Xu Sanshi added, "At that time, our Zhuge Divine Crossbow will be extremely useful."
He Caito laughed and agreed, "Definitely. The Zhuge Divine Crossbow Cannon that our little junior brother has designed combines the Tang Sect's Zhuge Divine Crossbow's gear mechanisms with soul power consumption. It's similar in strength to a Class 5 stationary soul cannon, but it can be fired repeatedly while it doesn't expend much soul power at all. Normal people can operate the crossbow if it has been charged with soul power beforehand, and that is a characteristic that no other soul tool has. The cannons will become extremely formidable if there are enough of them."
The Zhuge Divine Crossbow Cannon Huo Yuhao had designed wasn't that mighty in terms of power and force. However, it could use many different types of stationary soul cannon shells, and its most frightening aspect was the same one that he had shown to Jing Hongchen - he drew upon the Tang Sect's machine-type hidden weapon, the Zhuge Divine Crossbow, and its automatic mechanisms. It was exceptionally simple and convenient to operate, to the point where even Soul Grandmasters could operate it.
If Huo Yuhao could use that Sealed Milk Bottle that Xuan Ziwen had designed, then the Zhuge Divine Crossbow Cannon could be directly operated by normal soldiers, and they would only have to switch Milk Bottles after firing for a period of time.
Of course, because the Zhuge Divine Crossbow Cannon was a stationary soul tool, there was a corresponding high demand for stationary soul cannon shells. The item itself was quite large so it could store more cannon shells, and thus it was more suitable for defense, and wasn't as effective when used offensively.
Huo Yuhao said, "Eldest senior brother, I have made some refinements and improvements to the Zhuge Divine Crossbow Cannon. We can add these changes in to our next batch, and I have drawn detailed blueprints. I have several other designs that we can try producing as well."
Bei Bei laughed and said, "Alright. There's no rush - you've just returned, and yet all we talk about are these things. We're going to participate in the big competition again after a few months, are you confident? I promised Elder Xuan that we will definitely win, and only then did he allow us to focus on the Tang Sect instead of on our cultivation."
Huo Yuhao chuckled and said, "You're the team leader. This question should be directed at you!"
Bei Bei said, "Are you trying to shirk your responsibilities again? I will check later whether you've overlooked your cultivation over the past two years while you worked on soul tools."
Huo Yuhao laughed, but said nothing. He Caitou chimed in from the side and said, "You didn't see what happened, eldest senior brother! Back in the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy, Huo Yuhao faced off against the academy's elites himself, and he practically walked over them. The championship will definitely be ours - we took the trophy five years ago, and it will be no different this time."
Bei Bei said, "We can't be too complacent. We have many adversaries, and the competition will be held in the Sun Moon Empire. I believe the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy will be determined and committed to take the crown as well. We might not be able to take it down as smoothly as you think."
Xu Sanshi said, "You're worrying over nothing. You'll see what I can do when the time comes - if it's a single-elimination match, I think I alone will probably be enough."
Bei Bei shot a glare at him and said, "Enough about the competition. You should deal with Nannan first before anything else."
Xu Sanshi crumpled like a deflating balloon and plopped onto the ground when he heard Nannan's name, and he suddenly looked a little sullen and dejected.
Huo Yuhao said, "Oh yes. Where are fourth senior sister and fifth senior sister? Where's Wang Dong?"
Bei Bei smiled faintly and said, "You only just remembered? They're all busy, and you will see them very soon. There's an important activity in the inner courtyard today, and it should have been conducted earlier, but eldest senior sister postponed it continuously to wait for you and He Caitou to return. The date was fixed only when we confirmed you were on your way back."
Huo Yuhao knew that the "eldest senior sister" Bei Bei referred to was Zhang Lexuan. She was truly the most powerful student of the inner courtyard, and she was already part of the Sea God's Pavilion.
"What activity?" Huo Yuhao asked curiously.
Bei Bei replied mysteriously, "I'm not going to tell you for now, so that you will be even more pleasantly surprised afterwards. You only need to know that this is the most important activity in the entire history of the inner courtyard. We will tell you when the activity is about to start."
Huo Yuhao stared at the mysterious and secretive expressions on Bei Bei and Xu Sanshi's faces, and then at the look of befuddlement on his second senior brother's face. He didn't really understand what was going on, and he had no idea what this activity could be about.
"Will Wang Dong return in time to participate?" Huo Yuhao asked once more. He couldn't help but think about the young girl he had encountered when he brought up Wang Dong's name. He wanted to ask Bei Bei about her, but he figured that Wang Dong's sister had probably just arrived at the academy to participate in the entry examination, and she probably wasn't officially part of the academy yet. Eldest senior brother had been at the Tang Sect this whole time, so he probably didn't know much either. Of course, he wasn't sure whether it was simply because he was embarrassed about asking in the first place.
"Ah, he will definitely make it back in time." Bei Bei laughed again as the tinge of mystery in his smile seemed to become thicker.
"That's good. Eldest senior brother, third senior brother... Second senior brother and I will talk about some of the blueprints that we have brought back with us. We shall discuss which soul tools are most appropriate for production to benefit the Tang Sect. Let's also talk about our expansion issues." Huo Yuhao retrieved the invaluable Starlight Sapphire ring from his finger as he spoke. It was his own ring, and not the one that Jing Hongchen had given him. He had exchanged precious metals for this in Radiant City, and it wasn't easy - all the good stuff was stored inside.
"Yes." Bei Bei's expression grew serious.
Xu Sanshi was staring at him at this moment, and he passed an inquisitive look to Bei Bei. The corner of Bei Bei's mouth curled into a faint smile, and he responded with a slight shake of his head. Xu Sanshi made a disdainful gesture before he turned back towards Huo Yuhao with a piteous look as Huo Yuhao laid the blueprints out across the table.
Huo Yuhao immediately became extremely focused when soul tools were concerned. The "activity" that he was just talking about was thrown to the back of his mind, and he quickly entered the zone as he began to explain his principles and concepts.
He Caitou chipped in and added things from time to time. He Caitou's mastery of soul tools was actually far superior to Huo Yuhao's, but he had had no choice but to mask it a little when he was at the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy. Their research directions were different - Huo Yuhao researched close-combat soul tools that were more suitable for himself, and he investigated certain concepts regarding the combination of the Tang Sect's hidden weapons and soul tools, while He Caitou was responsible for designing and experimenting with forging these soul tools. They didn't seem like they interacted much at the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy, but they actually coordinated with each other through letters. They had applied the Ultimate Solder Plans' methods of infiltration and penetration to their exchange studies.
Time quickly passed, and the sky turned dark. Huo Yuhao and He Caitou decided to remain at the Tang Sect that night, and the four of them worked late into the night. They only went to rest when they finalized the Tang Sect's general direction for the next couple of years.
The night passed by peacefully. The next morning, Bei Bei and Xu Sanshi took Huo Yuhao and He Caitou to the Tang Sect's foundry. The two of them made some adjustments to the foundry based on their own experiences, and they gave a few suggestions based on the plans they had devised.
The foundry was bound to be expanded, and the safest place to expand into was Shrek Academy's Soul Tool Department. According to the suggestions they had put forth the previous day, they would immediately build an underground warehouse beneath the Tang Sect to store precious soul tools.
He Caitou would become the person in charge of the Tang Sect's branch in Shrek Academy's Soul Tool Department, and he would be responsible for the supervision and forging of soul tools. The advanced stationary soul cannon shells that he had been investigating over the past two years were about to enter the experimental and production phase.
Huo Yuhao had to remain at Shrek Academy to finish his studies while he continued designing soul tools with He Caitou. Of course, this wouldn't take too long. Huo Yuhao had been waiting for one person to return, and if that person did show up, then he would be released from designing soul tools and could focus on his own close-combat soul tools. Furthermore, there were more important things for him to accomplish after graduation, but all those were stories for later.
Another day passed by as they hustled along. Huo Yuhao and He Caitou quickly became familiar with the Tang Sect's various tasks and administration. The foundry had gone through drastic changes after the addition of two professional high-level soul engineers, Huo Yuhao and He Caitou tweaked and adjusted some machines used to forge soul tools, and they crafted some machines themselves. The various precious metals Huo Yuhao had sent back were put to use, and the Tang Sect hidden with Shrek City's walls was starting to look like a machine opearting at top speed.
"Take a break, little junior brother." Bei Bei came into the foundry and interrupted Huo Yuhao, who was still working away.
"Eldest senior brother," Huo Yuhao chortled as he surveyed the dirt and stains on his body, "I can't sit around idly! I really want to make up for the past two years as I watch the Tang Sect become more prosperous every day."
Bei Bei laughed and said, "Your contributions to the sect cannot be estimated this way. An influential and powerful sect is not established overnight. Also, do you remember the activity I told you about the other day? It will be held tomorrow, so you shouldn't stay at the Tang Sect tonight, and you should follow me to the Sea God's Pavilion. Sanshi and Caitou will tag along, so that it's easier for us to attend the event tomorrow."
"Okay." Huo Yuhao didn't really have much of an opinion about his eldest senior brother's instructions, and he acknowledged them with a nod of his head before returning to his work.
They were going to participate in the Continental Advanced Soul Master Academy Soul Dueling Tournament in a few months. Bei Bei and Xu Sanshi seemed as relaxed as they could be on the surface, but everybody knew that this competition under their leadership was exceptionally important to them and the academy. This was especially true since the competition was going to be hosted in the Radiant City, which would demand a lot more from them.