Unrivaled Tang Sect Volume 5

Book 5: The Championship Fight

Chapter 29: The Two Deans

As the match going on in the other arena magnificently continued, the semifinal match in Arena 1 had already ended. The time it had taken for Team Huo Yuhao’s match to end was much shorter than anyone had expected.

Huo Yuhao and Wang Dong had won again. Even though they were lacking a team member, they’d still been able to win the two matches afterwards, allowing them to progress directly from the top 8 to the top 2.

Although this match had ended very quickly, they were still lacking a person, which had made it a very narrow victory. If it weren’t for their Haodong Power playing an extremely crucial role in their matches, they wouldn’t have even had a chance at winning. If this were a life and death match, it would be very hard to tell who would’ve won.

Huo Yuhao had used the rules to his advantage, which had allowed him to escape unscathed from the boomerang due to the proctor’s protection. However, what if there there hadn’t been a proctor? Wang Dong would’ve had to block Long Xiangyue’s attack for him. Furthermore, Huo Yuhao wouldn’t
have been able to activate his Spiritual Shock on Zhou Sichen in a situation like that. Once his two summoned beasts joined the battle, it would’ve become hard to predict the outcome.

Their change in tactics, in addition to the appearance of Huo Yuhao’s four soul skills, had allowed them to barely eke out a victory. However, nearly all of their skills had been exposed. Huo Yuhao had already used his Spiritual Shock multiple times during the knock-out tournament, thus their future opponents would definitely be vigilant towards it.

The freshmen assessment was only designed to test the cultivation of a student’s martial soul. However, modern soul masters were always equipped with soul tools during combat, and there was no lack of extremely defensive soul tools. At many times, the advantages a martial soul had would actually become disadvantages because of this.

Despite this, a victory was still a victory. After defeating Zhou Sichen’s team of three, Team Huo Yuhao had formally entered the top 2. They were guaranteed to at least obtain second place, which also guaranteed them a prize.
As soon as the match ended, they immediately left the Assessment Area and went back to their dorm room. It was highly probable that their last opponent would be the team from Class 5 that Dai Huabin led. As to whether or not Xiao Xiao would recover in time for the match, Huo Yuhao wasn’t
clear. However, a spark had already been lit in his heart; he
had to win this next match.

Once they got back to their dorms, Wang Dong couldn’t help but ask, “Yuhao, what happened to you before the match? Did you recognise that Dai Huabin?” Huo Yuhao’s reaction when saw Dai Huabin had been extremely strange. The normally- calm Huo Yuhao had almost lost control of himself; how could Wang Dong not be baffled?

Huo Yuhao took a deep breath. After hearing the words ‘Dai Huabin’, his body shook uncontrollably. He lowered his head and madly ruffled his hair before sitting down heavily on his bed. Afterwards, he slowly spoke in a hoarse voice, “Dai Huabin is the son of the White Tiger Duke. You should know who the White Tiger Duke is.”

Wang Dong nodded. “Naturally. The White Tiger Duke is the hereditary and perpetual Grand Duke of the Star Luo Empire. He has an extremely venerated position. The White Tiger
Duke’s clan was originally the royal family of the Star Luo Empire. However, the Star Luo Empire was nearly destroyed during a massive war that occurred a few thousand years ago. The empire was only saved due to the cooperation of a few large sects in the empire. When that happened, those sects
guarded the entire country. At that time, the bloodline of the White Tiger Duke had withered to the point that they were extremely weak, and their subjects were unwilling to continue serving them. Thus, that generation’s White Tiger Duke stepped down and gave the throne of the emperor to the
general who’d quelled the rebellion that had occurred. That general’s family is the current royal family of the Star Luo Empire. However, royal blood still flows through the veins of the White Tiger Dukedom, so the new emperor bestowed him with the hereditary position of Grand Duke so that his family could enjoy riches and honor in perpetuity.”

“The blood flowing through the veins of the White Tiger Duke’s clan is still the blood of a former royal family, so the White Tiger martial soul that they pass on is an extremely strong Beast Soul. The head of our Shrek Academy’s first generation Shrek’s Seven Monsters was the Evil Eyed White Tiger Dai Mubai, who came from the White Tiger Dukedom. I didn’t think that this Dai Huabin would actually be a descendant of the White Tiger Dukedom.”
Wang Dong’s voice paused. He looked Huo Yuhao straight in the eye. “Then, then you and Dai Huabin….”

Huo Yuhao replied, “My mother was a servant of their clan, while I was born without a father. My mother worked in the White Tiger Dukedom in order to provide for me….” He didn’t say that he was actually one of the White Tiger Duke’s sons, as he’d never thought of him as his father. Furthermore, he hated the man who’d ruined his mother’s life. He’d rather say that he didn’t have a father, and wasn’t willing to admit the truth of his real identity. As he told the story of his life to Wang Dong, about how his mother had been beaten up for the sake of protecting him, and how she’d finally died of her illnesses, Huo Yuhao was reduced to tears.

“That bastard.”  Wang Dong suddenly smacked the wooden bed and stood up with a ‘whoosh’.

“What are you doing?” Huo Yuhao hurriedly grabbed ahold of him.

Wang Dong angrily said, “I’m naturally going to help you seek  revenge!  Let’s  go!  Let’s  go  right  now!”  He’d  originally thought that Huo Yuhao was just an ordinary kid who’d been
born poor. Only now had he become aware of what Huo Yuhao had gone through. It was no wonder that he’d already become as silent as he was by the mere age of twelve. Furthermore, he was much calmer than his peers, and he cultivated like his life depended on it.

Huo Yuhao stood up and pushed Wang Dong back onto the bed. A light flashed through his eyes. “No, we can’t do that. It’s not time to confront him yet. This is Shrek Academy. Let’s not even mention whether or not we have the strength to do anything to him within the confines of the Academy; the Academy definitely won’t tolerate our malicious actions. He’s only one of the main culprits behind my mother’s death. I want revenge from all of them, not just from him alone. As such, the target of my revenge is the entire White Tiger Dukedom. Therefore, I want to become stronger—strong enough to take on the entire White Tiger Dukedom and obtain the revenge I seek.”

Wang Dong looked at Huo Yuhao, astonished. He didn’t think that Huo Yuhao’s unwillingness to seek revenge was a cowardly act at all anymore. On the contrary, he sensed an extremely chilly aura from Huo Yuhao’s body.
The heaven-turning hatred that had instantly burst forth from Huo Yuhao’s body was so great that even the three rivers and five lakes weren’t able to wash it away; the hatred in his eyes was simply that deep. The current him was like a lion that was about to devour its prey; he was completely different from the normally-warm and diligent Huo Yuhao.

An eleven-year-old child had actually been able to conceal his hatred this much, while remembering everything. From this, it could be seen what he’d experienced during his eleven years of life. This definitely wasn’t something that could’ve accumulated in a single day!

The anger in Wang Dong’s eyes gradually dissipated. After wiping some of the tears from his eyes, he asked in a quiet voice, “Then, how do you intend to seek your revenge?”

Huo Yuhao shook his head. “The current me is just a mere ant that the White Tiger Dukedom can stomp on at any time. What I need to do right now is become stronger, much stronger. The White Tiger Dukedom will continue on, but after ten, twenty, thirty, or even fifty years from now, there will come a day when I’ll find them. When that happens, I’ll sever the bloodline of the White Tiger Dukedom.”
In that instant, a savage light appeared in Huo Yuhao’s eyes. His pupils had even turned blood-red due to the deep hatred that had been carved into his heart. In that instant, the grey pearl in his spiritual sea shook lightly, causing Huo Yuhao to feel dizzy for a brief moment. His body swayed for a moment,
but he was barely able to stand firmly on the ground with Wang Dong’s support.

Wang Dong assumed that he’d been stirred up due to his emotions. However, he’d never thought that there was such a deep hatred hidden within Huo Yuhao’s heart.

Huo Yuhao held Wang Dong’s shoulders with his hands and fiercely stared at him. The red in his eyes seemed to have deepened as he said, “Wang Dong, I think of you as a brother. Please help me keep my secret.”

Wang Dong clearly had a higher cultivation than Huo Yuhao, but he suddenly felt fear in that instant. Right after that feeling of fear appeared, he felt even more sympathy and pity for Huo Yuhao. They were both only eleven, yet how had he lived during his eleven years of life? On the other hand, how had Huo Yuhao lived!?

Huo Yuhao slowly closed his eyes and forcefully took a deep breath, calming his raging emotions. He’d hidden this hatred for far, far too long already. After entering Shrek Academy and passing the freshmen assessment, he’d finally felt hope, hope that he could seek revenge for his mother. However, when he saw Dai Huabin today, the flames of hatred in his heart had finally erupted. And yet, he couldn’t explode now, nor did he dare to. He had to continue to endure, until that strand of hope sprouted into his future.
“Ai—” A deep sigh suddenly rang out, causing Huo Yuhao to instinctively shiver. His relaxed mind instantly became vigilant as he released his Spirit Eyes, sweeping the area around him with his Spiritual Detection. He let out a low shout, “Who’s there?!”

The dorm was extremely quiet, and nothing abnormal appeared when Huo Yuhao scanned it with his Spiritual Detection. Wang Dong was astonished as he looked at Huo Yuhao; he didn’t know why he’d suddenly become so nervous.

Puzzled, Wang Dong asked, “Yuhao, what happened to you?”

Huo Yuhao was stunned. “Didn’t you hear it?”

“Hear what?” Wang Dong had a surprised look on his face.

Huo Yuhao was startled by Wang Dong’s reply. “Someone just sighed. I heard it clearly, why didn’t you?”

Wang Dong shook his head, a blank expression on his face. “I didn’t hear anything. Were you hallucinating?”

Huo Yuhao expanded the range of his Spiritual Detection to its maximum, but nothing strange appeared. After that sigh, no other strange sounds had rung out in the dorm room.

Could I really have hallucinated?Doubt appeared in Huo Yuhao’s heart. However, he quickly removed that thought from his mind. He was a spiritual-type soul master, which meant that his senses were much sharper than those of an ordinary person. Besides his vision—which was his strongest sense—his other six senses were relatively strong as well. Even if his emotions were raging, he wouldn’t have hallucinated. Furthermore, that sigh had been extremely clear; it had sounded like it was right next to his ear.

“Brother Skydream, Brother Skydream.”  Huo Yuhao called out inwardly.

“Whaddaya want?” The Skydream Iceworm’s lazy voice rang out. An overwhelming majority of its time was spent sleeping. The only reason it had remained awake during the past few days was due to its interest in Huo Yuhao and Wang Dong’s martial soul fusion.
“I just heard a sigh—did you hear it as well?”  Huo Yuhao asked.

“A sigh? You brat, did your emotions get to your head!? What sigh? If it’s not something important, don’t interrupt my sleep. Also, you should calm down a bit. If you can’t even control your emotions with the little strength you have now, you won’t be able to tell how you died in the future. It doesn’t matter if you die, but what if this Brother is involved?”

At this moment, Huo Yuhao was truly shocked. Unexpectedly, even the Skydream Iceworm hadn’t heard that sigh. Was it truly non-existent?

No, he couldn’t believe it. He was completely confident in his judgement. However, where did that sigh come from? With the Skydream Iceworm’s power, how could someone have evaded its  senses?  That’s  impossible;  the  Skydream  Iceworm  is  a million year soul beast! Even if its combat strength is lacking, it’s  still  practically  an  unparalleled  existence  in  terms  of spiritual power.

Just as Huo Yuhao was thinking about this to himself, the Skydream Iceworm’s voice rang out again, “Right, Huo Yuhao,
I have to remind you of something. You need to use your Spiritual Shock as little as possible. If it’s exposed, your opponents will be prepared for it next time. Although it’s been strengthened by your what-cha-ma-call-it ‘Purple Demon Eyes’, it’s highly probable that you’ll receive a backlash if someone
with a higher cultivation than you is guarding themselves against it. That’s very dangerous for you.”

Astonished, Huo Yuhao hurriedly asked, “Brother Skydream, under normal circumstances, how much stronger would someone have to be to make me suffer a backlash from my Spiritual Shock?”

The Skydream Iceworm replied, “If they’re careful, and they know how to properly use their soul power, someone that’s just a single rank higher than you can make you suffer a backlash. Otherwise, why would I have been left in such a wretched state within the Great Star Dou Forest? If the Spiritual Shock was unparalleled, why was I left in such a miserable state for so many years? The main reason why your Spiritual Shock performed so stunningly during your previous matches was because you had the element of surprise. In addition to that, it’s also been strengthened by your Purple Demon Eyes. Lastly, it’s because of your soul power fusion with Wang Dong. All of these factors caught your opponents unprepared. However, you’ll have to be careful if everyone starts prepared against
your Spiritual Shock. On the contrary, you can simply use your Spiritual Interference. Although it’s much weaker than the Spiritual Shock, one of its benefits is that you won’t receive a backlash from it. Remember, you won’t be able to always defeat a three-ringed opponent just by releasing a Spiritual Shock—
even with Wang Dong helping you. In the future, you should use it sparingly.”

Huo Yuhao smiled bitterly. “It’s not that I want to use it a lot. Rather, Brother Skydream, of the four soul skills you gave me, I don’t have any other ways to attack besides the Spiritual Shock!”

“Ugh… that’s another problem. However, just be patient for a while. How old are you? Why’re you so impatient! Quickly get to Rank 20; I have my own ways of letting you have enough combat strength. At the very least, you won’t be at a disadvantage against anyone of the same rank as you. Anyway, I’m going back to sleep.”

The Skydream Iceworm’s words were a timely reminder to Huo Yuhao, while simultaneously decreasing his urge to pursue the source of that sigh. The Skydream Iceworm had already mentioned ‘Rank 20’ many times, and Huo Yuhao had just been reminded of this fact again. Clearly, Rank 20 would
be an important rank for him. If he could break into Rank 20, his strength would probably experience a flying leap, allowing him to possess at least a certain amount of fighting power. At that point, he wouldn’t need to keep relying on his companions.

After thinking this, Huo Yuhao’s emotions gradually calmed down, afterwhich he began cultivating with Wang Dong while recovering his soul power.

The afternoon fight would definitely be a hard one, not only because it was the fight that would determine the champion of the freshmen assessment, but also because it was an ordeal to his heart! However, he couldn’t run away from this fight; either way, he’d have to face Dai Huabin one day. Since that was the case, he’d use this fight as a form of training for his heart.

The dorm room had turned quiet. Due to their martial soul fusion, Wang Dong could sense the change in Huo Yuhao’s emotions. After discovering that he’d actually been able to calm down this quickly, not only was Wang Dong astonished, he even somewhat admired Huo Yuhao. From looks alone, Huo Yuhao wasn’t just a single rank below Wang Dong. However, in
Wang Dong’s eyes, the eleven-year-old Huo Yuhao already had the resoluteness of a man.

The two cultivated all the way until it was time for lunch, which allowed them to fully replenish their soul power. When they reached the canteen, they were met with a big surprise.

“Hey you two fellas, I heard that you managed to enter the finals. Good, because this young lady has returned. How could you go to the finals without me?”  Xiao Xiao happily leaned against the door to the canteen as she stared at Huo Yuhao and Wang Dong, who were about to enter.

The two of them were immediately overjoyed. They quickly walked over to her, and Huo Yuhao hastily asked, “Xiao Xiao, have you recovered?”

Xiao Xiao giggled. “Naturally! I have twin martial souls, so I’m obviously very talented. How long did you guys think I’d have to rest after a little scene like that? As a matter of fact, there’s nothing wrong with me anymore. Let’s go, I’ll treat the two of you to lunch. Let’s eat something nice for lunch today so that we can make sure we’re well fed when we beat those fellas in the afternoon till they can’t even take care of themselves. Hehe.”

Huo Yuhao smiled, then moved his right hand forward. Once again, Wang Dong immediately placed his hand on top of Huo Yuhao’s hand as fast as he could, while Xiao Xiao’s ended up at the very top. The three of them looked at each other, and confident smiles appeared on their faces.

“We’ll be the champions.”
Lunchtime had just started, so not many students had arrived. The instant they said that they’d be champions, the slightly sharp voice of a girl rang out, “How shameless. You’re not even scared of bragging. The champions will definitely be our Class 5.”

Huo Yuhao’s group of three simultaneously turned around to see three freshman students walking towards them. The person in the middle was Huo Yuhao’s personal enemy, Dai Huabin. The person who’d spoken, on the other hand, was a black-haired girl who was standing to his left.

This girl had very special eyes; the color of her left and right eye were unexpectedly different. Her left eye was pale blue, while her right eye was pale yellow. As she focused her gaze on the trio, her pupils unexpectedly turned into vertical slits, making her look extremely peculiar.

Dai Huabin had a stern look on his face, but he remained silent. After sweeping his gaze over the trio, he walked proudly into the canteen. On the other hand, the black-haired girl snorted disdainfully towards them. However, the other girl in their group—who had long pink hair—smiled sweetly at them. Her smile was extremely charming; so much so that it seemed
to seep into one’s bones. Clearly, these two girls were Dai Huabin’s teammates.

Wang Dong and Xiao Xiao were about to explode, but they were stopped by Huo Yuhao. Dai Huabin clearly hadn’t recognised him, and after Huo Yuhao’s internal struggle earlier, he’d been able to remain calm on the surface when he’d met him again.

“A war of words has no meaning. Let’s settle it in the Assessment Arena after lunch.” After speaking indifferently, Huo Yuhao walked into the canteen with his companions in tow.

If this were a normal day, Huo Yuhao would never eat the Academy’s most expensive, top-ranked dishes—even if someone were to treat him to them; they were simply that expensive. However, today was a different story. Xiao Xiao had overdrawn herself yesterday, and her body needed nourishment. In the end, Xiao Xiao wasn’t able to treat them to the meal, as Wang Dong took the initiative to pay the bill. It wasn’t that Huo Yuhao didn’t want to pay it, but he gave up after seeing the numbers on the bill. The money he’d accumulated after selling roasted fish for a few months he’d been in the academy still weren’t even enough to pay for his
school fees next term. Furthermore, the school fees required for second year students was supposedly even more expensive.

Dai Huabin’s group of three naturally ate the best food in the canteen as well. The two parties weren’t far away from each other, and the faint smell of gunpowder had already started to permeate through the air. Only, none of them dared to start a fight. After all, their match in the afternoon was more important.

After eating lunch, Huo Yuhao’s trio found a quiet place by the Sea God’s Lake to study some battle tactics for their match in the afternoon. They were about to face an extremely strong opponent, and it was impossible for them to not be nervous. Even though they were only freshmen, and though their strength couldn’t be considered anything within Shrek Academy, this championship match was of the utmost importance to them; any minor detail could decide the final victor of the match.

“It’s about time, let’s head to the Assessment Arena.”  Xiao Xiao said.

“Yup.” Huo Yuhao nodded.

At that moment, Wang Dong suddenly said, “Yuhao, hug me for a second.”

Xiao Xiao’s eyes immediately widened. However, she quickly returned to normal when she saw a chilly killing intent appear in Wang Dong’s eyes.

Huo Yuhao and Wang Dong had a somewhat tacit understanding between themselves. His body shook, and he immediately understood what Wang Dong meant.

“Wang Dong…”

Wang Dong smiled indifferently, and a cold light flickered through his eyes. However, his voice was extremely gentle, “If we don’t try, how will we know?”

Huo Yuhao took a deep breath and stopped speaking.
Afterwards, he spread his arms and hugged Wang Dong.

----

The Assessment Arena seemed eerily quiet. Even though they’d already reached the finals of the freshmen assessment’s knock-out tournament, there were no spectating students.

Shrek Academy did its best to keep an element of privacy regarding a student’s abilities. Thus, students definitely wouldn’t be able to spectate other’s assessments.

Any students who weren’t participating in the assessment had to continue their classes. Thus, today was the day where there was the fewest number of students in the Assessment Arena.

However, a lack of students didn’t mean that there was a small amount of people present. Almost all of the teachers who didn’t have any classes were gathered at the Assessment Arena to watch the finals. Even the Dean of Shrek Academy, Yan Shaozhe, had personally come to watch this match match. Accompanied by Du Weilun and the other teachers, he walked up to the tall stage.

Even though this was only a freshmen assessment that was held three months after school had started, nearly all of the
students from Shrek Academy’s inner courtyard had revealed their talents during this freshmen assessment. As a result of this, they were regarded highly by the college and nurtured. The reason that Dean Yan Shaozhe had come was due to the extraordinary strength of this year’s batch of new students. Normally, even students of Shrek Academy would need around three years or so to reach the three-ringed rank. At the same time, a cultivation of three rings was required for third year students to be promoted to fourth year students.

However, there had actually been three new students who were already at the three-ringed rank. With this level of strength, they were practically guaranteed to enter the inner courtyard in the future. Even Yan Shaozhe himself wished to see which of the two teams would become the champions of this year’s batch of freshmen.

However, the team he was paying the most attention to was Huo Yuhao’s team, due to Du Weilun’s report. By relying on the strength of two Soul Grandmasters and a Soul Master, Huo Yuhao’s team had actually managed to beat both Ning Tian and Xie Huanyue’s teams, who were both Soul Elders. Furthermore, Wang Dong and Xiao Xiao’s performances could definitely be described with the word ‘breathtaking’.
Wang Dong’s Radiant Butterfly Goddess was an unrivalled martial soul that was second to none, even in Shrek Academy. On the other hand, Xiao Xiao’s potential as a twin-souled soul master was even larger. Soul masters who possessed twin martial souls had been rarities during the early days of the Douluo Continent, and that still held true to this day. Even as the number one academy in the world, Shrek Academy currently only had three students, including Xiao Xiao, with twin martial souls. However, the other two students were
already disciples of the inner courtyard, and they were all ranked among the top 10 overall students of the Academy.

As for Huo Yuhao, Du Weilun had also explained his situation to Dean Yan Shaozhe. Huo Yuhao had a rare Body Soul, which was a spiritual-type martial soul as well. Unfortunately, he hadn’t had a good upbringing, which had resulted in him only being at Rank 17. Furthermore, he only had a ten year soul ring. Although he had a relatively decent amount of talent, the flaws in the starting steps of his cultivation couldn’t be fixed. At the same time, there was also the question as to whether or not he’d be able to obtain a sufficiently strong soul ring as the holder of a spiritual-type martial soul. Due to the culmination of these factors, Du Weilun had put quotation marks around Huo Yuhao’s name, and had also expressed his unwillingness for Huo Yuhao to become a core disciple of the Academy.
Yan Shaozhe was still reassured by the way Du Weilun was handling things. As the Director of Studies, Du Weilun had a very insightful gaze, while both being fair and impartial at the same time. He’d made extremely important contributions to Shrek Academy as a whole by nurturing a large quantity of
outstanding students.

However, Yan Shaozhe wasn’t the only Dean of Shrek Academy. He was the Dean of the Martial Soul Department, but Shrek Academy also had a Dean of the Soul Tool Department. Together, these two Deans managed everything in the Academy.

Naturally, Yan Shaozhe—who overlooked the Martial Soul Department—had a slightly larger amount authority amongst the two Deans. However, the Soul Tool Department was an independent body which had a certain amount of competitiveness with the Martial Soul Department. Due to this, he didn’t really have that much jurisdiction over the Soul Tool Department.

Other than the two Deans, the Martial Soul Department and the Soul Tool Department each had their own Vice-Deans who were in charge of taking care of the outer courtyard. After all, Yan Shaozhe and his counterpart in the Soul Tool Department focused more of their energy on the inner courtyard, as the inner courtyard was the true nucleus of Shrek Academy. Due to this, they wouldn’t normally bother with matters in the outer courtyard.

The Dean of the Martial Soul Department’s outer courtyard was also the Vice-Dean of the Academy. He was a scholar who spent most of his time on the studies of the fifth and sixth year students. He picked excellent students from the outer courtyard to become disciples of the inner courtyard, while sending these disciples through many types of strict
assessments. However, he didn’t manage many matters other than that. Other than the Dean from the outer courtyard, the person who had the greatest authority in the Martial Soul Department was Du Weilun.

As the Director of Studies for the outer courtyard’s Martial Soul Department, Du Weilun had an extremely large amount of authority. However, there were no competitors for his position. During his twenty years of teaching, he’d conscientiously given an outstandingly large number of contributions to the Martial Soul Department. As a result of this, Yan Shaozhe was extremely reassured when he took charge of things, and completely trusted his judgement when it came to the students.

“Weilun, who do you favour in today’s match?” Yan Shaozhe asked with a smile.

Du Weilun chuckled. “I’m slightly more confident in Dai Huabin’s team. Although Huo Yuhao’s team managed to defeat two other teams that were led by Soul Elder-ranked freshmen, the overall strength of Dai Huabin’s team is definitely somewhat stronger than that of Huo Yuhao’s team. This is especially so for his two teammates; they’re both quite strong.
All three of them have a decent chance at entering the inner courtyard in the future.”

Yan Shaozhe smiled and nodded. At that exact moment, a vigorous voice suddenly rang out, “Since Director Du thinks that Dai Huabin will win, I’ll say that the other party will win.”

Yan Shaozhe didn’t even turn around, but the trace of a smile had already appeared on his face, “Qian Duoduo, why’d a fella like you come running over here? As soon as I smelled the scent of copper from your body, I knew it was you.”

The newcomer was a sturdy fifty-or-so year-old man. He didn’t have any wrinkles on his face, but he had a head full of white hair that resembled steel needles, making him look someone who’d experienced a lot in life. His tall, stalwart body looked as if it had been carved from granite itself, and he was at least 2.2 meters tall. His wide shoulders and rugged muscles didn’t seem to have gone limp due to his age, while his bronze skin glowed with a metallic luster due to the rays of the sun, and a strong smell of metal wafted off his body. However, the person next to him was the person that Zhou Yi had taken Huo Yuhao to see in the past; Fan Yu.
Yan Shaoze didn’t even look back, but Du Weilun had already turned around, a trace of astonishment flashing through his eyes. He hurriedly bowed in respect. “Vice-Dean Qian, how do you do? What brings you here?”

The good-natured Qian Duoduo who always had a smile on his face was the Vice-Dean of the Soul Tool Department, who took care of the daily activities within it. He had a lofty position in the Soul Tool Department, and he only had one person above him. His position in Shrek Academy was slightly higher than even Du Weilun’s.

In Shrek Academy, promotions couldn’t be randomly given out. There were two main ways to obtain a promotion: The first method was based on a teacher’s ability to teach, as well as the contributions he’d made to the Academy, while the other method was by relying on one’s own strength. Throughout the enormous Shrek Academy, there were only a total of four Vice- Deans, and they could be considered the true backbones of Shrek Academy. However, a person who’d obtained such a high position clearly hadn’t done it by doing something as simple as contributing to the Academy. Their individual strengths were all at the peak.
Vice-Dean Qian Duoduo chuckled. “I was just passing by, when I heard you and Old Yan guessing who would win. I personally like betting, so Old Yan, would you like to bet with me?”

Yan Shaozhe finally turned around, laughing as he did so. “A fellow who smells of copper like you would never come here without a reason. I don’t believe that you’ve come here with such a simple purpose in mind. If you’re coveting the people from our Martial Soul Department, you’d better take a look before doing anything.”

Qian Duoduo casually walked over to Yan Shaozhe and sat down. “What do you mean, ‘the people from our Martial Soul Department’? They’re only freshmen. They haven’t chosen their Departments yet. You can say that again when they’ve made their final choices in their third year. Your Martial Soul Department just provides a foundational level of education to these freshmen. So come on, do you wanna bet or not?”

Du Weilun had already moved to one side, greeting Fan Yu as he did so. Fan Yu smiled in return, and the two found a place to sit behind the two Vice-Deans.
Fan Yu had an extremely high position within the Soul Tool Department. Although his current position was lower than Du Weilun’s, Du Weilun clearly understood that Fan Yu was definitely going to be the future Vice-Dean of the Soul Tool Department, and that he could even be the successor to the Dean. Contrarily a Director like him was highly likely to have reached the end of his career.

Yan Shaozhe wasn’t fooled by Qian Duoduo’s provocation. He smiled and shook his head. “I’m not going to bet with you. Old Qian, you’re even trying to make a quick buck from me. When I get back, just watch me tell on you to Lin’er.”

Qian Duoduo’s facial muscles twitched as he indignantly said, “Give me a break, you were an expert at acting shamelessly even when you were young. I’m more moral than you. You use Lin’er as a shield every time, do you have any face at all?”

As Du Weilun listened on, his heart twitched. These two major figures—who could change the entire balance of the Douluo Continent—are actually arguing over here. If the students were to hear them...
Yan Shaozhe chuckled as he looked at Qian Duoduo’s indignant expression. “Fine, what do you want to bet?”

Only then did a smile reappear on Qian Duoduo’s face. “If my team wins, you’ll have to let me pick a freshman from your Martial Soul Department to enter the Soul Tool Department within three years, and you can’t stop me from using any tricks.”

Yan Shaozhe snorted coldly and curled his lips. “I knew that you were up to no good. I’m not betting.”

Qian Duoduo replied with an easy-going voice, “Don’t be so impatient, let me finish talking first. Firstly, I won’t choose any of the students you’ve selected to be core disciples. Next, I won’t choose any students who are able to cultivate above Rank 30 before finishing their second year. Is that fine with you?”

Yan Shaozhe was stunned. “Old Qian, do you even need to make a bet with me? Don’t you take these kinds of students every year?”
Qian Duoduo had a gloomy expression on his face as he said, “Don’t bring it up. These new fellas keep aiming so high that they don’t even understand our Soul Tool Department. They’ve basically entirely ignored us. We’ve had no lack of students over these past few years, but students who’re truly suitable for our Soul Tool Department are rarities among rarities. You know about that plan of ours, and if we want to nurture a talent like that according to our plan, we can’t do it using ordinary Soul Engineers. It’s true that Soul Engineers are extremely important, but the people who can properly use them are just as important as the people who make them! Therefore, I want to choose a few students who have better martial souls. However, the fellas from your side are all following you like a chicken following a hen. You’ve hidden them so well that I haven’t even had a chance to pick any students. If I don’t get any suitable students, our plan is basically screwed. Don’t forget, you also agreed to that plan during the Dean’s Meeting. If you won’t support our work, then I’ll just bring Lin’er to the Martial Soul Department’s inner courtyard next time. Let’s see if you dare to stop her.”

When he saw Qian Duoduo’s sincere look, Yan Shaozhe pondered to himself for a while. Afterwards, he said, “You won’t choose any of my core disciples? And you won’t choose any of our students who’re able to reach Rank 30 by their second year?”
Qian Duoduo immediately assumed the appearance of a righteous person, “When have I, Qian Duoduo, not kept my word?”

Yan Shaozhe nodded and said, “Fine, I’ll take that bet. In addition to that, I’ll still let you choose a student even if you lose, so you can’t say that I’m not supporting your work. However, if you do lose, you’ll have to give me a hundred Stationary Soul Cannon Shells for me to play with if you lose. Also, they have to be high-explosive ones. Those toys are really fun to play with.”

Qian Duoduo’s expression immediately changed. “Old Yan, you’re being too black-hearted. Do you know how much it costs to make a hundred shells? I need a hundred gold soul coins to make just one of those ‘toys’.”

Yan Shaozhe smiled. “If you don’t dare, let’s call the deal off.
I wasn’t willing to make a bet with you in the first place.”

Qian Duoduo had a pained look on his face as he replied, “Fifty of them.”
As if he was scared that Qian Duoduo would regret his decision, Yan Shaozhe immediately said, “Deal.” How could he casually use a high-explosive shell specially made for a Stationary Soul Cannon just to satisfy himself? Even having the chance to play with one was already quite decent. Although he was the Dean of Shrek Academy, he couldn’t damage his own house!

Qian Duoduo stared blankly at Yan Shaozhe. Afterwards, he looked at Yan Shaozhe with a startled look on his face. “You old thing, I’ve been tricked by you again!”

Yan Shaozhe immediately burst into laughter. However, he didn’t notice the crafty look that had flashed through Qian Duoduo’s eyes.

Chapter 30: The Finals

Yan Shaozhe laughed, while Qian Duoduo had a look of righteous indignation on his face. In reality, however, Qian Duoduo had also burst into laughter inwardly. Glancing at Yan Shaozhe, he inwardly thought, Old Yan, Old Yan. No matter how sly you are, you’ll have to drink the water this daddy uses to wash his feet with. Hehe, I hope that you don’t regret this in the future. Of course, it’ll be too late to regret it then. Wahahaha!

Naturally, the two teams that were participating in the finals of the freshmen assessment’s knock-out tournament weren’t aware that their match had gotten to the point that even the two Deans were betting against each other.

Both sides had arrived in the arena early. One side was making their preparations, while the other observed their opponents.

Even though Dai Huabin didn’t recognise Huo Yuhao, he was naturally able to sense the threat that Huo Yuhao’s team posed to him. If he based their chances on cultivation rank alone, their team should win. However, there were several things that
‘should’ have happened yet hadn’t. As such, nothing was set in stone. Was Ning Tian’s team weak? Both Ning Tian, who possessed the Seven Treasures Glazed Pagoda, and Wu Feng, who possessed the Fire Dragon, were outstanding first-rate students from this year’s batch of new students, and the overall strength of Ning Tian’s team hadn’t been far off from their team’s strength. Had Xie Huanyue’s team been weak? Xie
Huanyue had an extraordinarily strong defense, but their match had still ended with the proctor being forced to interfere and protect him. If the proctor hadn’t, he might not have been able to leave in one piece.

There was the powerful Wang Dong, the twin-souled Xiao Xiao, and finally Huo Yuhao, who was somewhat mysterious despite only being a Soul Master. The three of them made Dai Huabin feel threatened. Because of this, they’d made sufficient preparations before the match started; they’d even found the teams that had previously fought against Huo Yuhao’s team and asked them about their fights in order to carefully understand Huo Yuhao and his teammate’s abilities.

Compared to Dai Huabin’s cautious and concentrated state of mind, Huo Yuhao was currently feeling a few different emotions. He’d done everything he could to hide his hatred deep within his heart, but his heartbeat still sped up violently when they entered the arena to begin the final match of the
knock-out tournament. He truly wanted to simply get his revenge now! However, he knew that that wasn’t a realistic option. With so many teachers present, as well as the referee who’d be monitoring and controlling the match, it would practically be impossible for him to kill Dai Huabin with his current strength.

“Yuhao.” Wang Dong whispered.

“Yep.”  Huo Yuhao turned to Wang Dong and saw the cold look in his eyes. “Relax, don’t expose any flaws.” He urged Huo Yuhao, his voice so low that even Xiao Xiao couldn’t hear him.

At that moment, the referee entered the vast Assessment Arena. All of the partitions had been removed during the afternoon, exposing the enormous Assessment Arena.

The referee waved towards both sides, motioning for them to enter the arena.

Huo Yuhao’s trio proudly entered the arena. As per usual, Huo Yuhao stood in the middle, while Wang Dong and Xiao Xiao stood on either side of him. On the other side of the
arena, Dai Huabin also stood in the middle as he walked into the arena, while the two girls on his team stood beside him.

The referee called the two parties to him and said in a deep voice,  “The  finals  are  about  to  begin,  thus  there  will  be  a change in the rules. Listen well. As of now, you can move as you wish in the arena, but students with flying-type martial souls are no longer allowed to fly more than ten meters into the air. For the sake of allowing you to display the entirety of your strength, you can go all-out with your attacks; don’t hold anything back anything during the match. I’ll take care of the situation if any problems arise. However, any participants I have to rescue will be disqualified from the match. Do you understand?”

“Understood.”    Both   parties   simultaneously   replied.   A peculiar light flashed through both Huo Yuhao and Wang Dong’s eyes. At the same time, a trace of chilliness appeared in Dai Huabin’s eyes as an incorporeal killing intent seemed to erupt from his body.

Although Dai Huabin wasn’t the eldest son, he was still one of the White Tiger Duke’s sons. He’d received the best education a child could since he was young. He hadn’t just learned how to cultivate his martial soul; he’d also learned
about how to participate in a war, as well as ways to kill others. The White Tiger Duke was a commander of one of the Star Luo Empire’s three armies. As such, his sons would definitely obtain military experience in the future.

As a result of this, Dai Huabin had a much colder temperament than his peers; he already had the basic mannerisms of a soldier. Of the White Tiger Duke’s many sons, he had the best amount of talent, which in turn made the White Tiger Duke value him highly. On the other hand, any of the White Tiger Duke’s sons could inherit the position of Grand Duke. This had formed Dai Huabin’s firm and ruthless personality. When he was only five years old, he’d personally killed his first young soul beast.

“Both sides, introduce yourselves.”

“Huo Yuhao.”

“Wang Dong.”

“Xiao Xiao.”
On the other side, Dai Huabin’s team of three exuded an obvious sense of hostility.

“Dai Huabin.”

“Zhu Lu.” The black-haired girl said.

“Cui Yajie.” The pink-haired girl said.

The referee spread his arms wide and said, “Both teams, return to your sides of the arena. When I give the signal, you may begin attacking.”

Both parties slowly moved backwards, but Huo Yuhao continued to keep his eyes trained on Dai Huabin. A savage light flickered through Dai Huabin’s eyes as they revealed a faint killing intent. However, he was astonished by the fact that Huo Yuhao didn’t yield at all. Strength-wise, there was a world of difference between the two of them. However, the aura that Huo Yuhao was letting out at this instant didn’t lose to Dai Huabin’s at all.
At that moment, the onlooking teachers were completely silent. Even Yan Shaozhe and Qian Duoduo had become fully concentrated on the arena below them.

As Fan Yu looked towards the retreating form of Huo Yuhao, he inwardly thought to himself, Brat, I hope that you won’t disappoint me. This match isn’t just related to your freshmen assessment; it’s also the most important assessment that the Soul Tool Department has for you.

Both parties quickly reached their respective sides of the arena. The Assessment Arena was extremely large, thus, due to the distance between them, both parties had already become miniscule dots in each other’s eyes.

The referee raised his right hand, then brought it down swiftly. Immediately afterwards, a clear ‘Begin!’ rang out in the ears of the participants.

The instant after the announcement was made, both parties moved identically; they both charged towards each other.
At that moment, they were separated by too great a distance; even Huo Yuhao was unable to scout their opponents with his Spiritual Detection.

Wang Dong let out a shout as he ran, causing the wings of his Radiant Butterfly Goddess to unfurl. He flew directly into the air, but didn’t overtake Huo Yuhao. Instead, he flew right above him.

They understood that there was little chance of them winning if they were to compete in pure strength; Dai Huabin’s White Tiger was even better than Wu Feng’s Red Dragon in terms of quality, albeit only slightly. Furthermore, Wu Feng had only had two soul rings. Even though Ning Tian was a three-ringed Soul Elder, her strength-boosting boost had been completely halted by Huo Yuhao’s Spiritual Shock. However, Dai Huabin definitely wouldn’t allow himself to lose to the same trick; he’d definitely guard himself against Huo Yuhao’s Spiritual Shock. With his cultivation rank as a Soul Elder, Huo Yuhao’s team were fated to be dragged into a bitter fight in which their only chance of winning would lay with Huo Yuhao and Wang Dong’s Haodong Power.

Xiao Xiao ran in front of Huo Yuhao, using her body to shield his. Simultaneously, she took out her Ninephoenix
Worshipping Flute.

On the other hand, Dai Huabin’s trio kept their previous formation as they wildly dashed forward. Dai Huabin was in the very front, and he shouted loudly as he ran, “White Tiger, Possession!”

An intense, white light suddenly exploded from his body, causing his arms to simultaneously expand as he charged forward. His chest stuck out, and bone-cracking sounds rang out from every corner of his body. His muscles suddenly swelled up, causing his clothes to be stretched taut. All of his muscles were now extremely prominent, and even the air surrounding him seemed to have turned wild.

His golden hair instantly turned black and white, with the white hair taking up a majority. However, the few strands of black hair on his head were especially obvious. Four faint lines appeared on his head, forming the ‘King’ character. (王)

Of the transformations that occurred to his body, his hands had been transformed the most. They doubled in size, and white fur covered the backs of his hands. Short, dagger-like claws began to unceasingly extend and retract from his ten fingers as he moved them, and each claw—eight inches in length—was just like the edge of a knife, and flickered with a cold, ghostly light.
Dai Huabin slowly crouched forward, and his four pupils became a deep, ghostly blue, making it seem as if he were a machine specifically designed for slaughter.

Three halos of light began to slowly rise above his feet; two of them were yellow, while the other was purple. As his soul rings revolved, his surging soul power formed a wave of pressure that exploded outwards.

Huo Yuhao couldn’t help but purse his lips as he saw the White Tiger martial soul. If his martial soul hadn’t undergone a variation, he would’ve possessed a martial soul that was just like Dai Huabin’s! If he also possessed the strong White Tiger martial soul, even the wife of the White Tiger Duke wouldn’t be able to suppress him if she wanted to. Any child of the main bloodline who possessed the White Tiger would be an extremely important person who would be groomed by the clan. Furthermore, he was even the son of the White Tiger Duke, albeit a bastard child.

Various transformations had also occurred to the two girls beside Dai Huabin. The heterochromatic eyes of the black- haired girl on his left—Zhu Lu—became even deeper in colour, and her ears pricked up. Furthermore, her charming figure became even more slender and powerful. Sharp claws appeared
on all ten of her fingers, and even though they weren’t as sturdy as Dai Huabin’s, they gave off an illusory sense of swiftness. Although her current speed hadn’t exceeded Dai Huabin’s, her body unexpectedly gave rise to a series of consecutive afterimages as it flickered.

The pink-haired girl, on the other hand, was even stranger. After releasing her martial soul, she seemed to have aged by three or four years, causing her originally twelve-year-old self to turn into a young lady that was filled with youthfulness. Her pink hair grew even longer, and even formed large curls at the bottom, making it look like a pink waterfall that rose into the air. Her eyes became clear and gem-like, causing her whole body to be filled with the vigor of youth. Her ears had become pointed as well, even more so than Zhu Lu’s. Furthermore, one couldn’t help but stare blankly at her perfect features. Most importantly, two long tails had appeared from her back. Each tail was around one meter long, and their thick, pink fur was illuminated by the rays of the afternoon sun, making it so that one couldn’t help but want to rub them.

Cui Yajie’s pink eyes immediately found Huo Yuhao’s, and she smiled charmingly at him. Her first soul ring quietly lit up, but the light coming from it wasn’t very obvious. If one wasn’t paying careful attention to it, it would be overlooked.
Huo Yuhao’s pale gold eyes flashed, but he remained unmoving.

Cui Yajie’s body shook, and her peerless face turned slightly pale. Her martial soul—the Ninetails Fox—was a relatively high-levelled existence among Beast Souls, and it had a few unique characteristics. It would grow a single tail for every extra soul ring she obtained, and her strength would increase accordingly. Her first soul skill was called ‘Charm’, and she’d used it on Huo Yuhao, albeit to no effect.

The Ninetails Fox was part spiritual-type and part assault- type, and she’d chosen the same path for her cultivation. However, Huo Yuhao’s Spirit Eyes were a martial soul that focused completely on the spiritual-type. Due to that, it would be hard for Cui Yajie’s Charm, which was a spiritual-type skill, to affect him.

After this brief period of time passed, both teams were now within fifty meters of each other. Thus, the speed-reducing effect of Xiao Xiao’s Ninephoenix Worshipping Flute started to show itself, causing the speed of Dai Huabin’s trio to decrease clearly. However, Zhu Lu was affected most by it; the number of afterimages she’d created decreased by two, and she didn’t seem so illusory anymore.

As the distance between them shrank, Dai Huabin’s team entered the range of Huo Yuhao’s Spiritual Detection, causing their every move to appear as a three-dimensional image in the minds of Huo Yuhao’s team.

Dai Huabin’s team made the first move. Zhu Lu’s body flashed, causing her speed to suddenly increase. This created a series of consecutive afterimages that appeared behind her as she pounced towards Huo Yuhao. Although she was affected by the speed-reducing effect of the Ninephoenix Worshipping Flute, her speed was still as shocking as ever.

Huo Yuhao’s trio were all inwardly astonished. Before their match started, they’d heard that Zhu Lu’s martial soul was the Netherworld Civet, and that she was an Agility System Battle Soul Master. However, she was undoubtedly the quickest Agility System Soul Master they’d ever met. Were it not for the Ninephoenix Worshipping Flute’s speed-reducing effect, it would’ve been hard to even catch her shadow.

The instant Zhu Lu made her move, Dai Huabin started to go on the offensive. He roared, and in a flash, an intense white light gathered around his head as his second soul ring lit up. Right after that, a ball of white light shot towards Wang Dong.
Clearly, he didn’t want to give Wang Dong any chance to save Huo Yuhao.

Cui Yajie was originally using her Charm on Huo Yuhao, but she suddenly shifted the target of her skill to Xiao Xiao.

The three of them coordinated extremely well. They each targeted a member of Huo Yuhao’s team that they had an advantage against. Cui Yajie wanted to disrupt Xiao Xiao’s Ninephoenix Worshipping Flute, giving Zhu Lu the chance to attack Huo Yuhao. Zhu Lu wanted to rely on her speed to take care of the enemy commander. On the other hand, Dai Huabin clashed against Wang Dong’s strength with his own strength.

Were it not for Huo Yuhao’s Spiritual Detection, their team would’ve immediately suffered a loss. After all, there was a distinct gap between the two team’s cultivations. However, the foundational gap between their predictive skills changed the entire situation.

The moment Cui Yajie changed the target of her skill, Huo Yuhao made his move. However, he chose not to work together with Wang Dong. They were currently in a 3v3 match, and if he and Wang Dong joined forces against a single opponent, the
remaining person would definitely cause a huge inconvenience to them.

Huo Yuhao released his Spiritual Shock. Target: Cui Yajie.

The timing of Huo Yuhao’s attack was simply too ingenious. The Skydream Iceworm had warned him of the backlash that could occur as a result of his Spiritual Shock, but Huo Yuhao had the help of his Spiritual Detection. Why would he launch an attack on an opponent who was guarding against his attacks? The instant he chose to activate his Spiritual Shock was the exact instant when Cui Yajie changed who she was targeting—the instant she used her Charm on Xiao Xiao.

Cui Yajie’s Charm and Huo Yuhao’s Spiritual Shock were both spiritual-type skills, but the difference between the two skills was shown now. Cui Yajie needed visual contact for her Charm to be activated, but Huo Yuhao didn’t need anything of the sort. Furthermore, his Spiritual Shock had no activation signals.

Cui Yajie let out a muffled groan. An intense, stabbing pain suddenly filled her brain, causing her to stagger forward and nearly fall. However, her spiritual power was much greater
than an ordinary Soul Grandmaster’s, and Huo Yuhao’s cultivation rank was below hers. Without the assistance of the Haodong Power, Huo Yuhao’s Spiritual Shock wasn’t able to pose an enormous threat to her. However, it was still able to stop her from interrupting Xiao Xiao.

The instant that Huo Yuhao made his move, Xiao Xiao activated her Threelives Soulcrush Cauldron. The black cauldron flew towards Huo Yuhao, suddenly dropping to the ground just as Zhu Lu was about to reach him.

Zhu Lu was extremely quick, thus she was able to quickly evade. However, the Threelives Soulcrush Cauldron suddenly split in three to form a straight line in front of her. Xiao Xiao then activated her first soul skill, Cauldron Quake.

Amidst the thunderous booms, the quaking ripples emanated from Xiao Xiao’s Threelives Soulcrush Cauldrons formed a protective barrier in front of Huo Yuhao. Although Zhu Lu was quick, she wasn’t able to dodge all three cauldrons in such a brief moment. When Xiao Xiao had released her soul skill, she knew that she was screwed. Thus, she’d instantly stopped the soul skill she’d just activated and had turned to the side, narrowly dodging the quaking ripples from Xiao Xiao’s Cauldron Quake.

At the same time, another intense boom rang out. With a muffled groan, Wang Dong landed beside Huo Yuhao.

He’d suffered a loss after trying to block Dai Huabin’s second soul skill—the White Tiger’s Fierce Light Wave—with his Guillotine Wing, causing an unstable light to flicker around his wings as they shook. In addition, a trace of blood began leaked out of his mouth and nose.

The gap in their soul power’s strength had immediately been revealed.

Once Dai Huabin had obtained an advantage, he wouldn’t give it up easily. He quickly shot forwards, a savage glint in his eyes. On the other hand, the crafty Cui Yajie rapidly hid behind him, so as to dodge Huo Yuhao’s attacks.

Dai Huabin was a bold person, but he had a plentiful amount of combat experience; he was much more experienced than Huo Yuhao’s trio at least. The instant his body shot forward, his first soul ring lit up, causing a layer of white light to surround his entire body, especially his head. He was clearly guarding against Huo Yuhao. This was his first soul skill— White Tiger’s Shield. Not only did it have an extremely powerful defense, it also increased his combat strength,
Both parties had already been close to one another, and this clash only brought them even closer. Dai Huabin pounced towards Wang Dong, landed in front of him, and swatted at him with his claw.

On the other side, Zhu Lu’s body flashed as she fought against the Threelives Soulcrush Cauldron. She was simply too fast however, as Xiao Xiao needed 120% of her focus to block her with the Threelives Soulcrush Cauldron—even with the speed- inhibiting effect of her Ninephoenix Worshipping Flute and Huo Yuhao’s Spiritual Detection. If Zhu Lu hadn’t been suppressed by a combination of so many factors, she would’ve been able to approach Huo Yuhao and attack him.

Wang Dong had already suffered a loss during his first clash with Dai Huabin, who had now approached him again. It was clear who held the upper hand.

They were both Assault System Battle Soul Masters, but they specialised in different areas. Wang Dong’s Radiant Butterfly Goddess had extremely strong energy-type attacks like the Light of the Butterfly Goddess, but the White Tiger had always been good at close-combat attacks. As a result of this, Dai Huabin would have the upper hand in a close-range fight like this.

Dai Huabin was astonished by the fact that Wang Dong hadn’t activated his second soul skill yet. After landing on the ground stably, Wang Dong still continued to meet Dai Huabin’s claw with his Guillotine Wing.

Dai Huabin snorted coldly and forcefully grabbed ahold of Wang Dong’s wings with his claws, completely ignoring their sharp edges. He wanted to rely on his own strength to crush Wang Dong’s martial soul. From this, his amount of self- confidence could be seen.

The moment before his claw touched Wang Dong’s wing, Dai Huabin suddenly felt a sense of crisis in his heart. He suddenly discovered something different about Wang Dong’s Guillotine Wing. Previously, Wang Dong’s blue wings had been outlined with a golden edge. Now, however, a faint layer of orange had on top of that golden edge.

That’s not right. As  a  result  of  Dai  Huabin’s  vast  combat experience, he was able to react the instant he sensed that something was wrong. He forcefully stopped his claw, then stamped on the ground with his right foot. This forcefully changed the trajectory of his charge, allowing him to dodge to the side. At the same time, he activated his White Tiger’s Fierce
Light Wave again, launching it towards Wang Dong as he dodged to the side.

However, the situation this time had completely changed. The instant that Dai Huabin had changed directions, Wang Dong hadn’t chased after him. Instead, he’d unfurled his wings and flown up into the air. He then landed on Huo Yuhao’s shoulders, allowing him to dodge Dai Huabin’s White Tiger’s Fierce Light Wave’s bombardment.

With Huo Yuhao’s Spiritual Detection, Wang Dong’s grasp of the battlefield was extremely accurate. As a result of his rushed attack, Dai Huabin hadn’t been able to lock onto Wang Dong. Thus, Wang Dong had been able to dodge his White Tiger’s Fierce Light Wave. On the other hand, the change in Dai Huabin’s movements had exposed Cui Yajie, who had been hiding behind him.

Cui Yajie was completely stupefied when she saw the golden streaks appear on Wang Dong’s wings. Only after the battle had reached its current stage, had Wang Dong finally revealed his second soul skill, the Light of the Butterfly Goddess.
This was the art of war. Huo Yuhao and Wang Dong both knew that it was an impossible task to defeat Dai Huabin within such a short period of time. As a result of this, Cui Yajie had been their target since the very beginning. They hadn’t even hesitated to expose a weak point in their formation by allowing Wang Dong to take on Dai Huabin without the assistance of their Haodong Power. All of this had been done to
temporarily distract Dai Huabin.

Although Dai Huabin had a vast amount of combat experience, he was still a twelve-year-old child. How many calculations could he perform in an instant? On the other hand, Huo Yuhao’s way of fighting entirely relied on the predictive nature of his Spiritual Detection. He didn’t even need to tell Wang Dong anything; he could basically direct Wang Dong just by continuously changing the focal points of his Spiritual Detection. This was a type of mutual understanding that the two had gradually formed after the many matches they’d fought together.

Cui Yajie was only a Soul Grandmaster, and as such, she definitely wouldn’t be able to block the Light of the Butterfly Goddess that had been activated by Huo Yuhao and Wang Dong’s Haodong Power. However, at that moment, she revealed her vicious side.
As the Light of the Butterfly Goddess shot towards her, it was basically impossible for her to dodge it. On the other hand, Dai Huabin had pounced to the side and wasn’t able to rescue her. However, she didn’t retreat, sidestep, or reveal a flustered expression. In that instant, her second soul ring lit up. She swiftly swung her body, causing both of her pink tails to fly outwards. However, she didn’t target Wang Dong, but instead Huo Yuhao, who was beneath him. Her tails flew straight towards Huo Yuhao’s chest.

One shouldn’t assume that she had a large, soft tail. This wasn’t fur, but an attack filled with the might of Cui Yajie’s second soul skill.

Huo Yuhao was able to clearly sense the terrifying amount of soul power contained within Cui Yajie’s two tails from his Spiritual Detection. Her soul power hadn’t simply been condensed; it had been focused into the very tip of her tail, just like a needle. If he were struck by it, he’d definitely die.

This was Cui Yajie’s second soul skill, Foxtail Needle.

One who knows both his and their enemy’s strength is sure to be invincible in battle. Although Huo Yuhao’s trio didn’t
completely understand the comprehensive strength of their opponents, they were definitely able to predict their every move with Huo Yuhao’s Spiritual Detection. However, the understanding Dai Huabin’s trio had of their team was limited by their previous performances.

As far as they were aware, Huo Yuhao had merely stood to the side and released his spiritual-type soul skill during his team’s previous matches. Other than that, he’d never made a move.

As a result of this, Cui Yajie never expected to miss. She naturally couldn’t dodge Wang Dong’s attack, but it would’ve been worth it if she could’ve dragged Huo Yuhao down with her. After all, her teammates could be targeted by Huo Yuhao’s Spiritual Shock at any time.

When they’d begun fighting at close range, the referee had immediately moved closer to them. The instant that Wang Dong unfurled his wings, he moved.

For the sake of allowing the six freshmen to use all of their strength, this match had no restrictions on the amount of power they were allowed to use. The spectating teachers would only be able to clearly observe their potential if they went all- out. Due to that, the referee wasn’t just an experienced teacher, but was an agility system soul master. Furthermore, his cultivation had reached the seven-ringed Soul Sage rank.
The moment he made his move, his speed far surpassed that of what Huo Yuhao and the rest could’ve imagined.

When Cui Yajie had viciously launched her attack towards Huo Yuhao, the referee had already arrived next to him. Even the referee thought that the two of them would ring-out simultaneously.

Just as the referee was about to make a move, Huo Yuhao had moved.

His figure suddenly turned illusory, and his figure swiftly moved backwards with a gentle sway, unexpectedly forming an afterimage.

His speed definitely couldn’t compare to the agility system Zhu Lu’s, but the movement he’d made was definitely not something an agility system soul master could perform. More importantly, his footsteps had been extremely mysterious, which had resulted in Cui Yajie’s Foxtail Needle not being able to locate its target. As such, its condensed power hadn’t been able to be released.
In that exact moment, Wang Dong’s Light of the Butterfly Goddess surged downwards; not just towards Cui Yajie, but also towards Dai Huabin.

Wang Dong was standing on Huo Yuhao’s shoulders, and moved backwards along with him as a result. However, Huo Yuhao’s Spiritual Detection made it so that his soul skill definitely wouldn’t miss. Furthermore, the Light of the Butterfly Goddess was an extremely strong soul skill that could be used as both an AoE attack and a single-target attack.

The referee threw Cui Yajie out of the arena with his right hand. His judgement was extremely good; Cui Yajie was no longer able to strike Huo Yuhao, but she would definitely be seriously injured, if not killed, if she were bathed in the Light of the Butterfly Goddess. As for Dai Huabin, he didn’t bother helping him.

When the Light of the Butterfly Goddess landed on Dai Huabin’s White Tiger’s Shield, a series of explosions rang out. In order to minimize the area of contact with Wang Dong’s attack, he crouched down in a half-kneeling position while using his palms to protect his head.
However, the strength of Wang Dong’s attack exceeded his imagination. Although it was only a two-ringed soul skill, Dai Huabin was nearly unable to withstand its might. His White Tiger’s Shield actually almost shattered from defending against it.

The air surrounding Dai Huabin’s body suddenly twisted as his demonic eyes turned blood-red. His third soul ring flickered with a noble purple color as it slowly rose into the air. His body—which had become muscular due to the White Tiger’s Possession—expanded yet again, causing his muscles to bulge even more. Moreover, his clothes completely burst apart, revealing the distinct silhouette of his muscles. Strangely, black patterns had appeared on his skin, and were it not for the hair on his skin, they’d be identical to that of a tiger’s.

His palms became even larger, while his claws turned bright silver. However, his body was covered by a layer of intense golden light, making it seem as if his skin had become gold- plated. In addition to that, a bloodthirsty light filled his blood- red eyes, in-turn causing the hegemonic aura of a Beast King erupt from his body.

The instant he released his third soul skill, Huo Yuhao and Wang Dong both felt an intense sense of crisis fill their hearts.

A strong, golden light erupted from Dai Huabin’s body, causing his speed and strength to increase explosively. He repeatedly slammed his palms outwards, forcefully destroying the balls of light created by Wang Dong’s Light of the Butterfly Goddess.

Although the target of Wang Dong’s attack wasn’t him specifically, it was still a powerful soul skill that had been activated by their Haodong Power, and its strength had definitely reached the level of a Soul Elder’s thousand year soul skill! Dai Huabin was the first person who’d been able to block the Haodong Power-fuelled Light of the Butterfly Goddess since the start of the tournament!

This was the strength of a top-ranked Beast Soul. In the end, Wang Dong’s cultivation rank was still inferior to Dai Huabin’s. After all, he wasn’t a Soul Elder, even after he’d fused his soul power with Huo Yuhao’s. If Huo Yuhao’s cultivation rank had reached Rank 20, Dai Huabin definitely wouldn’t have been able to react in such a manner. However, their current situation was due to the gap in their strength.

In an instant, Wang Dong’s attack completely dissipated. After ‘sacrificing’ Cui Yajie, Dai Huabin—who was now at his
peak condition—had finally arrived before Huo Yuhao and Wang Dong. Although it was a 1v2, he’d already taken the upper hand in terms of pressure alone.

The instant Wang Dong’s Light of the Butterfly disappeared, Dai Huabin stamped the ground with his left foot, causing a muffled bang to ring out. Immediately afterwards, he shot forward like a bow, not towards Wang Dong, but towards Huo Yuhao.

This was Huo Yuhao’s first time being so close to Dai Huabin. With his hated enemy so close to him, Huo Yuhao was unable to remain calm no matter how hard he tried to forced himself.

Huo Yuhao hurriedly moved backwards with the Ghost Shadow Perplexing Track, but how could his speed compare to that of the Soul Elder-ranked Dai Huabin? The distance between them instantly shrank, and Dai Huabin sent his palm straight towards Huo Yuhao’s chest.

At that exact moment, Huo Yuhao suddenly stopped moving. He stared at Dai Huabin with a brilliant light in his eyes, causing the air within a five-meter diameter of him to slightly
distort. Even the major powers observing from the Spectator’s Stand weren’t able to notice this slight change.

This wasn’t his Spiritual Shock, but his Spiritual Interference. Huo Yuhao clearly understood that the only person who’d suffer a loss if he used his Spiritual Shock on Dai Huabin in his current state would be himself. Furthermore, he’d definitely suffer a backlash. Thus, he chose to use Spiritual Interference, which would never have a backlash. Furthermore, he used his ever-growing amount of control over his spiritual power to limit the range of his skill to a diameter of five meters.

The instant Huo Yuhao activated his Spiritual Interference, Wang Dong suddenly fell forward in a strange manner, as if he’d slipped. However, his Guillotine Wings flickered with a pale orange light, and still slashed towards Dai Huabin. He’d aimed his attack at both sides of Dai Huabin’s neck.

No matter how tough the White Tiger’s Vajra Transformation made him, Dai Huabin definitely wouldn’t dare to forcefully take on Wang Dong’s Guillotine Wings with just his neck. However, Huo Yuhao’s Spiritual Interference had distracted him for a second. It was just a second, but he’d still been slowed down half a beat!

Because of that, Dai Huabin’s movements had become slightly sluggish when he felt the sharpness of Wang Dong’s Guillotine Wings. Thus, he could only use his palms to forcefully block Wang Dong’s attack.

How could a hastily-released attack be compared to an attack that had been charged up? Although Dai Huabin was using his White Tiger’s Vajra Transformation, he still wasn’t able to blast Wang Dong away. On the other hand, a golden light suddenly appeared on Wang Dong’s folded wings. Once again, he activated the Light of the Butterfly Goddess.

With the support of Huo Yuhao and the Haodong Power, the strength and activation speed of Wang Dong’s soul skills far surpassed his usual level. His current strength had already reached the Soul Elder level. Compared to a Soul Elder, the only thing he lacked was a third soul skill.

Dai Huabin was inwardly astonished. Wang Dong’s grasp of tempo was simply too amazing, to the extent that he simply couldn’t react. Helpless, he could only go all-out with his defense. He activated his White Tiger’s Fierce Light Wave at close range, causing it to collide with Wang Dong’s Light of the Butterfly Goddess.

One was a concentrated all-out attack, while the other was a defensive counterattack that had been hastily released. One was a thousand year soul skill, while the other was a hundred year soul skill. At this moment, both parties had similar levels of soul power. Thus, the winner of the clash was immediately decided.

A violent boom rang out from the area between Wang Dong and Dai Huabin. Wang Dong had launched his attack from above, while Dai Huabin had launched his while facing upwards from down below.

After the terrifying boom rang out, Wang Dong flew into the air with his wings unfurled, easily dispersing the force of their collision. However, Dai Huabin was left in a sorrier state; he’d sunk knee-deep into the ground, while his upper body was bared and facing the sky. A golden light exploded from his body, showing that his White Tiger’s Vajra Transformation had sustained an incredible blow.

Chapter 31: The Golden Path VS Netherworld White Tiger

However, Dai Huabin’s third soul skill was still extremely powerful. Even though he’d been attacked in a situation like this, he still hadn’t suffered any serious injuries.

Wang Dong had flown into the air, but Huo Yuhao was still on the ground! Huo Yuhao didn’t retreat like Wang Dong had. Instead, he immediately charged forwards. As he moved forwards with the Ghost Shadow Perplexing Tracks, his hands turned jade-white. This was the Tang Sect’s Mysterious Jade Hands. He took advantage of Dai Huabin’s half-kneeling position to rush forwards, then brought his palms backwards. Just as Dai Huabin was about to stand up, Huo Yuhao slammed his palms into Dai Huabin’s chest.

Huo Yuhao had put everything he had into this attack. He knew that he wouldn’t be able to kill Dai Huabin with it, but this attack could be said to contain all the grievances he’d experienced during the eleven years he’d spent within the White Tiger Duke’s Mansion. As he struck Dai Huabin’s chest, his eyes even turned somewhat red.
His three months of bitter training hadn’t been for naught. Not only had Huo Yuhao’s soul power and various skills grown in strength, the quality of his physique had improved as well. This attack, boosted by the Mysterious Jade Hands and Controlling Crane Capturing Dragon, was the most powerful physical attack he could release at his current level. Furthermore, Dai Huabin’s White Tiger’s Vajra Transformation was in a slightly weakened state due to Wang Dong’s Light of the Butterfly Goddess. Huo Yuhao had gone all- out in this attack, and despite there being an enormous gap between their soul power rank, he was still able to depress Dai Huabin’s stomach and shove his body into the ground a little, while nearly causing him to spit out a mouthful of blood.

Even though Huo Yuhao’s emotions were surging, he was still a spiritual-type soul master. His spiritual power—which was much stronger than that of an ordinary soul master’s—allowed him to remain clear-headed at all times. He swiftly retreated as soon as his attack landed. The instant after he had, Dai Huabin shot right back up, his claws cutting through the air where Huo Yuhao had just been. With his attack power, Huo Yuhao’s muscles and bones both would’ve been broken if Dai Huabin’s attack had landed

Wang Dong slowly descended, landing back on Huo Yuhao’s shoulders. Although Huo Yuhao wasn’t able to truly injure Dai
Huabin, he still felt a sense of catharsis in his heart.

Mom, did you see that? Your Little Yuhao has already begun to obtain his revenge for you. This palm strike is only the beginning; there will be a day when I have enough strength to get revenge for you, and cleanse the pain and humiliation that we’ve suffered these past ten years.

An angry light filled Dai Huabin’s eyes when he missed Huo Yuhao. He didn’t think that he’d actually be unable to obtain an advantage against him, even at such a close range. There was a distinct gap between their strengths, yet Huo Yuhao and Wang Dong were able to rely on their astonishing synergy and timing to suppress his strength. Although the White Tiger’s Vajra Transformation was a powerful skill, its soul power consumption was extremely large. If it was used for a prolonged period of time, he’d be fully exhausted.

Without any hesitation or pause at all, Dai Huabin rushed straight towards Huo Yuhao and Wang Dong again.

The battle had reached its most climactic stage.
----

On the other side of the arena, Xiao Xiao had completely entered the zone. Her cultivation rank wasn’t any weaker than Zhu Lu’s, and even though Zhu Lu’s Netherworld Civet was a peak-level existence amongst agility system martial souls, Xiao Xiao had twin martial souls! In terms of attributes, she even had a slight edge over Zhu Lu, as the speed-reducing effect of her Ninephoenix Worshipping Flute was able to reduce her opponent’s speed.

In a situation like this, where Xiao Xiao also had the assistance of Huo Yuhao’s Spiritual Detection, she might as well screw off if she wasn’t able to block Zhu Lu.

Xiao Xiao’s three large black cauldrons rotated around in midair, interrupting Zhu Lu’s every move by utilising Huo Yuhao’s foresight. Even though Zhu Lu was extremely quick, it was as if she’d fallen into a cage created by Xiao Xiao’s Threelives Soulcrush Cauldrons. No matter how hard she tried to escape from it, she wasn’t able to.

She’d tried to use brute force to break out of the prison, but even though she wasn’t weak, breaking a top-ranked Tool Soul
like the Threelives Soulcrush Cauldron wasn’t something that she could achieve.

Contrarily, Xiao Xiao wasn’t good at attacking, which meant that defeating Zhu Lu would be a difficult task to pull off. As such, their battle had turned into a closely-fought one.

In the eyes of the spectating teachers, this was already Xiao Xiao’s win. In the world of soul masters, the agility system would normally be able to subdue the control system. However, Xiao Xiao had been able to rely on her twin martial souls to control Zhu Lu, allowing her to gain the upper hand. At the very least, Zhu Lu wasn’t able to help Dai Huabin. On the other hand, Cui Yajie had been dispatched early, due to Huo Yuhao and Wang Dong’s clever machinations. Because of this, the comprehensive strength of both teams were now much closer to each other’s.

“How about it? Old Yan, it seems that my foresight was better than yours. Haha.” Qian Duoduo spoke with a pleased voice.

Yan Shaozhe merely smiled. “You shouldn’t speak so early.
Those three fellas haven’t won yet.”
Qian Duoduo laughed. “From what I’ve seen, even though there’s a gap between them in terms of strength, they’re still not at a disadvantage as long as they rely on their synergy. Once this match has been drawn out, which side do you think will win?”

Yan Shaozhe indifferently said, “I know what you’re about to say. That flute-playing girl who also uses cauldrons has been minimizing the consumption of her soul power since the beginning of the match; she’s only been using her flute’s soul skill. If this continues, the match will tilt in their favour once that little black cat runs out of soul power.”

Qian Duoduo smiled cunningly. “I knew that you’d realise it.
If that’s the case, why don’t you quickly surrender?”

Yan Shaozhe glanced at him. “Old Qian, you’ve been playing with your metals for too long. You’ve already forgotten one of the traditions of the world of soul masters. What relationship does the White Tiger Duke’s Mansion have with the Star Luo Empire’s Zhu Family?”

Once he heard Yan Shaozhe’s words, the smile on Qian Duoduo’s face instantly stiffened. “No way. The Zhu and Dai
Family only have a single pair in each generation, two at most. How old is that kid? Don’t tell me that the White Tiger Dukedom plans to let him inherit the position of Grand Duke?”

Yan Shaozhe smiled. “Why would that be impossible? He’s already managed to gather three soul rings before the age of twelve. With this, he’s already exceeded the ancestor of the Dai Family—the leader of the Shrek’s Seven Monsters whose statue currently sits at the Academy’s entrance. The Dai Family has always allowed the strong to inherit the position of Grand Duke. Didn’t the White Tiger Duke send his kid to Shrek Academy for him to pursue his studies, and to see how much potential we can unlock within him? The Zhu Family has many internal factions, and this girl should be an investment that a certain faction from the Zhu Family has made in Dai Huabin. If they were winning this match, my speculation might have remained simply a speculation. However, they’re losing now. We’ll soon be able to see whether or not my guess was correct.”

As the Dean of Shrek Academy’s Martial Soul Department, Yan Shaozhe didn’t just have an extremely high cultivation rank; he also had control over the various secrets and resources that Shrek Academy had accumulated over the past ten thousand years. It wouldn’t be incorrect to call him the encyclopedia of the Douluo Continent.
After hearing Yan Shaozhe’s words, the smile on Qian Duoduo’s face vanished completely. A pained look appeared on his face. “I just knew that a crafty old fox like you wouldn’t let me take even a small advantage from you. You were just waiting for this to happen. Is it fine if we reduce our bet? Look, I know the match hasn’t ended yet, but can I just give you 30 shells if I give up right now? We’ve been brothers for so many
years, and you also know about the bad habit I have. You’re just torturing me now!”

Du Weilun’s facial muscles twitched as he resisted laughing out loud. Fan Yu, on the other hand, had covered his face with his hands and buried his head in his lap, acting as if he didn’t recognise Qian Duoduo.

Dean Qian was an extremely outstanding person in many aspects, but he had a single shortcoming—his stinginess. Because of that, he was given the extremely long nickname of ‘lots of money, small hands, cheapskate, porcelain quail, glass rat, glazed cat’ in the Academy. The meaning of this nickname was that, even though he had a lot of money and resources, it’d be an extremely difficult task to take anything from him. He was the very definition of the word stingy!

It was true that Huo Yuhao and Wang Dong had a slight edge in the match. Strength-wise, they were inferior to Dai Huabin, even if they worked together. However, Huo Yuhao’s Spiritual Detection played a decisive role in their current situation. By relying on its powerful prediction abilities, they were able to fight with Dai Huabin without meeting him head on; all of their attacks were strategic in that they forced Dai Huabin to act defensively. Wang Dong’s wings were fully unfurled under
the strengthening effect of the Haodong Power, while Huo Yuhao moved around using the Ghost Shadow Perplexing Tracks, making it seem as if the two were acting as one. As Wang Dong’s dazzling blue wings soared about the sky, Dai
Huabin could only cry out to no avail, no matter how fiercely
he attacked.

It wasn’t as if he hadn’t taken any risks; the problem was that his opponents seemed to be able to see through all of his plans. In the end, the only things he had to show for it were the wounds on his body. However, Huo Yuhao and Wang Dong were still able to ingeniously evade all of his attacks.

Dai Huabin had also been paying attention to Zhu Lu’s situation. At the beginning of the battle, Zhu Lu had already gone all-out, bringing her speed to the limit in an attempt to break through Xiao Xiao’s wall. Because of that, her soul power consumption had been extremely large. On the other hand, Xiao Xiao, who’d already formed a strategy to counter her, had consumed much less soul power than Zhu Lu. Even though she’d released both of her martial souls, she was only using the first soul skill of her Ninephoenix Worshipping Flute.

Zhu Lu’s speed had clearly decreased, and due to the Ninephoenix Worshipping Flute’s speed-inhibiting soul skill,
her exhaustion was now beginning to show.

Dai Huabin had continuously used his White Tiger’s Vajra Transformation for the sake of maintaining his absolute advantage in attack power, but he was starting to find it difficult to manage its enormous consumption of soul power. From his point of view, Huo Yuhao and Wang Dong should’ve consumed a similarly enormous amount of soul power. However, they were both seemingly still filled with energy. If the battle continued like this, he could actually lose the match.

“If you have any ability, meet me head on!” Dai Huabin roared angrily. He wasn’t able to hold back his rage any longer.

A trace of disdain appeared on Huo Yuhao’s lips. “Don’t you know what strategy is? You’re the son of the White Tiger Duke, yet you don’t even know what strategy is. What a piece of rubbish.”

A savage light flashed through Dai Huabin’s eyes. Suddenly, to Huo Yuhao and Wang Dong’s astonishment, he cancelled his White Tiger’s Vajra Transformation.
Although they had the assistance of Huo Yuhao’s Spiritual Detection, the two of them had always avoided a direct confrontation with Dai Huabin; they’d always maintained a fixed distance between them. Even though Huo Yuhao was
aware of Dai Huabin’s actions, their movements had slowed due to their bewilderment.

Dai Huabin didn’t advance, but instead wildly retreated. The sudden change in his movements sent Huo Yuhao’s trio into a daze. Furthermore, Huo Yuhao was able to tell from the circulation of Dai Huabin’s soul power that his actions weren’t a trap, but a genuine retreat.

The instant Dai Huabin turned back, Zhu Lu made a move as well. After using a Netherworld Stab on Xiao Xiao, she instantly retreated towards Dai Huabin.

What are they doing? Are they trying to recover their soul power?

Wang Dong jumped off Huo Yuhao’s shoulder, while Xiao Xiao hurriedly rushed back to their side. The three of them all had puzzled looks in their eyes.
Suddenly, inexplicably, Huo Yuhao’s heart began to palpitate intensely. This feeling wasn’t new to him; when he’d entered the Great Star Dou Forest before entering Shrek Academy, he’d felt this exact feeling when he met his first soul beast. It was a mysterious premonition that came from his Spirit Eyes.

They were in a match right now, and their strange actions along with the palpitations in his heart shook Huo Yuhao’s heart. He cried out involuntarily, “Are they trying to release a fusion skill?”

At that exact moment, Dai Huabin let out a tiger-like roar. This was followed by his body immediately expanding once again, along with white fur and black stripes frantically surging out.

Zhu Lu softly bit her teeth together, followed by her body being covered in a faint black light. Her body then floated into the air, and even seemed to have become transparent. Afterwards, she spread her arms towards Dai Huabin.

The current Dai Huabin and Zhu Lu could only see each other. Dai Huabin’s twin pupils had fused into a single pupil, but the grimness in his eyes still remained. Contrarily, Zhu Lu’s
gaze had become as tranquil as water, making it seem as if she were going to melt into him.

In that instant, the auras of the White Tiger and the Netherworld Civet had fused completely, giving off an extremely mysterious feeling. The white tiger seemed to have devoured the black cat, and an intense undulation of soul power erupted from their fused body like a geyser. The two lights fused into a single entity within the golden halo, giving off a transcendent feeling.

A martial soul fusion wasn’t as simple as ‘1+1=2’. Even two identical martial souls might not possess a fusion skill, because the act of the fusion itself required the two souls to both complement each other and have perfect compatibility. When a fusion skill was released, its incarnation was definitely not just at the level of two soul masters; it was a transcendent existence.

Dai Huabin and Zhu Lu’s bodies vanished in the instant that the fusion occurred, leaving only an enormous White Tiger in the Assessment Area. The White Tiger’s body was transparent, while its fur was lined with black stripes. Its purple eyes gazed coldly at Huo Yuhao’s trio.
Yes, this was the secret that belonged to the bloodline of the White Tiger Dukedom and the Zhu Family, which was also a top-ranked noble family within the Star Luo Empire; the secret of a martial soul fusion.

Almost all White Tiger Duke’s were wed to a woman from the Zhu Family. This was also the case for the Duke’s wife who’d persecuted Huo Yuhao’s mother. The reason that she was able to cover the heavens within the White Tiger Duke’s Mansion wasn’t just due to her own authority. It was also due to the strength of her family, as well as the large amount of strength she herself possessed!

The martial soul that belonged to the White Tiger Dukedom had a more accurate name—the Evil Eyed White Tiger. Moreover, the most distinct trait of a person who possessed the Evil Eyed White Tiger would be the two pupils in his eyes. On the other hand, there was an extremely high chance that the Evil Eyed White Tiger would have a high enough compatibility rate to perform a martial soul fusion with the Zhu Family’s Netherworld Civet.

The bloodline of the White Tiger Duke had maintained a close relationship with the Zhu Family since ancient times. In the past, when the bloodline of the White Tiger Duke was still
the royal family of the Star Luo Empire, the Zhu Family had inherited the position of prime ministers. Although the two families no longer held their past glory, these enormous, deeply-rooted powers still held important positions within the Star Luo Empire. Furthermore, the best tie and bridge between the Duke’s Mansion and the Zhu Family were the marriages
that had occurred in the past.

Naturally, not all Evil Eyed White Tigers could fuse with a Netherworld Civet. However, since ancient times, there would always be a pair, or even two, appear within each generation. Furthermore, one of the most important prerequisites for a descendant to assume the position of the White Tiger Duke was for said descendant to successfully marry a woman from the Zhu Family. Currently, Dai Huabin was the only son of the White Tiger Duke’s first wife within his generation that could perform a martial soul fusion with a daughter of the Zhu Family.

The fusion of the Evil Eyed White Tiger and Netherworld Civet would create the enormous, eight-meter long, two meter tall figure that had just appeared in the Assessment Arena. It was Dai Huabin and Zhu Lu’s fusion skill—the Netherworld White Tiger!

The enormous white tiger appeared somewhat transparent, and gave off the impression that it was a completely illusory existence. However, Dai Huabin and Zhu Lu’s figures had already disappeared. The White Tiger’s huge body squatted slightly, then immediately used its terrifying speed to pounce
towards Huo Yuhao’s trio, transparent ripples trailing behind it.

As it leapt into the air, it raised its head haughtily. Its gaze that overlooked the entire world was filled with arrogance as it revealed its bearing as both the tyrant of the world, and the king among beasts.

“Xiao Xiao, let’s begin!” Huo Yuhao shouted, turning around and spreading his arms towards Wang Dong.

They hadn’t originally planned to go this far, as Huo Yuhao had been determined to wait patiently for the sake of his future. However, when their opponents had activated their fusion skill, they’d been left with no other choice. Huo Yuhao didn’t want to lose this match; he wanted to let his mother’s spirit in heaven see his diligence and strength, and let her see that he had a chance at avenging her.

Dai Huabin and Zhu Lu had their last resort, so why couldn’t Huo Yuhao’s trio have one as well?
Wang Dong had already spread his arms wide, and a strange light appeared in his eyes as he looked at Huo Yuhao. There was a gentle look in his eyes, yet it also seemed both encouraging and consoling. This strange light caused Huo Yuhao’s heart to beat fiercely, and his gaze to become even more determined. However, a faint smile also appeared on his face; a smile that only Wang Dong could see.

Right. Just before the match started, they had tried activating their fusion skill, and had succeeded in doing so; they’d actually regained the ability to unleash their mysterious fusion skill after only three days.

Up on the tall stage, the teachers were all holding their breaths. However, the most nervous person on-site was the referee; he was already prepared to intervene at any time.

Aside from an extremely small number of teachers, an overwhelming majority of them had never expected a spectacular scene like this in a match between freshmen. A fusion skill—that was a martial soul fusion skill!

The referee was already preparing to stop the Netherworld White Tiger. Although a fusion skill was extremely strong, the
users were still far off from his cultivation rank. He was confident that he could save Huo Yuhao’s trio in the instant that the Netherworld White Tiger launched an attack. However, he hadn’t made a move due to Huo Yuhao and Wang Dong’s movements, as well as Xiao Xiao’s actions.

A dark light simultaneously erupted from the three large cauldrons beside Xiao Xiao as they instantly shot towards the middle of the Assessment Arena. At the same time, both of her soul rings for her Threelives Soulcrush Cauldron simultaneously lit up.

Halos of black light emerged from Xiao Xiao’s body, but they didn’t simply stop like they had last time. Instead, they poured into the Threelives Soulcrush Cauldrons.

The three cauldrons then fused into one, causing a violent boom to ring out. Following that, an enormous cauldron that was double the size of her normal fused cauldron filled the sky. There were strange runes faintly discernible on the surface of the enormous cauldron, which caused an indescribable pressure to surge forward from it.
Xiao Xiao’s face instantly paled, but she closed her eyes and pointed forward with her right hand. The enormous cauldron flickered, then immediately appeared in front of the Netherworld White Tiger, letting out an ear-deafening boom.

“National Treasure, Cauldron’s Quaking Tremble.” This was Xiao Xiao’s most powerful control technique.

This time, she didn’t attempt to use its suction ability. Xiao Xiao knew that her strongest skill—which was borne from the fusion between two of her soul skills—wouldn’t be able to stop the Netherworld White Tiger. She activated it as a single-use skill, allowing its power to explode outwards. Although its cost was high, to the point where her soul power was almost entirely drained in an instant, she wouldn’t suffer a backlash like she had previously.

Xiao Xiao’s Cauldron’s Quaking Tremble violently distorted the air surrounding her to the point where even the naked eye could see it, and its tyrannical vibrations filled the ten-meter area surrounding it. Due to the accurate guidance of Huo Yuhao’s Spiritual Detection, it had been able to perfectly block the advance of the Netherworld White Tiger.
After taking on the distorting ripples from Xiao Xiao’s skill, the enormous Netherworld White Tiger lit up with white light. After that, it turned sluggish for a brief moment. It had taken on the violent vibrations from Xiao Xiao’s skill, but its enormous body had barely been affected at all.

Xiao Xiao’s face was filled with shock. She’d never expected the enormous White Tiger to only pause for a brief moment after taking on her Cauldron’s Quaking Tremble.

However, an even more astonishing scene occurred in the next instant, as a strange golden column of light shot up from beside her. The only thing left in her eyes after seeing that enormous golden pillar was an image of resplendence—a resplendence that came from Huo Yuhao and Wang Dong!

On one side was Huo Yuhao, whose eyes were releasing a pale golden light.

On the other side was Wang Dong, whose dazzling wings were unfurled as he released his Radiant Butterfly Goddess.
The instant they released their martial souls after hugging each other, the surrounding ten meter area instantly lit up. An unusual light then surged from their bodies.

That light was very peculiar. It was a peculiar radiance that alternated between blue, purple, and gold. A dense, radiant aura served as the trunk of the light, but there were mysterious soul power undulations mixed within it as well.

An enormous figure had appeared behind Wang Dong. It was a complete, magnificent figure of the Radiant Butterfly Goddess.

On the other hand, an enormous yet illusory eye with a vertical pupil had appeared behind Huo Yuhao. This eye was pale gold, but there was a faint hint of purple within its pupil.

The two enormous figures slowly approached each other in midair, and transformations began to occur as they got closer and closer to one another. The figure of Huo Yuhao’s Spirit Eye gradually became even more arcane, and its entire body turned purplish-blue; the gold colour in it had completely vanishedw.
As Wang Dong’s Radiant Butterfly Goddess approached Huo Yuhao’s Spirit Eye, it violently combusted into a bluish-golden flame.

The instant the Netherworld White Tiger neared them, the two enormous figures had already merged into a single entity above their heads.

The instant that Xiao Xiao’s Cauldron’s Quaking Tremble unleashed its powerful restrictive abilities on the Netherworld White Tiger was also the instant that the combusting Radiant Butterfly Goddess spread its dazzling wings, slowly hugging the figure of the Spirit Eye.

In the blink of an eye, the figure of the Radiant Butterfly Goddess had vanished, leaving only the bluish-purple Spirit Eye, which released a brilliant ray of light.

A dazzling bluish-golden flame instantly erupted from the figure of the Spirit Eye, then slowly descended towards the hugging figures of Huo Yuhao and Wang Dong, shielding them.
The enormous Spirit Eye seemed extremely arcane, and it seemed as if there were a boundless world within it if one were to look at it carefully. Immediately afterwards, a terrifying tri- colored laser shot out from it.

The illusory ray of light shot straight out, and a resplendence that seemed to last forever covered anything the light touched. The only thing left behind was a blurry, distorted brilliance.

The previously fully-confident Dean Yan Shaozhe had suddenly stood up the instant that he saw Huo Yuhao and Wang Dong hug each other, his eyes filled with an inconceivable look. At the same time, the miserly Dean Qian had stood up alongside him.

The shock in Qian Duoduo’s eyes was no less than that of Yan Shaozhe’s. Neither he nor Yan Shaozhe had known that the two of them had a trump card like this! Furthermore, they’d never expected the occurrence of such an astonishing scene within the freshmen tournament’s final round. This was a fusion skill pitted against another fusion skill! This was an extremely rare sight, even amongst the upperclassmen of the outer courtyard, or even the inner courtyard! However, they were currently watching the tri-colored laser from the enormous vertical eye head towards the enormous Netherworld White Tiger.
Even the extremely experienced referee had been left flabbergasted at this moment. He didn’t know if he should stop the collision between the two attacks, as both parties were using fusion skills. However, how could the victor be decided if they weren’t allowed to forcefully clash against each other?

Although the referee didn’t know what to do, that didn’t mean that nobody knew what to do. The instant the two attacks were about to collide, a white figure appeared out of nowhere in the Assessment Arena. The figure appeared right in-between the two fusion skills, and used its back to take on the Netherworld White Tiger’s palm, while it blocked the resplendent tri-colored beam of light head-on.

A dense white light soared straight into the heavens, forming an illusory yet incomparably sturdy barrier that simultaneously blocked the two fusion skills.

The extremely-strong looking Netherworld White Tiger instantly collapsed as soon as it hit the white barrier, causing Dai Huabin and Zhu Lu’s bodies to reappear on the ground with pale expressions on their faces. They didn’t even have the energy to stand up.
On the other side, the enormous Spirit Eye had appeared yet again after the resplendent tri-colored beam of light dissipated. Huo Yuhao and Wang Dong were still hugging each other, but they hadn’t collapsed this time around. Instead, they looked towards the figure who’d blocked their Golden Path with an expressionless look in their eyes.

The person who’d appeared out of thin air and used his body to block the two fusion skills without suffering any negative repercussions was none other than the Director of Shrek Academy’s Martial Soul Department, Du Weilun.

The white light coming from his body was formed purely of soul power. In that instant, eight soul rings had emerged from his body.

There were two yellow, two purple, and four black soul rings, the most optimum combination of soul rings. This was the domineering strength of an eight-ringed Soul Douluo!

How could one neutralise such an intense collision? Du Weilun had answered that question—by using his body to simultaneously block both attacks! By using his body, Du
Weilun could also tell which attack was stronger, and thereby determine the victor of the match.

The two attacks were fusion skills, and they were both each team’s last resort. By taking on both attacks, Du Weilun could undoubtedly tell which attack was stronger with a single glance.

The other teachers on the tall stage had ordinary reactions to this, but a look of shock flashed through the eyes of Yan Shaozhe and Qian Duoduo. Du Weilun’s body had turned golden, which made the current him look like an upright- standing statue that had been carved from gold. However, the back of his clothes had been torn apart by the Netherworld White Tiger’s palm, exposing his sturdy back. In addition to that, there were even five bloody streaks on his back.

An eight-ringed Soul Douluo had actually been injured? Injured by a bunch of students led by someone merely at the three-ringed rank?

This was simply inconceivable. Gradually, the other teachers started to realise the gravity of the situation, and each and every one of them was flabbergasted.

Naturally, Zhou Yi was one of the many spectators to the battle. Her eyes instantly darkened as she watched this scene unfold. Although she couldn’t believe that something like this had occurred, the Netherworld White Tiger had truly wounded Du Weilun! She was aware of Du Weilun’s cultivation, and she was entirely confident that Du Weilun wouldn’t want to lose face in a situation like this. Therefore, the wounds on his back must be real.

Yan Shaozhe’s current expression was extremely ugly. He turned towards Qian Duoduo, but was met by an innocent- looking Qian Duoduo staring back at him.

“Did you know about this?” Yan Shaozhe lowered his voice, yet spoke with a fierce tone.

Qian Duoduo smiled bitterly. “Do I look like I knew about it? These are students from your Martial Soul Department; how the hell would I know about them!? Old Yan, you’re not trying to renege on your promise, are you?”

Yan Shaozhe snorted and left the tall stage with a flash. His body flashed yet again, and he vanished as everyone looked on.

As he watched Yan Shaozhe leave, Qian Duoduo smiled. He didn’t let out a laugh, but the pleased look on his face revealed how happy he currently felt.

“Dean Qian, Dean Yan...?” Fan Yu had a doubtful look on his face as he walked towards Qian Duoduo, puzzled. From what had happened in the arena, Dean Qian should’ve lost! But it seemed as if...

Qian Duoduo smiled cunningly. “Let’s go. I’m a man of high moral standards, so we can’t neglect our appearances even when we’re proud of ourselves. However, I have to say, Fan Yu! You’ve really found a good seedling this time. We’ll have to rely on this brat for our plan. I don’t care what you do, you can’t let that brat become a core disciple of the Martial Soul Department. You heard the bet that I had with Old Yan, right?”

Fan Yu whispered, “Dean Qian, you’re saying that we won?”

Qian  Duoduo  smiled  mischievously,  “Obviously.  Let’s  go.” With that, he left the tall stage in a flash, rapidly vanishing from sight.
Within the Assessment Arena, Du Weilun’s golden body had already returned to normal. However, the current him had a look of astonishment and disbelief on his face. A light flickered through his eyes as he turned to look at Huo Yuhao and Wang Dong, who were struggling to escape from each other’s embrace. Even he didn’t dare to believe that this was real! However, the scorching pain from his back reminded him that everything in front of him was real.

Struggling, Dai Huabin rose to his feet and helped Zhu Lu up. Cui Yajie had already run excitedly to their side, cheering exuberantly.

Huo Yuhao and Wang Dong currently had downcast expressions on their faces. They hadn’t seen Du Weilun’s wounds, but they could tell that they’d lost from their opponent’s happy faces. They were unable to tell what their ‘Golden Path Amidst Withering Resplendence’ had done, but this loss was truly somewhat baffling to them. Huo Yuhao was disappointed, as he hadn’t been able to forcefully clash against Dai Huabin’s attack in the end. He truly wished to see whether his and Wang Dong’s all-out attack could defeat their opponents!
Du Weilun was still the Director of Studies for Shrek Academy; after blanking out for a brief moment, he quickly came back to his senses. A bitter smile appeared on his face as he inwardly thought, This is truly embarrassing!

“Very good. You all have done extremely well.” Du Weilun’s voice rang out, causing both teams to calm down and turn their gazes towards him.

Du Weilun spoke dully, “I’m very surprised your cultivation ranks were able to reach this level as freshmen. Moreover, both of your teams were able to unleash fusion skills. I’ve personally felt the strength of your fusion skills.”

While he spoke, he glanced coldly at the not-too-distant referee. Were it not for his malfeasance, would he have had to have his back exposed for the crowd to see? The referee had already lowered his head ashamedly, not daring to meet Du Weilun’s gaze.

Du Weilun spoke with a deep voice. “Now then, I will announce the final champions of the freshmen assessment’s knock-out  tournament.  They  are…”  With  that,  he  paused. Afterwards, he suddenly raised his right hand and pointed
towards Huo Yuhao’s trio, speaking loudly, “Wang Dong, Xiao Xiao, and Huo Yuhao!”

“Boom—” The entire crowd went into an uproar.

Dai Huabin’s team weren’t the only ones who didn’t dare to believe their own ears; even the teachers on the tall stage had shocked expressions on their faces. From what they’d seen, the winning team definitely should’ve been Dai Huabin’s team, as they’d managed to injure Du Weilun! There were immediately people who thought, Was Director Du using his position to take revenge for the embarrassment he’d suffered?No, that wasn’t possible! The two other Deans had also been watching the match earlier, so how could Director Du abuse his position for his own private benefits? Furthermore, Du Weilun was always known for how just he was. After serving as the Director of Studies for the outer courtyard for so many years, he’d never made a mistake.

Even Huo Yuhao’s trio were somewhat uncertain. The three of them glanced at each other, and Xiao Xiao looked towards Huo Yuhao and Wang Dong as she whispered, “We won?”
Wang Dong replied, unconvinced, “Did Director Du announce the champions or the runner-ups?”

Huo Yuhao smiled and gave the final word, “It seems like we’ve actually won!”

As Huo Yuhao’s trio gradually accepted the fact that they’d won, Dai Huabin’s trio were still unwilling to accept it. Ignoring how weak her body was, Zhu Lu didn’t want to give in.  “Director  Du,  why  did  they  win?  We’re  the  ones  who should’ve won.”

Du Weilun turned around and swept his glance over them, saying indifferently, “Are you questioning my judgement?”

Zhu Lu immediately paused as she faced his powerful aura. However, the unconvinced look in her eyes was obvious to any onlooker. Although Dai Huabin didn’t utter any words, he pursed his lips tightly and stared straight at Du Weilun without any intention of giving up.

Du Weilun forcefully suppressed the indignation in his heart as he inwardly thought to himself, I’ve already embarrassed
myself; do I also have to explain the process of how I was embarrassed!? These brats!

Chapter 32: Rewards and the Core Disciples

However, Du Weilun naturally had enormous mental fortitude as the Director of Studies for the outer courtyard. After feeling depressed for a brief moment, he quickly regained his composure and exposed a somewhat helpless smile on his face.

“I have to say, you were all extremely outstanding. I’ve lost face because I underestimated the strength of your fusion skills. I can’t blame anyone else for this fault of mine. I won’t even charge a fee for allowing all of you to see my back today.”

Once he spoke, laughter immediately rang out from the tall stage. One definitely had to admit that Du Weilun was extremely charismatic. With just a simple sentence, he’d already gotten rid of his embarrassment. In addition to his self- derision, the teachers above were even praising him inwardly. If it were them in this sort of situation, could they be as calm and collected as Du Weilun was?

Du Weilun continued, “I know, there will be doubts in everyone’s hearts if I don’t explain everything clearly. First of
all, I need to reaffirm my previous words. I made no mistake; the final champions are Wang Dong, Xiao Xiao, and Huo Yuhao. They’ve performed spectacularly to obtain the final victory in this year’s freshmen assessment, and they are entirely worthy of their positions as champions.”

He repeated his previous announcement, causing the expressions of Dai Huabin’s trio to become even uglier.

Du Weilun continued, “Everyone saw what just happened. As a teacher, I must do all I can to prevent the death of outstanding freshmen. Both sides were using fusion skills, so it was impossible for even the two Deans to determine the victor of this match via eyesight alone. Thus, I had no choice but to receive both attacks with my body. I know, I was injured by Dai Huabin and Zhu Lu’s Netherworld White Tiger, so they should’ve obtained the win. However, I ask all of you: As a Soul Douluo, is my defense really that weak? They were using a fusion skill, but it was still a fusion between a Soul Elder and Soul Grandmaster. If they were actually able to directly wound me, even when I’d used my soul power to protect myself, then I might as well resign from my position of Director.”

The anger and discontent in Dai Huabin’s eyes gradually vanished as he listened to Du Weilun’s words. Right! As an
eight-ringed Soul Douluo, how could their fusion skill actually injure him? That was truly somewhat inconceivable.

Du Weilun continued, “With this, everyone should’ve guessed the answer to this question. The reason why the Netherworld White Tiger was able to injure me was because I’d taken on another fusion skill. Wang Dong and Huo Yuhao, I still don’t know the name of your fusion skill. As a person who personally took on your fusion skill, don’t I have the qualifications to know what it’s name is?”

Wang  Dong  laughed  softly.  “Teacher  Du,  you’re  the  first person to receive our fusion skill. This is also the first time we’ve used it in an actual battle after testing it out.”

Du Weilun was somewhat astonished as he looked at him. “I’m extremely honoured to have been the first to receive it. Then, can I know its name?”

Wang Dong nodded. “Of course. Yuhao, you tell him.”

Huo Yuhao gazed towards the distant Dai Huabin, then spoke slowly with a calm voice, “Our fusion skill is called ‘The
Golden Road Amidst Withering Resplendence.’”

Du Weilun cast his gaze downwards, and a trace of shock flashed through his eyes. A 30-meter long, half-meter deep gorge had appeared in the ground of the Assessment Arena, which flickered with a dazzling golden luster that couldn’t be concealed beneath the sun’s rays.

Previously, the teachers atop the tall stage had only been paying attention to the outcome of the battle. Thus, they only noticed the dazzling golden road after Huo Yuhao mentioned it. The golden trail stretched all the way to where Du Weilun was standing.

Du Weilun nodded slightly. “I have to admit, your fusion skill is one of the most peculiar ones I’ve ever seen. The fact that you two were able to release this much power with your current cultivation ranks has already exceeded the range of my research towards fusion skills. I believe that your compatibility rate is definitely extremely high.”

With that, he turned back towards Dai Huabin’s trio. “There’s only one reason why your Netherworld White Tiger was able to injure me. Before your attack reached me, I was
struck by their Golden Road. Only after that did your attack arrive. The effect of a fusion skill is a soul master’s secret, so that’s all I can say about their attack. The other two Deans were also there just now, and I believe that they were able to tell whose skill was superior from the fluctuations in my soul power the instant I was struck.”

“Your Netherworld White Tiger is extremely strong. In a situation like that, you undoubtedly would’ve won if you were able to dodge their Golden Road. However, you were stunned after being hit by Xiao Xiao’s soul skill. In other words, you would’ve been unable to dodge it. Under those circumstances, you would’ve definitely lost after taking their Golden Road head-on. Alright, that’s all I can say. The freshmen assessment has ended. The freshmen meeting will occur tomorrow afternoon, and the top three teams will receive their prizes while we divide you all into your classes for your first year.”

“If you win, don’t be arrogant; if you lose, don’t be discouraged. This is a necessity if you want to improve. You’re all a part of the most outstanding students I’ve seen in this year’s freshmen; I don’t wish for this match to affect your future growth. Alright, let’s end it here.”
With that, Du Weilun turned away and hurriedly left the Assessment Area.

Dai Huabin’s body swayed slightly. He was only able to avoid falling down with Zhu Lu’s help. The obstinance and arrogance that had once filled his face had been swept away, with disbelief and an intense unwillingness taking its place.

I lost, I actually lost. I lost to two opponents who had cultivations far below mine. How is this possible? How could this be possible?

Huo Yuhao’s eyesight was exceedingly good, which allowed him to clearly see the changes in Dai Huabin’s expression. A hard-to-describe feeling of elation rose in his heart, and he suddenly discovered that beating Dai Huabin at his most conceited state seemed to be a very good way of obtaining revenge.

“We won!”

“We’re the champions!”
Xiao Xiao and Wang Dong’s exuberant cheers rang out, and the two of them grabbed ahold of Huo Yuhao and flung him into the air.

Three people, one team. They had finally become the champions of the freshmen assessment. But, who was the true nucleus of their team? Xiao Xiao and Wang Dong were fully aware of who it was.

Without a doubt, Wang Dong and Xiao Xiao’s powerful strength had been completely displayed during their many matches, attracting the attention of all of the teachers. However, were it not for Huo Yuhao’s Spiritual Detection and Spiritual Shock, as well as his grasp of the battlefield and his movements at the vital points of their battles, and were it not for Huo Yuhao and Wang Dong’s fusion skill, how could they have reached their current position?

Huo Yuhao was extremely weak by himself, but even a Soul Grandmaster wouldn’t have been able to do better than he had! Disregarding their friendship, Wang Dong and Xiao Xiao both truly admired him. Huo Yuhao had an astonishing amount of both talent and diligence, but only the two of them knew of that fact.

Zhou Yi had already left the tall stage and was running towards them. The always-strict teacher currently looked as excited as a child as she hugged Huo Yuhao’s trio and cheered exuberantly.

The teacher in charge of Dai Huabin’s class had also walked over to their team to console the trio. However, the expression on Dai Huabin’s face hadn’t changed at all. From time to time, he’d glance viciously towards Huo Yuhao’s trio with his fists tightly clenched. Next time, I won’t lose!

The results for the freshmen assessment’s final round spread throughout the entire school extremely fast. However, Huo Yuhao once again decided to skip selling roasted fish. Instead,
he went into the wilderness alongside Wang Dong, Xiao Xiao, Bei Bei, and Tang Ya, and roasted some fish for them.

Bei Bei and Tang Ya hadn’t expected Huo Yuhao’s trio to become the champions; they’d given up the concept when they heard that there’d be three Soul Elders participating in the knock-out tournament. And yet, despite the odds, Huo Yuhao had managed to give them an enormous surprise.

“Wang Dong, do you still want to join our Tang Sect?” Tang Ya only recalled Wang Dong’s wish to join the Tang Sect after she’d finished gorging herself on roasted fish.

Wang Dong hurriedly nodded. “Of course I’d still like to join!”

Tang Ya giggled. “Alright, seeing as you guys were able to become the champions, this Sect Master can’t renege on her words. I’ll let you join the Tang Sect like I promised. Xiao Xiao, what about you? Are you interested as well?”

Xiao Xiao blinked and mumbled, “The Tang Sect?”
Tang  Ya  replied,  “Right!  The  Tang  Sect.  Our  Tang  Sect doesn’t have many benefits to offer you if you do join, but we value all of our disciples. Our Tang Sect will definitely impart all of its secret techniques to its disciples for them to cultivate.”

Xiao Xiao smiled. “That sounds good. I’ll join as well. In any case, I don’t have a sect I’m tied to. Sister Tang Ya, I want to learn that footwork technique that Yuhao used.”

Xiao Xiao nodded graciously. “No problem. I’ll teach it to both  of  you  when  we  get  back.”  Despite  how  carefree  she appeared to be, she was actually extremely happy right now. There was no need to doubt Wang Dong’s strength; a large part of why Huo Yuhao’s team had been able to become champions had been due to his strength. On the other hand, Xiao Xiao’s talent didn’t lose out to Wang Dong’s in the slightest; she had twin martial souls! Tang Ya had never expected her to agree to join the Tang Sect so easily.

In reality, the reason that Xiao Xiao had been willing to join the Tang Sect was due to Huo Yuhao and Wang Dong, but Tang Ya didn’t know that. The fusion skill that Huo Yuhao and Wang Dong had unleashed had simply been too breathtaking to her; the more she stayed with them, the more favourable her impression of them became. Huo Yuhao’s strength and looks
were much inferior to Wang Dong’s, but his calmness and unswerving determination were things that Wang Dong didn’t have. Xiao Xiao believed that the future Huo Yuhao would definitely wouldn’t lose out to Wang Dong in the slightest, and being in a team with them would definitely be a good thing, regardless of whether it was for her cultivation or for her future.

Good companions were a must in the world of soul masters, and Xiao Xiao had already gotten used to the carefree and uninhibited way of fighting that Huo Yuhao’s Spiritual Detection allowed. Furthermore, the three of them were getting more and more coordinated with each other; if they were able to enter Shrek Academy’s inner courtyard, they’d have to stay together for ten years at the very least. If they continued to work together like this, their team would be incomparably steadfast once they left Shrek Academy.

However, in the end, Xiao Xiao was still just a little girl who’d only thought about her future and having companions that she could trust. She hadn’t thought too deeply about the seriousness of her decision to join the Tang Sect. On the other side of the equation, Tang Ya had been able to conveniently get another member at a huge bargain.
As of now, the Tang Sect had become a five-person sect, which was more than twice the size of its original two. Although they weren’t very old, the Tang Sect had finally increased in size.

Bei Bei said, “Now that you’ve all passed the freshmen assessment, you’ll be split into your respective classes. The assault and control systems are all part of the same family, and you three are on the same team, so you’ll probably be placed in the same class. I don’t need to repeat this to Yuhao, but you two should’ve heard that our Tang Sect is famous for our hidden weapons. However, the appearance of soul tools has gradually caused hidden weapons to disappear from the stage of history. That’s the main reason that our Tang Sect has fallen into decline. As such, we need to redefine our hidden weapons in order for the Tang Sect to reemerge, but they can’t be as simple as our previous hidden weapons. The only way that we can reforge our glory is by combining hidden weapons with soul tools. What do you two think about soul tools? After you formally becoming first year students, you should choose to study them.”

Wang Dong and Xiao Xiao glanced at each other, furrowing their brows slightly. Xiao Xiao replied in a soft voice, “Since I have two martial souls, I won’t have enough time to cultivate if I have to research and create soul tools. I feel that soul masters
should focus on cultivating as their main priority. Research soul tools is something that only soul masters with subpar talent or martial souls are willing to do, no?”

Wang Dong nodded. “I agree with Xiao Xiao. I don’t really feel like learning how to forge a soul tool either.”

After speaking their mind, the two of them originally thought that Bei Bei and Tang Ya would be unhappy. However, they unexpectedly began to laugh. Helpless, Tang Ya replied, “It’s no wonder that you two are outstanding students of the Martial Soul Department! That’s the typical way of thinking for a student from the Martial Soul Department. In fact, you’re not the only ones who think that way. Even Bei Bei and I think that you wouldn’t have enough time to cultivate if you were to study soul tools as well. There won’t be a lot of time for you two to carefully study soul tools, thus, just do as you wish. The Tang Sect won’t force everyone on to a specific path of cultivation. I was just wondering whether any of you were interested in it. You all have exceptional talent, so it won’t be too good if you’re distracted. We’ll just have to recruit a few disciples that are specialised in cultivating soul tools in the future.”
However, at that moment, Huo Yuhao suddenly opened his mouth, “Teacher Xiao Ya, I wish to study soul tools.”

Tang Ya’s eyes lit up. “Yuhao, you’re willing to?”

Huo  Yuhao  nodded.  “Soul  tools  have  their  own  unique fascinating aspects. Since they were able to replace our Tang Sect’s hidden weapons and become the most valued weapons in the world, they definitely can’t be weak. I want to try them out. If I don’t have the talent for them, then nevermind. But if I do have the talent for them, I want to learn as much as I can about them.”

“Good! Good!” Tang Ya was overjoyed. “Soul tools truly do fit you. You have a mental-type martial soul, which makes it so that you’re lacking a way to attack your opponents at the moment. If you had a soul tool with you, your combat power would increase exponentially. Furthermore, the strength of your soul tools will increase as your comprehension of them increases as well.”

Bei Bei reminded him, “Junior brother, you have to manage your time well. Your martial soul has a lot of potential, thus you can’t spend too much time on your soul tools. After all,
both soul power and soul rings are the foundation of a soul master. Some stronger soul tools even require soul power to activate.”

“Yes, Senior Brother.”  Huo Yuhao answered hurriedly. He already had his own plans in mind. After witnessing the domineering might of a stationary soul tool, his interest in soul tools had been piqued. He knew that the target of his revenge was extremely strong, so he needed to use every bit of strength he could. How could he know how strong soul tools were without studying them beforehand?

He didn’t know this at the moment, but his way of thinking would be verified in the not too distant future. The study of soul tools would eventually open a huge door for him.

Tang Ya mused, “Now that I think about it, you might not be able to cultivate in the Soul Tool Department even if you wanted to. Aih, there are many prizes that come along with winning the freshmen assessment, but there are no lack of problems either! Yuhao, you should continue to cultivate properly if you can’t get into the Soul Tool Department.”

Huo  Yuhao  was  briefly  stunned,  “Teacher  Xiao  Ya,  why wouldn’t I be able to enter the Soul Tool Department?”

Tang Ya replied, “Do you know what the rewards for the freshmen assessment are?”

When they heard the word ‘rewards’, Huo Yuhao, Wang Dong, and Xiao Xiao’s eyes lit up. They weren’t able to conceal their desire much because of how young they were. Shrek Academy was the number one soul master academy in the world, and they had managed to become the champions of the freshmen assessment. How could their rewards be lacking in any way?

Wang Dong impatiently asked, “Teacher Xiao Ya, what will our rewards be?” He’d already started to call Tang Ya ‘teacher’, just like Huo Yuhao, despite having just joined the Tang Sect.

Tang Ya replied, “There’s a slight difference between each year’s rewards, but they’ll generally be the same. Generally speaking, the rewards are determined based off the quality of the entire batch of freshmen. I don’t know about past years, but I’ve never seen a Soul Elder in a batch of freshmen during the few years that I’ve been in Shrek Academy; you’re the first batch of freshmen I’ve ever seen that has had Soul Elders among them. Because of that, I reckon that you’ll get extremely good rewards. I don’t know about the other rewards you’ll
receive, but there’s always a specific reward given to the champions of the freshmen assessment, and that is—the opportunity to become a core disciple.”

“A core disciple?”  This wasn’t the first time they’d heard of the term. Teacher Zhou had mentioned it in the past.

Tang  Ya  nodded.  “You’re  the  champions  of  the  freshmen assessment, so there wouldn’t be any problems for you to become a core disciple of the Martial Soul Department. However, once you become a core disciple of the Martial Soul Department, the Academy will give you even more resources in order to ensure that you diligently pursue your studies and become an even stronger soul master. Because of this, the Martial Soul Department will naturally not allow you to enter the Soul Tool Department. After all, the Martial Soul Department has always held a leading role in our academy.”

Only then did Huo Yuhao’s trio understand what Bei Bei had meant. Huo Yuhao couldn’t help but feel happy when he recalled the nutritious meals core disciples ate everyday.

When Bei Bei glanced towards Huo Yuhao, a trace of worry flashed through his eyes. Still, he didn’t say it out loud.
Instead, he thought to himself, I hope that I’m just worrying for nothing.

----

It was another bright and beautiful morning, while the air within Shrek Academy was both clean and extremely moist due to the presence of the Sea God’s Lake.

All of the students who’d passed the freshmen assessment were gathered in Shrek Plaza, waiting for to be assigned to their classes.

The Director of the Martial Soul Department—Du Weilun— quickly walked to the front of Shrek Plaza, alongside ten or so other teachers. Huo Yuhao only recognised two of the teachers who were following him. One of which was naturally their previous class’s teacher, Zhou Yi, while the other was Teacher Wang Yan. He only had a vague impression of the other teachers.

Du Weilun held a folder in his hands and swept his gaze over the small group of students with a smile on his face. “I’m sure
that everyone already knows this, but the freshmen assessment’s knock-out tournament has now ended. The top three places have also been decided. As such, I will now formally announce the the top three teams and hand out their prizes. Third place in the freshmen assessment goes to Team Huang Chutian. Team members: Huang Chutian, Lan Susu, and Lan Luoluo. Please step forward.”

Right, Team Huang Chutian, who Huo Yuhao’s team had previously defeated, had obtained third place in the freshmen assessment. They’d lost to Dai Huabin’s team during the semifinals, but they’d been able to obtain third place by beating Zhou Sichen’s team. In actual fact, they’d been extremely lucky. During their match with Team Zhou Sichen, the Lan sisters had recovered the ability to use their fusion skill, allowing them to defeat their opponents. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have been able to win based on their individual strength alone.

The three walked up to Du Weilun with Huang Chutian standing in front. Their young faces were slightly flushed due to their excitement. Obtaining third place in the freshmen assessment had far surpassed their expectations!
The first year students immediately let out a thunderous applause. After the knock-out tournament, there were only around three hundred students left in Year 1. This was a third of the number of students who’d been present at the beginning of the year.

“Second place goes to Team Dai Huabin. Team members: Dai Huabin, Zhu Lu, and Cui Yajie. Step forward.”

Applause rang out yet again, but Dai Huabin’s team had no traces of excitement on their faces as they stepped forward. This was especially so for Dai Huabin; his expression was clouded, and his head was lowered slightly, as if he had something else on his mind. His eyes were even somewhat bloodshot.

After pausing for a brief moment, Du Weilun used a slightly louder  voice  to  continue  speaking,  “Next,  can  everyone enthusiastically cheer for the first place champions of the freshmen assessment! They are—Team Wang Dong! Team members: Wang Dong, Xiao Xiao, and Huo Yuhao.”

The crowd immediately burst into enthusiastic cheers, but Huo Yuhao’s trio were somewhat stunned when they heard Du
Weilun’s announcement.

According to the name that Class 1 had handed in to the academy, their team should’ve been called Team Huo Yuhao, as Huo Yuhao was the leader of their team! However, the trio didn’t dare to slow down under the cheers and applause from the many Year 1 students. They hurriedly stepped forward, but Wang Dong and Xiao Xiao deliberately slowed down as they walked, allowing Huo Yuhao to remain in front.

A smile appeared in Du Weilun’s eyes as he watched the three of them walk forward, indicating for them to stand in the middle. Huo Yuhao towards Dai Huabin, but Dai Huabin himself was actually looking at Wang Dong. He clearly didn’t think that his loss had anything to do with Huo Yuhao.

Du Weilun said, “Alright, I will now announce the prizes for the top three teams of the freshmen assessment. First, each of the members of the top three teams will receive a prize from the Academy itself. All of them will be able to request assistance from the Academy in order to obtain a soul ring that he or she can withstand when the time arises. Furthermore, it will be a soul ring that is most suitable for them.”
Once he finished speaking, the students of Year 1 immediately let out astonished gasps. This prize was equivalent to the Academy promising them that their next soul ring would definitely be an optimum one. For example, if Huo Yuhao could withstand a seven hundred year soul ring for his second one, the Academy would find a suitable seven hundred year soul ring for him. This would be the case for every single member of the top three teams. This prize was extremely valuable.

Du Weilun continued, “In light of both Team Wang Dong’s exceptional performance, and their lossless win-streak throughout the entire tournament, the Academy has also decided to award them something special. However, this reward will be kept secret by the Academy. When the class- division has been finished, the three of you can follow me to collect it.”

A special reward on top of what they’d already received? This really showcased the difference between the champion team and the second and third place teams. Huo Yuhao’s trio immediately became excited; even the awkwardness that they felt from Du Weilun calling them ‘Team Wang Dong’ had diminished greatly.

Nobody had any objections to Huo Yuhao’s team obtaining an additional reward, as they’d managed to defeat teams led by the Soul Elder-ranked Ning Tian, Xie Huanyue, and Dai Huabin throughout the course of the tournament. The three great Soul Elders among the freshmen had all lost to their team; it wasn’t simply luck that they’d become champions. For
them to receive even more rewards would definitely be within reason.

Du Weilun said, “Alright, you all can return.”

Huo Yuhao and the other eight students returned to their original positions.

Du Weilun then said, “The quality of this year’s students exceeds that of previous years, thus I hope that you all can continue to work hard. The Heavens reward the diligent, so I hope that all of you will be able to smoothly graduate while obtaining excellent results. Now then, seeing that a few outstanding students have appeared in this year’s freshmen assessment, the Academy has decided to promote a few students to core disciples. I will now announce the names of the students that’ve been promoted.”

Shrek Plaza immediately became completely silent. After all, core disciples didn’t only come from the top three teams! Du Weilun hadn’t said it outright, but who didn’t know that core disciples would receive a large amount of resources from the Academy? This issue concerned every single student present,
thus, they all listened attentively, in fear that they’d miss their own name being called.

Du Weilun opened the file he’d been carrying, then began to read through the names of the students who’d been promoted to core disciples, “In accordance with the performance of the students during the freshmen assessment, the Academy has decided to choose these following students as core disciples: Wang Dong, Xiao Xiao, Dai Huabin, Zhu Lu, Zhou Sichen, Cao Jinxuan, Lan Susu, Lan Luoluo, Ning Tian, and Wu Feng.”

The instant that Du Weilun had mentioned core disciples, Huo Yuhao, Wang Dong, and Xiao Xiao simultaneously thought inwardly, Teacher Xiao Ya’s information was actually correct.

When Du Weilun called out Wang Dong and Xiao Xiao’s names at the very start, the two of them clearly became excited. However, this was followed by astonishment when they realized that Du Weilun hadn’t called out Huo Yuhao’s name. Instead, he’d directly skipped to Dai Huabin. How was this possible? Huo Yuhao was their leader!

They still held a trace of hope in their hearts as Du Weilun continued down his list, but Huo Yuhao’s name still wasn’t
announced.

Huo Yuhao was also astonished. In that instant, he felt as if something had been wrenched out from his heart, and his face immediately turned pale white.

Ever since he’d entered Shrek Academy, he’d cultivated with all his might, and had worked tirelessly to improve himself. When the others were resting, he’d been cultivating; when the others had been slacking off, he’d still been cultivating. When the freshmen assessment had begun, he’d put his all into working together with his teammates, which had allowed him to obtain the highest form of glory a freshmen could receive. But why? Why wasn’t I chosen as a core disciple? Why?

On the surface, Huo Yuhao’s expression hadn’t changed. However, his heart had a dark side that ordinary children wouldn’t have. The darkness that had gradually accumulated during his childhood had nearly exploded out when he saw Dai Huabin, but he’d forcefully suppressed it. However, right now, he once again felt like he was going to lose control of himself. Why, why did they have to do this to me? He finally realised why Du Weilun had referred to their team as ‘Team Wang Dong’ instead of ‘Team Huo Yuhao’ during his speech. This had all been planned from the start!

Wang Dong and Xiao Xiao were naturally able to sense how strangely Huo Yuhao was acting. Wang Dong hurriedly grabbed ahold of Huo Yuhao’s arm, fearing that he’d act rashly. However, he didn’t know what to say at the moment. Both he and Xiao Xiao had become core disciples, but Huo Yuhao hadn’t. How would he be feeling right now?

At this point, Du Weilun continued, “However, although a few students are currently somewhat lacking in terms of their talent and ability, they still performed exceptionally well during the freshmen assessment. As such, the Academy has decided to temporarily let them enjoy the benefits of a core disciple until the school year finishes. If they’re able to make a breakthrough by next year’s promotion assessment, the Academy will consider making them formal core disciples. These students are as follows: Huo Yuhao, Cui Yajie, Huang Chutian, Long Xiangyue, and Nanmen Yun’er. The announcement is now finished.”

Huo Yuhao’s gaze was somewhat vacant, but the anger in his heart  gradually  receded.  That’s  right!  My  abilities  are  still somewhat lacking. Of all the people that were chosen as core disciples,  I’m  the  only  one  who’s  yet  to  reach  Rank  20.  A pained look flashed through his eyes. Lowering his head, Huo Yuhao buried his sadness deep in his heart.

If it weren’t for the fact that I’m able to release a fusion skill with Wang Dong, maybe I might not have even received the temporary treatment of a core disciple. But, who can I blame? I can only blame the fact that I’m not strong enough yet, and the fact that my first soul ring is only a ten year soul ring in their eyes. A self-depreciating smile appeared at the corner of Huo Yuhao’s lips, but when he raised his head back up, his smile had disappeared, and a trace of coldness had appeared in his eyes.

“Yuhao, are you okay?” Wang Dong whispered.

Huo Yuhao softly shook his head, then forced himself to smile. “I’m fine. I just don’t have the qualifications to become a core disciple. After all, I’m only a Rank 17 Soul Master.”

Wang Dong hurriedly replied, “No, that’s not it! They don’t know how important you are…”

Xiao Xiao nodded her head in agreement.
Huo Yuhao’s smile became slightly more natural. “I’m really fine. Didn’t Director Du say that I’d still be able to enjoy the treatment of a core disciple? That’s already an extremely good reward. I’ll continue to work hard. Who knows? I might be able to formally become a core disciple by the time the
promotion assessment comes around.”

Wang Dong sighed softly as he released Huo Yuhao’s arm. He’d been together with Huo Yuhao for a long time, and they were companions who shared a fusion skill. He understood Huo Yuhao’s personality to some extent by now: Huo Yuhao had a calm appearance and a gentle temperament on the surface, but he was actually a very strong-minded person. When he’d heard of Huo Yuhao’s background, Wang Dong had gradually begun to understand the obstinance and unbending will that Huo Yuhao had buried deep within his heart. However, no one else would be able to help him. If he wanted to cross this threshold in his heart, he’d have to rely on himself.

Following that, the division of classes began. Year 1 was split into four classes: Class 1, which had assault-type and control- type soul masters, Class 2, which had defense-type and agility- type soul masters, Class 3, which had auxiliary-type soul masters, and Class 4, which had food-type, healing-type, and other unique types of both Battle and Tool Soul Masters.

Without a doubt, the strongest class was naturally Class 1. Huo Yuhao, Wang Dong, and Xiao Xiao were all placed in this class. In Class 2, the strongest student in it was undoubtedly the defense specialist, Xie Huanyue. His Rubberdon truly stood out as a uniquely defensive martial soul. Class 3 was an auxiliary-type class, but it didn’t consist of only auxiliary-type
soul masters. Instead, it was meant for both Battle and Tool
Soul Masters who could directly aid their teammates during a battle. An example would be Ning Tian, who had the Seven Treasures Glazed Pagoda. As for Class 4, it consisted of a diverse range of soul masters. Comparatively speaking, they had no combat power whatsoever. Instead they had unique abilities that fit within certain special fields. Of them, the most important soul masters in Class 4 were food-type and healing- type ones.

Almost all year groups were split this way, with the classes from higher years having fewer students in each class. Shrek Academy’s expulsion rate had always been extremely high; the number of students who were able to successfully graduate from the outer courtyard each year didn’t exceed fifty. In other words, if 20% of the current three hundred or so students were able to graduate, that would be an extremely good result.
When everyone had been placed in their classes, the teachers in charge of each class introduced themselves. The only piece of good news for Huo Yuhao was that Zhou Yi was one of the teachers in charge of Class 1. Every class had two teachers, and the other teacher in charge of Huo Yuhao’s class was Wang
Yan, who’d viewed him highly.

Wang Yan, who’d originally intended to teach the higher years, had actually chosen to come to Year 1’s Class 1 and teach alongside Zhou Yi for the sake of Huo Yuhao, but not even Zhou Yi knew that.

“Alright, follow your new teachers and return to the school buildings. Wang Dong, you three follow me and claim your prize.” Director Du Weilun announced.

Huo Yuhao seemed to have returned to normal. At the very least, one wouldn’t be able to see that his emotions had been affected based on his external appearance alone. The three proceeded to follow Du Weilun to the teacher’s offices, which were located behind the higher year’s school buildings.

Du Weilun’s office was situated on the top floor, and his office was much bigger than Zhou Yi’s. Although it didn’t have any
fanciful decorations, there were four bookcases inside, which were filled with an abundant number of books.

Du Weilun smiled and pointed towards the sofa. “Come, sit. Huo Yuhao, don’t let this burden you. You’ve seen it as well. It wasn’t just you; there were also a few students from the top three teams who weren’t able to become core disciples. You performed extremely well, especially considering the fact that you were able to help Wang Dong release a fusion skill. However, your individual ability still needs to be improved. When you need your second soul ring, you can request assistance from the Academy in order to ensure that you obtain an optimal soul ring. If you also manage to perform exceptionally well during your Year 2 promotion assessment, the Academy will consider formally accepting you as a core disciple.”

Wang  Dong  began,  “Director  Du,  it’s  not  like  that!  Huo Yuhao  wasn’t  helping  me,  it  was…”  At  that  point,  he  was suddenly stopped by Du Weilun, who’d raised his hand. In Du Weilun’s opinion, this was merely a show of friendship between two young kids.

Huo Yuhao also tugged on Wang Dong’s sleeve, then replied respectfully to Du Weilun, “Director Du, I’ll definitely work
hard. Thank you for your concern.”

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