Nan Qiuqiu had been extremely frustrated and irritable over the past few days. She had been in Shrek City for more than half a month, and news travelled continuously from various sources. She had become very unstable and anxious ever since she heard that her mother and the Earthdragon Sect's team members who had participated in the tournament didn't return to their sect.
She didn't think too much into it when they first departed the Sun Moon Empire, because she had faith in her mother's abilities. Her family's inherited powers of annihilation meant her mother should be able to escape even if she had to fight against someone stronger than she was.
However, things didn't turn out the way she had hoped. Her mother was the sect leader, but she hadn't returned to the sect. Fortunately, the Earthdragon Sect was still being guarded by several of its senior members, and the sect had managed to avoid any problems for now.
Nan Qiuqiu and her mother had depended on each other ever since she was a child. Nan Shuishui was very strict with her, but their relationship was intimate, and their love for each other ran deep. If the Tang Sect's other members hadn't successfully persuaded her, she would have succumbed to her impatience and rushed back to the Sun Moon Empire to search for her mother.
Nan Qiuqiu was a little unruly, but she was very smart. She knew very well that the news that came from Shrek Academy in Shrek City would be a lot more accurate than if she had been back at her own sect, and she would also receive news a lot faster here than elsewhere. Furthermore, the Tang Sect's members told her unambiguously that they would help her save her mother once they received definite and reliable intel.
At this moment, Nan Qiuqiu was pacing outside the Tang Sect's main gate. She was waiting for something.
"What are you doing, Qiuqiu? You didn't eat much for lunch." A voice rang out, and Nan Qiuqiu turned around as she saw Gao Dalou, who was picking his teeth with a toothpick, walk out from inside the Tang Sect's main gate.
In contrast to Nan Qiuqiu, Gao Dalou was as proud and pleased as punch ever since he had arrived at the Tang Sect. He was all alone in the world, and had no strings attached anywhere. To him, wherever he was was his home.
Bei Bei took him to see Xuan Ziwen as soon as they arrived back at the Tang Sect, and Xuan Ziwen tested him a little before he frowned and reluctantly allowed Gao Dalou to stay.
Gao Dalou had only been here for half a month, but he had displayed stunning talent and potential in crafting soul tools over this period of time. He was like an enormous sponge as he continuously absorbed all kinds of knowledge.
The large amounts of rare metals that Huo Yuhao and the others had stolen from one of the Sun Moon Empire's underground warehouses became the most substantial guarantee for taking the Tang Sect's development one step further. There was no need to mention Gao Dalou's reaction; even Xuan Ziwen's eyes froze and grew lifeless for fifteen minutes when he saw those incredibly precious and exotic rare metals piled up into a small mountain before he recovered his senses.
Gao Dalou had thrown himself onto the mountain of rare metals, crying and wailing. He was hollering at the top of his voice, "In life, I am part of the Tang Sect as a human. In death, I am part of the Tang Sect as a ghost!" Gao Dalou was a classic embodiment of greed and avarice, and he would follow anyone that would give him benefits. However, he had a very straightforward personality, and he was simple and honest, and even a little silly at times. This, in addition to his passion for crafting soul tools that was comparable to that of Xuan Ziwen, quickly gained him the Tang Sect's approval.
Nan Qiuqiu and Gao Dalou weren't the only ones who had joined the Tang Sect. Mo Xuan, who was also from Shrek Academy's inner courtyard, had also joined. Mo Xuan was already in the Tang Sect when Shrek's Seven Monsters had represented the Tang Sect for the big tournament. Mo Xuan was also incredibly interested in soul tools, and even though he didn't choose to learn how to craft them, he had been working hard at understanding soul tools and learning how to use many different kinds.
The Tang Sect had entered a stage of sound and steady development. They needed one more month, at most, before they could hand over the first batch of Zhuge Divine Crossbow Cannons that the Heavenly Soul Empire and the Star Luo Empire had purchased. Fifty percent of the cannons' costs were paid in golden soul coins, while the rest was paid entirely with rare metals. This was the Tang Sect's first bucket of income next to the financial aid that Shrek Academy had given them. In addition to the enormous amounts of rare metals and stationary soul cannon shells that Huo Yuhao and the others had taken from the underground warehouse, it was enough to establish a solid foundation for the Tang Sect.
Nan Qiuqiu glanced at Gao Dalou and said, "I'm waiting for eldest senior brother. He's having a meeting at the academy. Why aren't you in the underground cave?"
Gao Dalou seemed a little displeased as he said, "What underground cave? That's our underground research facility, the Tang Sect's Soul Tool Hall."
Nan Qiuqiu snapped, "It's beneath the ground. What else can it be if not an underground cave?"
Gao Dalou sounded a little exasperated. "It's an underground cave if you insist, then. I'm going out to buy some wine. Do you want some?"
Nan Qiuqiu shook her head and said, "No thanks, I'm not going to drink. Mummy taught me that girls cannot drink wine casually, especially with men. It'll be easy for girls to be taken advantage of." Her eyes became a little red when she mentioned her mother.
Gao Dalou was a little slow regarding human interaction and the ways of the world. But even so, he knew that Nan Qiuqiu hadn't been in a very good mood in the past few days. He hurriedly said, "Alright, then you can wait for eldest senior brother. I'm going to get going." With that, he walked away as briskly as he could.
"Qiuqiu, Qiuqiu!" A shrill and high-pitched voice came from within the Tang Sect's walls right at this moment.
Nan Qiuqiu was momentarily stunned before a helpless and exasperated look appeared on her face. "Don't drag me in, sister Guyi…"
"Come, quickly! I can't hold on any longer." Ye Guyi's worried voice rang out once more.
Nan Qiuqiu slapped herself on the forehead as she walked back through the Tang Sect's main gate with a helpless look on her face.
Smoke and fog permeated the Tang Sect's sparring arena at this moment. Two beams of sword light flashed by in an instant. One was black as ink, while the other was a brilliant gold.
"Clang!" The two sword lights clashed as they passed by each other, and Ye Guyi stumbled backwards as her Angel's wings flickered behind her back. She had a hard time dispelling that forceful impact, and the sharp auras that she had directed from her body into her surroundings were still slicing through the air, and ear-piercing rending and tearing sounds could be heard again and again.
Nan Qiuqiu could imagine how powerful her opponent was, because her opponent was strong enough to force a Soul Emperor whose martial soul was an Angel into a corner like that.
The person standing opposite them had a grave look on his face, his eyes were exceptionally focused, and burned with passion - the sword maniac, Ji Juechen!
The person who had gone through the Yin-Yang Love Querying Valley with the least dangers and without any rewards at all, besides Elder Xuan, had to be Ji Juechen. He didn't know anything about sentiments and emotions, and he was a sword maniac, so how could he have had any experiences with love? When the Yin-Yang Love Querying Valley tested him, it only received one answer - no!
There was nothing at all…
The Yin-Yang Love Querying Valley only had one thing to say to him as his final evaluation - he was a stone!
The valley let him go after that, and didn't give him any rewards at all.
As for Ye Guyi, she came to Shrek City directly after she and Huo Yuhao were separated. She had initially wanted to join Shrek Academy, but the academy wasn't taking students at this time, so she could only wait in the academy for Huo Yuhao and the others to return.
However, Huo Yuhao didn't show up, and when Elder Xuan and the Tang Sect's other members returned, Elder Xuan suggested that she temporarily stay with the Tang Sect, and so here she was.
Ye Guyi was proud and arrogant all the way to her bones, and she was still very unconvinced about her defeat to Huo Yuhao back then. Her pride began to show when she arrived at the Tang Sect, and naturally, a certain sword maniac was excited by the thrill of the hunt when he discovered that her martial soul was an Angel.
Birds of a feather flocked together. This saying was as accurate as always - Ye Guyi and Nan Qiuqiu had quite similar personalities, and it took but a few days before these two arrogant girls grew close.
Ye Guyi's martial soul, the Angel, was strong, but she was still one class beneath Ji Juechen, who was already a Soul Sage. This gap was especially obvious because Ye Guyi was not used to Ji Juechen's extreme fighting style at all.
Ye Guyi had never defeated him one-on-one. Ji Juechen's fighting style had always been giving everything he had in one strike, and the two of them rarely exchanged more than ten moves in their fights. Ye Guyi was exasperated, and so she had dragged Nan Qiuqiu into the fray.
Nan Qiuqiu had also received some benefits from the Yin-Yang Love Querying Valley. She didn't have a lover, but she was very honest. The valley was conspicuously more tolerant and forgiving towards girls than it was towards guys, and Nan Qiuqiu ultimately gained a reward from her experience, and her soul power was raised a little bit.
Nan Qiuqiu was only a five-ringed Soul King, but her martial soul's annihilation element wasn't a joke. Nan Qiuqiu teaming up with Ye Guyi had a very complementary feel, and Ji Juechen would have an exceptionally hard time trying to defeat them both one-on-two, unless he unleashed his martial soul true body.
This was the reason why Ye Guyi couldn't help but call for reinforcements when she faced off against Ji Juechen. She was like a punching bag if she had to fight him by herself.
"Come help me, Qiuqiu! I can't deal with him by myself," Ye Guyi panted, but she was staring vindictively at Ji Juechen.
Ji Juechen didn't continue attacking Ye Guyi as he watched Nan Qiuqiu approach. He just quietly waited for her. His personality as a sword maniac meant he always hoped that his opponent would be stronger than he was. If you were weaker than he was, he probably wouldn't consider fighting you at all.
Nan Qiuqiu tapped her feet on the ground and drifted over beside Ye Guyi. "Come, come. Coincidentally, I feel a need to vent. You'll take the front, Sister Guyi."
Ye Guyi gestured to her to signal that she had no problem with this arrangement, and she took a step forward as she blocked Nan Qiuqiu behind her. Golden light erupted, and her Angel's wings rose up once more.
Ji Juechen raised the Judgement Sword in his hands, and his sharp and grave eyes became focused and concentrated once more. Ghastly, silent sword qi surged into the sky, but it condensed, and didn't dissipate. If a bird flew through the sky a hundred meters above his head, his razor-sharp sword qi would cut it in half.
Nan Qiuqiu positioned herself behind Ye Guyi, and she pointed into the sky with her right hand. Translucent, crystalline pink dragon scales extended from the tip of her index finger, and these scales began to web down her hand, quickly covering her entire arm.
Nan Qiuqiu was also an assault-type soul master, but she was more adept at mid-range and long-range combat. She wasn't very good with close-range combat, and this was the reason she had Ye Guyi stand in front of her.
With Ji Juechen's strength, the gap in their strengths would be revealed in no time if Nan Qiuqiu faced him directly. She probably couldn't take a single strike from Ji Juechen's sword, but everything was different now that she was behind Ye Guyi.
Ye Guyi raised her right hand at the same time. Brilliant golden sword light instantly emerged from her hand, and her fifth soul ring sparkled at the same time. Holy Sword!
Ye Guyi's first fight against Ji Juechen had ended disastrously almost as soon as it began, because she had attacked with the intention to probe his abilities, while Ji Juechen used his full strength from the get-go. Ye Guyi didn't dare to probe his abilities this time; she knew she would pay bitterly if she did!