The Eye of Destiny's mystical effects gradually proved their worth, especially with regards to soul tools. Huo Yuhao could skip two levels in his work with the Eye of Destiny. Of course, he required Wang Dong's soul power to support him, and the Golden Light's regenerative capabilities to accomplish this feat. Even so, Huo Yuhao's mastery with forging soul tools quickly caught up with He Caitou's standards.
The only thing that made Huo Yuhao melancholic was his soul power's growth. He consumed large amounts of nutrients every day, but the academy was aware that they couldn't affect his future breakthroughs, so they didn't feed him any medicine that could boost soul power. Wang Dong's cultivation progressed rapidly with the Haodong power, but Huo Yuhao was limited by his Ultimate martial soul. Even though the Life Gold had refined and remade his body, his soul power growth was not even half as quick as Wang Dong's.
Huo Yuhao wasn't discouraged by this, however. At the very least, his cultivation was still improving every day, and he didn't even spend too much time thinking about his slow growth in cultivation - there were just way too many things he had to learn.
Bei Bei decided to visit the Heavenly Soul Empire's capital city, Heaven Dou City, to find Tang Ya right before the inner courtyard entry examination, but didn't find a single trace of her, as if she had vanished from the face of the earth.
This dealt a huge blow to Bei Bei. He channeled all his energy and focus on cultivation when he returned, and tried his best to raise his own standards so that he could numb himself. He gave himself a tremendously high target every month, and gave himself twenty days to reach his target while he spent the remaining ten days searching for Tang Ya outside.
The smile on Bei Bei's face never surfaced, and his typical elegance and scholarly air became tinged with a little despondence.
Bei Bei, Xu Sanshi and Jiang Nannan made it into the inner courtyard through their constant effort and unwavering perseverance. Their cultivations soared after closed-door cultivation within the inner courtyard - Bei Bei and Xu Sanshi broke through to the fifth ring first, and became powerful Soul Kings.
He Caitou wanted to complete the Ultimate Soldier Plan with Huo Yuhao, so he didn't take part in the Soul Tool Department's inner courtyard entry examination. From the Soul Tool Department's perspective, whether he or Huo Yuhao participated in the entry examination wasn't important anymore.
More than a year passed just like that, while Shrek's Seven Monsters improved in all aspects. He Caitou and Jiang Nannan's soul power both reached Rank 49, and they were only a hair's breadth away from becoming Soul Kings. Wang Dong's speed of improvement was even more frightening - over more than a year, his soul power reached Rank 44, and he managed to obtain his fourth soul ring.
Xiao Xiao was a little slower than Wang Dong, but she still broke through Rank 44 and earned her fourth soul ring as well.
Of the Shrek's Seven Monsters, only Huo Yuhao remained a Soul Elder. Even though he gave his all to cultivate, and even with the help of the academy's resources, his soul power had just broken through Rank 38.
However, nobody would ever dare to underestimate Huo Yuhao's Rank 38 soul power. His soul power after breaking through to Rank 38 was comparable to Xiao Xiao's, who was already at Rank 44, and his Ultimate Ice's formidable power was becoming increasingly conspicuous.
Huo Yuhao's rate of growth was relatively slower, but it didn't affect his natural talent with soul tools. Following his improvements in soul power and in addition to his Ultimate Ice, he was beginning to design and forge his own authentic soul tools. He was recognized as a Class 5 soul engineer, and obtained the Class 5 soul engineer badge with flying colors. Yes - only Soul Kings should be Class 5 soul engineers.
He could only forge ice-type soul tools that only he could operate even when he was forging Class 5 soul tools. These soul tools could only be activated with Ultimate Ice soul power, but one had to admit that he was making history in the world of soul engineers. Huo Yuhao was only Rank 38, but his overall strength could easily rival that of a Soul King.
The Douluo Continent was relatively peaceful over this year and a half. The Sun Moon Empire's restlessness and their eagerness for action disappeared, the Body Sect that had appeared at Shrek Academy vanished as quickly as they came, and they didn't create any more disturbances on the Continent. Huo Yuhao still found out about Ma Xiaotao in the end, and he grieved for several days because of it, while he only gradually recovered after listening to Elder Mu's consolations and guidance. He swore that he would find his sister and bring her home.
Shrek Academy, Sea God's Island, Sea God's Pavilion.
Bei Bei, He Caitou, Xu Sanshi, Jiang Nannan, Xiao Xiao, Huo Yuhao, and Wang Dong were standing side by side in silence.
Elder Mu was lying down quietly on his reclining chair. More than a year had gone by, and Elder Mu no longer had any hair. His life energy was reaching the end of its path, and even his eyes rarely opened. If Huo Yuhao and the others didn't know, they would have never expected or imagined that this old man on his last legs was Shrek Academy's number-one powerhouse - the Ultimate Douluo, the Dragon God Douluo, Mu En.
Elder Xuan stood silently beside Elder Mu. Yan Shaozhe, Cai Mei'er, Xian Lin'er, Qian Duoduo and the other elders of the Sea God's Pavilion were standing with him.
Elder Xuan looked a little aggrieved and mournful. He only felt a little better after looking at the seven children before him, as he could feel a thread of solace and comfort through them.
Sixty-seven inner courtyard disciples sat cross-legged outside the Sea God's Pavilion. The person sitting at the forefront was a young girl about twenty-five to twenty-six years of age, and her flowing black hair draped down to her waist. Her sharp and defined face was fair and impeccable, and her four fingers on both hands were interlaced, while her thumbs pointed out and against each other as she placed her hands on her calf in a crossed-legged position. This peaceful and sweet-tempered disposition made a strong impression.
Not a single one of the other sixty-six inner courtyard disciples were more than thirty years old. They formed ten rows, and everyone had the same posture as she did. Dai Yueheng was in the second row behind her. Ling Luochen, Chen Zifeng, Xi Xi, and Gong Yangmo, people who Huo Yuhao was familiar with, were also amongst the ranks. Their differences in cultivation determined their seating position, so Dai Yueheng was worthy to sit in the first row, while the others were positioned towards the back.
The young girl in front of everyone gradually opened her eyes. Her bright and prudential pupils flowed with deep sadness and sorrow.
"Are you really leaving us, Elder Mu?" Zhang Lexuan asked herself in her heart as she took a deep breath. As Shrek Academy's inner courtyard's chief disciple, she had interacted with Elder Mu far more than the other inner courtyard disciples had, and it was natural that her sentiments ran a lot deeper than the others. She really didn't want to accept this fact, but reality was right before her eyes. Today, she could only be here to see Elder Mu off on his final journey.
Two rows of crisp tears trickled down Zhang Lexuan's perfect face.
Dai Yueheng's gaze was fixed on Zhang Lexuan from beginning to end. There was an unspoken rule within Shrek Academy's inner courtyard: everybody had to address the chief disciple as 'big senior brother' or 'big senior sister'. There was no question - Zhang Lexuan was revered amongst the inner courtyard disciples, while her population and popularity was unrivaled and incomparable. She was also secretly admired by many male students as they fantasized about her. However, she had never really interacted with the other students, and she channeled all her energy and effort into cultivation. Zheng Lexuan was only twenty-six years old, and she had participated in two seasons of the Continental Advanced Soul Master Academy Soul Dueling Tournament. She was team leader in both seasons, and she defeated her opponents like a knife through butter.
More frightening was the fact that she had made history in Shrek Academy's three thousand years of existence. She was only twenty-six years old, but she was a powerful eight-ringed Douluo. She reigned supreme over the entire Shrek Academy, and even Ma Xiaotao was but a little immature girl before her. Zhang Lexuan was the only person within the inner courtyard that Ma Xiaotao respected from the bottom of her heart.
Even though Zhang Lexuan was more than six years older than Dai Yueheng, this big senior sister had always been the goddess of his dreams. She was even his true motivation for working so hard at his cultivation. He thought that if he could surpass his big senior sister in cultivation, or if he could even usurp her status as chief disciple, perhaps he would have a chance.
However, this chance had already slipped through his fingers by now. After the conclusion of the Continental Advanced Soul Master Academy Soul Dueling Tournament, Dai Yueheng officially graduated from Shrek Academy's inner courtyard, after which he returned to the Star Luo Empire and joined the military, where he was currently a regimental commander. He had had to return to the academy to settle some administrative matters, and coincidentally arrived at the same time as Elder Mu's passing - how could he not remain to send him off?
He personally witnessed Huo Yuhao and the other six walk into the Sea God's Pavilion. He was filled with shock and surprise - even Zhang Lexuan, the inner courtyard's chief disciple, couldn't personally be there to send Elder Mu off, yet Huo Yuhao and the others could… inside the Sea God's Pavilion.
Elder Mu gradually opened his eyes. His dusky and hazy eyes suddenly became incredibly clear, and his pupils were tainted a dark blue color, as if they were portals to the deepest and darkest parts of the boundless ocean.
His eyes slowly shifted to the Bei Bei, who was standing on the leftmost side. His gaze gradually moved sideways, and paused momentarily on He Caitou, Xu Sanshi, Jiang Nannan, Xiao Xiao, Huo Yuhao, and Wang Dong. His eyes paused for the longest time on Huo Yuhao.
Tears poured uncontrollably from Huo Yuhao's eyes. He was fourteen years old by now, and he was more than a meter and eighty centimeters tall. His physique wasn't that robust or sturdy, but his body ratio was balanced, and he looked like he was full of life and vitality. His eyes were resolute and determined, and his Spirit Eyes were nimble and deep - there was even a subtle quality that intimidated others. If his features weren't immature and adolescent like that of a youth, he would have easily been mistaken for a grown adult.
Wang Dong's sockets were moist, and tears welled up in his eyes. He was more than a meter and seventy centimeters tall, and his handsome face could be described as exquisite. As he grew older, the lines on his face became gentler, while his big and powdery-blue eyes sparkled. His long and curly eyelashes were dripping with tears. Only Jiang Nannan amongst the others could rival him in terms of physical appearance. They were all Elder Mu's final disciples, and Wang Dong sobbed wildly as well.