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    Chapter 194

    Sleeping to Rank 17

    If he could not obtain a suit of battle armor for himself, then he would just have to settle with becoming a mecha pilot.

    There was a reason battle armor masters were recognized as the strongest—the path to becoming one was difficult and few ever succeeded.

    The chances of failing were simply astronomical. In order to craft a battle armor successfully, one needed to accomplish multiple steps: refine rare metals, forge them, create a design, craft it, and then maintain the final product. The troubles of obtaining and owning battle armor were tenfold to that of mechas.

    To obtain a suitable mecha, one only needed to hire a capable mecha designer and craftsman. But regarding battle armor, this process was much more convoluted; one needed to be personally involved in the creation of one’s battle armor. This was to determine the most suitable path such that the armor becomes an extension of one’s body.

    Such a feat was not something just anyone could accomplish. It was a taxing road. Hardly any battle armor masters could create a complete set of battle armor even after ten whole years of painstaking work. Even if they did somehow finish a set by then, they might find that their growth during the years of forging rendered their final product obsolete. Once again, one would have to start anew. The act of creating battle armor truly was a form of torment.

    If too much time was spent on developing the battle armor, then one’s cultivation may fall behind. When that happens, they would become even weaker than a mecha pilot. However, mechas were also tremendously powerful and their gigantic bulk gave them many options.

    For these reasons, Xu Xiaoyu decided on specializing in mecha control. He would walk down the path of becoming a mecha pilot when he entered an advanced academy.

    I might not have much hope of becoming a battle armor master, but I wonder if she can pull it off? She already has two rings at ten years old and will definitely hit three rings by the time she turns fifteen. I can’t even compare to her in terms of potential!

    He did not feel any jealousy toward Gu Yue. In fact, he was confused by his own turbulent sentiments.

    Tang Wulin leaned against the window, resting with his eyes shut as he attempted to calm his muddled heart. Mu Xi’s words still lingered within his mind. He had witnessed her strength before when she wielded only two rings, but now, she already possessed three. Yet with her strength, she only aimed for the top eight position.

    They’re so strong, but what about class zero? I’m the sole one-ringed contender among our main force. Although our teamwork is great and I’m confident in my strength, there is still a significant difference in cultivation between our teams. That’s a gap we can’t bridge quickly enough.

    The ones who rank the best will receive a reward.

    Like Tang Wulin, Gu Yue was also resting quietly with her eyes closed.

    A tense atmosphere permeated the bus as some occupants sent hushed whispers to one another. Other more courageous students chatted loudly. Like this, the bus slowly shrank into the distance, leaving the square behind and gradually speeding out of Eastsea City.

    Those in the bus showed glimmers of optimism as soon as they left the city bounds, entering the highway and accelerating onward.

    The soul highway utilized a combination of maglev and soul technology, allowing the bus to safely maintain high speeds up to half of soul train’s. For shorter distances, the bus was more suitable than the train.

    As Tang Wulin’s eyes slowly opened, he took the time to observe the breathtaking landscape flitting by.

    On the east was the ocean. Since the highway was built right on the shore, the azure sea stretched out infinitely beside him, unburdening his heart and relaxing his spirit.

    Tang Wulin could not help but recall the times he visited the beach with Na’er to enjoy the scenery together. Back then, he had pulled her by the hand to gaze at the sea, watch the sunrise, and collect seashells. If luck smiled down on them, they would also catch some large crabs to bake and eat.

    “Na’er!” Tang Wulin softly called out.

    “Hm? Wulin, you…” Gu Yue turned to him in surprise.

    Turning toward her voice, he was met with her astonished expression. He gave a half-hearted smile and shook his head. “I’m fine. Just thinking about my little sister. I don’t know how she’s doing right now or whether she’s happy. I bet if she knew I’ve become a soul master, she would be really happy for me.”

    Gu Yue nodded, a slight smile tugging at her lips. “Of course she would. Would you like some water?” She brought out a bottle from her backpack.

    “Huh? Okay. Thank you.” Tang Wulin twisted open the bottle’s cap and took a few gulps of water. The water was pure and tepid, relieving both his throat and heart.

    After Gu Yue retrieved the bottle from him she took a few drinks herself, paying no mind that he had just drunk from it.

    Tang Wulin stared at her, flabbergasted. The light shining through the window met with her cheek, giving the illusion of sparkling purity. She’s actually so pretty…

    Gu Yue tilted her head and beamed an oblivious smile at him. “What’s with you?”

    Tang Wulin pulled the curtains quickly over the window, shrouding the entire space with shade. “It’s too bright right now. That’s bad for your eyes.”

    Gu Yue placed the bottle back into his hands then leaned her head against his shoulder. “I’m sleepy. Let me lean on you, okay?”

    Tang Wulin did not know what to do. You’re already leaning on me. How am I supposed to reject you?

    It seemed she really was sleepy for her breathing soon steadied as a relaxed smile appeared on her lips. It was as if to her, leaning on him was particularly comforting.

    After s-----g it up as Gu Yue’s personal pillow, Tang Wulin started to feel the lull of slumber. Even though he had already shut the curtains, the warmth and coziness did not dissipate!

    Unwittingly, he closed his eyes. Immediately, his fatigue from constantly cultivating washed away.

    Totaling about four hours in travel time, the trek from Eastsea City to Skysea City was a prolonged one.

    Tang Wulin slept through the whole trip and would have likely continued sleeping once they arrived had Xie Xie not called for him.

    “You two sure are enjoying sleeping, huh! You’ve slept the whole trip!” Xie Xie slyly shot his gaze from Tang Wulin to the waking Gu Yue.

    Gu Yue stood up to stretch her body before turning back to pinch Tang Wulin’s shoulder. “Is it numb?”

    Tang Wulin shook his head. “It’s fine.”

    That was a really nice nap. I don’t think I’ve ever slept that well in my whole life. Circulating some soul power within his body, he noticed that it seemed to have sped up while flowing more smoothly than ever.

    This change signified a breakthrough; he had finally broken through to rank 17!

    A strange expression stretched across his face. He had been struggling to break through the bottleneck to rank 17 these past few days but never had he expected to wake up in success.

    While his foundation was mediocre, he had progressed from rank 11 to rank 17 in the past year. Such speed was simply astonishing.
    As if only natural, Gu Yue chose to lead them to exit while Tang Wulin and Xie Xie trailed behind her. For no apparent reason, warmth filled his heart as he took in her figure.

    Partner? Little sister? He did not know why, but Gu Yue’s kindness reminded him of Na’er.

    Skysea City and Eastsea City were similar in that they both were situated on the coast, boasting a beautiful landscape and the continent’s largest harbors and docks. The Federation’s navy was stationed right outside of Skysea City. The silhouette of a gigantic cruiser anchored out at sea entered the eyes of some.

    Because of the great military forces stationed there, Skysea City was considered the top ranked city on the east coast. The area was of utmost strategic importance comparable to major cities inland.

    Ordinary people would enter military service once they turned eighteen, and for those within Skysea Alliance’s domain, Skysea City’s navy was the first pick.

    Tang Wulin still had many years before he turned eighteen. As a soul master, he had some level of influence over his military service. This, of course, did not take into account his status as a fourth rank blacksmith. Fourth rank blacksmiths were considered members of the elite, enjoying a lofty position.

    For now, Tang Wulin could not see much of a difference between Skysea City and Eastsea City. As they approached the city’s core, skyscrapers piercing the clouds came into view, passed by the magnificent harbor. Several types of advanced equipment and facilities lined the harbor, all of which Tang Wulin struggled to name. The harbor smelled of trade.

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    Chapter 195

    Blacksmiths

    Skysea City was situated in an area surrounded by much more mountains than Eastsea City and many buildings were built into the slopes, adding to their high-low appearance. Some skyscrapers even seemed to pierce right through the clouds.

    The official delegation from Eastsea City had already been in contact with the representatives from Skysea City.

    The four students of class zero were the youngest amongst the competitors from Eastsea City and naturally weren’t too attentive to their surroundings, simply following the group.

    They were led to a luxurious hotel that was rather special; half of it was within the ocean and each room had a breathtaking view that truly emphasized to all the guests that they were by the ocean.

    Tang Wulin and Xie Xie shared a room while Gu Yue and Xu Xiaoyan were placed in another room.

    Tomorrow was the opening ceremony of the tournament and lots to decide the matches would be drawn. Wu Zhangkong had given the bare minimum explanation which had lacked any sort of warnings or advice.

    The doorbell rang.

    Tang Wulin quickly opened the door, revealing the charming Mu Xi.

    “Come with me!” Mu Xi grabbed his hand and dragged him out.

    Tang Wulin just barely managed to look back and shout, “Xie Xie, I’m going out with my senior disciple sister first. I’ll be back later.”

    “Go, just go already.” Xie Xie was already laying on his bed resting with his eyes closed. He hadn’t had a moment of reprieve from Wu Zhangkong’s glacial aura and the glares of the surrounding women during the entire trip whilst sitting next to his teacher. Now that he was free from that tormenting environment, fatigue drained his energy while sleep overwhelmed his consciousness.

    “Senior disciple sister, slow down. Just what are we doing?” Tang Wulin pleaded.

    “We have a meeting.” Mu Xi’s short reply left no room for debate. She turned a corner and, seeing that there weren’t many people around, Mu Xi quickly pinched Tang Wulin’s delicate cheeks.

    “Senior disciple sister!” Tang Wulin waved his arms in protest.

    “Pinching you means that I respect you. Your cheeks are nice to pinch. Okay, we’re here.” Mu Xi pushed Tang Wulin into a room as she spoke.

    Over a dozen people were present in the room, each wearing the familiar badge of a blacksmith.

    The leader of the delegation from the Blacksmith’s Association was someone Tang Wulin knew—Cen Yue. Aside from Cen Yue, the others were unfamiliar faces that ranged from their late teens to their early twenties.

    Cen Yue’s stern expression transformed into a beaming smile the moment Tang Wulin and Mu Xi walked in.

    “You’re here, Wulin? Come, I’ll introduce you to the other outstanding blacksmiths of your generation.”

    There were a couple people that stood out to Tang Wulin—a youth around eighteen years old named Zheng Tianlin and a young man a little over twenty named Tang Wenhao.

    They both had their own peculiarities. Zheng Tianlin had a pair of extraordinarily long arms that reached just past his knees and wore a third rank blacksmith badge while Tang Wenhao wore a fourth rank badge. They were the most skilled individuals in the room after Cen Yue.

    Although Mu Xi was extremely talented, she was still only a second rank blacksmith. Mu Chen’s strict attitude toward her had meant that he refused to pass her as a third rank blacksmith until her Thousand Refinements stabilized.
    “Now that everyone is present, I’ll begin. I believe you’re all aware that although Eastsea City hasn’t achieved any exemplary results in the Skysea Alliance Tournaments of late, our Eastsea Blacksmith’s Association is an exception to that. We managed to attain third place in the junior division, and first in the youth division last year. Wenhao, do your best this time to bring us glory in the adult division.”

    Tang Wenhao had an average appearance and a sturdy body. A calm light twinkled in his eyes as he said, “Yes, teacher.”

    It was only then that Tang Wulin realized Tang Wenhao was Cen Yue’s direct disciple.

    A satisfied smile formed on Cen Yue’s lips. “You will definitely receive excellent results as long as you perform your usual best”

    Cen Yue then turned to Zheng Tianlin. “Tianlin, you’ve made a lot of progress in these last two years and have stabilized your foundation. If you’re able to forge at your personal best, then you should do well too. I hope you’ll breakthrough soon and reach fourth rank.”

    “Yes, Master Cen.” Zheng Tianlin nodded but not only was his attitude disrespectful, it was filled with disdain and arrogance.

    Finally, Cen Yue turned to Tang Wulin and Mu Xi. “Last of all are the two of you. If you were to ask me who I was most confident in with regards to the adult, youth, and juvenile division, I would definitely have said it would be you two brats. I don’t think I need to give either of you any advice. Just perform as you always do and you’ll surely bring back the title of champion. I’ll be waiting to celebrate.”

    Everyone in the room eyed the two at these words. They could accept it if it had only been directed to Mu Xi, but Tang Wulin was an unknown face.

    The matter of Tang Wulin becoming President Mu Chen’s disciple had been kept confidential and the only ones who knew this were Mu Chen himself, Cen Yue, and Mu Xi. It was for this reason that none of the other blacksmiths recognized him.

    Tang Wenhao was shocked that his teacher had praised this newcomer. He glanced at Tang Wulin and gave him a nod of acknowledgment. Tang Wulin hastily reciprocated.

    Zheng Tianlin smiled. “Junior sister Mu Xi is quickly approaching third rank so the junior division should be no problem for her. The champion’s prize is almost already hers.”

    Mu Xi would have accepted such praise before having met Tang Wulin since she truly was one of the greatest of her generation. Now, however, a little monster stood beside her. How could she accept such praise knowing full well the gap between her and Tang Wulin? He was already a fourth rank blacksmith despite being four years younger than her.

    “Don’t say such nonsense. There’s no way I can become the champion,” Mu Xi quickly said.

    Zheng Tianlin thought she was being modest and laughed. “How could you not? Being able to reach the second rank is already amazing for your age, not to mention approaching third rank.” He hadn’t even thought of acknowledging Tang Wulin since the beginning.
    Although Tang Wulin was taller than his peers, at most, he could only be considered a thirteen-year-old child. Apart from Tang Wenhao who noted Cen Yue’s expectant gaze towards Tang Wulin, everyone else held the same assumptions as Zheng Tianlin. They thought Tang Wulin was merely present to create a contrast for Mu Xi’s brilliance.

    Tang Wulin didn’t mind this assessment at all; in fact, he wasn’t concerned at all. Mang Tian had repeatedly warned him to stay low-key within the Blacksmith’s Association as it was only then would he be able to progress further.

    He trusted Mang Tian’s advice, and Mu Chen’s lectures had only served to further reinforce this idea. It was for this reason that he truly intended to give Mu Xi the championship in this competition. He would be rewarded with both the second and first place prizes anyway. What reason did he have to decline?

    Cen Yue didn’t try to allay their assumptions since his primary goal was Tang Wulin’s safety. B Mu Chen had explained to Tang Wulin before their departure that if it wasn’t for his insane improvement speed and connection with the world of blacksmiths, Mu Chen would not have let him compete.

    What Tang Wulin wasn’t aware of was that there was a limited number of spots for participating in high-level competitions and having reached fourth rank, Tang Wulin qualified for them.

    Cen Yue said, “Now I’ll explain how the competition will be run this time. Let’s start with the junior division. You can leave after hearing the information relevant to you.” He still prioritized Tang Wulin in the end. Of course, in the eyes of the other blacksmiths, it was simply Cen Yue showing consideration for Mu Xi.

    “The three divisions aren’t that different; it’s just that the junior division focuses on blacksmithing fundamentals. The first round disqualifies contestants who cannot hundred refine. No one knows what metal you will be asked to forge. The top sixty-four participants from the first round will then compete in the second round where you freely display your ability with the same metal from before. You will be awarded points based on the grade of the final product. As for the third round, you will be shaping the metal you forged in the second round. That’s it. There are only three rounds. To secure a good position, however, you will need to surprise everyone. When that time comes, just do you best and you should be fine. The association will grant you an additional award if you place within the top eight, and an amazing award if it’s the top three. You’ll even have the opportunity to participate in other blacksmithing competitions. I hope you’ll keep this in mind and do you best because the spots for other competitions isn’t up to me. If you place in the top three, the medal awarded will be your ticket into the upper levels of the world of blacksmithing, understand?”

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    next pls

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    Chapter 196

    Struggle to the End!

    “Yes.” Tang Wulin, Mu Xi and a few other youngsters said respectfully.

    In the sea of green that was this group of blacksmiths, Mu Xi stood out brightly as a speck of red—the only woman among them.

    After listening to Cen Yue’s warnings, Tang Wulin and Mu Xi set off.

    “Good luck, junior disciple brother!” Mu Xi rubbed Tang Wulin’s head and pinched his cheeks before releasing him.

    Helpless to the pinching, Tang Wulin began to miss her frigid disposition. At least back then, his cheeks were spared.

    He could feel the shift in atmosphere at their hotel as the start of the tournament drew near.

    Nearly all of the hotel’s patrons were here for the event. Besides participants from Eastsea City there were also numerous people from other places, all preparing hastily.

    When he returned to his room, Tang Wulin was greeted by Xie Xie’s tremendous snoring, the culprit already sound asleep. Starfished on the bed, he barely resembled a human.

    Tang Wulin descended on his own mattress. Instead of pulling at the coattails of slumber, he sat cross-legged and peered out the window. His gaze wandered past the sharp edges of the deep blue sea, zigzagging across the surface to no end. The rush and ebb of the tide granted him a peace of mind. He shut his eyes slowly and began meditating.

    Just as the clumsy bird flies early to the forest, he could not squander any opportunity to cultivate. Blacksmithing, on the other hand, was not a problem. As Cen Yue had informed him, finding anyone who could surpass his craft at his age was like searching for a needle in a haystack.

    Although he would be advancing through the competition with Mu Xi, Tang Wulin understood that when the final rounds approached he would need to carefully make a decision. If Mu Xi seemed to have a shot at becoming the champion, then he would yield the spot to her. However, in the event that Mu Xi could not proceed, he would remove his handicap, aiming for victory instead.

    As for the soul master’s competition, he could not shake off his nervousness. Despite being considered pretty formidable among his peers, he would be facing soul masters several years older than him in the Skysea Alliance Tournament! The difference in cultivation from a single year was tremendous. He could only imagine what a gap of five years would be like.

    While wielding three rings, Mu Xi only hoped to place in the top eight. He possessed one ring and his teammates held two at most. Just how far could he hope to go?
    At the very least, we can’t lose in the knockout phase! That would be too depressing for both us and Teacher Wu.

    I’ve got to do my best! Struggle to the very end!

    Tang Wulin dispelled such distracting thoughts. Regardless of what happens, I’ll persevere!

    The opening ceremony of the Skysea Alliance Tournament was held in Skysea Stadium. It was the largest stadium in the Skysea Alliance, boasting a maximum seating capacity of eighty-thousand people.

    For the economic bloc that was Eastsea Alliance, the Skysea Alliance Tournament was a grand occasion that the entire federation paid attention to. Outstanding geniuses would emerge each time the tournament was held.

    In reality, the Skysea Alliance Tournament’s original goal was to filter through the masses for geniuses to raise. Then they would be groomed into pillars of the alliance.

    Within the Federation existed a myriad of factions, with the Skysea Alliance being one of the greater ones. Economic-wise, though, it stood as one of the Federation’s major players.

    In spite of its economic power, the Skysea Alliance was not satisfied. Although it was easy to jumpstart the economy, building a sturdy foundation was a different story. Not to mention, they had started developing later than other regions. The continent’s mainland was filled with major cities, each possessing thousands to tens of thousands of years of history. These cities were littered with countless ancient clans that raised powerful geniuses with profound backgrounds.

    Due to its difference in history, the Skysea Alliance was woefully deficient in talents. In fact, the quality and quantity of its geniuses were beginning to decline.

    All of the powerful experts were found inland. Only able to boast of its economic might, the Skysea Alliance could not be considered powerful by any means and hovered around the continent’s middle levels of prominence.

    But how could the Skysea Alliance resign itself to lose in power and prestige? In a bid to select and grow talents, the Alliance established the Skysea Alliance Tournament roughly two hundred years ago. They offered not only a generous amount of prize money but some unique prizes as well. This way, the talents would receive the support needed to further pursue their paths, which would bolster the Alliance’s strength.
    At the crack of dawn, representatives from the various cities flooded into the stadium.

    The arena was gigantic, hordes of people teeming within as far as the eye could see. The terrace had long since been filled with spectators. It was Tang Wulin’s first time in such a grand stadium. Excitement permeated the air as the opening ceremony proceeded. Surrounded by so many taller people, Tang Wulin could hardly see what was happening. He could only hear a few encouraging words that marked the end of the ceremony.

    Next came the drawing of lots for the various competitions.

    This matter was handled by the teachers, leaving class zero twiddling their thumbs.

    The stadium erupted with joy as a platform was rapidly built in the center.

    “What are they doing?” Tang Wulin asked Xie Xie.

    Xie Xie answered, “Right, you wouldn’t know about this. They’re about to hold an exhibition match. I heard they paid an enormous sum to invite some powerful people from Shrek Academy this time. Their opponents will be the champions of the seven-man team competition from the last tournament. The Alliance is doing this to show everyone the gap between our strengths. Though, I’m not sure if this is the best decision.”

    Gu Yue cut in from the side, “Why do you think so?”

    Xie Xie simply shrugged. “Isn’t it obvious? Within a certain range, the gap in strength can be encouraging, but once the gap surpasses a certain level, it transforms into a chasm. It’ll be an insurmountable reminder that only discourages people.”

    A giggle escaped from Xu Xiaoyan’s lips. “You sure know how to explain things. You’re just a child and you’ve already thought it out. Don’t you think the Alliance’s higher-ups would have come to the same conclusion? I bet they have some plan in place on how to handle this.”

    “I’m starving. Does anyone have anything to eat?” A voice sounded out suddenly.

    Tang Wulin turned toward the source of the noise and saw a little fatty scurrying about the crowd, asking random strangers for food as they passed by.

    “Huh. Another glutton has appeared.” Xu Xiaoyan absentmindedly said.

    Xie Xie coughed. “Xiaoyan! You really have a way with words.”

    Xu Xiaoyan realized her indiscretion. She hastily pursed her cherry-red lips and stuck out her tongue.

    Tang Wulin didn’t mind the quip since there was no denying he was a glutton. He walked toward the little fatty.

    “Here, eat this.” Tang Wulin handed him some dried fish.

    Due to his high energy consumption, Tang Wulin always carried some snacks on him like dried fish, beef jerky and other portable foods loaded in protein and calories.

    “Thank you, thank you.” The little fatty’s eyes lit up at the sight of the snack. He immediately began devouring it while nodding in satisfaction.
    Seeing the little fatty eating so happily, Tang Wulin couldn’t help but feel a similar urge overtake his body. Unable to fight it, he started nibbling on some fish too.

    “It’s pretty tasty! There isn’t any dried fish as good as this where I’m from. Thank you, big brother.” The little fatty looked around Tang Wulin’s age and had a way with flattery.

    “You don’t need to call me big brother. My name is Tang Wulin. You might even be a bit older than me. How old are you?” Tang Wulin asked.

    The little fatty said, “I just turned ten. How much older than me are you? There’s no way you’re younger, right?” He stood half a head shorter than Tang Wulin.

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    Chapter 197

    The Students of Shrek

    Tang Wulin smiled. “Then I should be about half a year older than you. What’s your name?”

    The little fatty said, “My name is Xu Lizhi, but everyone just calls me Little Glutton. You can call me by that nickname too.”

    A bitter laugh escaped from Tang Wulin’s lips. “We still don’t know for sure who’s the real glutton between the two of us, so I’ll just call you by your name. Are you here to participate in the competition too?”

    Xu Lizhi nodded. “Yeah, that’s right! It’s really nice here. This is my first time seeing the sea so I’m planning on going for a swim later. Can you tell me what sorts of delicious seafood there are?”

    He really is a glutton! Activating his storage ring, Tang Wulin retrieved another piece of dried fish for him.

    “There are tons of delicious seafood here like briny sea urchins, tasty sea cucumbers, and the bluefin tuna is pretty good too. Oh right, there are also eels that taste as sweet as honey. If you want crab try the goldhair crab; it beats the king crab at taste by a long shot. Even the meat is more tender. If you want lobster though, I still feel that our Eastsea City’s eastsea lobster is the best. It might be a bit pricy, but the meat is simply delicious. The skysea lobster has firmer meat, but its nutritional value is quite lacking. Not to mention, it’s a pain in the butt to chew.” Tang Wulin explained effortlessly like a food connoisseur.

    Xu Lizhi’s eyes grew brighter as he listened to Tang Wulin’s summary, swallowing down a gulp of saliva. “Great! This is great! So, after the competition is finished, do you mind showing me around? I’m already itching to try them all.”

    Tang Wulin said helplessly, “It’ll depend on the time, but here’s my communicator number. You can call me about this later.” He doubted the Skysea Alliance Tournament could have prepared a meal big enough to satisfy him and already assumed he would need to hit the streets later for some grub. Therefore, having a fellow foodie tag along was not a hassle.

    Just as the two finished exchanging soul communicator numbers, an icy but pleasant voice called out. “Little Glutton, how did you run all the way over here? All you know is how to eat. Hurry up and come back.”

    Tang Wulin and the Little Glutton, Xu Lizhi, turned toward the voice. The speaker was a girl around Xu Lizhi’s age, dressed in the same green exercise clothes as him. In comparison to Xu Lizhi’s fat-filled form, her clean-cut silhouette brought out the best in the clothes. Her golden hair was combed up into a ponytail, accentuating her large, bright, blue eyes framed by long eyelashes. They were nearly on par with Tang Wulin’s. Her skin glistened under the light, tender, and white.
    Although she was likely Tang Wulin’s age, her face was a mask of stone compared to his, as if she were a little adult.

    Upon the sight of her, Xu Lizhi was like a mouse facing a cat. He stood straight and said earnestly, “Big Sister Xinglan, I know I made a mistake but I’m still starving! You know right? If I don’t eat enough, then I won’t have any strength!”

    “Let’s go.” As the girl was waving Xu Lizhi over she noticed Tang Wulin nibbling on dried fish beside him. Disdain colored her words. “Don’t just eat anything you get from a stranger! Don’t you know how many bad people there are nowadays?”

    Xu Lizhi’s chubby face twitched for a moment before he turned back to face Tang Wulin, gesturing that he would call him later. He swiftly ran off, obediently following the girl.

    Tang Wulin rubbed his face absentmindedly. Do I look like a bad guy?

    “Who was that just now?” Xie Xie asked as he walked over. With just one glimpse of the blonde girl, his breath had nearly been taken away.

    Shrugging his shoulders, Tang Wulin replied. “I don’t know either. I was just chatting with Xu Lizhi about food.”

    Suddenly, an announcement was broadcasted.

    “Today marks the start of the Skysea Alliance Tournament. We have invited a team specially from Shrek Academy to exchange pointers with last year’s champions. Accounting for the gap in strength, this match will be held between different age groups. The contenders are last year’s youth division champions of the seven-man team competition and Shrek Academy’s seven-man team from the junior division. Now, will both sides please come on stage.”

    The youth division against the junior division?

    Tang Wulin’s eyes shifted to stare at Xu Xiaoyan. Everything was going according to her predictions. Sure enough, the higher-ups of the Skysea Alliance had considered the difference in strengths and came to this conclusion. However, if the youth division lost to the junior division…

    What happened next shocked Tang Wulin even further.

    The representatives of the Skysea Alliance arrived on the platform. Since they were the winners of the previous tournament, they were now all over twenty years old and should be placed in the adult division.

    There were five men and two women clad in silver team uniforms, standing with confidence and valiance imbued in their hearts. Their synchronous movements illustrated their rigorous training while their eyes shined with excitement.

    But that wasn’t what truly caught Tang Wulin by surprise. When the delegation from Shrek Academy arrived, he didn’t recognize the frontmost five people. They all wore green sportswear and were about fourteen to fifteen years old. Nevertheless, behind them were two people he could identify. In fact, he just met them not too long ago! Isn’t that the little fatty Xu Lizhi and that Xinglan girl? They were far younger than the rest of the team and immediately caught everyone’s attention.
    “Huh. Hey, it’s those two! Why are they up there on the stage?” Naturally, Xie Xie recognized them too.

    Dumbfounded, Xu Xiaoyan said, “Our ages are the same, yet the gap between us is so great!”

    That’s right! We’re all just ten years old yet they’re already fighting in an exhibition match. More importantly, they’re representatives of the legendary Shrek Academy!

    Even the usually level-headed Tang Wulin couldn’t help but admire and envy them. No wonder that Xinglan girl was so arrogant. She has the power to back it up! Just how strong are they though?

    They’re only ten years old; could they actually possess three soul rings?

    The two sides greeted each other courteously. The team of seven from the Skysea Alliance towered over the students from Shrek Academy, a manifestation of their age gap.

    After all, there was more than a difference of five years between them!

    A fifteen-year-old boy lead the Shrek Academy’s team. Though his looks weren’t particularly flattering, his temperament held an indescribable quality. He stood tall and astute. Simply by taking a few steps forward, he drew the attention of the whole stadium.

    Tang Wulin’s eyes were peeled in anticipation of the match. It was seven versus seven, the most common form of team battles. In the last 10,000 years, this formation proved to be the optimal setup for a team of soul masters.

    The two groups on stage were the cream of the crop from two different generations, especially the youngsters from Shrek Academy. It was a mystery to all just how powerful they were. Unwittingly, Tang Wulin already began comparing himself to them. For those with ambitions, it was important to set a high goal.

    Both teams gave simple self-introductions, revealing the arrogant little girl’s name. It was Ye Xinglan, a good name.

    An old man served as the referee. With his profound air, after a single glance anyone would know his strength was not shallow.

    “Now, let the match begin!”

    The stage wasn’t particularly large, spanning less area than class zero’s arena. There hadn’t been enough time to build a grander one and as such it was only fifty meters in diameter. Occupied by only fourteen people, the area didn’t seem too crowded. Even so, there wasn’t much space to maneuver.

    Right as the referee announced the start of the match, Shrek Academy broke into action.

    Surprisingly, the first to make his move was Xu Lizhi.

    With a wave of his arm, two yellow soul rings appeared under him. Mysterious objects flew out of his hands as his first soul ring lit up. Because he was so far from the arena, Tang Wulin couldn’t see what were thrown. Yet for some reason, he thought they resembled steamed buns.

    Xu Lizhi’s six teammates each consumed one of the objects. The female teammate beside Ye Xinglan roared as three soul rings materialized beneath her feet. Two were yellow and one was purple—the optimal soul ring configuration. Light coalesced in her right hand to form a seven-tiered pagoda. As the first three levels of the pagoda sparkled brilliantly, its glow enveloped the stoic youth spearheading their formation.

    The youth released a draconic roar as his body swelled. His arms especially grew thick and solid. Four rings rose from beneath him—two yellow, one purple, and one black. Shockingly, he had a ten-thousand-year soul ring!

    Tang Wulin grew feverish as an unknown feeling welled up inside of him. It continued to expand as thunder shook the arena.

    Few in the audience saw the whole process clearly. What they did see, however, was cyan light exploding on stage, followed by a baptism of lightning and thunder.

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    Chapter 198

    Drawing Lots

    Although Tang Wulin activated the Purple Demon Eyes in a moment’s haste, he still could not penetrate the forest of azure and bolts of violet lightning zipping through the stage with his sight. The Purple Demon Eyes only magnified the details of each chaotic lightning strike.

    At that moment, Tang Wulin noticed that three of the Skysea Alliance team’s members had four rings while the rest wielded three. He was able to discern the ring compositions of the three soul masters—two yellow and two purple each. However, he failed to make out the individual spirit souls. At that moment, they were engulfed by the tempest of electric bolts and thunder.

    I…

    I can’t see anything in this match!

    The rumbling storm didn’t let up. Instead, it grew more potent! Tang Wulin could see the silhouette of a lightning dragon wreaking havoc within the electric blitz.

    He saw the dragon and after… there was no “after”.

    A minute later, the match ended

    The seven representatives of the Skysea Alliance collapsed on the stage while the delegation from Shrek Academy stood rooted in their previous formation. Xu Lizhi and Ye Xinglan were stationed in the back. The young girl didn’t attack the entire battle and the little fatty was just stuffing his face with the dried fish snack, complimentary of Tang Wulin.

    Silence dominated the stands. For a single moment, not a single peep sounded from the audience of 80,000 people.

    After bending over in a slight bow, the leader of Shrek Academy’s team led his teammates off the stage.

    How could a battle between generations last no more than a minute? It was simply a massacre. The Skysea Alliance team didn’t even have a chance to display their strength.

    The Shrek team’s assault had been swift like an eagle, arriving instantly like a howling gale. It was as if a sleeping dragon awakened to swallow its foes in the blink of an eye.

    Tang Wulin heard a gulp beside him.

    He turned to see Xie Xie wide-eyed and gaping, mouth opened as if attempting to catch a fly. “Th-this is the strength of Shrek Academy? Are they even human?”

    A gentle sigh escaped from Tang Wulin’s lips. “They look human. Our gap in soul rings isn’t that large, yet their coordination and explosive power are truly terrifying. No wonder Teacher Wu always stresses the importance of teamwork. These guys are just too strong.”

    “Their teamwork doesn’t seem like much on the surface, but their strengths are multiplied by supporting one another. If it wasn’t so, then there’s no way their leader could have single-handedly defeated the opposing seven-man team, even if he were that much stronger. They must have a secret to their strength. I don’t think they only spirit souls; they must possess pure soul rings too. They’ve probably hunted real soul beasts, and maybe even have a soul bone,” Xu Xiaoyan said with a grave expression. Within class zero, she and Xie Xie were the most knowledgeable about such matters by far.

    “That’s all they are.” Gu Yue’s indifferent tone startled Tang Wulin and when he faced her, he was met with arrogant eyes.

    ‘That’s all they are’? Then what does she consider powerful?
    “We’ll definitely be stronger than them once we reach their age.” Gu Yue’s tone left no room for doubt.

    “Surpassing them doesn’t count as anything.” An icy voice washed over them like chilling a tide, drawing their attention. Unknown to them, Wu Zhangkong had appeared beside the group.

    “They were merely Shrek Academy’s outer court students,” Wu Zhangkong said, his voice dropping the surrounding temperature by several degrees.

    Outer court?

    Everyone knew that Shrek Academy had both an inner and outer court. Only the inner court nurtured the academy’s true elites.

    This time, even Gu Yue was shocked.

    Wu Zhangkong continued, “The outer court’s brightest and most capable students are still required to pass an inspection in order to enter the inner court. Matriculating inner court disciples must be sixteen years old or younger. Therefore, none of those on that Shrek Academy team should be inner court disciples. The ones you should all take note of are the two youngest contenders. Since they were sent to represent Shrek Academy at such a young age, their talent surpasses that of common men without a doubt. They have likely already been selected as inner court candidates. As such, they will also be… your greatest rivals.”

    Wu Zhangkong word’s shook the hearts of his students. Our greatest rivals? What does that mean?

    “Teacher Wu, why would we compete with them?” Xu Xiaoyan was flabbergasted.

    Wu Zhangkong glanced at her. “That’s because I’m training you all to enter Shrek Academy’s inner court and fulfill my unfulfilled desire.”

    Tang Wulin said, “Teacher Wu, are you saying you couldn’t join the inner court?”

    Bitterness tugged at the corners of Wu Zhangkong’s mouth. “I entered, but I never graduated.”

    Long Bing? Tang Wulin suddenly recalled this name. Could Teacher Wu’s failure to graduate from the inner court be because of that person?

    “These matters are too far in the future for you to worry about. Just do your best for now. Entering Shrek Academy will be a long and arduous road. I’ve drawn the lots; the matches begin tomorrow.”

    Wu Zhangkong didn’t bother informing them of their opponents. For both the individual and team competition, the first round would be a knockout battle. Anyone who loses would be immediately eliminated from the competition.

    Two events would be conducted the next day. One of them was the blacksmith’s, which would also have a knockout round. As such, Tang Wulin would be participating in a total of three competitions.His eyes landed on the time of each competition. Thankfully they didn’t overlap, otherwise he really would be stuck between a rock and a hard place.

    His eyes landed on the time of each competition. Thankfully they didn’t overlap, otherwise he really would be stuck between a rock and a hard place.

    Due to the low number of participants and minimal space requirement, the blacksmith’s event would be the opening act. As for the individual and team battles, they would occur across the eight arenas prepared by the Skysea Alliance Tournament. For the individual event, Tang Wulin was assigned to the Skysea Stadium, a short trek away from the blacksmith’s competition. Luck seemed to be smiling down on him.

    The team competition was also conducted in the stadium, but in the afternoon. Since the blacksmiths would compete in the morning, Tang Wulin should make the individual event by the skin of his teeth.

    Wu Zhangkong offered his students neither helpful analyses nor advice; instead, he simply told them to return to the hotel later to prepare. As for him, he would be going ahead.

    “Teacher Wu is such an irresponsible man!” Xie Xie muttered.

    Gu Yue looked at him. “Do you dare say that to his face?”

    Xu Xiaoyan was even more direct. “I’m telling on you to Teacher Wu!”

    Xie Xie said in indignance, “What have I done to provoke you two! Am I your mortal enemy?”

    Xu Xiaoyan giggled. “Who told you to grow up not as handsome as Teacher Wu and Tang Wulin?”

    “This big bro is handsome! People will understand in the future! You just can’t yet comprehend how dashing I am.” Disdain tinged Xie Xie’s words.

    “Let’s go back. I think the reason Teacher Wu didn’t give us any advice is because it would be pointless. Since that’s the case, we’ll only have ourselves to rely on. We have the individual competitions tomorrow morning; let’s all do our best. We’ll formulate some tactics when it comes time for the team matches.”

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    Chapter 199

    Eating Together

    Tang Wulin had pretty much hit the nail right on the head in regards to Wu Zhangkong’s line of thought. Practical combat experience at their age was more beneficial to their growth than anything else. The battles in the spirit ascension platform and spars with their teacher were engraved into their very being. Such experiences culminated into growth.

    So what if our opponent is strong? Today, the Skysea Alliance’s team clearly had the edge in soul rings, yet they still lost in under a minute!

    So what if they’re older and have better soul rings? All that matters is how much strength we’re able to display and if we can grasp victory!

    Tang Wulin was convinced that no matter how formidable their opponent was, as long as they brought out their full power, then even Wu Zhangkong couldn’t say anything should they lose.

    The city bustled with activity now that the Skysea Alliance Tournament was in full-swing. Tournaments attracted people, so visitors from all over the east coast had traveled to Skysea City.

    The city came to life once night fell. People swarmed the restaurants, delighting in delicacies and fine liquor.

    “Did you sneak out?” Tang Wulin asked Xu Lizhi. The little fatty was sitting beside him, gorging himself on food.

    Xu Lizhi had invited him out to eat in the afternoon. Tang Wulin was happy to agree of course, but when they met, he saw that Xu Lizhi had disguised himself. He had clearly snuck out.

    “Mhmm. This tofu fish is really good. It’s delicate and soft, yet so fragrant, so delicious. Tang Wulin, you really know how to eat!” The little fatty Xu Lizhi exclaimed as he stuffed himself.

    Although Tang Wulin wasn’t a resident of Skysea City, there wasn’t much of a difference between Skysea City and Eastsea City’s seafood. Furthermore, he had spent his entire life on the coast, so how could he not know what was tasty?

    “Hey, why aren’t you eating?” Xu Lizhi asked.

    Tang Wulin smiled. “There would be nothing left for you if I eat.” What he didn’t mention was how expensive this food was. Eating would bring him both joy and suffering in this case. Treating Xu Lizhi to a meal was enough.

    Xu Lizhi said, “Come on, eat! It’s more fun to eat together. You lead the way and I’ll pay. You’re not a resident of Skysea City anyway so you don’t have to host me, alright?”

    Tang Wulin burst into laughter. “You really want me to eat? Are you sure you want to treat me? Let me tell you; I’ve got quite the stomach.”

    Xu Lizhi waved a hand dismissively as if swatting a fly. “It’s just a bit of money to eat. Come on, let’s feast. We’ll deal with it after we’re full.”

    “Alright! Boss, I want to order one salt-crusted baked bluefin tuna.” Tang Wulin immediately called out.

    Hesitating, the boss asked, “Do you have more guests coming?”

    Tang Wulin shook his head.

    The boss said, “Do you know how big a bluefin tuna is?”

    Tang Wulin said, “Of course. It should be at least fifty kilograms, so you should start preparing it now since it will take a long time to bake. Right, I also want fifty rose sea urchins, two baked fish heads and…” Tang Wulin continued listing dishes.

    Xu Lizhi didn’t mind and instead applauded him.

    Soon, the entire restaurant was swept up by their pace.

    Despite lagging behind Tang Wulin, Xu Lizhi could keep eating without pause, showcasing his frightening endurance. They were children after all. When they saw one another going at it, they couldn’t help but compete.

    As the dishes piled up on the table, the two increased their tempo, cheeks trembling as they chewed and swallowed.

    The legend of the gluttonous Tang Wulin had been confined to Eastsea City, but today it debuted in Skysea City.

    A short while later, shells and dishes piled up like a mountain across two tables.

    “You really know how to eat! This is the first time I’ve met someone who could compete with me in terms of eating. Stuffing myself has never been so cool.” Xu Lizhi exclaimed in admiration and flashed Tang Wulin a big thumbs up.

    Tang Wulin laughed mischievously. “This is also my first time meeting someone who can eat as much as I do. This seafood is really filling and high in protein. Here, try some. This rose sea urchin is delicious. Not only is the meat fragrant, it’s also filled with flavor. If you let it sit for two hours, the flavor completely transforms! That’s why you can’t say you’ve tasted its true deliciousness until you’ve visited a coastal city.”

    “Wow! It really is delicious.”

    Xu Lizhi gradually found it harder and harder to continue devouring food. His belly swelled until it was a perfect sphere and all he could do was lean back against his chair, gaping at Tang Wulin. Tang Wulin’s pace hadn’t slowed at all even now, and his stomach was still as flat as always It was almost as if he were a starved man seeing food for the first time.

    “I-I can’t continue. You’re amazing; I concede. Since you can eat so much, I’ll call you Big Bro from now on.” Xu Lizhi patted his stomach as he panted, his face a picture of contentment and respect.

    “Ah hah! So you’re here!” At that moment, a familiar voice cut through their sweet atmosphere like a knife.

    Without pausing from feasting, Tang Wulin turned toward the voice to see a furious Ye Xinglan barging her way in. She headed straight for Xu Lizhi.

    “D-don’t hit me Big Sister Xinglan! I know I was wrong, but I ate really well! Please don’t hit me! I’ve eaten so much so that if you do, I might puke it all out. Wouldn’t that be a waste? This is really delicious. Do you want to join us?”

    Ye Xinglan’s mood lightened at his words. This guy is such a glutton.

    But when she shifted her gaze to their table, she nearly jumped up from fright. Did a whole army come to eat?

    Plates, bowls and debris from all sorts of food were scattered across two round tables. Seated across from Xu Lizhi, Tang Wulin continued to pull apart a crab’s leg with expert movements. After biting both sides, he broke open the shell, squeezed out the white crab meat and slurped it up without leaving a single scrap.

    Seeing him eat so merrily, Ye Xinglan couldn’t help but feel a bit hungry herself.

    “Are you the one who seduced him to come out?” Ye Xinglan’s brows shot up as she recalled their meeting earlier today. She had taken note of him due to his good looks and large, warm eyes. The fact that he invited Xu Lizhi out, however, seemed suspicious to reek of taking advantage of their Shrek Academy affiliation to her.

    “You want to join us?” Tang Wulin ignored her accusation.

    At that moment, the boss called out, “Here’s the salt baked bluefin tuna!”

    As Ye Xinglan turned around and saw the fish, her eyes went wide.

    That’s… that’s just too big!

    Just how massive was a fish that weighed over fifty kilograms? It was one meter in length, thick and solid. The sizeable crust of sea salt on its surface was like a mountain’s peak. Due to its size, the fish was delivered to the table by trolley.

    The boss was convinced now—these two gluttons really could devour an entire bluefin tuna. The mountain of plates was a testament to that.

    Laughing heartily, the boss said, “Just wait a moment, I’ll get a hammer to smash it open for you. My salt-crusted baked bluefin tuna is definitely one of the best dishes in Skysea City.”

    Tang Wulin smiled. “You don’t need to trouble yourself. I can do it.”

    He made his way to the bluefin tuna.

    To ensure that the inner meat stayed tender and juicy, it was protected by a thick coating of salt. Furthermore, because the bluefin tuna was bulky, it needed at least a centimeter of coating; any thinner and the taste would suffer, no matter how much shorter the cooking time would be. By now, dusk had already swept through the skies.
    With such a thick layer of salt, even an adult needed a hammer to crack it open.

    But to Tang Wulin, this was nothing.

    His heavy silver hammer materialized in his hands in a flash of light and he swung at the salt crust.

    A dull thump echoed throughout the room. Following that, a crack snaked its way along the crust. After two successive swings of the hammer, it split open all the way.

    Tang Wulin put away his hammer and brushed the salt off with his hands, revealing tender white meat beneath. A heavy fragrance immediately burst out, flooding his nostrils.

    This prompted Xu Lizhi to shoot up from his seat, staring at the bluefin tuna with the intent to swallow it whole.

    “Y-y-you, why didn’t you tell me about this sooner! What do I do, I’m too full right now! N-no! I can’t let things end like this. I’m going to go exercise for a bit. Don’t you dare finish it without me! I’ll be back in a few minutes.” The little fatty lurched outside.

    Tang Wulin casually retrieved a clean plate and used his knife to carve a large chunk of meat for himself.

    Just as he was about to sit down and eat, he remembered the girl in front of him. Accustomed to caring for Na’er in his childhood, he took another plate and handed it to her. “Why don’t you have some?”

    In truth, Ye Xinglan had already succumbed to shock after taking in the size of the bluefin tuna.

    This was her first time seeing such a giant fish. Not to mention, it was served with expert cooking techniques. Although she was stronger and had a steadier temperament than her peers, she was still a ten-year-old child. Ye Xinglan couldn’t help but be enticed by such a delicacy.

    “Mn, okay.” She didn’t hesitate to accept the plate. She grabbed a clean fork from the side, sat herself in Xu Lizhi’s seat and began eating.

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    Chapter 200

    Paying the Bill

    Tang Wulin grinned as he approached the tuna’s head and pulled apart the salt crust, and revealing its delicate meat underneath. He slid a knife between the cheekbones and cut out a chunk of meat the size of his palm with one swift circular motion before placing it on a second plate.

    He offered the plate to Ye Xinglan. “Try this; it’s the best part of the fish. Bluefin tuna has a lot of collagen because it swims in the deep sea, and this section is packed full of it. The collagen, when combined with its tender flesh, bursts with flavor on the tongue.”

    Once he handed the plate to her, he grabbed his own and carved out another piece for himself. He sat down with a grin and continued to eat.

    Such carefree indulgence brought forward a splendid feeling.

    It’s really good! Ye Xinglan thought to herself as she savored the supple meat. She sent a furtive glance toward Tang Wulin. There’s no way this guy can be this nice; he must be hiding something. I need to be careful of him.

    This fish is so delicious though! I’ll finish eating first before dealing with him.

    The two continued to gorge themselves. The only dissatisfaction Ye Xinglan harbored was that Tang Wulin had never raised his head once to look at her—he was too preoccupied eating.

    She had thought that Xu Lizhi was the pinnacle of gluttony, but today Tang Wulin had proven she was wrong. Tang Wulin thoroughly surpassed Xu Lizhi in this regard. She found it truly frightening. Heaps and heaps of meat entered his stomach like factory products traveling on a conveyor belt, yet his pace never faltered. It even seemed to accelerate.

    Ye Xinglan mulled things over as she chewed and swallowed. This guy really is an unrivaled glutton. Well, I admit that the fish is delicious.

    The sea salt complimented the meat’s savouriness, preserving the juiciness and creating an umami-filled adventure. Her plate had the most delicious tidbit, courtesy of Tang Wulin. The fragrant collagen and the tuna’s soft flesh would forever be engraved in her memory, standing out as her most spectacular food experience.

    Half of the tuna had been consumed by the time Xu Lizhi returned. He howled at the sight before promptly diving in to join the glutton forces.

    In the midst of the excitement, Tang Wulin set aside a finger-licking morsel for the other boy. The moment Xu Lizhi dug into the piece of tuna cheek, his face went slack with contentment. It was as if he had transcended to a higher realm.

    A while later, the restaurant’s boss stood stupefied as he stared at the trio with his mouth agape. Three kids had actually succeeded in devouring a fifty kilogram fish. Ye Xinglan’s cold haughtiness cracked open like a shell, revealing a demeanor irreconcilable with the initial impression of her. She leaned back into her chair. This was the first time in her life that she had felt so full. If she moved another inch, her belly would burst.

    “Hey, what’s your name?” Ye Xinglan asked Tang Wulin.

    “Tang Wulin.” Despite eating the most, Tang Wulin was still as calm as ever. He may have ingested more protein than usual during this meal, but the sheer amount of food he ate didn’t stray too far from the norm.

    “How are you able to eat so much? Don’t you feel bloated at all?” Ye Xinglan asked in disbelief.

    Tang Wulin beamed, “Let me tell you guys a secret; actually, I have a dragon in my stomach and it’s the one eating all this food.”

    His half truths left Xu Lizhi and Ye Xinglan in a daze.

    “A dragon in your stomach? How did it get there?” Xu Lizhi asked.
    Tang Wulin shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know. I was born with it. This is the reason why I can eat so much. By the way, your match today was so awesome! By the time I blinked, you guys had won.”

    A look of pride crossed Xu Lizhi’s face. “Of course. We’re Shrek after all. We’ve always been peerless.”

    Those words seemed to trigger Ye Xinglan’s alertness. She kicked the little fatty’s leg under the table before craning her neck toward Tang Wulin. “We’re leaving now. You settle the bill.”

    “I already said I’m hosting!” Xu Lizhi was a man of his words.

    Ye Xinglan scowled at him. “Do you have money?”

    “Eh…” Xu Lizhi was at a loss for words. “How did I forget about that…”

    Tang Wulin was speechless. Can’t he be more reliable… If I had known this earlier, I wouldn’t have eaten so much!

    “What kind of expression is that?” Ye Xinglan said as she glared at Tang Wulin’s stiffened face. “You should know, it’s an honor to treat us to dinner.”

    After a moment of incredulity, Tang Wulin nodded his head. “Yeah! It really is an honor. You guys sit down first. I’ll go settle the bill.” Saying so, he stood up and walked away.

    Since they were sitting in a lounge, he had to turn and make a beeline for the front desk.

    Once he was out of sight, Ye Xinglan smacked the top of Xu Lizhi’s head. “Why did you sneak out! Let’s see how I’ll deal with you once we get back.”

    Xu Lizhi pulled an indignant face. “Big sister Xinglan, I made a mistake, but didn’t you eat happily, too? Everything’s fine if you had a good time. What are you hitting me for?”

    Ye Xinglan snorted. “We’re from Shrek; just how many people do you think are scheming about us? I don’t think that Tang Wulin is any good. I bet he approached us with ulterior motives.”

    After a few blinks, Xu Lizhi retorted “No way. When we first met, he gave me some dried fish to eat. That was before he knew which academy I’m from.”

    The corners of Ye Xinglan’s mouth began to twitch. “How are you so sure about that? I bet the Skysea Alliance has been watching you and making plans on how to approach you. If you don’t believe me, then just wait. Once he he comes back, he’ll definitely think of some way to get closer to us.”

    Xu Lizhi faced the direction Tang Wulin had departed. “Huh, shouldn’t he be back by now?”

    Disdain dripped from Ye Xinglan’s words, “He probably went to the washroom after eating so much.”

    “Oh.”

    After another quarter of an hour, Tang Wulin still hadn’t returned.

    “He sure is taking a long time in the washroom! He ate a lot, so a lot comes out?” Xu Lizhi mumbled.

    “Go look for him.” Ye Xinlan ordered Xu Lizhi, the beginnings of a storm rumbling in her chest. The reason she had been so forceful in having him pay was that she didn’t have any money either! Since they were here to represent Shrek, she hadn’t brought any cash.

    It wasn’t long before Xu Lizhi dragged his chubby self back.

    “I-I can’t find him. Big Sister Xinglan, I think he left! I bet it’s because you were so rude to him. He probably dipped after paying the bill. See? I told you he wasn’t trying to get close to us.”

    Ye Xinglan said, “This is the so-called ‘capturing by letting loose’, you know? Let’s go then.”

    She got up with Xu Lizhi and set off.

    “Hey, you two children. Hold up. Aren’t you going to pay the bill?” The boss came over and stopped the two.

    On his trip back to the hotel, Tang Wulin couldn’t help but feel invigorated as the cool sea breeze brushed against his face.

    As for the bill? He wouldn’t have acted that way had Xu Lizhi not promised to pay. It was a pricy meal after all! He didn’t believe that students from Shrek Academy’s students could be short on money.

    What really put him in a bad mood, however, was how Ye Xinglan tried to take advantage of him and how cheaply she treated him. She acted as if having a meal with me was charity work! Since that’s how she views it, then she can pay the bill herself. I’ll save myself some money. The thought of her made him roll his eyes.

    For this reason, Tang Wulin didn’t hesitate to leave immediately. Why should I kiss the asses of those Shrek Academy students if they look down on me! If they don’t want to be friends, then I’ll just keep my distance. Naturally, Tang Wulin had his own bottom line and paid his share of the bill—one third.

    He was really self-indulgent today, so he began meditating as soon as he returned to the hotel. Of course, he didn’t forget to block Xu Lizhi’s number from his soul communicator. He didn’t want any trouble; he’ll pretend that he had never met them.

    In reality and unknown to Tang Wulin, Ye Xinglan’s arrogant eyes had aroused his own pride.

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