Xu Tianran's eyes closed into slits as cold light flickered in them. "He actually came back to rescue those hostages? That means he didn't die in the Western Mountain's valleys. They actually came out of that strange place alive? Commander Wang, you can get up. You were only responsible for the reinforcements. The situation was already fixed when you arrived. This matter has nothing to do with you."
"Yes, Your Majesty." Wang Yiheng got to his feet and stood off to one side.
Xu Tianran was seething with rage at this moment, and he really wanted to kill the three commanders before him to vent his anger. However, his rationality allowed him to control this impulse. No matter what, these three commanders were top-tier soul engineers, especially Wang Yiheng, who was a Class 9 soul engineer.
The Sun Moon Empire had an overwhelming number of soul engineers, but even so, Class 9 soul engineers were considered strategic existences.
Wang Yiheng commanded the Evileye Tyrant Soul Engineer Legion, and he was one of the fingers of the Hand that Protects the Nation. He was a Titled Douluo, of course, and his title was the Mad Bull.
The Mad Bull Douluo, Wang Yiheng, had quite a reputation in the world of soul engineers.
The other two commanders were both Class 8 soul engineers, and Xu Tianran couldn't bear to kill them, no matter what had happened. However, he had to let them kneel for a little while longer.
It didn't take long for the Holy Ghost Church's Leader, who was also the Sun Moon Empire's Imperial Tutor, to arrive. He was clad in black, and Ma Xiaotao had once told Huo Yuhao that his name was Zhong Wu. He was the descendant of the previous Leader of the Holy Ghost Church, the same person who had disturbed and troubled the Twin Holy Dragons of Black and White: the evil soul master, Ye Xishui.
Zhong Wu didn't come alone; the Third and Fourth Elders accompanied him.
Ma Xiaotao had quickly vanished without a trace after she ran out hysterically yesterday, and hadn't returned since then. The Elders were helpless about that, and had no choice but to return to Radiant City. They reported this to Zhong Wu as soon as was possible.
Zhong Wu knew that Xu Tianran would definitely seek him out. Therefore, he decided to bring his two Elders along while the three Zhong brothers were here.
The Holy Ghost Church's Leader, Zhong Wu, tilted his head slightly in greeting when he saw Xu Tianran.
Xu Tianran's expression warmed a little as he said, "Sit down, Imperial Tutor."
Zhong Wu sat down on the seat beneath Xu Tianran, and didn't wait for Xu Tianran to ask as he took the initiative. "Your Majesty, I already know about everything. This matter is too sudden, and there is something odd about it. I will allow my subordinates to explain things to you first." Zhong Wu waved at several of his subordinates as he spoke.
The Third Elder and the Fourth Elder were the main narrators as they began to explain the story at once. The three Zhong brothers added in from one side, and everyone detailed the entire process according to what they knew.
Xu Tianran squinted after listening to their accounts, and said, "That means someone dispelled the poison given to those hostages. However, Imperial Tutor, I remember you mentioning to me that only you possess the antidote for the Soul Eradicating Powder's intense poison. Someone actually managed to create an antidote independently? Furthermore, Sunrise City's defenses were tight and strict, so how did these people sneak into the city and discover where the water prison was located?
"They had a meticulously detailed plan, and they even attacked Sunrise City by firing large amounts of soul tools into the city. In the end, they even destroyed the soul tools that they didn't bring away. The entire process was specifically delegated, and they carried out their rescue operation impeccably. Without discussing these people's fighting strength, how scheming they are is astonishing! Furthermore, what makes me furious is the fact that they managed to install so many soul tools within Sunrise City, including Class 8 stationary soul cannon shells, without our patrols discovering anything at all. Since that's the case, does that mean that if someone installs stationary soul cannon shells inside Radiant City, will I also possibly be blown into smithereens at any moment?"
At this point, Xu Tianran's hostility, and all the murderous air that he had suppressed before this, permeated the room once more. The two commanders kneeling beneath him could feel sweat breaking out on their foreheads.
"Calm down, your Majesty," Zhong Wu lowered his voice, continuing, "This matter has far exceeded our expectations. We are spying on and monitoring most of the powerful individuals who belong to the Douluo Continent's three native countries. They managed to sneak into our empire and execute a rescue operation such as this, and eventually brought every single hostage away. This operation can't have been completed by one or two people, so I'm certain that they must be backed by immense wealth, labor, and material resources. Where does their manpower come from? After we received the news, we sent out another two Beast-ranked soul engineer legions in pursuit. According to our leads, they should be heading towards the ocean. Once they pass proper intel back to us, I will let Xiao Feng lead some of my sect's sharpest and most elite members to cooperate with your soul engineer legions to pursue those perpetrators. We must catch them before they leave your country's borders."
Xu Tianran nodded and said, "We can only mend the fold after the sheep have been stolen. Hopefully, we can intercept them in time."
"Report! Your Majesty, urgent news from the border." A guard knelt down outside the hall and reported respectfully.
"Send it in." Xu Tianran was in a terrible mood, and everything he was afraid of happening was happening.. Had something happened at the border again?
A sealed letter was quickly passed into his hands.
After a few moments, Xu Tianran's face turned black as he slammed his palm into a table beside him, smashing it to pieces. "The border has reported that all of the powerful individuals from Shrek Academy have disappeared without a trace, and the other powerful individuals above the Soul Douluo rank from the Star Luo Empire, the Heavenly Soul Empire, the Dou Ling Empire that we have been monitoring vanished along with them. There is no question that these people must be going to reinforce those hostages."
The Holy Ghost Church's Leader was quiet as he listened to Xu Tianran's words. This plan was too perfect. Its perpetrators didn't give them any chances at all!
"The hostages were rescued before the news of those powerful individuals disappearing came," Xu Tianran muttered angrily, "Who are these people who rescued the hostages? Are they inconspicuous and unassuming individuals within the world of soul masters? Imperial Tutor, it looks like the Holy Ghost Church really has to be reorganized and tidied up."
Xu Tianran's tone wasn't too overboard, but even the Holy Ghost Church's Leader, who he had always respected, was berated amidst his seething rage.
Zhong Wu was equally indignant. He got to his feet and lowered his voice as he said, "I will give you an explanation, your Majesty." He turned to the Third Elder, the Fourth Elder, and the three Zhong brothers as he spoke.
"The big toe of your right foot." Zhong Wu's voice was very calm, but it was also cold and eerie at the same time.
Blood erupted into the air as all five members of the Holy Ghost Church tore off the big toes of their right feet one after another, and tossed them to the ground. Fresh blood immediately splashed all over the ground. Two of them were Titled Douluo, and three of them were Soul Douluo! Zhong Wu uttered but one sentence, and they had no choice but to harm themselves like that.
Zhong Wu walked forward and came before the two soul engineers who were kneeling on the ground. "Your defenses have failed, and you were played by the enemy however they wished. You concentrated a lot of resources on the city, but the enemy managed to sneak in anyway. The two of you are responsible."
The two soul engineers raised their heads subconsciously as they heard his grave and chilly voice. Their eyes were filled with fear as they subconsciously glanced at Xu Tianran. One of them blurted out, "Your Majesty…"
Zhong Wu made his move before Xu Tianran could say anything. A pair of skeletal claws that were as black as ink sprang from nowhere and clawed into these two Class 8 soul engineers' heads. Powerful auras emerged from Zhong Wu's body, and he suppressed the two soul engineers forcefully, so that they couldn't resist him at all.
These two soul engineers were eight-ringed Soul Douluo, but their soul tools had been seized before they came to see Xu Tianran. Furthermore, they were soul engineers, and they paled in comparison to soul masters of the same rank when they didn't have their soul tools. There was nothing else to say when they were confronted by a mighty evil soul master like Zhong Wu.
The two soul engineers didn't even make a sound as they collapsed to the ground, lifeless. Two panicky and frightened spirits were forcefully extracted from their bodies, and were compressed by black air streams coming from Zhong Wu's hands. They became two spheres flickering with faint white light, and eventually disappeared into thin air.
Zhong Wu turned around and said to Xu Tianran, "Your Majesty, the matter has already reached this stage, so we can only think of a solution as quickly as possible. We shall wait for my subordinates, who are chasing those perpetrators, to return, and will pass any news to you as soon as possible. You have to make plans at once as well; war might be inevitable at this point. Farewell." With that, he turned to leave, and the other five evil soul masters resisted the intense pain with great difficulty as they followed Zhong Wu away.
Xu Tianran's face was black, and his breathing was evidently a lot coarser and heavier than usual. His fists were clenched tightly as he stared at the two corpses on the ground.
The Mad Bull Douluo, Wang Yiheng, couldn't hold himself back anymore and shouted angrily, "Too wanton! Your Majesty, he's too outrageous and unbridled." Those two Class 8 soul engineers weren't his subordinates, but they came from the same system, after all. The Holy Ghost Church's Leader had killed them right in front of Xu Tianran, and he couldn't help but feel distressed for others of his kind.
Xu Tianran grunted coldly and said, "Go and rest, Commander Wang."
"Leave!" Xu Tianran's eyes widened as he yelled at Wang Yiheng, and intense hostility instantly permeated the entire hall.
"Yes." Wang Yiheng forcefully suppressed the anger and fear in his heart as he bowed respectfully, before turning and leaving
Several servants immediately streamed in and carried the two corpses away.
Xu Tianran said plainly, "They have died in the line of duty, and will receive a generous burial. Compensate their families generously."
Ju Zi's emotions had calmed down at this point, and she hid her intense grief and anxiety deep within her heart. She had always been rational, and she was very clear that if Huo Yuhao didn't have other methods, or if luck wasn't on his side after he burned his own spiritual power, he was probably dead. She had always had a kind of blind confidence in Huo Yuhao, and she kept telling herself, This fellow is so good at creating miracles. He can't possibly die so easily. He must be alive, he must be!
Ju Zi got to her feet, walked behind Xu Tianran, and gently massaged his shoulders, which had become a little tense due to his rage.
Xu Tianran's black face warmed a little when he felt the strength and warmth from Ju Zi's tender, small hands. He gently patted her soft hands and said, "Only you don't talk too much; you never speak more than you have to."
Ju Zi continued to massage him as she whispered, "Take care of your body, your Majesty. Don't let anger damage your body." Yes, she was never one to speak too much in front of Xu Tianran, because she understood how intelligent he was. He knew everything, and he would understand everything without needing her to say anything at all.
Xu Tianran laughed coldly and said, "The Imperial Tutor is trying to give me a show of strength. Good, very good! One day… Hmph!"
Ju Zi still said nothing, and just continued massaging him gently.