"First, many might have forgotten the Body Sect because they've remained low-profile for too long. They're trying to enhance their reputation. The Sun Moon Empire and Illustrious Virtue Hall will try to keep their true losses a secret after this incident, but things will always leak out. Once the truth is known, it will be very beneficial for the Body Sect's reputation. At the very least, they have shown how powerful they can be.
"Secondly, Elder Mu once mentioned that the Body Sect's priority is always profit, they aren't really concerned about good or evil. They were extremely invested and meticulous in this ambush, so there must have been huge profits involved. On the surface, it seems like it might be because of the hundred-thousand year soul beast embryo and the hundred-million gold soul coin reward. But those who are sharp know that the huge reward has something to do with the Star Luo Empire. Everyone, including the Sun Moon Empire, might focus on the Star Luo Empire. But in truth, the Body Sect might have other areas of interest, just like you mentioned. It might not be the Star Luo Empire behind it all. After all, the Star Luo Empire has sacrificed too much in this matter, and it would be too obvious. I don't think that the Star Luo Empire is ready to engage the Sun Moon Empire in a war."
Elder Mu and Fan Yu were both his teachers. He spoke of Elder Mu this way to prevent confusion.
"The Star Luo Empire is under the greatest immediate threat from the Sun Moon Empire among the three empires on the continent. But they aren't the only ones in conflict with the Sun Moon Empire. The Heaven Dou Empire also faces threats from the Sun Moon Empire."
Fan Yu listened to Huo Yuhao's analysis carefully. He revealed a slight smile on his face as he heard all this, and nodded agreement. But he didn't appraise Huo Yuhao's analysis. He instead nodded and said, "What do you think about Jing Hongchen's proposition for you to spar with the academy's soul engineers?"
Huo Yuhao answered honestly, "I admire him for maintaining his cool in such a messy situation. He's able to kill many birds with one stone by asking me to spar with his students. First, he can turn the academy's attention to something beside their losses, and allow himself more time to rebuild Illustrious Virtue Hall's underground base. In addition, he must have realized that the academy's students lack any real experience against soul masters. Many of them don't even know the fighting styles of soul masters with a powerful martial soul.
"Illustrious Virtue Hall isn't inferior to the Body Sect in terms of overall ability. They might even be better. But aside from the fact that their truly powerful soul tools couldn't be used in an underground base, the soul engineers from the Illustrious Virtue Hall are indeed disappointing in terms of their adaptability, coordination, fighting spirit, and performance in many areas. This might have to do with the fact that they place most of their focus on soul tool research. The Hallmaster might be using me to wake them up. At the same time, he wants to let them witness a soul master with a powerful martial soul, and his fighting style."
Fan Yu chortled and told him, "You're not humble at all."
Huo Yuhao chuckled and replied, "Teacher, didn't you say that being overly modest is very hypocritical?"
Fan Yu agreed. "You're right. After some observation, their academy's soul engineers are much more advanced in terms of soul tools compared to us, but their focus on live experience is greatly inferior to our academy. The Hallmaster evidently recognizes this point. Illustrious Virtue Hall can have a huge impact in a war, but when it comes to a battle between elites within a restricted area, Illustrious Virtue Hall doesn't have the confidence to defeat Shrek Academy or the Body Sect. What're you planning to do for this sparring competition?"
Hearing this question, He Caitou was also interested. He watched Huo Yuhao alertly, waiting for his reply.
A light flashed in Huo Yuhao's eyes. "Teacher, I'm representing Shrek and the Tang Sect! I can't lose on purpose. I shall let them witness Shrek's abilities if they want to. I'll leave a deep impression on all of them this time! They'll never forget who I am!"
He Caitou laughed loudly and commented happily, "Little junior, you're awesome!"
Huo Yuhao smiled in reply and said, "Since the Hallmaster promised me a kilogram of rare metal for every round I win, I can't disappoint him, can I?"
The Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy's Teaching Director Lin Jiayi was very efficient. This was especially so after a major incident just happened in Illustrious Virtue Hall, and the entire academy was engulfed in a tense atmosphere.
Jing Hongchen's instructions were quickly carried out. News of Huo Yuhao's sparring competition with the academy's soul engineers quickly reached the entire academy.
The doors of every teaching block and dormitory room were pasted with posters of this latest announcement.
The sparring competition was to be conducted in the academy's Soul Tool Experimentation Area. The academy demanded that all its students watch the competition unless they had something special going on. Those with four rings of cultivation and above could sign up to compete. The limit was a Class 6 soul engineer or a six-ringed Soul Emperor. Every competing student had to purchase a ticket to watch the competition. If the competing students could defeat Huo Yuhao, they were qualified to enter Illustrious Virtue Hall, and would also be rewarded with a hundred-thousand gold soul coins. In addition, Jing Hongchen would personally make a soul tool for them. But if they lost, they wouldn't be given materials to create soul tools for a month.
It was pertinent to note that those materials were actually paid for by the students. The forfeit was literally a fine of their own money!
The rules for the sparring competition were very simple. Beating Huo Yuhao was the only goal. After each round, Huo Yuhao would be given sufficient time to rest based on his physical condition. The entire sparring competition would be held over three days.
Once the announcement was made, there were more students who signed up to compete than expected. Everyone was young, and no one lacked passion. The Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy lost to Shrek Academy in practically every meeting of the Elite Continental Advanced Soul Master Academy Soul Dueling Tournament. For most of the students, this was a fantastic opportunity to regain glory for their academy!
But not everyone was qualified to represent the academy in tournaments. They also wanted to know how capable Huo Yuhao was, since he had represented Shrek Academy before. Furthermore, the omnipresent conflict between soul masters and soul engineers, as well as the rewards for victory, were also contributing factors to the large turnout.
More than three hundred students had signed up in less than a day. Lin Jiayi and his teachers were kept busy. After reporting the situation to Jing Hongchen, they made a decision to increase the requirement to Soul Kings and above. This way, the number of students signing up to compete dropped drastically.
This matter also garnered a huge reaction from the Shrek exchange students. They only found out about it as the announcement was made. The youngest and seemingly weakest exchange student, Huo Yuhao, had represented the academy in the previous Elite Continental Advanced Soul Master Academy Soul Dueling Tournament.
As Shrek Academy had always been the winners of the tournament, the academy didn't publicize their victory too much. They only made one announcement after they became champions, but they didn't reveal the students who had participated. This was to keep unneeded fame from influencing their studies and cultivation. Very few people from Shrek actually knew who had participated in the tournament.
After learning that Huo Yuhao was going to spar with the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy's soul engineers without using soul tools, the rest of the exchange students offered to help him. They even told him that they were willing to join in the sparring.
Huo Yuhao accepted their help, but they couldn't spar, because they were all soul engineers.
Two days later, at dawn...
Ye Xiaosheng came to fetch Huo Yuhao at his door. "Yuhao, how're your preparations going? Brother Sheng supports you. This is a huge matter. You must do your best for Shrek's glory!"
Huo Yuhao chortled and replied, "Thanks, Brother Sheng. I'll do my best."
Ye Xiaosheng laughed and said, "I've prepared the stuff. They'll be shocked today. You don't know how arrogant they are. They claim that they won't even let you win one round. They even say they'll step on Shrek.
"They say that you're here to deliver presents to them, and asked the academy to prepare more rewards. It's a pity that I can't compete. Otherwise, I'd teach them a good lesson."
Huo Yuhao smiled as he said, "Brother Sheng, don't worry. I'll help you teach them a lesson. Oh right, how's the situation regarding that matter?" As he spoke, he lifted his right hand and rubbed a few of his fingers together.
Ye Xiaosheng immediately understood what he meant. He replied with a grin, "Many started wagering after we opened the plate. I have to admit that these students are very confident in their own people. More than half of them bet that you won't last ten rounds... I wonder if their brains are empty.
"Only a quarter of them bet that you can't last more than twenty rounds. The rest bet than you can't win fifty rounds in three days, they just did it for the odds. Based on what we've discussed, rare metals can be used as stakes. We've received more than two thousand kilos of rare metals, and five hundred-thousand gold soul coins. These students sure are wealthy!"
Huo Yuhao furrowed his brow and said, "That is indeed quite a lot of rare metals, but not that many gold soul coins. But it's okay. I believe more and more people will bet after today."
As the two of them were talking, Fan Yu, He Caitou, and the rest of Shrek's students also arrived.
Fan Yu looked at Huo Yuhao and asked directly, "Are you ready?"