"Such a decision condemned them to an endless cycle of battle, slaughter, and pain… But in exchange for a spark of hope for mankind, they were willing to make such a sacrifice!" Sword Saint Xing's eyes reddened a little as he spoke.

"It is thanks to their protection that mankind has been able to develop stably over the past ten thousand years. Humans are still able to live in peace in huge cities instead of being enslaved by others!

"Based on what I know, there's an Ancient Sage who was only five hundred years old when he went into hibernation. He still had at least a good thousand year ahead of him, and more importantly, he had just wedded another Ancient Sage during that period of time… However, when he came to learn that it was impossible to achieve a breakthrough to Ancient Sage anymore, he decisively used the temporal secret art on himself and fell into a deep sleep.

"Over the thousands of years, the only occasions that he got to see his wife from afar was when war broke out, but even so, they never found a chance to say a single word to one another. What was even more tragic was that during a major battle five thousand years ago, his wife was cornered by three Otherworldly Demonic Emperors… In order to save her, he set his life force aflame, and eventually, he departed from the world with his loved one in hand.

"Had he not chosen such a life, he and his wife would have had a good thousand years ahead of them. They would have been able to roam the world freely, enjoying a carefree and blissful life. Perhaps, they would also have had many students and children. Yet, in order to defend mankind, he gave up all of that!

"There's also an Ancient Sage whose daughter had just been born when she made the decision to go into hibernation. Her daughter wasn't too talented, such that she didn't even managed to reach Saint realm. On one occasion, she sustained grievous wounds in a battle with an enemy, causing her to die before she could even reach a hundred years old… There was no war during that period of time, so the Ancient Sage remained asleep. To the day that her daughter had died, she had not been able to see her!

"When she was finally woken, she learned that her daughter had already been dead for dozens of years, and she was silent for a very long while before charging solemnly into the battlefield… Eventually, she met her end in that very battlefield…"

Sword Saint Xing could not help but tremble a little as he recounted the sacrifices that the predecessors had made in order to protect mankind.

There was a long moment of silence before Zhang Xuan asked, "Does the temporal secret art of the Ancient Sages halt their time, or do they continue ageing?"

This secret art reminded Zhang Xuan of the cryonics technology in his previous world. The concept of cryonics technology was centered around freezing a human body to seal its current condition, thus allowing the possibility of resuscitation in the future.

But no matter how well a person's body was sealed using cryonics technology, there would still be gradual wear and tear over time. Even if someone was successfully resuscitated in the future, there was no way that their body could function as well as it did before.

"The secret art of the Ancient Sages allows one's lifespan to be extended significantly, but even in the state of hibernation, their vitality will still slowly seep away. In other words, they will continue to age even while they are in hibernation, just that the ageing process is slowed considerably! While it sounds complicated, the concept behind it is actually rather simple. To put it in other words, they are sleeping in a dimension where the flow of time is slower than the real world!

"One year within the dimension is equivalent to ten years outside!" Sword Saint Xing said grimly. "However, even with a one to ten ratio, they still age. The passing of ten thousand years means that they have already aged a thousand years.

"Even the younger Ancient Sages during the time of the hibernation are already reaching the end of their lives, not to mention that the frequent battles with the Otherworldly Demonic Tribe have caused destructive killing intent to seep into their body, thus hastening the ageing process!

"The Ancient Sages who chose to go into hibernation then are already approaching their final years… The Otherworldly Demonic Tribe has yet to successfully overcome the seals and launch a mass invasion, but once we lose the strength of the Ancient Sages, it will only be a matter of time before we are annihilated!"

Zhang Xuan fell into deep contemplation.

To make an analogy, Ancient Sages were somewhat equivalent to the atomic bombs in his previous life. Even without using one, the very possession of such a weapon deterred enemies from running amok.

The Otherworldly Demonic Tribe had been eyeing the Master Teacher Continent for many years, lying patiently in wait for the humans to expose an opening for them to strike.

In this matter, the Otherworldly Demonic Tribe held the definitive advantage due to their longer lifespan. Even if they did not go into hibernation, they would still be able to easily outlive the hibernating human cultivators.

This was the fundamental difference in their constitution. There was nothing that could make up for it.

"Twenty years ago, a spatial disturbance was detected in Qufu, and a mirage of the Temple of Confucius surfaced, which provoked the Otherworldly Demonic Tribe. They began amassing their armies in the Subterranean Galleries, heralding an impending war. But mankind already didn't have many Ancient Sages left, so the final Ancient Sage of our Zhang Clan had no choice but to awaken and join the fray!" Sword Saint Xing shook his head grimly.

"The final Ancient Sage? How many Ancient Sages of the Zhang Clan went into hibernation back then?" Zhang Xuan couldn't help but ask.

"There was a total of nine of them, but… the many years of war caused them to either pass away or go into eternal sleep. As a result, we only have one living Ancient Sage to date, and he's the 27th Clan Head, Zhang Hongtian!"

"There's only one Ancient Sage remaining out of nine?" Zhang Xuan's eyebrows shot up.

Nine Ancient Sages—that had probably been the entirety of the Zhang Clan's top-tier fighting prowess then. It seemed that the glory the Zhang Clan enjoyed was cemented by many sacrifices.

"Indeed. The war twenty years ago was indescribably treacherous. Ancestor Zhang Hongtian sustained grievous wounds from battle, putting him on the verge of death. There was only one way to save him, and that was to infuse even purer Zhang Clan bloodline into him!"

Talking up to this point, Sword Saint Xing's face visibly stiffened a little as his eyes started taking on a tint of red. "Back then, there was no one in the clan whose bloodline reached the mark to save Ancestor Zhang Hongtian… Only you, who were still in your mother's womb back then, reached the mark!"

"Me?" Zhang Xuan's body jolted.

He could finally see why his father had brought him here.

"There were only two options back then. Firstly, if we chose not to use your bloodline, Ancestor Zhang Hongtian would have passed away, and mankind would have lost one of its few remaining guardians against the Otherworldly Demonic Tribe. Secondly, we could use your bloodline to save him… but that would mean putting your life at risk…"

At this moment, Sword Saint Xing looked deeply at Zhang Xuan before sighing. "Your mother vehemently opposed it, but I eventually went against her will and chose the second option!"

"This…" Zhang Xuan fell silent.

This was not an easy decision to make, especially for Sword Saint Xing, who had just had his first child.

If he chose the first option, while his child would be saved, mankind would lose one of the few precious Ancient Sages that it had remaining, placing it in an even more treacherous position than before. Such a decision would be equivalent to placing the cart before the horse.

If mankind was destroyed, what would the Zhang Clan count as? Even if his child survived, he would have a difficult life ahead of him.

But choosing the second option was no different from strangling his unborn child to death with his own hands. There was no father in the world who could possibly make such a decision easily!

Sometimes, having to make a choice was worse than being forced into a situation.

Zhang Xuan could not say that he knew Sword Saint Xing well, but he could tell that the latter was not a heartless person. He could feel that the latter cared deeply for him, so making his decision back then must have really broken his heart.

It was apparent to any rational mind which the correct decision to make was, but it was never easy to sever one's emotions and make the correct decision.

"There is only one fate left for those who have been stripped of their bloodline—death. But I was indignant. I couldn't accept such an outcome! I approached Yang shi and begged for his help. He told me about the existence of a unique poison in the world that could emulate the effects of a bloodline… He had a poison master plant the poison in your mother's womb, thus granting you a hope of survival even after your bloodline was torn away from you.

"After you were born, Yang shi personally grafted your bloodline to Ancestor Zhang Hongtian and successfully saved him. Shortly after, Ancestor Zhang Hongtian went back into hibernation. However, the operation left you severely wounded, placing you on the verge of death.

"In order to save you, we had to swiftly teleport you to one of the ancient domains, hoping that your bloodline would slowly heal with time. However, despite all of the protective measures that we placed on you in order to fend off the spatial turbulence from teleportation, you were simply in too weak a state to take the stress of teleportation. It didn't seem like you would have survived to the end of the teleportation, so I made the decision to forcefully eject you from the Teleportation Formation. That decision might have saved your life, but it made us lose sight of you as well.

"It seems like everything has worked out well in the end, but still…"

At this point, Sword Saint Xing lowered his head apologetically and bowed down.

"Xuan-er, please forgive your incapable father who has caused you so much suffering!"



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