Library of Heaven is Path
"So that's Saint 8-dan!" Looking at how the Netherworld Azure Dragon Beast was able to deal with the five experts with absolute ease, Luo Xuanqing felt deeply envious.
Having comprehended the power of Dimension Sundering, Saint 8-dan experts were able to tear a rift in the world and create their own miniature world when they activate their Dominion. Within this miniature world, they were the absolute conquerors. Unless one had achieved the same level of cultivation as them, otherwise there was no way to defeat them.
Zhang Chun might be one of the strongest students of the Inner Sanctum, but even he didn't wield the ability to breach this gap in strength!
"Truly formidable." Zhang Xuan uttered in agreement too.
He thought that the Netherworld Azure Dragon Beast had used its full strength against him previously, but from the looks of it now, it hadn't even brought out a tenth of its true strength back then.
Otherwise, he would have been crushed into minced meat before he could even bring out Vicious' finger.
"If I could wield such strength too, I would be in a much better position to ask for Luo Ruoxin's hand in marriage in the Luo Clan…" A glint flashed across Zhang Xuan's eyes.
Saint 8-dan might not mean much to top-notch Sage Clans like the Luo Clan, but it was already a representation of the top-tier fighting prowess of the Master Teacher Continent. Considering how he was only twenty this year, if he could reach that level before the time for Luo Ruoxin's engagement, he should be able to make the Luo Clan take him seriously.
Boom boom boom!
While Zhang Xuan was still contemplating over such thoughts, the Netherworld Azure Dragon Beast swiftly struck out at the five experts, slamming all of them into the nearby cliff.
"Lad, what hero are you if you can only rely on your tamed beast to fight with us? Do you dare to fight me one-on-one?" Knowing that the odds were not in his favor, Zhang Chun spat through gritted teeth.
"You want to fight me one-on-one? Hah, a Saint 7-dan pinnacle expert like you is actually challenging me, a Saint 5-dan cultivator, to a one-on-one? You sure are a hero!" Zhang Xuan sneered disdainfully.
While he wielded the strength to rival opponents stronger than him, he knew that he was still a far way off from matching up to a Saint 7-dan pinnacle expert. Naturally, he wouldn't be so foolish as to fall for Zhang Chun's taunting!
He would only be asking for a beating if he were to accept that duel!
"I'll suppress my cultivation down to your level!" Zhang Chun added.
Zhang Xuan waved his hand derisively, "I'm not free!"
As a beast tamer, the strength of his tamed beast was considered as a part of his strength too, so there was nothing dishonorable in his actions by the conventional standards of the Master Teacher Continent. Since he was able to make their life a living hell without making a move, there was no need for him to soil his hands at all.
On the other hand, seeing that nothing that he said was working, Zhang Chun was on the verge of going berserk.
As an individual who was born with astounding talent, his life had always been smooth-sailing, be it back in the Zhang Clan or at the Sanctum of Sages. He had never suffered such grievances before!
"You coward!" Zhang Chun clenched his fists so tightly that his fingers nearly fractured from the pressure.
The Netherworld Azure Dragon Beast was simply too strong, it would be nigh impossible for them to defeat it. Even if he were to utilize the power of his bloodline, he would only be able to barely escape... However, the price that he would have to pay for tapping into his bloodline was extremely heavy, such that he dared not to use it lightly.
As such, the best solution out of the current predicament he was in was to defeat that young man!
As long as he could subdue that young man instantaneously, not only would be able to exact vengeance for the humiliation he had suffered, he would also be able to force the Netherworld Azure Dragon Beast to obey his commands and teach Luo Xuanqing a lesson too.
Otherwise, if others were to learn of the humiliation he had been put through here, how could he possibly uphold his position and honor in the Sanctum of Sages?
"You're right, I'm a coward." Zhang Xuan nodded.
"..." Zhang Chun staggered on the spot.
Other cultivators, especially ones that were as young as them, would turn blind in rage and charge forth furiously as soon as they heard those words. Yet, the fellow before him was actually able to remain completely nonchalant to his provocations, and the smug look on his face even suggested that he was proud of his cowardice...
How could he be so thick-skinned?
"Tell me what Luo Xuanqing gave you. I'll pay you the same price as long as you are willing to have a duel with me." Zhang Chun took in a deep breath and said.
Since that fellow had followed Luo Xuanqing here to help him tame the Netherworld Azure Dragon Beast, it was safe to assume that the latter would have offered him handsome rewards in exchange. Right now, he was offering the same sum of money just to have a duel with him... Surely that fellow wouldn't turn him down with such a generous offer!
As long as that huge fellow didn't make a move, teaching a mere Leaving Aperture realm pinnacle cultivator would be a walk in the park for him.
"Brother Luo gave me one... I mean five pinnacle spirit stones! If you can take out that many too, not only will I have a duel with you, I'll even allow your entire group to come at me simultaneously!" Upon hearing Zhang Chun's offer, Zhang Xuan's eyes lit up.
"..." Once again, Zhang Chun was stifled speechless.
You were going to say one pinnacle spirit stone just now, right? I clearly heard you say one!
It is just a moment ago that you were professing your cowardice haughtily, but as soon as I said that I will pay you for it, you immediately accepted the offer and even said that the five of us can come at you together... Do you really need to be that greedy?
"Fine, I'll pay you five pinnacle spirit stones. However, I don't have any of it with me at the moment. As long as you agree to have a duel with me, regardless of whether you win or lose, I'll apply for those five pinnacle spirit stones as soon as I return to the Sanctum of Sages and compensate you!" Even though Zhang Chun felt so furious that he could explode, he still forced himself to calm down.
"This…" Hearing that Zhang Chun didn't have any pinnacle spirit stone with him, Zhang Xuan hesitated for a moment before saying, "Why don't you write down a debt note first to indicate that you owe me five pinnacle spirit stone? Once I obtain the debt note, I'll have the duel with you!"
"Very well!" Afraid that Zhang Xuan would back out, Zhang Chun didn't dare to hesitate for too long before making a decision. He took out a paper, bit his finger, and wrote a line of words on it.
"This is a debt note writing using my blood, so it contains the power of my bloodline. There's no way for me to shirk off the debt with this."
Zhang Xuan took the debt note and examined it closely. It was only after confirming that there was no trick hidden within the debt note did he finally nod his head in satisfaction. He turned to the Netherworld Azure Dragon Beast and said, "Let go of them."
"Yes!" the Netherworld Azure Dragon Beast replied.
The power of Dimension Sundering which was trapping the Zhang Chun's group in place dissipated.
Hu hu hu hu hu!
The five of them immediately plummeted to the ground, but fortunately, they still managed to stabilize their posture in midair, thus avoiding an embarrassing fall to the ground.
"Take this." Zhang Chun took out a jade bottle and poured out five pills. He gave one each to the other members before swallowing one himself, and only then did he feel his injuries alleviating slightly.
The Netherworld Azure Dragon Beast was simply too powerful. Even with the five of them collaborating with one another, they still came nowhere close to being a match for it.
"Alright, suppress your cultivation!" Zhang Xuan allowed them a long moment of recuperation before uttering nonchalantly.
"I know." Suppressing his cultivation, Zhang Chun's aura swiftly fell from that of a Saint 7-dan pinnacle to one that was of equivalent level to Zhang Xuan—Saint 5-dan Leaving Aperture realm pinnacle.
The suppression of his cultivation might have led to a dip in his fighting prowess, but at the same time, it also helped to alleviate the severity of his injuries as well, thus enhancing his mind, spirit, and soul.
"Since it's a formal duel, I hope that you can obey by our agreement earlier. I won't unseal my cultivation, but similarly, you shouldn't have the Netherworld Azure Dragon Beast interfere in the duel either!" Zhang Chun harrumphed coldly.
"Of course!" Zhang Xuan replied.
"That's good then." A cold glint flickered across Zhang Chun's eyes as a hint of savagery emerged on his face.
Currently, the only thing that was holding him back was the Netherworld Azure Dragon Beast. As long as the latter didn't make a move, a mere Leaving Aperture realm cultivator couldn't possibly pose a threat to him. With his superior comprehension of battle and talent, he would be able to crush the other party with ease!
Even though the young man had managed to tame the Netherworld Azure Dragon Beast, Zhang Chun felt that the other party had used some kind of unique means instead. Over the many years of heritage, beast tamers had come up with many innovative ways to make powerful beasts submitting to them, and there were a handful of them which didn't require one to possess too high of a cultivation.
As such, he didn't have too high of a view of Zhang Xuan's fighting prowess either.
"Let's begin!" Zhang Chun bellowed as he prepared to make his move..
"Hold it for a moment." Zhang Xuan suddenly interjected.
"What's wrong? Are you having regrets now?"
"You must be joking. I just want to suggest having the other four of your companion to suppress their cultivation and join the battle as well. I fear that you'll be crushed if you were to face me alone." Zhang Xuan shook his head and said.
It was not that he was looking down on Zhang Chun, but it was simply a fact that there would be no one of the same cultivation realm who could possibly be a match for him.
He had already made the other party write a debt note for him, so the least he could do was to offer the other party some benefits in return for the pinnacle spirit stones. After all, he was a principled man.
"Zhang shi... It'll be best not to underestimate Zhang Chun. Even amongst Saint 7-dan experts, there are very few who could match him…" Luo Xuanqing couldn't help but advise.
As one who had competed with him for the longest of time, he knew very well what Zhang Chun was capable of.
In the first place, it was already worrying how Zhang Xuan had accepted a one-on-one match with Zhang Chun, and yet, he was still insisting on a one-on-five...
Wasn't he being a little too conceited over here?
"It's fine." Zhang Xuan waved his hand to gesture for Luo Xuanqing not to worry.
He had just reinforced his cultivation and hadn't found someone to try his hand out on yet. Since the five of them happened to be around, why not?
"But…" Luo Xuanqing still wanted to persuade Zhang Xuan against it, but in this moment, Yuan Xiao stepped forward and interjected.
"Zhang shi must have an idea in mind for proposing something like this, so it should be fine. Besides, given how Zhang shi was able to even scare a lightning tribulation away, he might just wield the strength to subdue Zhang Chun!"
"That's true!" Nodding in realization, Luo Xuanqing decided to remain silent and watch the situation first. Nevertheless, he still felt that it was important to remind the crowd to remain on their guard, "Most likely, the reason why Zhang Chun challenged Zhang shi to a one-on-one is to make use of this opportunity to capture Zhang shi and use him against us. So, as soon as you realize that things are going awry, don't hesitate to leap forward and save him!"
The others nodded.
Luo Xuanqing had competed with Zhang Chun for many years, so his grasp over the latter's temperament and style of doing things was bound to be rather accurate.
"You are the one who said those words yourself, I hope that you don't come to regret your decision."
Even though Zhang Chun was so furious that he could explode, he knew that the situation was currently disadvantageous toward him—Luo Xuanqing and the others would surely move as soon as they realized that something was amiss—so he beckoned the others over and sent a telepathic message over, "Later on, I'll be focusing on attacking that fellow. What you all should do is to help to stall Luo Xuanqing and the others, along with the Netherworld Azure Dragon Beast, from saving him... As long as you can keep them at bay for a single breath, I'll definitely be able to put that fellow back in his place!"
Hearing those instructions, the other four members of Zhang Chun's team nodded discreetly.
They also felt deeply stifled after being pummeled by the Netherworld Azure Dragon Beast, and if there was an opportunity to get back at the culprit, they wouldn't hesitate to play a part too.
After deciding on their course of action, the four members suppressed their cultivation as well and stood in a circle around Zhang Xuan, encircling the young man.
With a resounding roar, the five of them made a move simultaneously.
Even with their cultivation suppressed, their experience, eye of discernment, and reflexes as Saint 7-dan experts still remained, not to mention that they were still top geniuses of the Inner Sanctum. Their zhenqi swiftly permeated the entire valley, and it took only an instant for a barrage of sword qi, saber qi, and the sort to congregate all around Zhang Xuan, leaving no space for the latter to escape at all.
The bodies of Luo Xuanqing and the others stiffened after seeing this sight.
In order to deal with the Netherworld Azure Dragon Beast, Zhang Chun and the others had practiced a grade-8 collaborative formation. While their cultivation was lowered to Leaving Aperture realm, the tier of their formation still remained the same. With their combined might, even a Saint 7-dan primary stage cultivator could be killed in the blink of an eye!
"Will Zhang shi be fine?" Bi Hongyin asked worriedly.
The others also directed apprehensive gazes over.
They had completely no confidence that they would be able to withstand the onslaught of the five of them were they to be in Zhang Xuan's place, even if they were to suppress their cultivation down to Saint 6-dan pinnacle instead of Saint 5-dan pinnacle!
Thus, they swiftly drove their zhenqi, preparing to dive forward to save Zhang Xuan. However, in this moment, a voice carrying a tinge of confusion sounded in the air.
"Is this all you are capable of after collaborating with one another?"
A moment later, the voice turned from one of confusion turned into one of disappointment, "This sure is a huge letdown."
Peng peng peng peng peng!
A total of five crisp echoes sounded in the air, and following which, all of the sword qi and saber qi vanished from the surroundings, and the five experts were sent flying in the distance like footballs. They were embedded back into the cliff face once more, and fresh blood flowed profusely down the edges of their lips.
For an instant, one could see utter despair in their eyes before their heads abruptly hung loosely from their neck, passing out.
Luo Xuanqing and the others widened their eyes in horror. Turning into the direction of the voice, they saw Zhang Xuan clicking his tongue in disappointment as he clapped the dust off his hand while walking back toward them with a look that seemed to be saying 'The top sure is lonely. Just when will I be able to find a worthy rival in this world?'