"A substitute for meridians?" The guild leader contemplated deeply for a moment before saying, "Meridians are pathways within a cultivator's body that allows for the movement of spiritual energy and zhenqi. As a cultivator advances their cultivation, they will be able to strengthen and widen their meridians, allowing energy to flow even smoothly through them… I'm afraid that I can't think of any material in our Blacksmith Guild that has such properties!"

The meridians of a cultivator were not lifeless objects; they could evolve along with a cultivator's advancing cultivation as well. A stronger cultivator would be able to expand their meridians so as to allow them to harness more power, and vice-versa… While there was a huge range of artifacts and materials in the Blacksmith Guild, none of them had the properties suited for substituting the role of meridians.

"There isn't any material in your Blacksmith Guild that can be used to substitute meridians?" Zhang Xuan frowned. "If I recall correctly, there are some weapons that can extend and contract at will. Is it not possible to use those to substitute as meridians?"

There were formidable weapons in this world that could alter their sizes freely. For example, while the Sanctum Head Token in Zhang Xuan's hands was roughly only the size of a palm usually, it could grow to the size of a huge shield at his command.

"While there are weapons that cultivators can alter the form of at will, those are usually unable to harness zhenqi for too long. Furthermore, the development of the meridians isn't as simple as expanding and reinforcing them—there's a limit to how far one can do that. Eventually, it will come a point where the cultivator has to enhance the effectiveness of their meridians through spatial manipulation. Besides, it won't be easy to achieve delicate control over those materials, and one could easily get hurt as a result of that," the guild leader said with a bitter smile.

"Darn…" Zhang Xuan's face turned livid.

He was also aware that it was unlikely that there was any material that could be a perfect substitute for human meridians, but he could not allow himself to give up just like that. He hoped that he might be able to receive a different answer from the mouth of another, but judging from what he had just heard, it seemed like reconstructing Zhao Ya's meridians through smithing did not seem to be something achievable.

The guild leader was also able to roughly fathom Zhang Xuan's intentions, so he could not help but shake his head as well. At this moment, a thought suddenly came to his mind, and he said, "Actually, there might still be hope for your student. While it's not too plausible to reconstruct your student's meridians through smithing, I did hear some rumors that someone had managed to pull off the replacement of meridians before!"

"Someone managed to pull off the replacement of meridians? Who is it?" Zhang Xuan's eyes lit up.


If someone in the world had succeeded in the replacement of meridians, that would mean that it was possible! Even if he could not do it himself, he could still search for the person in question and ask for their help.

"Before I go on, I would like to first say that these are only rumors that I have heard, and I am unable to verify their authenticity. From what I know, the matter didn't happen too long ago, just roughly twenty years if I recall correctly. An expert of the Master Teacher Pavilion headquarters went around the Master Teacher Continent in search of a way to replace a person's meridians, and it seems like he succeeded in the end!" the guild leader said.

"An expert of the Master Teacher Pavilion headquarters? Who is it?" Zhang Xuan asked anxiously.

This would determine whether Zhao Ya would be able to recover or not, so he had to clutch at every possible lead that he could find.

"That person is Grand Elder Yang Xuan of the Master Teacher Pavilion headquarters!" the guild leader replied.

"Yang Xuan?" Zhang Xuan was stunned.

For the longest period of time, he had been impersonating Yang Xuan and claiming to be Yang Xuan's student. It seemed like fate really had a way of pulling pranks on others. After all that had happened, the clue to resolving Zhao Ya's condition ended up being with a man whom he was so intricately linked with and direly wanted to avoid.

"Indeed. Yang shi is a highly talented person. Putting aside the tremendous strength he wields, he's also well-versed in all of the occupations. Back then, in order to uncover a way to achieve the replacement of meridians, he even paid a visit to the head of our Blacksmith Guild headquarters and maintained correspondence with him for several years. Of course, I have no way of verifying those matters, so I'm afraid that you'll have to find the person in question to ask about it!" the guild leader said.

"I see…" Zhang Xuan rubbed his glabella. "It seems like I'll have to pay Yang shi a visit then!"

Most likely, Yang shi should still be in the Zhang Clan… It would be dangerous, but it seemed like he would have to pay the Zhang Clan another visit.

Just that, he had impersonated the other party and claimed to be the other party's student, and now, he was even wanted by the Master Teacher Pavilion headquarters. If he met the other party, would the other party be willing to listen to what he had to say?

Against First Elder Zhang Wuheng, he might still stand a chance of escape, but against Yang shi, one of the strongest experts of the Master Teacher Continent… If the other party meant him harm, would he be able to get away even if he utilized every method at his disposal?

"Yang shi?" Hearing those words, Zhao Ya felt a little light-headed.

Having seen Yang shi transforming into her teacher with her own eyes, she knew that grandteacher of hers was actually just a persona that her teacher had created. Yet, to hear the name again… what was going on?

"Yang shi often spends his time roaming the world, such that he rarely returns to the Master Teacher Pavilion headquarters at all. So, I don't think that it'll be too easy for you to catch wind of his whereabouts. If the situation with your student is urgent, Physician Huang of the Physician Guild happens to be a close friend of mine. I could invite him over to have him help diagnose your student…" Seeing the young man deep in thought, the guild leader thought that Zhang Xuan was worried about his student's condition, so he sincerely offered his help.

"Guild leader, thank you for your kind intentions, but I think it should be fine for the time being." Zhang Xuan clasped his fist.

He was just about to continue speaking when a blacksmith abruptly rushed into the room and said, "Guild leader, there's a master teacher outside who seeks your presence!"

The guild leader turned his head over and asked, "Master teacher? Who is it? What's his rank?"

The blacksmith hesitated for a moment before replying. "He isn't wearing his emblem, so I'm not too sure what his rank is either. However, I think his surname is… Yang!"

"His surname is Yang?" The guild leader fell into deep thought, but he could not think of any notable master teachers who went by the surname of Yang in the Empire Alliance. Nevertheless, he still nodded and said, "Invite him in!"

"Yes, guild leader!"

The blacksmith turned around and left the room.

"Since you have a guest waiting for you, I shan't impose on you any longer and take my leave!" Having found what he needed, there was no longer any reason for Zhang Xuan to remain in the Blacksmith Guild any longer.

Thus, he clasped his fist before leaving together with Zhao Ya.

However, before he reached the entrance of the room, footsteps suddenly sounded ahead of him, and following which, the blacksmith from before returned with an elder beside him.

As the elder walked into the room, he suddenly turned his head toward Zhang Xuan and asked with a smile, "This young friend over here, you just arrived, right? Are you leaving so soon?"

"Hmm? Are you speaking to me?" Zhang Xuan was taken aback by the abrupt words from the elder.

The elder should be here to meet the guild leader, so why was the other party striking up a conversation with him instead?

"That's right. Rather than saying that I'm here to pay a visit to the guild leader, it would be more exact to say that I am here for you!" The elder stroked his beard as he spoke.

"For me?" Zhang Xuan frowned in bewilderment.

The elder before him looked perfectly ordinary. While he was dressed in a master teacher robe, there was not an emblem signifying his rank pinned on his chest. There was an amiable smile on his face, which seemed to suggest that he bore no ill-will.

However, one thing was for certain—he had never met the elder in front of him before.

"Have I met you before?" Zhang Xuan asked.

"Hahaha!" Instead of replying to Zhang Xuan's question, the elder chuckled softly before turning to the guild leader and Blacksmith Chen Mo. "Pardon me, but there are some private matters that I would like to talk to the young friend over here about."

After saying those words, the elder flicked his finger, and an emblem came into the sight of the two blacksmiths. On the emblem were nine gleaming stars.

"9-star blacksmith?" Upon seeing the emblem, both the guild leader and Chen Mo leaped in shock. They hurriedly clasped their fists and replied, "O-of course, feel free to use this room!"

They had thought that the elder would show them his master teacher emblem, but who could have thought the other party would be a 9-star blacksmith as well. With a clear hierarchy established among them, they could not afford to defy a direct command from the other party.

Hualala!

The duo quickly backed out of the room, leaving just Zhang Xuan, Zhao Ya, and the enigmatic elder.

"Wu Zhangxuan, Wu (I'm) Zhang Xuan. Isn't the name you have come up for yourself a little too perfunctory?"

Seeing that there was no one else in the room, the elder chuckled softly as he gazed deeply at Zhang Xuan. "Isn't that so, Zhang shi? Or perhaps, should I address you as… Sanctum Head Zhang?"

"You…" Not expecting the other party to not only be able to see through his disguise but even be aware of his identity as a sanctum head candidate, Zhang Xuan's goosebumps immediately rose in alarm. He immediately alerted his clone so that the other party would be ready to make a move at any moment.

"You are a master teacher, and you go by the surname Yang… Could you possibly be…"

"Well, it seems like you have figured it out." Stroking his beard once more, the elder said with a smile, "Indeed, I am the person whom you have been impersonating all this time… Yang Xuan!"It's a play on words. In Chinese, the character Wu (吾) has the meaning of referring to oneself too.

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