Book 15: Victors
Chapter 128.1: The Light of the Seagod's Pavillion
The Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy's Illustrious Virtue Hall.
This was a spacious great hall, and every decoration was styled with metal, and were mainly pale-gold in color. The ornaments weren't extravagant, but they were full of tactile qualities. A horizontal inscribed board hung from the top of the great hall's entrance, and the enormous pale-gold characters had an intimidating feeling about them - Illustrious Virtue Hall.
"Stand up." There was a person sitting in a chair in the center of the great hall's inner regions. He looked not more than forty years of age, and he wasn't tall, yet he was robust. A simpler way of explaining his appearance would be that he was short and plump.
Long hair wasn't suitable for a person with a short and plump build, but he had a flowing lock of long reddish-brown hair that draped behind his head, and this made his short and thick neck even more obscure.
There was a person prostrate on the ground, and he stood up at this moment as if he had just received great amnesty.
"Please punish me, Hallmaster. I failed to lead the team to success." This person's appearance became apparent once he stood up; it was the teacher that had led the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy's students into the finals. However, his face was overcome with a haze of terror, and it appeared as if he was as frightened as he could possibly be.
The short and plump middle-aged man was actually the Illustrious Virtue Hall's famous Hallmaster, and that meant he was also Xiao Hongchen and Meng Hongchen's grandfather. One wouldn't be able to tell his age purely from his appearance.
"You didn't do anything wrong. There were many coincidences and unforeseen circumstances that you couldn't control. Furthermore, you and your students' takeaways have been relatively fruitful even though a few people perished. As for the Judgment Sword, I will personally visit Shrek Academy, as we can't let it end up in their hands. The grand competition's results actually turned out to be disappointing, but I cannot be bothered with defeating Shrek Academy when they are having some internal issues."
The Hallmaster's magnanimity and mercy took the teacher in charge by surprise, as the Hallmaster's temper wasn't so mellow if memory served. He raised his head and stole a glimpse, and he realized that there was a faint smile on the Hallmaster's pudgy face, as if he wasn't furious at all.
"Thank you, Hallmaster." Only then did the teacher in charge dare to heave a sigh of relief.
The Hallmaster's mood seemed to be on cloud nine. "Do you know which of your harvests I'm most satisfied with?"
The teacher-in-charge tested the waters and said, "Is it because of the hundred thousand year soul beast embryo?"
The Hallmaster shook his head and answered, "No. That may be part of the harvest, but we have also given up large amounts of wealth, so that can only be said to be a fair exchange. Of course, the embryo in our hands is different from the embryo ending up in other people's hands, but it has also brought much trouble to us. There have already been three batches of people who have attempted to steal it from the Illustrious Virtue Hall, and this exemplifies the crime of treasuring a cherished item. Furthermore, there's still the Godsealing Avatar. The Godsealing Avatar isn't worth much amongst the other Class 9 soul tools, but it can only be forged by Class 9 soul engineers. I do want to know which Class 9 soul engineer from the Sun Moon Empire sold this supreme treasure to the Star Luo Empire instead of handing it over to the Illustrious Virtue Hall."
A hostile glare flickered in the Hallmaster's eyes as he spoke that last sentence, and this terrified the teacher in charge so much that he got down on his knees once more.
"Continue guessing," the Hallmaster went on with a plain voice.
"The… The…" Beads of sweat were breaking out on the teacher in charge's head, "Can it be the information we have obtained regarding Shrek Academy's students?"
The Hallmaster answered, "That can be considered a part of it. Three twin martial souls - Shrek Academy is truly extraordinary, and they also have an Ultimate martial soul. Shrek Academy has already agreed to an exchange between our respective students, but the news from yesterday stated that the exchange will have to be pushed back due to some internal reasons in the academy. They will decide the exact postponement after their investigation. It seems like they're afraid of us making a move on their students! Still, I have to admit that Shrek Academy is the best in the entire Continent at attracting talents and soul masters. It's a pity. However, this still isn't the greatest takeaway from your expedition."
The teacher in charge was a little lost as he gazed at the Hallmaster with perplexed eyes.
The Hallmaster gradually stood up. He wasn't even one-and-half meters tall, but his girth was definitely over a meter-and-half. He placed his hands behind his back, and there was a flowing black robe embroidered with golden patterns covering his bulbous tummy.
He sauntered before the teacher in charge as he suddenly raised his leg and sent him tumbling with a kick. "The only reason why I'm not going to kill you is because you have let Meng Hongchen and Xiao Hongchen realize the danger and urgency from this competition, and they now know it's time to focus and buck up. They took the initiative and requested to go into closed-door cultivation when they came back, and that is the greatest takeaway from your expedition. Get lost, and don't let me see you in the near future - if not, I will remember all the children who have passed away, and I will send you to the grave to accompany them."
"Yes… Yes…" The teacher in charge was elated instead of feeling angry, as he knew he was going to live. He didn't even bother getting up, and just crawled out of the room.
The Hallmaster's brows creased as he watched him crawl away. "The Taotie Douluo was personally at Star Luo City to hold down the fort. Fine! We shall meet again during the next Continental Advanced Soul Master Academy Soul Dueling Tournament five years later, and we shall see if the Taotie can hold back this toad. Hmph!"
He turned around and walked towards the back of the hall. He strolled through the main hall and stopped before a metal statue by a certain spot in the wall. A sphere of light flashed before his chest, and a peculiar golden rune was printed onto the wall before him as if it had just flown out from inside his chest.
The entire wall seemed to come alive in the next instant as it split open into two sides, while gears and machinery crackled within. There were several faint ripples of frightening energy that flickered when the wall first opened up, but the Hallmaster was undeterred and unmoving from beginning to end.
He stepped into the crack, and the wall closed behind him.
The Hallmaster arrived in a silent room without any windows at all after ten minutes.
Everything inside this room was also made of metal. The ceiling, the floor and the walls were all filled with metal sculptures.
A soul engineer would be able to tell that these metal sculptures had a similar functionality as formation arrays, but they were extremely sophisticated, and emanated a magnificent and elegant feeling.
There was a squarish metal pillar erected in the center of the room. The metal pillar was about one and a half meters tall, and there was an object placed on top.
It was a wooden base, and there were several hundred jewels of a myriad of colors inlaid on its surface. A sphere of air undulated faintly above this wooden base.
This sphere of air was white. The tender white hues resembled streams of air, and there appeared to be several shapes glimmering faintly within, yet it was hard to perceive its profundity or arcane might simply by looking at it.
This sphere of air was condensed, and seemed to surge left and right, as it were trying to break out of some barrier. The wooden base beneath it constantly released a barrier of pale-golden light that enveloped the air sphere within throughout the entire struggle, rendering it unable to break free.
Yes, this wooden base was the Starlight Auction's final item up that was up for bidding - the Godsealing Altar, and the item sealed inside was the one-hundred-thousand year soul beast embryo.
The Hallmaster squinted his eyes as he stood before the Godsealing Altar. He actually directly spoke to the one-hundred-thousand year soul beast embryo that was sealed inside the Godsealing Avatar.
"I can feel your immense power. I have affirmed by speculation through various experiments that you're not a typical hundred thousand year soul beast. Anybody that tries to absorb you and assimilate you into a soul ring or a soul bone after obtaining you will definitely die a painful death. I can sense that even a powerful Titled Douluo will find it extremely difficult to absorb your strength, and it might even lead to a toxic backlash. Am I right?"
The white air sphere grew quiet, as if it were listening intently to the Hallmaster's voice. A small human figure shimmered within the pale white mist, much like a human infant.
"Therefore, I believe my guess is correct," the Hallmaster chuckled and said, "I am extremely clear about the Starlight Auction's background - they belong to the Star Luo Empire's royal family. Their intentions in putting you up for auction were meant to cause some trouble for me, and for me to wonder: who forged this Godsealing Altar? They wanted to use the fact that a person's treasure will arouse the envy of others to instigate powerful beings from across the Continent to attack the Illustrious Virtue Hall - so what? Let them come. This is a test for the Illustrious Virtue Hall's defense mechanisms, and the Illustrious Virtue Hall's disciples cannot live a life this smooth, can they?"
"It's a pity, because Star Luo City has made a grave mistake, and that is the fact that they hadn't discovered your true power. That means I will have the last laugh. You're not some typical one-hundred-thousand year soul beast, but a soul beast with at least one hundred ninety nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine years of cultivation, except you haven't been able to break the bottleneck, am I right? This shouldn't be the first time you're attempting the soul beast's bottleneck, except you weren't successful in the end. I'm curious about something - according to what we humans know about you guys, soul beasts only have one chance to cultivate into human form after the one hundred-thousand year mark. However, how is it that you haven't broken through the capstone, yet you are still able to do this? I am very curious about this."
"Don't worry, though. We will make the best use of you here. I will study you meticulously, and I will extract every single ounce of energy from you, so that your almost two hundred thousand years of cultivation will not be wasted. This is wonderful - maybe I can even lend you a hand, and help your overall strength break through that bottleneck, so that you will become a transcendent soul beast before I strip your power from you. It may be difficult for normal soul masters to absorb your power, but it's not that much of a challenge for me. It's a pity, because I already have nine soul rings, and I can only extract your power to bestow upon my prodigious grandson. Everybody will be in the same family in the end."