Dean Cai's face was overcome with astonishment, and she wasn't stingy with her praise. "Yuhao, you have the standards to become a professional chef! It's no wonder I remember your business flourishing when you used to sell grilled fish outside the academy's main gate. This is the best grilled fish I've ever eaten."
Huo Yuhao chuckled, but he didn't continue grilling his fish, and instead walked over to the wok over the other fire. He put some wild vegetables in before he added another can of seasoning. The water was boiling by this time, and his seasonings were only just added when another fragrance permeated the air, and the soup turned a light red color.
He returned to the grill to continue his grilling. Zhang Lexuan and Li Yongyue had returned with enormous fish; every single one weighed more than a kilogram, while the biggest ones were around two to two and a half kilograms. There were only a little more than ten fishes, but they were enough to feed everyone here.
The fish were grilled one after another, and Huo Yuhao's allocation was simple - he went according to age, and the eldest came first.
Zhang Lexuan was naturally the second one in line after Cai Mei'er. Even though Zhang Lexuan jokingly remarked on the fact that she was the second oldest, she was still immensely attracted by the grilled fish's aroma.
Han Ruoruo, Li Yongyue, and Mo Xuan were next.
Wang Dong'er was almost drooling as she stood beside Huo Yuhao. She watched as the seventh fish was almost ready, and a threatening look flowed from her eyes as she stared at him. Her rosy lips curled upward, as if she were saying, "This one must be mine."
Huo Yuhao whispered, "Others before self. You have to wait for a while longer, and I will pick a large one for you."
Wang Dong'er grimaced when she heard him say "others before self", but she didn't stop Huo Yuhao as he walked towards Wang Qiu'er.
Wang Qiu'er was seated furthest away from the bonfire, and she didn't interact with the others either. She was just quietly munching on her dried rations, and she only lifted her head subconsciously when Huo Yuhao arrived in front of her.
"This is for you." Huo Yuhao handed her the fish in his hands. The grilled fish skin was glowing as an alluring aroma wafted through the air.
"For me? Aren't you afraid of your little girlfriend becoming upset?" Wang Qiu'er didn't take the fish, but questioned him as she stared into his eyes.
Their gazes met, and for some reason, Huo Yuhao felt a delicate dizziness in his mind when he stared into those powdery-blue eyes, even though these abstruse eyes were absolutely different from Wang Dong'er's eyes. The moment was fleeting, but it was enough to surprise him.
Wang Qiu'er took the grilled fish that he handed over as she lowered her head and said, "Thank you."
"Have we met before?" Huo Yuhao asked curiously.
Wang Qiu'er answered matter-of-factly, "I think this is our third meeting. If you don't want your little girlfriend to think you're flirting with me, you should go back." She took a bite of the grilled fish in her hands as she spoke. She was momentarily stunned when the delicious flavor entered her mouth, and a peculiar light flickered across her eyes.
Wang Dong'er was still hungry, so Huo Yuhao didn't dally - however, he was starting to believe Wang Dong'er's judgment that Wang Qiu'er wasn't simple at all, and she definitely had to have some secret. He involuntarily developed an increased sense of wariness as these thoughts ran through his head.
He returned to the campfire and picked a bigger fish for Wang Dong'er. She was already waiting eagerly, and soon the grilled fish was finally done.
"Here you go. Careful, it's hot." Huo Yuhao passed the grilled fish to Wang Dong'er. A soothing smile unwittingly appeared on his face as he watched her excitement.
Wang Dong'er couldn't be bothered with her image anymore as she sat right there and began to eat. She was almost burned, but she just kept going on about how tasty the grilled fish was.
Huo Yuhao chuckled softly. "This fish must be the most delicious one."
Wang Dong'er continued nibbling away at her fish as she asked a little fuzzily, "Why?"
Huo Yuhao laughed and said, "There's an added spice in this one - a kind that the other fishes don't have."
Wang Dong'er was surprised, and said, "You actually hid something from the others? Aren't you afraid of them calling you stingy?"
Huo Yuhao shook his head. "No, I'm not. This spice can only be used when grilling for you, because it's called fondness."
Wang Dong'er was slightly taken aback, but she quickly recovered as her cheeks immediately turned rosy. She whispered, "Is it just fondness?"
Huo Yuhao fiddled with the next grilled fish in his hands as he smiled and said, "Love comprises a lot of fondness. The spices next time will taste even richer."
Wang Dong'er didn't pursue the matter further as she chomped on the grilled fish in her hands, before she flashed a sweet smile at Huo Yuhao. She had already removed her veil at this point, and her enchanting beauty dazed Huo Yuhao to the point where he forgot to flip the grilled fish he was working on, and the fish he made for himself was a little burnt.
"Ah, it's burnt. The taste will be a lot denser, even if that wasn't what I wanted."
The grilled fish was rich and fragrant, while the wild vegetable soup was sweet and refreshing. This meal couldn't be considered nutritious or luxuriant, but it had appeal of the mountains and the wilderness, and with that, in addition to the delicious flavor, everyone was happy with it. Some people even fought a little over the last few pieces, and their method naturally came down to rock-paper-scissors. Everyone became a lot closer than before from all this interaction, and only Wang Qiu'er remained quiet and isolated.
In the end, one hour of rest became two hours before they finished up. After the delectable meal, everyone began to meditate while Dean Cai protected them so that they could be at their peak conditions.
Huo Yuhao would feel a sense of detachment, as if he were separated from the world, every time he entered the lush Great Star Dou Forest. The truth was that the Great Star Dou Forest was like an independent nation - the country of soul beasts.
Everyone was a high-level soul master, and everyone pushed forward at full speed after entering the Peripheral Region under Zhang Lexuan's leadership as they ventured toward the deeper regions.
This time was vastly different from the times Huo Yuhao had entered the forest. Zhang Lexuan was leading the group, and she had no intention of scouting carefully; they just proceeded forward at full speed. Her body glowed with brilliant white light, and the trees and logs on the ground opened up wherever she walked, while her body emanated a powerful aura. The lower-tier soul beasts didn't dare to come near, and their speed was at least three times faster than when Huo Yuhao and the others were last here.
This was the meaning of strength; they relied on pure power to force their way forward, while they would rest for fifteen minutes after travelling for two hours. They could tell they were out of the Peripheral Region by judging the strength of the soul beasts around them when the sky gradually turned dark; they were slowly crossing into the Hybrid Region.
"Maintain the formation, everyone. Pay attention, main control and secondary control." Zhang Lexuan slowed down conspicuously. The soul beasts around them would be mostly thousand year soul beasts once they entered the Hybrid Region, and there would probably also be ten thousand year soul beasts, which were presences that were enough to threaten everyone. Ten thousand year soul beasts were also precisely what everyone had come here for.
Huo Yuhao's eyes lit up as he gripped Wang Dong'er's hand subconsciously. The Haodong power circulated between them as golden light flowed from his eyes.
His Spiritual Detection was passed to everyone on the team, and it extended outward with astounding speed, covering a radius of six hundred meters around them in the blink of an eye.
All the plants and trees, the landscape, and various other parameters quickly surfaced in everyone's minds.
Huo Yuhao had no problem assisting seven people at the same time via Spiritual Detection with his current spiritual power, and his detection distance far exceeded his past limits.
However, other than Wang Dong, everyone was clearly not used to his Spiritual Detection. They couldn't help but pause in their tracks when Huo Yuhao activated his soul skill, to the point where Huo Yuhao almost slammed into Mo Xuan, who was walking in front of him.
Everyone tossed their heads backward, and Huo Yuhao immediately became the center of attention. This was especially so for Zhang Lexuan, who was right at the front. Her eyes were filled with astonishment.
It was needless to say what the effect of such immense scouting power would be like for the team. Zhang Lexuan was team leader, and also an assault-type soul master, and she instantly felt as if the burden on her shoulders was greatly lifted.
"How's the consumption, Yuhao?" Zhang Lexuan asked immediately.
Huo Yuhao answered without hesitation, "I can recover as we travel. I can maintain this for a very long time as long as I don't expand the area of effect."
Zhang Lexuan asked in surprise, "You can expand the area of effect? What's the limit?"
Huo Yuhao immediately gave her the numerical details. "I can reach an area of around one thousand five hundred meters in diameter, while my vertical detection limit can reach around three thousand meters. I can increase the precision and clarity by a hundred percent. However, I will consume a lot more soul power if I do that, so I can't keep it up for a long period of time."
Everyone could be heard drawing cold breaths. This soul skill didn't come with any offensive or defensive capabilities, but it was exceptionally useful for detection and exploration. Having this skill was equivalent to being able to predict dangers, and thus could be considered a super soul skill in the Great Star Dou Forest that was filled with perils.
Zhang Lexuan said decisively, "Maintaining this area of effect is enough. From now onwards, Huo Yuhao will be the main control and Ruoruo will be switched to secondary control. Any objections?"
Han Ruoruo had known her and coordinated with her for many years, and she answered without hesitation. "No problem."
Huo Yuhao paused momentarily, but answered, "I'm okay with that."
Nobody had any disputes about him taking over that role because all but fools could sense his Spiritual Detection's usefulness
With Spiritual Detection activated, Zhang Lexuan picked up the pace once more, and they went straight for the inner circle.
However, once they entered the Hybrid Region, not all the soul beasts in the area would be terrified by her aura.
They didn't travel for long before everyone received an alarm signal in their minds. Zhang Lexuan immediately halted, and she followed the Spiritual Detection's guidance and gazed toward a certain direction.
There was a soul beast crouching on a thick branch about two hundred meters away from them.