The vice-founder explained coldly, "He's a soul engineer, not a soul master. The things he has to do require creativity and innovation. If we brainwash him, his memories will greatly deteriorate. It's easier for soul masters because we can guide them and train them so that they regain their memories under our control, but can he regain his memories regarding processes as fine and intricate as crafting soul tools? We have to focus on pulling him over to our side without brainwashing him."
Nangong Wan hurriedly lowered his head. "Yes. We have taken out a Class 9 stationary soul cannon shell to rope him in. What I meant to say was, if he doesn't wish to concede, we can consider brainwashing him if we have no other choice."
"Okay. Don't let him leave our sight after this tournament," the vice-founder continued to instruct him with a chilly voice.
If those who were familiar with Huo Yuhao knew everything that was happening here, they would have thought, This delicious cake will be wanted wherever he is.
Inside Radiant City...
Shadows flew past again and again as they descended from the sky into a courtyard beside the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy.
The issue at the royal palace had been resolved, so the high-level soul engineers who were responsible for guarding the important warehouse hurried back as soon as possible. They were guarding a place of strategic importance, and they would be in big trouble if something happened.
There were eight high-level soul engineers standing guard here. Their leader was an elderly man who was tall, but a little scrawny. His eyes were sunken deep into their sockets, and his skin was very black. He looked like he shared the same blood with the royal family. Of course, ever since Xu Tianran's father - who was also the current emperor of the Sun Moon Empire - usurped the throne, the traditional royal family's black skin color had been continuously diluted by the current royal family.
This person was born into the previous royal family. However, he was one of those who had mutinied against the throne all those years ago, and he was deeply trusted by the Sun Moon Empire's current emperor. However, he didn't support Xu Tianran, though Xu Tianran had been working hard at trying to bring him to over to his side.
This man's name was Xu Guozhong, but he wasn't loyal at all. He was big on profits and money. He had helped the current emperor usurp the throne all those years ago, and gained voluminous medicines and whatnot in exchange, which was how he had reached his current cultivation rank.
They were just guarding a warehouse, but these guardians were treated extremely well. The key was their authority; only the emperor himself could touch the rare metals and equipment in this warehouse, nobody else. Not even the crown prince had this authority.
He was in full control of the inventory and everything in this warehouse. Occasionally smuggling some out to sell brought incredible profits, and Xu Guozhong himself was still a prince. He was revered, had status and influence, and was a man with real power and authority. He had some connections with the military, and he was also a Class 9 soul engineer himself. Xu Guozhong was one of the Sun Moon Empire's bigger characters.
Xu Tianran had always been trying to rope him in, but Xu Guozhong had never confirmed his attitude and his position because he was still hoping for better profits and benefits. In the end, Xu Tianran would still need Xu Guozhong even after he ascended to the throne because of Xu Guozhong's authority and influence in the empire.
Xu Guozhong was a classic miser. He didn't have to come to this warehouse every day with his status and his rank, he could have stayed in his own manor. However, taking stock of all the treasures in this warehouse was one of his greatest joys and interests. This was especially true for the stuff on the second and third floors.
Li Chong was the manager, and he occasionally smuggled some rare metals out of the warehouse. However, he could only take from the first floor, and Xu Guozhong was very clear about everything on the other two floors.
Xu Guozhong had gone to the royal palace to take a look, and then had hurried back when they realized that everything was alright. This was the first time that he had seen so many Titled Douluo… how intimidating! The situation in Radiant City had become so obscure and blurry, so he hurried back as soon as possible because he was worried about the warehouse's safety, and also about his own.
Where else was safer than his warehouse one hundred meters underground? Furthermore, Huo Yuhao and the others had failed to discover something; Xu Guozhong had his own underground palace in his warehouse, which was furnished with everything money could buy. His underground palace was even more luxurious and extravagant than a prince's mansion.
"Where's Li Chong?" They walked into the courtyard and noticed that everything looked normal. Xu Guozhong felt a little more assured as he entered.
In this place, he was the only one that possessed every single key. He was the only one that possessed keys for the second and the third floor; nobody else had them. Nobody could embezzle anything, even if they wanted to.
Xu Guozhong called out to his trusty subordinate once he entered the courtyard. He knew about Li Chong's tricks and the fishy business that he occasionally dabbled in, but Li Chong was very competent and capable, while also being very loyal to him, so Xu Guozhong could only close one eye to his nonsense. Everyone here were his trusted aides, and how could he keep them by his side if he didn't give them some benefits to lock them in?
Other matters aside, the rare metals in here that couldn't be measured with money were one of the most important reasons he was able to attract these high-level soul engineers.
"Where are you, Li Chong? Come out, right now!" Xu Guozhong didn't feel very good when he noticed that Li Chong hadn't come out to greet him as soon as he stepped in.
Xu Guozhong had a lot of experience, and he realized that something was wrong. His eyes focused as he lowered his voice and growled, "On guard!"
The Class 7 soul engineers that he had with him were all high-level individuals, and he had three Class 8 soul engineers with him, as well. Clanging sounds could be heard as they released their signature soul tools and activated their protective soul barriers, even as the Class 7 soul engineers immediately searched the several rooms around them.
However, Li Chong seemed to have vanished into thin air. The other rooms were all empty, and not a single person could be seen. There was nothing else happening in this place, either.
One of the Class 7 soul engineers walked out from a room and couldn't help but laugh as he ventured, "My Lord, could he have snuck out for some wine?"
Xu Guozhong's expression changed again and again as he growled once more, "No, that's not it. Li Chong has always been true to his duty. How could he have dared to step out with everything that was happening outside before this? Quick, let's check the warehouse!"
He activated his protective soul barrier as he spoke, and charged into the central room. He opened the wardrobe and tapped in the passcode as they proceeded into the elevator that led down to the warehouse.
The elevator quickly came up, and everything seemed to be normal. Xu Guozhong took his high-level subordinates into the lift.
One Class 7 soul engineer knocked rhythmically and familiarly on the elevator's wall. They were about to go down in the elevator when it moved, and an intense loss of gravity struck them in the next moment.
"Idiot! What did you do?" Xu Guozhong was infuriated.
Xu Guozhong naturally knew what this loss of gravity meant; it happened when the elevator's traps had been triggered!
This wasn't the only entrance into the warehouse, but this elevator was the only entrance on their side, so it was natural for it to have anti-burglary mechanisms. If the wrong knocks were given, the elevator would instantly slide down, and would get stuck halfway through before an alarm sounded. This elevator was constructed from alloys almost half a meter thick, and its walls were extremely tough. Any thief or burglar who got stuck inside this elevator had no way out.
People had made mistakes and gotten themselves stuck inside the elevator before, but those who were following Xu Guozhong had been part of this warehouse's guard for a long time, yet they were still making mistakes... furthermore, this was crunch time! How could he not be furious?
Indeed, the elevator slid down several dozen meters before they heard a soft clacking sound. The elevator was now stuck.
The Class 7 soul engineer who had knocked on the elevator's walls stared at his compatriots' disdainful looks, and then at Xu Guozhong's furious expression, with an awkward look on his face.
"I don't think I knocked wrongly, my lord..."
"You don't think you did? I'll take care of you when we get out. Quickly, reboot it." He retrieved a golden key as he spoke, and inserted it into a small and unassuming hole in the wall on the other side.
A strange scene occurred. The key went in, but the soul elevator didn't react. It was like it was completely stuck, and couldn't be moved at all.
A Class 8 soul engineer from the company suddenly thought of something, and said, "Listen, my Lord! Why aren't there any alarms?"
Xu Guozhong was rooted to the spot. Yes! If something happened to the elevator, the alarms should have sounded! The people from the Illustrious Virtue Hall would be alerted, and alarms would also sound in the royal palace. This was the reason why he had flown into a rage when his subordinate made a mistake, because his people messing up was very embarrassing for him.
Xu Guozhong turned his golden key forcefully several more times, and confirmed that the lift wasn't reacting at all. His face became a lot blacker than before.
"Something's not right, someone's messed with the elevator! Quick, break it open! Our close-combat soul engineers will work on that, while the rest of us will break open the bottom." Xu Guozhong had a lot of experience, and he made a decision in the blink of an eye. The warehouse had probably been invaded, and even though he had absolute faith in the booby traps and various defensive soul tool mechanisms set up inside the warehouse, he was still a miser, and he was most afraid of losing the things that he cherished most. Furthermore, there were several treasures that he doted on inside his underground palace!
"That's the ninth one." Ye Yulin was full of admiration as he counted Huo Yuhao's completed formation arrays.
"Tang Wu" had finished nine formation arrays within one hour. Based on his current speed, he could finish all eighteen formation arrays within the six hour time limit.
One hour for nine formation arrays? These formation arrays are also Class 6, at the very least. The judges were feeling a little bad about themselves. It wasn't because they didn't have the same ability, but it wasn't easy to remain in the Body and Mind as One state for more than one hour. These judges sometimes went for an entire year without entering this state, but Huo Yuhao had managed to achieve it basically on command!
The formation arrays were like pieces of intricate art Huo Yuhao was displaying on his crafting desk. Huo Yuhao himself was like a machine that didn't make any mistakes at all, a machine operating with incredible speed and efficiency.
"Haih-" Ye Yulin heaved a sigh, and shook his head, a little helpless and exasperated.