"Ju Zi—make a trip to the military and pass on my orders. I want all captains and above in Radiant City here for a meeting. I'm afraid war is really coming."
"Yes!" Ju Zi stopped massaging him and withdrew her hands. She walked around in front of him first and curtsied subtly before briskly walking away.
Xu Tianran stared at Ju Zi's back as she disappeared. He mumbled under his breath, "The Star Luo Empire and the Heavenly Soul Empire will not let a great chance like this slip between their fingers. They will take the initiative and launch an invasion. However, the Sun Moon Empire isn't sufficiently prepared at this point. What do I do? How should I deal with this?"
Seven days later, in the Sun Moon Empire's northwestern regions...
Seven days. Exactly seven days had passed, and Huo Yuhao was still sitting there with his legs crossed as Nan Shuishui and Nan Qiuqiu watched over him. Seven-colored lights continued orbiting his body.
Nan Qiuqiu had personally witnessed the power of those seven-colored lights. It had been raining a few days ago, and the rain came up too suddenly, so the two of them couldn't shelter Huo Yuhao in time. However, they quickly realized, to their astonishment, that the rainwater evaporated immediately once it touched that seven-colored light, and not a single trace remained. It didn't take long before Huo Yuhao became a sphere of light completely cocooned in water vapor.
Huo Yuhao's face no longer showed any grief. He was just sitting there with his legs crossed, and he seemed solemn and dignified.
His dark golden hair had become a lot longer over these few days, and it now almost stretched to his waist behind him. What was even stranger was that his skin had become a lot fairer than before, and he had also become a lot more good-looking.
He was still Huo Yuhao, but he gave them a different feeling now.
Faint golden patterns that resembled the sun appeared around the Eye of Destiny on his forehead. The patterns swam as black and white colors flickered incessantly in his Eye of Destiny. They seemed to represent life and death.
Huo Yuhao's six soul rings, which were white, purple, black, black, black and rose gold, sparkled alternately on his body. His soul power undulations were being strengthened every day over these last seven days.
Every last trace of Wang Qiu'er had disappeared. Heaven and earth had returned to normal after the seven-colored light descended from the sky on the first day, but nobody knew how long this process would take.
"Mom, what rank do you think his soul power will be when he wakes up?" Nan Qiuqiu whispered to her mother.
Nan Shuishui shook her head and said, "I'm not sure. The seven-colored dome of light around him is too tightly sealed, and it has sealed his aura, so I can't feel anything from him at all. However, I am sure that he won't simply be Rank 60. I'm more curious about his rose-gold soul ring, because this is the first time that I've seen a soul ring of that color."
Nan Qiuqiu said, "There are too many strange things about him. His other martial soul has an orange-gold soul ring! He's a Soul Emperor! When can I become a Soul Emperor? Wang Qiu'er passed away for some unknown reason, and she bestowed some abilities to him, but why has another soul ring appeared on his body? Wang Qiu'er wasn't a soul beast!"
Nan Shuishui's eyes suddenly stared straight at her daughter, and Nan Qiuqiu felt a little uncomfortable and unsettled underneath her gaze. "Why are you looking at me like that, mum?"
Nan Shuishui's voice sounded a little strange. "My daughter, I think you may have unintentionally guessed the right answer. What if Wang Qiu'er was actually a soul beast? Wouldn't that explain everything?"
"She was a soul beast? How is that possible?" Nan Qiuqiu was in disbelief. "Soul beasts can take human form? They need to have at least a hundred thousand years of cultivation, and they also have to give up their own cultivation for that to happen, right?"
Nan Shuishui continued, "Wang Qiu'er was likely in that situation. Soul beasts can take human form if they have more than two-hundred-thousand years of cultivation after they break through their bottleneck, but otherwise, they have to choose rebirth. Out of ten hundred-thousand-year soul beasts, not even one will make it to two hundred thousand years, and choosing rebirth is very likely when they are not confident in breaking through the two-hundred-thousand-year bottleneck. But the prerequisite is that they cannot be discovered by their own kind, and they also can't be discovered by humans. Otherwise, they may die very easily. For soul masters, meeting such a hundred-thousand-year soul beast who has chosen rebirth is considered the luckiest circumstance. Soul masters can obtain a soul ring and a soul bone from killing these soul beasts, and the process will be a lot easier than otherwise."
Nan Qiuqiu was momentarily stunned. "Then Wang Qiu'er and Huo Yuhao…"
Nan Shuishui heaved a faint sigh and said, "I don't know about them. The truth is, many soul beasts don't survive after they chose rebirth, because they are too pure and naïve. The world of humans is far too dirty and wretched in comparison to their past. Therefore, soul beasts are very likely to be exposed after they take human form, and you already know what will happen to them once they're exposed."
Nan Qiuqiu nodded gently and said, "Soul beasts are quite pitiful. Now I am starting to feel that Yuhao's research on those spirits is very necessary. Otherwise, at the rate that humans are increasing in number, soul beasts will go extinct sooner or later. If soul beasts go extinct, then there won't be soul masters anymore."
Nan Shuishui glanced at her daughter in surprise. "It seems you've learned quite a bit in the time that you've spent with the Tang Sect. What are spirits?"
Nan Qiuqiu put on a serious look and said righteously, "This is top-secret information that belongs to the Tang Sect and Shrek Academy. You belong to the Earthdragon Sect's inner circle, so you shouldn't be probing about this."
"Silly girl!" Nan Shuishui smiled for the first time since she had been rescued as she raised her hand and pinched her daughter's cheek.
Nan Qiuqiu dodged a few steps away, but her eyes were still fixed on Huo Yuhao. "Haih, I wonder when he'll wake up. Mum, we owe him such a huge favor for this… what should we do?"
Nan Shuishui said plainly, "His girlfriend died because of this, so you can marry him. My daughter isn't that ugly, so I'll let him take this unfair advantage."
Nan Qiuqiu blushed and snapped at her mother, "What advantage? Are you overly eager to sell me away? Even if you want to sell your daughter, he must be willing to have me. Qiu'er is so beautiful, but he didn't want to have her for the longest time before today. He likes Dong'er, who is still in a deep slumber, so there's no business for me there. Sister Guyi knows that this endeavor is too difficult, and she's backed away. I won't think about such impossible things. You should think of other solutions."
Nan Shuishui thought for a moment, then squinted. "Qiuqiu, what do you think about the Earthdragon Sect merging with the Tang Sect?"
"Ah?" Nan Qiuqiu was astounded. "Are you for real, mum? You're talking about our ancestors' foundations and establishments! No matter what, the Earthdragon Sect has been around for several centuries. Are you not afraid of meeting your ancestors in another world after you die, and having them beat you until your buttocks explode?"
Nan Shuishui's face twitched. "Why can't you wish me good fortune instead? You're cursing me to die for no reason! Are you even my daughter?"
Nan Qiuqiu was a little sheepish as she replied, "I'm saying all this for your own good."
Nan Shuishui grunted and said, "I'm not that stupid. What I mean by merging is not a complete integration. I think the Earthdragon Sect and the Tang Sect can join forces and work closely with one another. The Tang Sect hasn't been established for long, right? Even though they are growing rapidly and becoming stronger, their foundations aren't stable. I intend to create a branch of the Earthdragon Sect to be left in Shrek Academy, and I will send our most elite members there. You will be in charge of this branch, and you will work together with the Tang Sect. Afterwards, we will purchase some soul tools from the Tang Sect. What do you think?"
Nan Qiuqiu thought for a moment, then said, "That's a feasible solution. However, even if that happens, I don't think our cooperation with the Tang Sect can be considered close and intimate, because we're not really helping them. You don't know this, but the Tang Sect's soul tools are very popular and in demand at the moment. Their supply can't even meet all that demand, and nobody knows when our turn will come to purchase their soul tools."
Nan Shuishui looked her daughter up and down and said, "Are you not trying to give yourself to him? You haven't given him your body, but your heart is with him, no? Are you thinking about the Earthdragon Sect from the perspective of a future heir?"
Nan Qiuqiu stretched her neck and said, "I'm just judging the matter as it stands. The Tang Sect has Shrek Academy supporting them, so why would they work closely with us unless the arrangement is sufficiently beneficial for them? Your daughter isn't worth this price, and the Tang Sect has so many more prodigious and talented individuals than we do."
Nan Shuishui's mouth twitched, and she replied "Alright, alright. Don't I know you? You are at the Tang Sect, and even your heart is at the Tang Sect - you've already forgotten where your home is. Don't worry, I'm not that stupid. Since I'm branching out over there and sending our elite youths over, we aren't just maintaining our relationship with the Tang Sect, we also need the Tang Sect and Shrek Academy to train and nurture our elite youths. This is the Earthdragon Sect's future direction for development, and only then can we obtain sufficient benefits so that the Earthdragon Sect can become stronger."
Nan Qiuqiu widened her eyes and said, "Mum, do you have a fever? We are the ones who owe him a big favor, not the other way around. Why do I feel like you're…"
Nan Shuishui cut her off and said, "Let me finish. Everything I've just mentioned has a big prerequisite, and this prerequisite is profit and benefit. We can only survive for a long time if we combine feelings and benefits. We owe the Tang Sect such a huge favor, and we definitely have to repay them for this favor. The Earthdragon Sect has always kept a deep secret, and we only have to share this secret with the Tang Sect. Everything I've said will naturally be successful when the conditions are right. With our understanding of the Tang Sect and Shrek Academy at the moment, we're not afraid of them swallowing this secret by themselves."
"Deep secret? Why don't I know about this?" Nan Qiuqiu stared at her mother with a curious look on her face.
Nan Shuishui snapped, "Nonsense. Since it's a secret, how can we let so many people know about it? Only the sect leaders of every generation are worthy of knowing this secret."
Nan Qiuqiu scampered over to Nan Shuishui's side and hugged her arm. "Mum, I'm also the future sect leader of the Earthdragon Sect, and you only have one daughter. I'm sure everything will be alright if you tell me this secret. Don't worry, I won't tell any outsiders. Tell me, quickly. You know very well that I'm a very curious person."