This time, Zhang Jiuxiao spent a much longer time than before. It was only till the sun had risen in the east did Zhang Jiuxiao finally open his eyes, and a sharp brilliance could be seen reflected in his eyes.

"How is it?" Zhang Xuan asked.

"Teacher, I have managed to grasp the cultivation technique all the way up to Saint 7-dan Phantasmal Space realm pinnacle. I believe that I shouldn't take me too long to reach it if I were to start cultivating now!" Zhang Jiuxiao replied excitedly.

Even though the Blood Reservoir was able to grant a cultivator the time of an entire year within the passing of a month in the real world, this temporal distortion only applied to one's consciousness. It wasn't, in the truest sense, a slowdown of time.

As such, while Zhang Jiuxiao was able to achieve a deep understanding of Grand Dominion realm and Phantasmal Space realm by making use of the twelvefold time, in truth, his real cultivation hadn't changed at all. He was still the same Grand Dominion realm primary stage cultivator he was when he first entered the Blood Reservoir.

Nevertheless, having fully familiarized himself with the cultivation technique, he should be able to raise his cultivation swiftly if he were to start cultivating now.

It was also using such a method that the offspring of the Zhang Clan was able to constantly stay above the geniuses of the other clans.

Zhang Xuan took a look at the sky, and after confirming the time, he frowned, "The sun has already risen, so the tournament should be starting very soon. There isn't any time for you to cultivate anymore; we have to head there right away. While making our way over, grab onto one of the pinnacle spirit stones I have given you and cultivate. Try to at least make a breakthrough before the tournament begins."

If Zhang Jiuxiao had been any faster in his comprehension of the cultivation techniques, they might still have been able to make it in time. However, it seemed like his expectations were too high after all.

At this current time, they didn't have any time to dilly dally anymore. It seemed like the only thing they could do was to try to have Zhang Jiuxiao raise his cultivation as much as possible while they make their way over.

"Alright." Knowing that there was no time to be wasted, Zhang Jiuxiao nodded. Grabbing a pinnacle spirit stone tightly in his hand, he absorbed the spiritual energy in it swiftly as he hurriedly followed behind his teacher.

"The place where the tournament is held is the sparring grounds in the Zhang Clan. However, teacher, outsiders are prohibited from entering the sparring grounds, so I fear that you might not have the authorization to enter the grounds as an outsider!" Zhang Jiuxiao said hesitantly after leaving the Blood Reservoir.

Even outsiders weren't allowed to spectate this internal tournament, so there should be little doubt that his teacher wouldn't be able to enter either.


"Are clan members allowed to bring their subordinates into the sparring ring?" Zhang Xuan asked with a frown.

"Of course. Injuries are common in such tournaments, so they would have to bring someone in to take care of them." Zhang Jiuxiao nodded.

"Very well. I'll play as your subordinate and enter the sparring grounds together with you then!" Zhang Xuan said.

"This won't do! You are my teacher, how can I treat you as my subordinate? Something like that is simply too…" Zhang Jiuxiao seemed to be put in a spot.

It would be deeply insolent of him to regard his teacher as his own subordinate! There was no way he could do something as unfilial as that!

"Even though you have gone through the cultivation techniques several times in your head, it's still inevitable that you might accidentally make some mistakes while cultivating them. To be safe, you'll need me to offer you pointers on the spot," Zhang Xuan said.

Zhang Jiuxiao might have grasped the cultivation method of the simplified version of the Heaven's Path Divine Art all the way up to Phantasmal Space realm pinnacle, but there would still be all kinds of practical issues that he might face while cultivating his way up. To be safe, it would be best for Zhang Xuan to be around to offer pointers and ensure that nothing went awry.

"I understand!" Understanding his teacher's intentions, Zhang Jiuxiao hesitated for a moment before nodding in agreement.

"Un." With a slight jolt, Zhang Xuan's appearance swiftly morphed into that of a yellow-skinned old man.

As formidable as his disguise art was, there were simply too many experts in the Zhang Clan. If he were to feign as a subordinate, at least no one would pay much attention to him. On the other hand, if he were to feign as Zhang Jiuxiao and participated in the tournament on his behalf, there was a good chance that he would be swiftly exposed.

If it was truly that easy to impersonate as one of the core members of the number one Sage Clan, it would have been destroyed ages ago!

It was precisely for this reason that Zhang Xuan had no choice but to raise Zhang Jiuxiao's cultivation and have him make a move in his stead.

On the other hand, seeing how even he was unable to recognize the disguised Zhang Xuan, Zhang Jiuxiao heaved a sigh of relief. After which, he swiftly led the way forward to the sparring grounds.

"Zhang Jiuxiao, it would be best for you not to use your bloodline in the tournament later on, or else it would be difficult to explain the vast difference in the purity of your bloodline," Zhang Xuan instructed.

If it were to be known that there was actually a way to raise the purity of one's unique bloodline, all Sage Clans on the Master Teacher Continent would swiftly go into a frenzy.

Once that happened, there could be deep trouble.

In any case, it was just an internal tournament. It shouldn't come to the point where he would need to use his bloodline ability.

"Rest assured, teacher!" Understanding the possible implications of the matter, Zhang Jiuxiao nodded grimly in response.

...

Gathered in the Zhang Clan's sparring grounds were all of the talented members of the younger generation.

The First Elder was seated at the topmost seat, and seeing the spirited and confident looks on the faces below, he nodded his head in approval.

Typically speaking, most clans tended to decline over time, whether it was due to their talent pool drying up or a culture of complacency going around the younger generation. However, even after several dozen millenniums of heritage, while the offspring of the Zhang Clan was indeed a little spoilt, most of them were still driven to grow stronger.

It was precisely with such a culture that the Zhang Clan was able to remain at the very top over so many years, their position unmovable by anyone.

"In this tournament, we'll be competing not in supporting occupations or any other capabilities but true fighting prowess. Those who believe that they have the strength to challenge the ring, step forward. Those who lack trust in their strength, back off. Every single one of you will be able to utilize any means in your possession, but if I were to find that any of you have resorted to depraved arts prohibited by the Master Teacher Pavilion such as poison and the sort, not only will you be eliminated from the tournament, don't expect me to let you off easily either!" the First Elder's voice boomed across the entire sparring field as he glanced down on the faces beneath imposingly.

"Yes!"

The crowd beneath replied resoundingly.

In this tournament, occupational means were fair game, meaning that participants were allowed to use demonic tunes, celestial designer creations, tamed beasts, so on and so forth... But poison and the sort were not allowed for very obvious reasons.

"Alright, I hereby declare the start of the tournament!"

Huala!

As those words were spoken, the eight dueling rings on the sparring field immediately sprung to life. The Zhang Clan offspring who were in for the first round swiftly leaped onto their respective rings.

"Dueling Ring D, fourth battle, Zhang Linqing and Zhang Jiuxiao!"

After three matches, an elder supervising the duel shouted to the crowd.

Hula!

Zhang Linqing leaped onto the dueling ring and drove his zhenqi, revealing his Saint 6-dan Grand Dominion realm pinnacle cultivation.

Even though he was one of the sidelined members in the Zhang Clan, unable to access the better resources, he was still in a much better off position than Zhang Jiuxiao.

"Where's Zhang Jiuxiao? Does he dare not face his challenge?" Zhang Linqing glanced around the area after noting that Zhang Jiuxiao was nowhere to be seen.

He had looked into his opponent for the match beforehand. The other party was just an offspring of the side family who had managed to get into the Sanctum of Sages by some stroke of luck, thus winning himself an invitation to the Clan Conference by sheer luck. Otherwise, given his identity, he wouldn't even be allowed through the main door!

Thus, in his view, this duel was just for show. He would be able to advance up easily without much trouble.

"I know who Zhang Jiuxiao is. He's a mere Leaving Aperture realm pinnacle cultivator... He probably is shuddering somewhere in fear at the notion of facing Linqing, not daring to show up at all!"

"He's from the side family after all, what can we expect from him?"

"Elder Fengchen, I don't think that fellow will be showing up anymore. Let's just declare it as his loss."

Seeing that Zhang Jiuxiao was nowhere to be seen, a huge commotion broke out amidst the crowd below.

A mere offspring of the side family, even if present, would stand no chance of advancing through the ranks. Since that was the case, they might as well just declare his loss straight instead of wasting time here.

After all, how could an offspring of the side family possibly compare up to core members like them?

"I'll give him a tea's time. If he isn't here after that, I'll take it as he has forfeited the match," the person presiding over the duel, Elder Fengchen, waved his hand to suppress the commotion and said calmly.

There was an elder supervising each of the dueling rings in order to ensure the fairness of the duels.

Even though Zhang Jiuxiao hadn't appeared yet, from the official rules, they would still have to give him some time before considering it as a forfeit.

"This is pointless. It's obvious that that fellow had fled in fear!"

"It's just a few minutes, what are you getting so anxious about? Actually, I'd love to see him appear and challenge Linqing. It would be fun to see him struggling desperately…"

The Zhang Clan members beneath the dueling ring chuckled softly in disdain.

The clear hierarchy in the Zhang Clan had put them in a position of superiority from birth. So, to them, those of the side family were complete nobodies who weren't even worth a mention.

"It seems like he really won't be coming after all…"

Time crept by amidst those chatters, and very soon, a tea's time was up. Seeing that there was still no one in sight, Elder Fengchen shook his head and declared, "Since Zhang Jiuxiao isn't here yet, I'll take it as he has…"

"Pardon me, I'm late!"

At this moment, a voice suddenly sounded from the sky above.

Following which, a tall and slender figure descended onto the dueling ring.15 minutes

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