Huo Yuhao released Bei Bei's hand after a while. He looked up at the rest of his companions and smiled as he said, "What's happening, everyone? Even though we are in dire straits right now, are we worse off compared to the last big competition? Eldest senior brother is quite heavily injured, but fortunately, his origin energy is still intact.
"What happened during the last big competition? What were our cultivations five years ago? I only had two rings, while eldest senior brother, second senior brother, and third senior brother had but four soul rings, even though they were the strongest amongst us. We still made it through, didn't we? Are we in a better situation now, or were we in a better situation back then? We should return with a landslide victory to welcome Bei Bei's return. According to the competition's proceedings, we only have to win five rounds in a row until Bei Bei's injuries recover. We only have to win two more before he can return to top condition."
Everyone looked a little better after they listened to Huo Yuhao's words. Bei Bei was lying on the bed as he heaved a sigh and said, "I'm sorry, everyone. It's my fault for being too careless. I'm not worthy of being your eldest senior brother! From now on, Huo Yuhao will be assuming command, and he will be the one arranging our battle strategies and tactics."
The company nodded their heads, and nobody had any objections to this arrangement at all. Huo Yuhao was held in high regard within the Tang Sect, as everyone had seen what he had given for the sect.
Bei Bei lowered his voice and said, "What I'm worried about is the Holy Ghost Church. They are an organization of evil soul masters, yet they can come to this place as if it's their right to do so, and they can even participate in the big competition. What does this mean?"
A pained look overcame his face after this statement, and his breathing became a little short and rapid. Wang Dong'er hurriedly came forward and released her light-type soul power to stabilize his condition. Bei Bei's Blue Lightning Tyrant Dragon could evolve into the Radiant Holy Dragon, and that meant he was relatively more compatible with light-type soul power.
Bei Bei's condition stabilized a little with Wang Dong'er's help. He nodded in her direction as a sign of gratitude before he continued. "This means that Yuhao's speculation is right - the Sun Moon Empire are in cahoots with that organization of evil soul masters. Their alliance is simply too terrifying."
Nobody here was stupid, and everyone grew a little solemn as they listened to Bei Bei speak.
The Holy Ghost Church had been full of secrets and mystery ever since they appeared until now, and nobody knew how much depth or background they had. The strength that they had placed on public display was enough to prove how frightening this sect was - it was possible that they were even stronger than the Body Sect.
The Dragon Emperor Douluo, Long Xiaoyao, was an Ultimate Douluo, and also possessed the Darkness Holy Dragon martial soul. This person had once shared the same reputation as Elder Mu, and this meant a lot of things - the Holy Ghost Sect became a lot more frightening with Long Xiaoyao holding down the fort. Furthermore, the Scorpion Tiger Douluo, Zhang Peng, had also appeared before. He was a half-evil soul master, and he was also a Rank 96 Transcendent Douluo. He could hold his own against Yan Shaozhe.
This was all that had been placed on display for the public to see. Then, how much more did they have hidden from sight and knowledge?
The Sun Moon Empire's most prominent strength was their rapid development in soul tools, and this gave them an astronomical technological advantage against other countries. The Sun Moon Empire's advantage in this respect had become increasingly obvious over time, and the greatest weapon the native three countries had against the Sun Moon Empire were soul masters.
Every country had several Titled Douluo anchoring things down, and these Titled Douluo were bred for battle. If any one of them could break through into an army's inner circle that was equipped with soul tools, the destructiveness and bloodshed that these Titled Douluo could cause would be incredibly horrifying.
According to the soul masters' unspoken rules, high-level soul masters were not allowed to attack normal citizens, while those that could use soul tools were also soul masters in some sense. Furthermore, if push came to shove, those unspoken rules would mean nothing, as what was more important than a country's survival?
This was the main reason why the Sun Moon Empire hadn't been doing much over the years. They had lost their Sun Moon Continent title ever since the Holy War, and they didn't dare to lose a second time - if they did, the Douluo Continent's three native countries that had been threatened by the Sun Moon Empire would never let them go. They would definitely give everything they had to invade the Sun Moon Empire, so that the Sun Moon Empire wouldn't have the breathing space they had all those years ago.
The impasse between soul masters and soul engineers had led to the current equilibrium. The Douluo Continent's three native countries were collectively stronger than the Sun Moon Empire, as they were three countries against one, after all. On the other hand, the first nation to move against the Sun Moon Empire would undoubtedly sustain the greatest losses, and this was the reason why nobody had done anything. This equilibrium had been maintained throughout the years.
However, this equilibrium was becoming increasingly unstable over time. The Sun Moon Empire had enjoyed rapid development and expansion in recent years, while evidence of their shady alliance with the Holy Ghost Church had also surfaced.
The Holy Ghost Church had dared to come out in broad daylight - what did this mean? This meant that they were unafraid of being discovered. They were not afraid of being discovered by the Douluo Continent's three native countries or by Shrek Academy, as these entities no longer meant anything to them. This probably also meant that the Sun Moon Empire was about to make a move, and they couldn't control themselves anymore.
The Holy Ghost Church was composed entirely of formidable evil soul masters, and these evil soul masters had formed a symbiotic relationship with the Sun Moon Empire, who were adept with soul tools. If a war broke out, how could the Douluo Continent's three native countries defend themselves?
Ever since the Dragon Emperor Douluo had appeared, the Sea God's Pavilion had decided that Shrek Guardians would devote all their energy and attention towards the Holy Ghost Church's movements, as they couldn't just let their students and teachers give up their lives for nothing. The Sea God's Pavilion had already hosted multiple meetings and conferences to discuss the Holy Ghost Church - what did the appearance of an Ultimate Douluo represent? No matter how much the Tang Sect's members didn't want to admit it, they were all extremely clear that the Dragon Emperor Douluo himself could suppress the entire Shrek Academy.
Elder Xuan was cultivating twice as often as he used to. Huo Yuhao even heard from Xiao Xiao that Elder Xuan almost went insane because he was too hasty. The current Master of the Sea God's Pavilion wanted to break through and become an Ultimate Douluo as fast as he could, so that he could match up to Long Xiaoyao.
However, could he really challenge the Dragon God Douluo? Even if Elder Xuan did become an Ultimate Douluo, the Dragon God Douluo had been at this level for much longer, and it would be an incredibly challenging task for Elder Xuan to defeat him. Elder Xuan had once said that Long Xiaoyao was possibly stronger than the Body Sect's sect leader, Du Busi. Nobody would dare to argue if someone claimed that Long Xiaoyao was the number one individual on the entire continent.
The atmosphere in the room felt a little stifled. The Holy Ghost Church's appearance was no longer just a problem for the Continental Elite Youth Soul Master Tournament - their appearance had affected the entire continent's political balance. Shrek Academy was located in the center of the Douluo Continent's three native countries, and the Great Star Dou Forest was behind them. However, could Shrek Academy avoid participation if war eventually broke out? That didn't seem very likely at all.
Xu Sanshi lowered his voice and said, "If only we had been born twenty years earlier."
Everybody concurred with his statement. Even though they were all exceedingly outstanding members of the younger generation, they were still too young after all, and that meant their cultivations were still limited. They were still a far, far cry from the powerful individuals that could actually affect the direction of a war.
Color returned to Bei Bei's face with Wang Dong'er's help. He struggled to lift his hand and took out the golden medallion that Princess Jiu Jiu had given him, which he passed to Huo Yuhao.
"Yuhao - go and look for Princess Jiu Jiu, and tell her what we think. I trust that she is smart enough to understand the gravity of the situation, and then we will continue with our original plan. Time is of the essence, so it can't be helped if we have to be a little hasty."
They were here to represent the Tang Sect in this season's competition, but they had other intentions besides simply promoting the sect. A sect's development was tied to two things: how strong the sect was, and the sect's finances.
The Tang Sect couldn't be considered powerful at all, but Shrek Academy was behind them, and they were located in Shrek City, so they didn't have to worry about their sect's safety. That also meant that the most crucial thing they needed so that their sect could develop stably and quickly for a long time to come was money.
Xuan Ziwen's soul tool research and purchasing of all sorts of exotic metals required money, and that meant the Tang Sect would need more friends and allies under such circumstances. Shrek City was powerful, but they were very deep inside the Continent, and that meant it was unlikely that they would participate in a war. Shrek Academy was helping the Tang Sect develop as much as they could, but they couldn't purchase too many soul tools in the end. However, while Shrek Academy might not need much, other people needed them.
The company was here to participate in this competition to find people to work with, besides promoting their sect's name, so that they could sell their products. The Star Luo Empire and the Heavenly Soul Empire were the Tang Sect's optimal targets. They had already met Princess Jiu Jiu as soon as they arrived today, and gotten off to a great start. This was originally a fantastic beginning for the Tang Sect, and Bei Bei had originally wanted to find Princess Jiu Jiu for another round of detailed negotiations after they had obtained a decent result in the competition. However, the Holy Ghost Church's appearance interrupted their initial plans. On the other hand, and from another perspective, the Holy Ghost Church's existence was beneficial for their efforts to promote the Tang Sect's products.
Bei Bei hadn't been in the right state of mind ever since Tang Ya appeared, but he was still the Tang Sect's eldest senior brother in the end. He immediately decided which path led to the greatest profit and benefit, and relaying information about the Holy Ghost Church to the Star Luo Empire would undoubtedly buy them a better friendship and camaraderie with Princess Jiu Jiu. This also meant that pushing out the Tang Sect's products afterwards would be a lot easier than before. A deeper cooperation wouldn't be easy, but a good start for their first encounter would be enough.
Huo Yuhao took the golden medallion and nodded. "Alright, I'll head over right now. Get some rest, eldest senior brother."
Xu Sanshi said, "Don't worry, I'll take care of him."
Bei Bei snapped, "I'll be happy if you don't piss me off."
Strangely, Xu Sanshi didn't bicker with him and said, "Alright, that's enough - get some sleep. Everyone should return to their rooms to take a break. This room is so small and there's so many people gathered here, to the point where the air isn't so good anymore."
Everyone left Bei Bei and Xu Sanshi's room one after another. Bei Bei watched everyone leave before he shut his eyes tiredly, and images of Tang Ya's blank eyes surfaced over and over again in his mind.
A faint smile appeared on Bei Bei's pale face, but nobody knew what he was thinking about at this moment.
It wasn't difficult to find the rooms where the Star Luo National Academy were staying. With Princess Jiu Jiu's status, and in addition to the Star Luo National Academy's exemplary results in the previous competition, they were arranged in the relatively higher levels. However, they weren't at the highest level.
Huo Yuhao held onto the golden medallion, and the Star Luo National Academy's team members escorted him to Princess Jiu Jiu. The princess was looking a little upset, and she was sitting on the sofa. Her expression returned to normal only when she saw Wang Dong'er push Huo Yuhao's wheelchair into the room.
"Why are you here?" Xu Jiujiu nodded at Huo Yuhao as a greeting, but her eyes were a little doubtful.
Huo Yuhao didn't answer her question. Instead, he changed the topic and said, "The Star Luo National Academy can only stay in the second-tier rooms. I wonder who's staying in the first-tier rooms?"
Xu Jiujiu's face turned black as she said, "Huo Yuhao, are you here to piss me off?"
Huo Yuhao smiled and said, "Why should I? Compared to you and your company, the Tang Sect and I are a lot worse off - we are staying in the worst rooms, and we have received the worst hospitality. I'm here today to tell you something important."
"Eh?" Xu Jiujiu was a little surprised, but she had great temperament and composure, and regained her calmness in no time. The truth was that she was just upset about being assigned to second-tier rooms - she was the princess of the Continent's second-biggest country, and it wouldn't have been right if she didn't feel upset about it. The only difference was that she didn't express her feelings outwardly.
Huo Yuhao said, "Even though I'm not sure which sects reside in the top-tier rooms, I have seen one of them - this sect is intimately connected to the Star Luo Empire. Even though I'm at Shrek Academy, I'm from the Star Luo Empire after all. This is the reason why I'm here to tell you this piece of information."
Xu Jiujiu said, "And you've discovered what this sect is? Are they the Body Sect?"
Huo Yuhao shook his head and said, "Of course not - I haven't seen anyone from the Body Sect. I'm not sure if you've heard of the Holy Ghost Church."
"The Holy Ghost Church?"
Huo Yuhao reacted in surprise, as all he could see in Xu Jiujiu's eyes was blankness and cluelessness. According to the intelligence that Shrek Academy had accumulated, this princess was in charge of the Star Luo Empire's intelligence works, yet they knew nothing about the Holy Ghost Church. This meant that the Holy Ghost Church were hidden deep, and it was likely that they had only been moving around inside the Sun Moon Empire.
Huo Yuhao tilted his head and said, "I didn't expect you not to know anything about the Holy Ghost Church. That means I haven't come here for nothing," he paused, and his tone became a little solemn, "The Holy Ghost Church have the Sun Moon Empire behind them, and they are a powerful sect that consists of evil soul masters. They possess a Transcendent Douluo, and an Ultimate Douluo as well."
Huo Yuhao's statement wasn't long, but every word crackled in Xu Jiujiu's ears like fireworks. This calm and casual princess could no longer maintain her composure, and she sprung up from the sofa as if something sharp was poking her buttocks. She exclaimed in fright, "What did you say?!"