Huo Yuhao chortled as he sat in his wheelchair and said, "Me too! However, I've got to admit that the Sun Moon Empire's technological improvements are way beyond everyone else's. Otherwise, the three empires in the Douluo Continent wouldn't be so afraid of them."
Wang Dong'er nodded and said, "Yuhao, how inferior do you think they are in comparison to the Sun Moon Empire in terms of technology?"
Huo Yuhao shook his head and said, "It's hard to tell. After all, I've no access to the top secrets of the three empires. Judging from the architectural styles and soul tool developments of the various empires, I believe the three empires are a hundred years behind the Sun Moon Empire. This is even including the fact that the three empires have been catching up over the past three years. There's actually something that the Sun Moon Empire didn't do so well in."
"What thing?" He Caitou was curious.
Huo Yuhao chortled and replied, "They can't keep their secrets well! Even the Sun Moon Empire might not have noticed it, but their technologies have been leaked quite frequently. The three empires in the three continents only needed a few decades before they managed to steal the technologies of the Sun Moon Empire, empowering their own technological development. Even though they are still inferior, which makes things a little less obvious, they might creep even closer to the Sun Moon Empire if given a few more years."
He Caitou appeared thoughtful as he nodded agreement and said, "You're right. At least some of the soul tools produced by the Sun Moon Empire have appeared in auctions in other parts of the continent. They are stricter in their control of rare metals, though."
Huo Yuhao twisted his lips and said, "They are neglecting the fundamentals and concentrating on the details. While rare metals are rare, what if someone finds substitutes for them? Furthermore, physical force can be used to obtain rare metals. True soul tool technology is very difficult to create. If not for the fact that the Sun Moon Empire's restrictions on Class 7 and above soul tools were slightly stricter, I'm sure their gap with the other empires might be even closer."
He Caitou furrowed his brow and said, "Aren't we doing the same thing too? You are the most invested in it!"
Huo Yuhao twisted his head to look at He Caitou and asked, "Second senior, I've always wanted to ask you a question. Do you still regard yourself as part of the Sun Moon Empire?"
He Caitou was stunned, and turned to look at Huo Yuhao. As their gazes met, Huo Yuhao saw the emotions lurking deep in He Caitou's eyes.
After remaining silent for a moment, He Caitou said, "Little junior, I don't want to lie to you. That's why I'm not going to answer your question. You just need to remember that I'll always be a part of the Tang Sect and Shrek Academy. That should be enough."
"Okay." Huo Yuhao stopped probing and nodded acceptance.
Wang Dong'er was stunned by their conversation. She had always believed that He Caitou was a simple, honest, and even slightly awkward person. All these were especially obvious when he was with Xiao Xiao. He was always so embarrassed, which gave off a very loveable feeling. However, she could tell from this conversation that he wasn't that simple of a person! Huo Yuhao also seemed to know something that she did not...
She squeezed Huo Yuhao's shoulder gently. She had already thought about it. She was going to ask Huo Yuhao what was going on when they returned from the underground tournament.
Huo Yuhao looked ahead, his gaze peaceful. He enjoyed the refreshing air. Even though it was slightly polluted, his mind was clearer in this air.
The Tang Sect's abilities were slowly being revealed as they proceeded further and further along in the tournament. They were bound to have attracted attention from different parties. They were also being treated more nicely. However, this also meant that their opponents were monitoring them more closely, and were doing their research on them.
Huo Yuhao wasn't very concerned about the Tang Sect's matches in the tournament. They had drawn an unfavorable lot initially, and met two strong opponents in their first two matches. If they had lost even one person, they would find it very difficult in the successive matches. However, they had achieved victory in their starting two matches. Huo Yuhao was even a bit stunned by how well they had done. He could even clearly sense that his comrade's abilities hadn't been completely demonstrated yet, and everyone was still holding back a little. Under such circumstances, it wasn't going to be a problem even if they met the Holy Ghost Sect. Would the Holy Ghost Sect even be able to threaten them?
Huo Yuhao was only hoping that Bei Bei would get better. Honestly speaking, he was more willing to be the main control soul master of the team, and not the team leader. He was only ranked sixth among Shrek's Seven Monsters in terms of seniority. He had five seniors who were older than him. To some extent, they were more suited to command the team than him.
Huo Yuhao was most worried about Shrek's team right now. The Tang Sect had battered the Clearjade Sect, so they would cease to be a threat. However, the Sun Moon team was still as strong as ever. In order to advance through the round-robin stage, Shrek would have to beat them!
The Sun Moon team and Shrek's team were arch-enemies! It was a fight where both parties had to give it their all. No one knew what the result was going to be. While Wang Qiu'er was indeed very strong, she was alone. Could she really lead Shrek to victory against the Sun Moon Soul Engineering Academy and enter the quarterfinals with the Tang Sect?
Even though Huo Yuhao's conscience was clear, and the Tang Sect had done everything they could to help Shrek advance, he was still very worried. He also knew that he wasn't the only one worried. All his teammates were also worried. In their hearts, Shrek's glory was as important as the Tang Sect's glory!
They finally reached the Green Hotel. Huo Yuhao was in a bit of a daze, but he soon regained his focus. A proud look appeared in his eyes again, and he lifted his head slightly as he leaned back against his wheelchair's backrest.
Chen An was there to receive them at the entrance of the hotel. When he saw the four of them, he quickly rushed up to welcome them.
"You're here!" Chen An said respectfully.
"Yes," Huo Yuhao snorted. "What's the situation today?"
Chen An replied, "There are three powerful soul engineers with us here today. Two of them are Class 6 soul engineers, and the other one is a Class 7 soul engineer. They are part of the refereeing team."
"What about you?" Huo Yuhao looked at him.
Chen An laughed bitterly. "I'm playing second fiddle to them. I only managed to come out because I mentioned that I was receiving important guests."
"Oh, you're good." Huo Yuhao nodded at him, and his expression became slightly gentler.
"Sir, it's like this: I didn't know what today's tournament would be like beforehand. The rules were only announced after the betting floor was opened. The forty-eight competitors in the previous round will be divided into twenty-four groups of two, and one out of the two in each group will be eliminated. They won't have any restrictions on the soul tools they can create. We'll provide all types of rare metals and normal metals for the soul engineers to use. However, they have a time limit this time of four hours. After four hours, they must test their soul tools live in front of everyone. A soul engineer can observe his opponent's soul tool without touching it. If he discovers that his soul tool is too inferior to his opponent's soul tool, he can choose to concede defeat. If neither parties concedes defeat, they will challenge each other. They will fight with the soul tools that they created, and they won't be allowed to use any other soul tools or soul skills. The winner will advance."
As he finished speaking, Chen An paused, then added, "They can kill each other."
Huo Yuhao twisted his lips. "They can actually kill each other. So today's betting plate is on the winner?"
Chen An nodded and said, "There are still many other events. For example, you can bet on how many fights there will be and how many people will die. Of course, the main one is on the winner. We'll be providing the odds based on the results of the previous round. These odds will change based on the wagers until the fights begin."
Huo Yuhao nodded. He lifted his hand and called Na Na. In front of Chen An, he said, "One minute before the tournament begins, bet one million gold soul coins that I'll win."
Chen An was stunned after hearing his words. It was a gamble! Huo Yuhao didn't even know who his opponent was going to be, but he bet such a large amount of himself. In addition, he would plunge the odds on him to win if he made such a bet just before today's round began. Not only was he confident, but he was also very clever.
Huo Yuhao laughed and said, "I lost the other time, so I need to get some of my money back. Let's go in."
Huo Yuhao's number was sixty-six. Chen An told him his opponent was number forty-eight. From what he had judged in the earlier round, his opponent was an outstanding Class 4 soul engineer. He might even be close to a Class 5 soul engineer.
He Caitou's number was 88, and his opponent was number 21. He was another Class 4 soul engineer, and was slightly weaker than Huo Yuhao's opponent.
When they entered the VIP lounge, Huo Yuhao saw the number 96 and 98 competitors from earlier seated in the lounge. They were a little earlier today, and they didn't bring their subordinates with them. They were talking to each other.
Number 96 smiled and nodded at the four of them when they entered. Huo Yuhao returned the greeting, but the arrogant look on his face didn't disappear.
Number 98 was a little colder. He was even scornful as he looked at Huo Yuhao.
Chen An sent the four of them into the lounge before he left. After all, there was still other stuff that he had to deal with.
Wang Dong'er served Huo Yuhao a glass of fruit juice, but he only took one sip. On the other side, number 96 stood up and walked over.
"How are you, my friend? Can we chat?" He bowed slightly and was very formal as he greeted Huo Yuhao.
Huo Yuhao smiled and replied, "Please, take a seat."
Number 96 sat beside him on the sofa, and asked very naturally, "May I know your name?"
Huo Yuhao replied, "My number is 66. I know your number is 96."