"Teacher, you…" Huo Yuhao was shocked.
Elder Mu smiled and said in a carefree manner, "All people will eventually die, unless they manage to overcome that barrier. But doing so is simply too difficult. I've already been alive for over 200 years; death isn't scary to me. Both Du Bisi and I suffered critical injuries back then, but I managed to ascend to Rank 99 because I overcame my limits in that life and death battle. That's also what has allowed me to stay alive until now. Just this makes me very fortunate compared to Du Bisi."
"I've clearly been able to feel my body's degradation over these past few years; it's irreversible. I'm not exactly sure how long I have left though. At the very least, I have three years, while at the most, I have five to six years. I can't protect Shrek for much longer. That's why I need to use what limited time I have left to do something for Shrek."
"If I were still in good shape, it'd be best for me remain in the dark. In that case, I'd be able to use my power to greatly rock the Sun Moon Empire even if I can't decide the result of the war. However, I can't do so now; my body's on the decline. The only thing I can do is instill fear in them by letting them know of my presence, in order to stall them from doing anything for now."
In fact, the reason that Elder Mu had allowed Jing Hongchen to enter the Sea God's Pavilion wasn't as simple as he'd said. There had also been a deeper meaning behind his actions.
"The next two years will be very important to you all. There won't be any time for you rest. Yuhao, you must go to the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy in two years. Wang Dong, what about you?"
Wang Dong was dazed, and hesitated. "Teacher, I don't really like soul tools. I don't have any talent in them either. However, Yuhao and I…"
Elder Mu nodded slightly and said, "Your martial soul fusion won't disappear simply because you're distanced from one another. You aren't inferior to Yuhao in terms of talent, but your paths of development will still differ in some ways. As such, I hope that you'll remain in the academy in order to further your learning while he goes to the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy."
Wang Dong hesitated, as he was still unwilling to part with Huo Yuhao. Furthermore, it would be an entire three years of separation. However, he didn't say anything against it, as it would still only happen two years from now.
Elder Mu squinted. "Jing Hongchen was right. Soul tools will enter every household in the future as they continue to develop. They'll inevitably replace the cold weapons that we have now. This is also one of the reasons that the war is inevitable. The other three empires are also developing soul tools much slower than the Sun Moon Empire. I'll only be able to fight for up to ten years of time from now. After that, many things will change when the war comes."
Wang Dong asked, "Teacher, why didn't you kill Jing Hongchen today?"
Elder Mu replied, "Killing him would only cause the Sun Moon Empire to go all-out. Furthermore, he wasn't lying. Many of the soul tools on his body were very threatening. Both parties would've suffered if we weren't careful. In addition to this, we couldn't afford to put Shrek's many years of foundation at risk. Jing Hongchen is extremely powerful and adaptable. He's able to make accurate choices decisively when he's forced to; he'll become a huge enemy of Shrek in the future."
Early the next morning.
The weather was a little gloomy, which caused the mist above Sea God's Lake to be more concentrated than usual.
Four figures left Shrek Academy, but stopped after they'd gone through the gate.
Elder Xuan hugged his wine gourd and looked at the two young men and the young lady in front of him. He said intoxicatedly, "It's alright, you three can head forwards on your own. You're all young. If I keep following you, I'll only be a pain in the ass. You should know where Star Dou Forest is. Go and find suitable soul beasts for yourselves. I'll follow all of you secretly. However, you'll be deducted 10 points from your outer courtyard test this semester if I have to intervene while you're getting your soul rings."
The three of them were naturally Huo Yuhao, Wang Dong, and Xiao Xiao. Only Huo Yuhao and Xiao Xiao needed to obtain their third soul rings, but Wang Dong had volunteered to accompany them. His reasoning had been simple: Huo Yuhao would be twice as strong with him around. Their martial soul fusion skills were able to achieve crucial effects at critical times. It wouldn't be a problem for the three of them to deal with a thousand year soul beast if they were to team up. Furthermore, Huo Yuhao and Xiao Xiao only needed to obtain thousand year soul rings.
After Elder Xuan addressed the three of them, his figure flashed, and he disappeared. However, they were still confident despite the fact that Elder Xuan wasn't directly following them. With a Rank 98 Transcendent Douluo secretly protecting them, they were bold enough to even enter the core regions of the Star Dou Forest.
The three of them determined the direction to head, then rushed towards the Star Dou Forest that was located to the south of Shrek Academy.
Shrek Academy was quite close to Star Dou Forest. Otherwise, the wave of soul beasts from the Star Dou Forest wouldn't have swept over Shrek City first back then.
They arrived outside Star Dou Forest in less than two days.
The air along the way had become much fresher, and their breathing had in turn become smoother as they'd neared the forest. The three of them were feeling quite good even though they'd rushed along the road for two days.
They'd been very busy with learning and cultivating ever since they'd entered Shrek Academy; they'd hardly had any time to relax. Once their first year had ended, Wang Dong and Xiao Xiao had managed to return home and rest. However, Huo Yuhao had gone to the Extreme North. Even though he'd managed to obtain the Ice Jade Empress Scorpion, he'd still undergone tough training and many ordeals. He'd then continued to cultivate effortlessly once he returned to the academy, and had competed in the tournament afterwards. His mind hadn't been able to calm down since he'd entered Shrek Academy.
They were extremely excited to finally be getting their their third soul rings. They all felt like they'd changed after their closed-door cultivation, thus they were incredibly confident right now. They were excited to use their skills in the Star Dou Forest.
That was why they weren't fatigued despite rushing for two days straight. They were both thrilled and in their peak conditions.
As they walked, Huo Yuhao asked Xiao Xiao, "Xiao Xiao, what's your plan for your soul ring?"
Xiao Xiao answered, "I have a plan. However, teacher mentioned that a lot of luck is involved when it comes to obtaining a soul ring. If I see a better alternative, I'll take it. I'll even consider fusing with a soul ring that's extremely suitable for my Ninephoenix Worshipping Flute. To be honest, I'm raring to go right now. If I wait for my first martial soul to get all nine soul rings before I start cultivating my second martial soul, the advantage of my twin martial souls will be realized too slowly. I'm planning to add three or four soul rings to my Ninephoenix Worshipping Flute while I cultivate the Threelives Soulcrush Cauldron. If I don't, I won't be able to keep up with the two of you."
Since there were only the three of them present, Xiao Xiao didn't hide what she really thought.
Xiao Xiao could clearly sense the gap between her and both Huo Yuhao and Wang Dong after the tournament. Huo Yuhao had more than caught up with the both of them; he was the one in the lead now. Meanwhile, Wang Dong's Radiant Butterfly Goddess and Clear Sky Hammer were both rather powerful martial souls. Her martial souls were slightly inferior in comparison to theirs, thus she didn't want to lag too far behind them, regardless of whether she chose to be an auxiliary-type battle soul master or to add a soul ring to her second martial soul beforehand. She was intelligent; she sensed that she wouldn't have a chance to catch up to them if she lagged too far behind them now.
Wang Dong asked, "Xiao Xiao, what's your second soul bone?"
Xiao Xiao laughed and replied, "It's a secret; I'm not telling. However, I know that Yuhao's second soul bone is the Ice Jade Scorpion's Left Arm Bone."
Wang Dong laughed. "It's fine if you don't tell us. You'll still have to use it when you hunt soul beasts anyway. You haven't revealed what type of soul ring you want for your Threelives Soulcrush Cauldron though."
Xiao Xiao answered, "I chose to be an auxiliary-type battle soul master. As such, my soul ring naturally needs to have an auxiliary effect and be able to display my special trait. My plan is to use a control-type soul skill as my main soul skill, or to enhance the defensive strength of my Threelives Soulcrush Cauldron. After the tournament, I had the feeling that, so long as my Threelives Soulcrush Cauldron is defensively strong enough, it will achieve unprecedented effects when coupled with its ability to separate itself and my enemies. Furthermore, I still have the Cauldron Quake and Cauldron Sweep."
Huo Yuhao was awed when he heard this. "Xiao Xiao, you've analyzed your martial soul very thoroughly. I also think that a defense-type soul ring suits you. Your Threelives Soulcrush Cauldron is indeed very outstanding in separating your enemies. When we fought Class 2, we wouldn't have won so easily without that skill and control of yours."
"What about you?" Xiao Xiao asked, "What's your plan? It won't be easy to find a soul ring to add to your Spirit Eyes. Spiritual-type soul beasts aren't common. Furthermore, they're good at concealing themselves."
Huo Yuhao concurred and nodded. He replied, "We can only take it step by step and see how our luck plays out. Besides, we're only circling the Star Dou Forest's perimeter. We'll hunt when we find suitable ones. Contrarily, we need to kill as few of them as possible."
Xiao Xiao agreed, "Yes! To a certain extent, soul beasts are resources that soul masters like us need. If we kill too many of the lower-level soul beasts, future generations will find it difficult to obtain soul rings."
Wang Dong creased his brows and said, "You shouldn't put it that way. Soul beasts are also living beings. How could you call them resources? We're already preying on the weak by hunting them."
Xiao Xiao was a little stunned and looked at Wang Dong. She commented, "I never realized that you were actually so kind."