring!
Tang Wulin felt a bit annoyed. He had no real way of proving their identities. Anything that could be used to identify themselves had been confiscated! So he had no choice but to reveal his golden soul ring, which was far more shocking than three purple ones. This was the only way he could dominate the minds of the students of Skyorder Star Ocean Academy, leaving them no choice but to believe that they were from Shrek Academy!
And it worked. The boy in front of them paled at the realization and stumbled backward in awe.