The second courtyard was a lot more spacious, at least three hundred meters across, and there were still rooms on both sides, with a towering structure in front. An inscribed board hung from the top, which read "Conference Hall".
Huo Yuhao could hear laughter coming from the Conference Hall before he even reached it, and he could no longer hold back the passion and warmth in his heart as he darted forward and rushed inside.
There were three people inside the hall. One of them was He Caitou, who had gone back earlier than Huo Yuhao, and was the one laughing. There were two young men standing opposite him.
The person on the left was at least a meter and ninety centimeters tall. His shoulders were broad, and he looked as majestic as could be. His tall, muscular appearance gave people the feeling he was as stalwart and steady as a mountain.
The person on the right wore a long, flowing robe, and there was a faint smile on his handsome face. His eyes were deep, while his long hair draped over his shoulders. He was more elegant and valiant-looking than the other person, but there was an added tinge of scholarliness.
"Eldest senior brother, second senior brother, third senior brother!" Huo Yuhao exclaimed and leapt forward.
The person on the left was Xu Sanshi, and the person on the right was Bei Bei. They saw Huo Yuhao barrel into the room, and were ecstatic as they hurried forward along with He Caitou. The four of them shared a warm hug.
They couldn't calm their excitement for a long time, and it took a while before everybody could restrain themselves.
Bei Bei looked at Huo Yuhao with that faint smile on his face and said, "You've finally returned, little junior brother. It's been two and a half years! A total of two and a half years!!"
Huo Yuhao nodded vigorously and replied, "I know, right? Two and a half years! I have longed to return home for such a long time, but the exchange program took so long to end! I've missed everyone so much, eldest senior brother! Is everyone doing alright?"
Bei Bei smiled and said, "We are extremely good. How is it? The Tang Sect is starting to take shape. How does it feel?"
Huo Yuhao said sincerely, "Thank you for your troubles, eldest senior brother and third senior brother. I didn't expect us to be able to have our own territory in just two years. Even though it's still incomplete, it's indeed starting to take shape."
Bei Bei said, "We are waiting for you to take the reins. You have to bear this mantle of taking care of the Tang Sect in the future."
"Me?" Huo Yuhao was taken aback. He tossed his head from side to side and said, "No, no. How can I do that? It should be you guys who take charge."
Xu Sanshi laughed heartily and said, "What did I say? I knew this fella would shirk his responsibility. Who would want to fight with you for this tiring job?"
Bei Bei pulled a long face and said, "Little junior brother, the Tang Sect's development in the future will be mainly focused on soul tools, and both He Caitou and you are soul engineers."
Huo Yuhao said, "I will try my best to help the Tang Sect. However, only you can be the Tang Sect's overall director. I can be responsible for the forging of soul tools and related technology, but I know nothing about coordinating and managing a sect!"
Bei Bei laughed and said, "I know nothing either. We will learn if we experiment a few times. Alright, you've just returned from a long journey, so let's not talk about all this. Sit down and take a break."
"Alright!" Huo Yuhao answered happily and sat down, his heart still excited.
He finally had time to survey the Conference Hall's layout. The layout was simple and unadorned, with green tiles lining the floor, while the furniture was the color of red dates, and exuded a minimalistic and unornamented feel as well. There was a long table in the middle, with twenty chairs on either side. The main seat was in the north, facing the south.
He Caitou said, "Eldest senior brother, how far has the Tang Sect developed? Tell me and little junior brother about it, eh?"
Bei Bei nodded and answered, "The Tang Sect is developing rapidly, and its speed has exceeded my personal estimations. The blueprints that little junior brother sent back were the catalysts."
The blueprints that Huo Yuhao had recorded in the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy had all been sent back to Bei Bei, and Bei Bei had replicated each one of them before he handed them over to the academy. Now, Shrek Academy had blueprints of all the soul tools that the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy possessed. However, several models of soul tools that Huo Yuhao had designed and invented himself were only available to the Tang Sect. This decision was made after Bei Bei discussed it with Huo Yuhao via letters, and after they explained their reasons to the Sea God's Pavilion.
In the end, the Tang Sect would need funds if they wanted to expand. They would only be able to gather more talents and prodigies if they had funds, so that they could flourish and develop properly.
Shrek Academy had become the Tang Sect's greatest support and backup. The Academy had provided them with money in advance, and they nominated students who had graduated from both the outer and inner courtyard, but didn't have a sect. If these students were willing, they could join the Tang Sect.
They were just starting out, so there were very few students who wanted to join the Tang Sect. However, following the speedy advancement of Shrek Academy's Soul Tool Department, the Tang Sect would become one of the best places to go in the near future. This was also an opportunity that Bei Bei had grasped with his sharp insight.
An academy was an academy, after all. Academies could nurture prodigies and talents, but they couldn't really keep them. This was especially so for students who graduated from the outer courtyard, who could only leave after their six years of studies if they couldn't make the cut for the inner courtyard. However, sects were different, and disciples could stay at a sect for a lifetime once they were a part of it. As long as the sect was powerful enough, and they could provide conducive environments for cultivation and financial stability, then they would be able to keep these talents and prodigies indefinitely.
Because of this fact, Shrek Academy had devised a plan to establish their own sect before Elder Mu passed away.
However, Shrek Academy was simply too popular. Establishing a Shrek Sect wasn't realistic at all, and would definitely attract disputes and trouble. The Tang Sect was different - it had a long history, and an intimate connection with Shrek Academy, so using Shrek Academy as support to recreate the Tang Sect was not a bad choice.
What Bei Bei regretted most was that he wasn't able to confirm everything back in the day, so he was never able to relay the good news to Tang Ya, and he wanted to make sure everything was confirmed and in place before he could give her a pleasant surprise. However, he had never expected Tang Ya to disappear without a trace once she departed.
"The Tang Sect will be divided mainly into the inner hall and the outer hall. Our inner hall and outer hall are different from the Academy's inner and outer courtyards - the inner hall is responsible for administrative matters, management, manufacturing soul tools, etcetera, while the outer hall is responsible for foreign policy and handling worldly affairs. For example, the outer hall will be responsible for corporate communications, battles, and whatnot. The inner hall has more than thirty people, and in addition to some veteran craftsmen, the outer hall has almost one hundred people. We can produce ten of your Zhuge Divine Crossbow Cannons every month, and this is already the fastest we can go. Orders are all from Shrek City and the academy."
"Sanshi is in charge of the outer hall. We are still in the early phases, and we have taken in some students from the outer courtyard, but not a single student from Shrek's inner courtyard is willing to join us. However, I believe that everything will be fine as the Tang Sect becomes increasingly stronger."
Bei Bei thus explained the Tang Sect's organizational structure, as well as the inner hall and the outer hall's branches, to Huo Yuhao and He Caitou.
The Tang Sect's Soul Tool Forge imitated the Illustrious Virtue Hall in some senses. Even if they weren't completely underground, half of the workshop was belowground, and some key components were completed in the basement, while normal components were produced in the foundry aboveground.
The only soul tool that the Tang Sect was currently producing was the Zhuge Divine Crossbow Cannon, along with some cannon shells. However, they would need at least two years to meet the purchase orders from Shrek City and Shrek Academy.
"I wanted to wait for your return to discuss this with you, Yuhao. Do you think we can export the Zhuge Divine Crossbow Cannon? If we can export it, then we will immediately see an increase in the volume of sales. Manpower isn't really a problem, and the academy's Soul Tool Department has been trying internships and field work at our place, and we can pay them in return for their aid in creating formation arrays and miscellaneous components."
Huo Yuhao shook his head and said, "Eldest senior brother, I think it's better if we hold off on exporting the Zhuge Divine Crossbow Cannon. If the budget allows, we can increase production and store some inventory. We will discuss the exporting issue when I return from the Continental Advanced Soul Master Academy Soul Dueling Tournament."
Bei Bei said, "With the Zhuge Divine Crossbow Cannon's unique characteristics, I'm sure both the Sun Moon Empire and Heavenly Soul Empire will be extremely interested if we show it to them. Manufacturing Zhuge Divine Crossbow Cannons is extremely complicated, but it doesn't require too much precious metal to make them. Cannon shells alone contribute to most of our revenue. I've already discussed it with the academy, and the Soul Tool Department will open a special district for us to hire more skilled craftsmen so that we can mass produce soul cannon shells. The stationary cannon shells will be shifted back to Shrek City for storage. We will only sell those below Class 4 to the outside world, which we can mass produce."
Huo Yuhao replied, "You can make this decision yourself, eldest senior brother."
Bei Bei laughed and said, "When I first test-fired your Zhuge Divine Crossbow Cannon, both Xu Sanshi and I were shocked. We had the feeling that it would have been difficult even for us to emerge unscathed if we had been the targets. However, the Tang Sect's production cannot be so limited. We will need more funds if we want to develop better, so reaping a profit from wars and conflicts is a must."
A look of anxiety flashed in his eyes. "The Sun Moon Empire has become more overbearing and dominant over the past two years. Even though they are still fighting for the throne internally, the crown prince that has the advantage seems to be from the hardline faction, so war might be inevitable if he eventually ascends to the throne."
"The guy with no legs?" He Caitou asked with a hint of astonishment.
Bei Bei nodded and said, "Don't underestimate him. This Xu Tianran is exceptionally impressive - he has the courage and the wits, and he's from the pro-war hardline faction. If Huo Yuhao hadn't sent back those blueprints, we would still be clueless that the three native empires of the Douluo Continent have been lagging so far behind them in soul tool development. They will rely on advanced soul tools and masses of soul engineers, and I think neither the Star Luo Empire nor the Heavenly Soul Empire can defend themselves if the Sun Moon Empire eventually launches an invasion."