Jing Hongchen nodded his head and said, "Yes, you're right. The stronger the person using the soul tool, the higher the limit of the soul tool."
"We've yet to develop soul tools that are powerful enough to be used without a soul master apart from stationary soul tools. I can't predict any future developments. But the rise of soul engineers can't be stopped, just like how soul tools replaced cold weapons." He sounded very sincere, but he was actually very baffled in his heart. Had Elder Mu gone to the Illustrious Virtue Hall before? "If such an unpredictable, Transcendent Douluo has gone there before…" He broke out in a cold sweat.
Elder Mu smiled and said, "You can't bring the Judgement Sword with you. You can tell me what you're here for. If you point soul tools towards Shrek City from outside Shrek Academy again, I will pay a visit to the Sun Moon Empire's capital."
Jing Hongchen's expression finally changed. Why was he daring enough to enter Shrek Academy? He didn't only possess Class 9 automatic soul tools. He also had his setup outside. But he didn't expect Elder Mu to know about this. As he recalled Elder Mu's avatar, he became fearful for the first time since he took up the position of Hallmaster of the Illustrious Virtue Hall.
"Elder Mu, you're indeed admirable." He bowed slightly and tried his best to repress the shock that he felt. "I'm here for another reason. Many months ago, Shrek Academy agreed to an exchange between our academy's students. But it was put aside for some reason. Both the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy and Shrek Academy are top-ranked academies in the continent now. I believe that this exchange is necessary, and I feel that it will improve integration and learning between both parties."
Elder Mu answered, "It's fine for us to have an exchange, but can you ensure the safety of my students? In addition, what can my Shrek students learn from your academy?"
Jing Hongchen seemed to have expected this question, and answered without any hesitation, "I can ensure their complete safety, and I'll swear to that by the Illustrious Virtue Hall's honor. During the exchange period, your students will receive the best guidance. If they're capable enough, they can even enter the Illustrious Virtue Hall to learn."
Elder Mu replied, "There's no evidence to prove your words."
Jing Hongchen said, "If you're worried, you can send Shrek Academy's teachers with them. You can even send many of them to tag along."
Elder Mu shook his head and said, "That'll be unnecessary. The exchange is fine. Send Xiao Hongchen and Meng Hongchen to my academy before bringing my students to your academy. I can guarantee that they'll learn in my academy's inner courtyard. You shall personally send my students back and bring your students back to your academy once the exchange is over."
Jing Hongchen shook his head immediately. "That wouldn't be appropriate. Although I believe in your character, I think it's best to be cautious. What if, when I send your students back, Shrek…"
Elder Mu smiled and asked, "What's your proposal then?"
Jing Hongchen replied, "There's no rush to have an exchange now. I suggest that we hold this exchange 2 years from now. That'll also be the start of the next Continental Advanced Soul Master Academy Soul Dueling Tournament. You can send your academy's teachers to observe the tournament. When it's over, they can bring your students back. At the same time, they can send my students back too."
Elder Xuan couldn't help but ask, "How will you settle the same problem?" The suggestion that Jing Hongchen gave was similar to Elder Mu's previous proposition. The only difference was in the identity of the host.
Jing Hongchen replied, "The Sun Moon Empire is organizing the tournament, and everyone will be watching us. We'll become a laughingstock if we do anything behind your backs. I'm willing to come to Shrek Academy to act as collateral, and I'll only return once the tournament is over and your students are back safely. However, the Illustrious Virtue Hall shall be blameless if anything happens to them during the tournament."
"Alright. That's a promise. You shall bring them here 2 years from now. I will ask Little Xuan to send my students to the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy, including Huo Yuhao." Elder Mu said.
"That's a promise." Jing Hongchen was also elated. Although he had been demeaning soul masters and elevating the status of soul engineers, he was clearly aware that the development of soul masters was very crucial to the growth of the Illustrious Virtue Hall. Especially since Shrek had been around for years, learning even a little from them was beneficial to the overall enhancement of the Illustrious Virtue Hall. Perhaps Shrek Academy could also gain some knowledge of soul tools from the Illustrious Virtue Hall. But it was pertinent to note that Shrek Academy didn't belong to any empire, while the Illustrious Virtue Hall belonged to the Sun Moon Empire. This difference was bound to benefit the Illustrious Virtue Hall more greatly, and allow them to accumulate more long-term profits.
There was another reason why Jing Hongchen agreed so readily. It was that Elder Mu proposed for Huo Yuhao to go to the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy. He wouldn't have to worry about Xiao Hongchen and Meng Hongchen's safety with Huo Yuhao as an exchange student. The statuses and potential of the students sent out by both academies were equal. In addition, Huo Yuhao had twin martial souls. He had to expend a lot of effort to master his martial souls. Even if he specialized in soul tools too, he wouldn't be able to focus much on them. At least to him right now, Shrek Academy would be sending Huo Yuhao to ensure that the students both academies sent out were of equal standing.
Elder Mu smiled. "Since things are settled, you can leave now."
Jing Hongchen bowed once again and said, "Thank you, elder, for your kind treatment. I want to ask you something before I leave. Can Shrek have an even deeper exchange with the Sun Moon Empire?"
Elder Mu picked his brows, "Shrek Academy is Douluo Continent's Shrek Academy."
"The Sun Moon Empire is also the Douluo Continent's Sun Moon Empire."
Jing Hongchen was slightly moved. "Alright, I understand." He turned around and left after he finished speaking.
"Wait a minute." Elder Mu stopped Jing Hongchen.
Jing Hongchen asked, "Do you have something else for me, elder?"
Elder Mu smiled and said, "You're the first outsider to enter the Sea God's Pavilion in all these years. It's also not a place that one can come in and leave easily. Leave a Class 9 soul tool behind and teach us how to use it. Think of it as your admission ticket into the Sea God's Pavilion."
"Admission ticket…" Jing Hongchen was stunned as he looked at Elder Mu. He didn't expect him to suggest something like this. This was an obviously blackmail! Furthermore, this 'admission ticket' was a little too pricey.
"Elder, you're bullying me!" Jing Hongchen laughed bitterly. He might be a little more headstrong if he hadn't seen Elder Mu's avatar. But he was a little hesitant and fearful in foreign territory and inside the unpredictable Sea God's Pavilion.
Elder Mu smiled without saying anything. He remained calm as he looked at Jing Hongchen. Jing Hongchen discovered to his horror that the walls, floor and ceiling all started to exude a dim golden light. It was as if a formless hand had gripped his throat.
"Elder, you invited me into the Sea God's Pavilion." Jing Hongchen laughed bitterly. He was trying to hint at Elder Mu's lack of scruples for demanding an admission fee.
Elder Mu smiled slightly and said, "I invited you into the Sea God's Pavilion, but I didn't invite you into Shrek Academy. Although it isn't some secret territory, I have to think of the students' safety too. If you're unwilling to pay the admission fee, I won't force you. But you'll have to stay here with me until the exchange 2 years later."
"Remain here for 2 years?" Jing Hongchen's expression stiffened. The Illustrious Virtue Hall and Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy would be a mess if he stayed here for 2 years. Without him holding the fort, the soul engineers under him couldn't be repressed easily by anyone. Elder Mu might seem very friendly, but he exerted great pressure on Jing Hongchen. Although he was confident that he had a fighting chance if he went all-out, there was no doubt that he would remain here.
Jing Hongchen took a deep breath and nodded his head. He said, "Since this is the case, I shall follow your orders. It's my fault that I entered Shrek Academy without permission. I shall leave behind soul tool as a gift."
As he spoke, Jing Hongchen lifted his hand and fumbled around his chest. A metal chip that looked extremely thin appeared in his palm.
This metal chip was circular in shape and very thin. It released a gentle, golden halo. The most special part of it was a carving on its surface. The carving pattern was very fine and neat, but it was filled with a sense of creation and imagination. No undulation of soul power came from it, but it had a special feel like a solid mountain as it appeared on the chip. A dim golden halo flashed across it subtly. The radiance wasn't intense, but it was very distracting.
Jing Hongchen said, "I made this soul tool myself. I call it Hongchen's Blessing. It's an automatic defense-type soul tool. Placing it at the chest area will allow it to stick close to a soul master's body and absorb the soul master's soul power to become a single entity. It will mount a defense when the soul master is under attack. It can be initiated and shut down with the soul master's mind. I'm quite satisfied with a few parts of this Hongchen's Blessing. Firstly, it places no restrictions on its user's cultivation. Even a one-ringed or two-ringed soul master can use it. Its defensive effect is equal to the strongest attack unleashed by the user with all of his soul power without initiating any soul skills. But the soul power depleted is only 1/5th of that strongest attack. It's suitable for all soul masters. In the hands of a Titled Douluo, it has the defensive strength of a Transcendent Douluo."