"Alright. Please wait a while, I'll find out if the Hallmaster has time to see you."
"Alright." Huo Yuhao sat to one side and tilted his head down until his chin was almost touching his chest, putting on a serious and obedient look.
Lin Jiayi picked up an internal voice-projecting soul tool and used a special soul power undulation to send a message outwards.
It didn't take long before Jing Hongchen's voice could be heard on the other end of the receiver.
"Eh? Huo Yuhao wants to see me? Okay, bring him in." Jing Hongchen quickly accepted Huo Yuhao's request. The truth be told, he was curious as to what exactly this youth from Shrek Academy wanted with him. Can it be that he wants to join the Illustrious Virtue Hall? No, that's impossible!
Jing Hongchen's mood dropped when he thought about this.
Lin Jiayi escorted Huo Yuhao to Jing Hongchen's office.
"Greetings, Hallmaster." Huo Yuhao came forward and greeted him politely.
Jing Hongchen smiled and said, "Please, have a seat."
Huo Yuhao didn't sit down, but he remained standing as he said, "I have something I wish to discuss with you in private. Is that possible?"
Jing Hongchen was stunned momentarily before he waved towards Lin Jiayi.
The corner of Lin Jiayi's mouth twitched. The Hallmaster is just so nice towards this conniving fella. However, he didn't hesitate, and quickly retreated from the room before he latched the door behind him.
"You can speak now." Jing Hongchen scrutinized the youth before him. Huo Yuhao had become a whole lot taller over the past two years, and he was quite the young man now. He was well-built, his shoulders were broad and his back was wide. His arms were big, his waist was small, and Jing Hongchen even realized, to his surprise, that Huo Yuhao seemed to have a special quality that wasn't there before. Huo Yuhao's relatively normal facial features were calm and determined, and he had some of the charisma that was inherently held by mature men—his sparkling eyes were especially riveting, and gave people a strong impression.
Huo Yuhao said, "I've been at the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy for more than two years. Over these two years, I have received a lot of and help from you, Hallmaster, and I have improved exponentially in my mastery of forging and using soul tools. Our exchange program is about to end, and I wish to give you a personal present to express my gratitude."
"You want to give me a present?" Jing Hongchen's curiosity was piqued. Not a single student had ever done this before, and honestly, nobody dared to. Never in his wildest dreams did he expect that Huo Yuhao wanted to see him to gift a present.
Jing Hongchen looked at Huo Yuhao, amused. He said, "Your present might not be that easy to accept, eh?"
Huo Yuhao hurriedly shook his head and said, "Of course not. This is purely to express my gratitude. It's a soul tool that I crafted myself. I hope you'll like it."
He touched his Twenty-Four Moonlit Bridges as he spoke and retrieved a black metal box before he placed it before Jing Hongchen.
"Hallmaster, this is just a model, and it's intended as a souvenir for you. I have already installed the gears and buttons, and if you want to use it, it's like this…" He demonstrated how to use the soul tool in front of Jing Hongchen.
Had Xuan Ziwen been here, he would have realized that the metal box Huo Yuhao was giving Jing Hongchen was identical to the one Huo Yuhao had shown him long ago when he was first stunned with awe and astonishment at Huo Yuhao… Jing Hongchen took the metal box and made a few glances at it. This soul tool seemed a little crude, and there was nothing intricate or exquisite about it at all. He used his soul power to probe the inside of the soul tool, and discovered that there was only a simple energy-gathering formation array inside.
"Okay, thank you." He felt a little contemptuous, but he didn't show it.
Huo Yuhao bowed respectfully and said, "Then I shall take my leave. Farewell, Hallmaster." He turned around as he spoke and didn't stay any longer.
Huo Yuhao left, and the corner of Jing Hongchen's mouth curled into a mischievous smile. Is he trying to tell me that he hadn't learned anything much, so he's giving me this toy to mock me for being unwilling to teach him real knowledge? He is quite bold, indeed. And he still taught me to use this rickety object that can't even be considered a Class 1 soul tool?
As these thoughts spun in his head, he subconsciously followed Huo Yuhao's simple instructions to operate the soul tool as he pointed it at the wall and pressed the button.
From Jing Hongchen's perspective, this was probably just a soul ray, and it wouldn't be that powerful either. When he used his soul power to inspect the item, he had noticed that the energy-gathering formation array had soul power stored inside; it was probably Huo Yuhao who had infused his own soul power inside, and he hadn't used it yet.
A series of howling sounds could be heard, and gave Jing Hongchen a shock.
Several pop sounds could be heard from the wall immediately afterwards. Jing Hongchen glanced subconsciously as the black box in his hands before he quickly came out from behind his desk. At this moment, the doorbell rang.
"Come in." Jing Hongchen stopped in his tracks.
Lin Jiayi came in from outside and said, "Do you have any instructions, Hallmaster?"
Jing Hongchen saw that it was Lin Jiayi, and he continued walking to the wall on the opposite side and quickly found the small metal arrows that had drilled completely into the wall.
He picked up the black box and infused some soul power inside. He pressed the button once more, and another series of shooting sounds could be heard. A shadow flashed by before the same popping sounds could be heard from the wall.
Jing Hongchen's eyes filled with bewilderment. He suddenly understood something, and immediately said to Lin Jiayi, "Go find Huo Yuhao and bring him back here."
"Yes." Lin Jiayi didn't dare to probe as he turned and ran to call Huo Yuhao back.
How did the soul tool activate its formation arrays? How did it shoot out the arrows? It's not a soul ray, it's more like the model of a stationary soul tool. What's more frightening is that this soul tool doesn't need soul power to activate it, and I can simply press a button to use it after infusing soul power. How is this automatic setup crafted?
Jing Hongchen couldn't wait any longer, and started to take the black box apart to see. However, he had only made the first move before a series of clanging sounds could be heard from inside the box.
A self-destruct mechanism! What a guy! Jing Hongchen didn't have to look to know that the soul tool's internal gears and setup were now dysfunctional.
Huo Yuhao had just left, so calling him back wasn't that difficult. This was especially so when he was walking slowly anyway, as if he had no intention of walking too far away.
It didn't take long before he was standing before Jing Hongchen once more.
Jing Hongchen lowered his voice and said, "Tell me, what are your intentions?'
Huo Yuhao didn't ask Lin Jiayi to leave, and he stared at Jing Hongchen with a confused look and asked, "What intentions?"
Jing Hongchen felt his heart skip a beat. You do know how to act!
"This." He shook the black box in his hands.
Huo Yuhao was stunned momentarily and said, "I have no motives at all. That's just a souvenir for you. Eh, why is it broken?" Rattling sounds could be heard from the black box when Jing Hongchen shook it, and it was clear that its inner mechanisms had been destroyed.
Huo Yuhao seemed perplexed, and he looked hurt as he said, "Hallmaster, even if you look down on this thing I made, I only wanted to give it to you as a souvenir. You didn't have to break it."
Jing Hongchen was almost fooled by Huo Yuhao's emotional sentiments. This fella was just too good at acting. "Enough. Stop pretending. Name a price. I want the overall structure of the automatic mechanism." With his level of perception, he could naturally see the unique and special effects of this black box's internal automatic mechanisms.
Huo Yuhao seemed lost as he said, "What automatic mechanisms? I just casually made this thing, and I've already given it to you!"
He's still pretending? Jing Hongchen felt as if all his patience was gone. "I am referring to the inner workings of this black box. Draw it out—if that's alright, I'm willing to pay you for it."
"Oh, so that's the case." Huo Yuhao looked like he just had a revelation. "But, Hallmaster, I have put a lot of effort into this research. It's not going to be cheap if I'm to sell it!"
Jing Hongchen snapped, "Name your price. Do I look like a stingy person?"
Huo Yuhao extended one hand and opened all five fingers. He thought for a while before he retracted two fingers, and left his index, middle, and fourth finger extended.
"Three will do. I will exchange this with you for three Class 9 soul tools."
His tone was casual and natural, as if he were just casually requesting three sacks of rice from Jing Hongchen.
Lin Jiayi almost vomited blood. What? Three Class 9 soul tools? What does he think Class 9 soul tools are? A Class 9 soul engineer would have to put in so much blood and sweat, and materials as well, to complete a Class 9 soul tool. Does he really want to exchange this rickety old box for three Class 9 soul tools?
The flesh on Jing Hongchen's face froze, and the faint smile on his face immediately vanished into thin air. "You're trying to rip me off?"
Huo Yuhao shook his head and said, "No, I'm not. I just feel like my research is precious and worth this price. Furthermore, we can still negotiate the price, don't you think so?"
Huo Yuhao lifted his other hand sincerely and pressed down his extended fourth finger on the other hand. "Two will do. What do you think?"
Jing Hongchen was infuriated. "No way. Your automatic mechanisms are quite valuable, but how can your research compare to a Class 9 soul tool?"
Huo Yuhao replied, "A Class 9 soul cannon shell will do—I'm not picky."
Scram… The word came to the edge of Jing Hongchen's mouth and he almost blurted it out. He suddenly recalled how this rascal had tried to rip him off back during the exchange competition. It was obvious that Huo Yuhao had intentionally brought this soul tool for him to see, and he would wait for a high price before he was willing to sell it.
The truth was that Jing Hongchen wasn't that furious. He felt a little fortunate actually—at least, Huo Yuhao let him see this soul tool after all, and he didn't take it back directly to Shrek Academy; he hadn't bypassed him altogether. This automatic mechanism would be very effective if it was installed in stationary soul tools. Furthermore, its principles could be combined with other soul tools, and there would perhaps be other wondrous effects. This form of automation meant even normal citizens could use soul tools that were charged beforehand! He had also heard from Xuan Ziwen they were likely to achieve a breakthrough in their research with Sealed Milk Bottles.
If this automatic mechanism was combined with exemplary soul tools and Sealed Milk Bottles…