Even though that didn't include the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy's treasured and exotic soul tools, Huo Yuhao's contributions were enough to advance Shrek Academy's Soul Tool Department's research by at least a hundred years.
Elder Xuan had mentioned before in one of his reply letters that Huo Yuhao was already considered a true hero within Shrek, and nobody could rival his contributions to the academy. He had proposed to the Sea God's Pavilion that Huo Yuhao be given a seat on the council, and that motion had subsequently passed. Even though he wasn't back at the academy yet, Huo Yuhao was already a part of the Sea God's Pavilion. He was equal to Fan Yu, who was the Soul Tool Department's vice-Dean, in terms of status within the academy - he was perhaps even higher.
Fan Yu was a Class 8 soul engineer, and he naturally understood how difficult it was to design formation arrays and create blueprints, even though Huo Yuhao had a spiritual-type martial soul, and thus enjoyed a considerable advantage. However, he could only design and innovate, at night as he had to forge soul tools and conduct research in the day. It could be said that it was considered fortunate if Huo Yuhao could enjoy four to six hours of rest every day, and those hours were spent in meditation.
Huo Yuhao's soul power didn't improve much over the past two years. Fan Yu knew him too well, and he could sense that Huo Yuhao was drastically different, to the point where even Fan Yu felt a little confused and dumbfounded when Huo Yuhao talked about some principles and concepts regarding soul tools. Xuan Ziwen once said that Huo Yuhao would be a Class 7 soul engineer if he had enough soul power.
How would Jing Hongchen of the Illustrious Virtue Hall feel, if he had known that this exchange program brought him so much trouble?
This was the very reason why Fan Yu agreed to Huo Yuhao's request to travel outside with Wang Dong without hesitation. His only wish was for Huo Yuhao and Wang Dong to relax a little bit, so that his tightened nerves over these few years could also relax a little. Huo Yuhao had entered Shrek Academy when he was eleven, and now he was seventeen, but Huo Yuhao had accomplished feats of research and study that normal individuals couldn't do in twenty years. Not only was Huo Yuhao a genius, but he was also a hardworking student who possessed unwavering determination and fighting spirit.
Dinner ended in this jovial atmosphere. The sky was already dark by the time they walked out of the restaurant.
Fan Yu asked, "Have you found a place to stay, Wang Dong?"
Wang Dong shook his head and said, "No. I came to the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy as soon as I reached Radiant City."
Fan Yu frowned and said, "It's late, so I don't think the academy will allow you inside. It won't be easy to find a place to stay now."
He Caitou chuckled and said, "You don't have to worry about that, teacher. With little junior around, the guards will never detect him. Let Wang Dong stay with him overnight."
Fan Yu was stunned momentarily. His main focus was soul tool research, so he was more familiar with Huo Yuhao's mastery with soul tools.
Huo Yuhao laughed along and glanced at Wang Dong. "My Imitation has improved a lot. Take a look, teacher." Huo Yuhao didn't even release his martial soul, but the air beside him contorted subtly as he spoke - and Wang Dong vanished into thin air.
Fan Yu was astonished. "That… that's your Imitation? How did you make him disappear?"
Huo Yuhao laughed. "I didn't make him vanish into thin air, I simply transformed him into my shadow. Simply put, I used spiritual power to tweak the refraction of light so that people can't see him. However, the effective range is limited, and he can't be touched, because he will be discovered otherwise."
Fan Yu said, "That's incredible enough. It's like the art of stealth!"
Huo Yuhao said, "Maybe not, because his aura is still there. An adversary that's powerful enough can detect Wang Dong's existence just by perceiving his surroundings - however, this is definitely enough to deceive the guards."
The four of them returned to the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy, and Wang Dong went completely undetected. They returned to the dorm, and Huo Yuhao withdrew his soul skill.
They closed the door, but the excitement on Huo Yuhao's face was still there. Today could be considered his happiest day over the past two years, and he threw his soul tool research that he toiled over from day to day to the back of his mind.
"Wang Dong, do you feel like we have returned to the days inside our dormitory at Shrek Academy?"
Wang Dong turned back towards him. The sky was completely dark at this point, and Huo Yuhao only switched on a single light on the wall, so the room was a little dimly lit. Two pairs of eyes stared at each other, but Wang Dong seemed to be subtly avoiding his gaze for some reason.
"It's getting late, we should sleep soon. We will leave early in the morning tomorrow - my home is quite far away."
Huo Yuhao nodded and said, "You can bathe first. I'm sorry, but you'll have to sleep on the same bed as me tonight."
Wang Dong glowered, "In your dreams, nobody's going to sleep on the same bed as you tonight. You're sleeping on the floor and I'm sleeping on the bed. Do you even know how to treat your guests?"
Huo Yuhao laughed and said, "That's enough, you. I wonder who was it that bawled and cried when I left back then, and insisted that we sleep on the same bed that night? What, have you forgotten over the past two years?"
Wang Dong blushed and said, "Nonsense! Nobody was bawling or crying. Move over, I want to sleep alone anyway. We are grown up, what would people say if they saw two grown men sleeping on the same bed?" He dashed into the bathroom to bathe as he spoke.
Huo Yuhao mumbled under his breath exasperatedly, "Has his mysophobia gotten worse?" Still, he was truly elated that Wang Dong had come to visit him today, so he would accommodate him no matter what requests he had. He didn't lack blankets and mattresses, and he pulled one from his storage-type soul tool that they typically used when travelling outside and spread it out next to the bed. He arranged his own bed, changed the bedsheets, the pillowcase, and the quilt, and made everything clean and smooth.
Wang Dong took a long time in the shower. He was dirty and unkempt from his long journey here, and Huo Yuhao also knew that he was a clean freak. He wasn't in a hurry, so he lay down on the mattress on the floor, but he suddenly thought of something when he leaned back.
Why did they have to sleep? It had been a long time since they'd last met. Wasn't it a good idea for them to cultivate with the Haodong power at night?
Wang Dong finished bathing at this moment. He was holding a blue towel in his hands that he had clearly brought himself while he used it to dry his damp blue hair.
"Eh, you are so quick!" Wang Dong exuded a clean and crisp smell after changing into clean clothes as he sauntered over next to the bed. His pajamas were loose and relaxed, and everything just seemed so comfortable.
Huo Yuhao was still lying down on the ground as he said, "I regretted it immediately after making the bed for you. Why do we have to sleep? We should be cultivating with the Haodong power. Your soul power has reached the Rank 60 bottleneck, and you're much stronger than I am. You should guide me in cultivation, and I think my cultivation speed will increase greatly."
Wang Dong slid down from the edge of the bed and sat down beside Huo Yuhao. Huo Yuhao subconsciously turned around and said, "You should sit on top. This is a mattress I typically use when I'm travelling outside, so it isn't that clean. I changed everything on the bed, and I set them out in the sun a few days ago."
He finished talking, but he realized that there was something wrong with Wang Dong's eyes, so he asked subconsciously, "What's wrong?"
Wang Dong raised his hand and rubbed Huo Yuhao's head. "Promise me that we won't cultivate tonight, and we'll get a good night's worth of sleep. Aren't you happy that I'm here? I hope you can carry this excitement into your sleep, and I'm too exhausted as well. There are two people who I know that look much older than their actual age - one is Bei Bei, who lost teacher Xiao Ya, and then there's you. You have been exhausting and exerting yourself too much, and it's not good if you don't give yourself time to rest. There is no limit for soul power cultivation and soul tool research, and you will collapse sooner or later if you don't give yourself enough rest and relaxation. This is also a reason why I came to find you, and why I asked you to accompany me home - I hope that you can take a break. Who knows, that might even be beneficial for your cultivation."
Wang Dong's hand was extremely warm as he placed it on Huo Yuhao's head, and it felt comfortable for Huo Yuhao. More importantly, Huo Yuhao could feel the deep-seated concern and worry in Wang Dong's words.
"Alright, I'll listen to you and we won't cultivate today. We'll get a good night's rest - I'm going to bathe." Huo Yuhao leapt to his feet as he spoke and strode into the bathroom.
Huo Yuhao leaned against the wall once he shut the door, and tears poured forth uncontrollably as he forcibly suppressed himself so that he didn't bawl out loud.
Yes! Only he knew the immense pressure that he carried on his shoulders. He had entered a half-crazed state ever since Elder Mu had died, and had put too much pressure on himself. He seemed no different from anybody else on typical days, but the pressure that he felt was just so tiring and exhausting.
Wang Dong's arrival and his words of consolation finally released the tension in Huo Yuhao's heart. The tightly-wound knot inside Huo Yuhao was finally melted and softened by the warmth of kinship and love.
Even men cried, but they repressed their emotions deep within their heart when there was a heavy burden on their shoulders because they didn't want others to see their weakness. Huo Yuhao was still a youth, he wasn't truly a grown man yet. However, he was precocious and had matured a lot quicker than normal people did.
He bawled for a moment longer before he stepped under the shower and took off his clothes. He let the warm water rinse and course over his body, as both his physical and mental fatigue seemed to dampen and dissolve as the warm water trickled down.