Even the weakest 9-star master teacher who remained in the Master Teacher Pavilion headquarters was at least at Introspective Convalescence realm primary stage. On the other hand, the strongest ones were around Sword Saint Xing's caliber.

Yet, with their strength, they were neither able to enter the Shrine of Kong shi or inspect the interiors with their Spiritual Perception… Just what in the world was going on inside?

My ancestor, will you only be appeased after you tear down the Shrine of Kong shi too?

Boom!

In his moment of exasperation, he saw ominous clouds overflowing with power gathering swiftly in the area. Ferocious flames could be seen crackling amidst the clouds, on the verge of descending onto the world at any moment.

"Is this… the heavenly flame tribulation?"

"But why would the flames be black in color?"

"Isn't he only at Saint 9-dan pinnacle? How did he summon such a powerful cultivation ordeal?"

"I don't know either! Maybe… it's because he's a genius?"

… 

The crowd was stunned to see the nature of the clouds gathering in the area.

They had verified Zhang Xuan's cultivation when they tested him during the '9-star master teacher examination' earlier. There was no doubt about it, he was only at Saint 9-dan pinnacle. Even if he managed to achieve a breakthrough, he should have only been at Introspective Convalescence realm too…

But for some inconceivable reason, the cultivation ordeal he had summoned was the heavenly flame tribulation, not to mention an extraordinarily powerful one at that… 

How the heck did you do it? Did you just absorb all of the treasures in the Shrine of Kong shi?

A thought suddenly flashed across Ren Qingyuan's mind, and his body began trembling uncontrollably. He exclaimed in horror, "Wait a moment… That's the Empyrean Heavenly Flame! It's the strongest heavenly flame tribulation!" 

 Black heavenly flames—this was a phenomenon which even the knowledgeable 9-star master teachers gathered here had never heard of. Even Ren Qingyuan only knew of its existence through vague information detailing its existence in the Pavilion Master Seal.

The Empyrean Heavenly Flame existed in the color of dusk, and there was nothing in the world that it couldn't set ablaze. If left to free rein, there was little doubt that it would scorch down everything in the world. It was the most fearsome heavenly flame tribulation, and the only cultivator that was known to have summoned it was Kong shi. 

Was the young man undergoing an encounter similar to that of Kong shi?

Did he manage to find some kind of obscure heritage hidden in the Shrine of Kong shi which they have missed out on?

But even if there was some hidden heritage, it didn't make sense for the young man to find it so quickly!

"Seal the news for the time being. Make sure that not a single word about this matter leaks out!" Ren Qingyuan turned to the elders around him and ordered sternly.


Regardless of whether Zhang Xuan was able to survive the heavenly flame tribulation or not, it wasn't good news for the Master Teacher Pavilion.

If he were to survive the heavenly flame tribulation, it would mean that an expert comparable to Kong shi had appeared on the world. With the Zhang Clan and many major powers under his leadership, the authority of the Master Teacher Pavilion would be swiftly diminished in the near future.

On the other hand, if he were to die in the tribulation… How were they to explain to the Zhang Clan, the Luo Clan, and the Jiang Clan that their head had died in the Master Teacher Pavilion headquarters?

For the time being, the only thing they could do was to conceal the news as long as they could. The Three Premier Clans had barely united together under Zhang Xuan, and it was through tapping into the young man's influence that the Master Teacher Pavilion was able to mobilize the Three Premier Clans. If a mishap were to happen to the young man at this point in time, everything could swiftly unravel.

Faced with internal disharmony and external crisis, even the powerful Master Teacher Pavilion would collapse in the face of such pressure!

"We understand…"

Understanding the implications of this matter, the 9-star master teachers quickly created all sorts of formations around the area to conceal the phenomenon.

… 

Unaware of the panic occurring outside, Zhang Xuan's consciousness was immersed in the internal state of his body. He was carefully discerning the changes occurring in his body.

Slowly, he reconstructed the foundation of his body to a form that was in greater alignment with nature, thus allowing his energies to flow without any impediment. This resulted in a significant enhancement in his burst power.

There are some changes to my meridian network as well. It's starting to bear some resemblance to the meridian network I have reconstructed for Zhao Ya back then…

The breakthrough in his zhenqi cultivation had introduced several changes to the mapping of his meridians too. His meridians had been shifted to assume a form reminiscent of Zhao Ya's meridian network.

It seemed like the meridian network he had reconstructed for Zhao Ya was indeed ideal for cultivators.

To put it in other words, this proved that the reason why the Otherworldly Demons were stronger than humans was because they were of a higher level of existence. Otherwise, their meridian network wouldn't have been so closely aligned to the ideal state.

It was possible to raise one's level of existence through cultivation, but the difference in the starting point was still a gap that was hard to bridge. Take the Dragon Tribe for example, no one in the Master Teacher Continent had ever seen a true Pureblooded Dragon before, but there was no one who would deny that they were superior existences who wielded devastating strength,

Even the Dragonbone Divine Spear would have to bow in the face of the Eight Notes of Heavenly Dragon. Honestly, Zhang Xuan couldn't even begin to fathom just how powerful Pureblooded Dragons would be. Most likely, they wielded strength far surpassing the Ancient Sages from birth.

This was the gap stemming from the different level of existences between two beings. 

It was due to the fact that the Otherworldly Demons were blessed with a more logical constitution than humans that they were of a higher level of existence. This superior constitution allowed them to be born as Transcendent Mortals, and it bestowed upon them longevity far exceeding that of humans.

The fact that his constitution had changed slightly upon reaching Great sage meant that he had undergone a qualitative evolution in his level of existence.

If he were to bear any offspring in his current state, even if his offspring failed to inherit his bloodline ability, they would still command talents above ordinary cultivators due to their superior constitution.

In fact, most of the founders of Tier-3 Sage Clans were actually Great Sage 4-dan Sempiternal realm experts who failed to reach Ancient Sage in their lifetime.

It seems like there are some advancements in my Spiritual Perception and physical strength too!

The changes weren't limited to just Zhang Xuan's meridian network. His Spiritual Perception had grown much stronger than before too. In the past, it would have been impossible for him to scrutinize the internal structure of each individual cell, but with his enhanced Spiritual Perception, he could see even the slightest crease within each cell.

At the same time, the range of his Spiritual Perception had increased to twenty li as well.

In other words, if he were to just activate his Spiritual Perception, nothing within a perimeter of twenty li would be able to escape his notice. just by activating his Spiritual Perception, there would be no one within a perimeter of twenty li who would be able to escape his notice.

As for his physical body, the improvements weren't significant yet, considering how he had barely achieved a breakthrough and hadn't gotten a chance to temper his body yet. Nevertheless, through the nourishment of the zhenqi coursing through his meridians, the resilience of his physical body had already surpassed that of Saint pinnacle artifacts. It was beginning to advance toward the level of Great Sage artifacts.

Of course, the greatest change he had experienced was still his zhenqi.

It had become much purer and denser than before. An unimaginable amount of zhenqi had congregated in his dantian to form a seemingly endless ocean.

I should focus on overcoming the heavenly flame tribulation first!

All of this information gushed into his mind with a simple sweep of his Spiritual Perception. However, he knew that this wasn't a good time to be analyzing his own current condition. Taking a deep breath, he turned his gaze to the sky.

Huala!

In the moment that he turned his gaze to the sky, a bundle of black flame descended from the ominous clouds above.

Absorb!

With the previous experience of dealing with the Empyrean Heavenly Flame, there was no longer any fear in Zhang Xuan's heart. Without any hesitation, he absorbed the black flame into his body.

But in the next moment, excruciating pain assaulted his entire existence. An intense heat raged within his body, threatening to melt him down into a puddle of goo.

I have to drive my zhenqi and use the heat to temper my body!

Zhang Xuan knew that he was undergoing the Scorching Body Tribulation, Scorching Spirit Tribulation, and Scorching Heart Tribulation simultaneously. Whatever pain he felt was, in truth, a trial for him as well. three ordeals simultaneously, which included trials on his spirit and heart as well.

He couldn't afford to give up now. The moment that he surrendered himself to fear would be the moment that he would be reduced to ashes. Knowing this fact ver well, Zhang Xuan gritted his teeth and forced himself to bear with the pain as he hurriedly drove his zhenqi to disperse the heat. 

Tzzzzzzz!

Under the relentless ramming of his Heaven's Path zhenqi, the huge bundle of flame was swiftly reduced to many seeds of fire. Nevertheless, they continued to burn with the same fervor as before.

Before Zhang Xuan knew it, the pain had further intensified. It felt as though it was stabbing deeply into him, rendering him light-headed.

No, this isn't right… How can this be even more painful than the heavenly flame tribulation my Primordial Spirit faced? Zhang Xuan thought in alarm as cold sweat gushed down his body.

With the experience of overcoming the Empyrean Heavenly Flame once, he thought that he had nothing to fear this time around. Yet, he realized that his previous experience wasn't any use at all.

Could it be that what I have encountered earlier was the heavenly flame tribulation whereas this one is the… Sage Ascension Ordeal? They aren't of the same level as one another?

What his Primordial Spirit had faced previously was indeed the Empyrean Heavenly Flame, but it was summoned by the breakthrough of his soul cultivation to Aureate Body realm. On the other hand, the Empyrean Heavenly Flame he was facing at the moment was a cultivation ordeal summoned by the unique circumstances of his breakthrough to Introspective Convalescence realm.

This was an unconventional tribulation which was summoned only by Kong shi in the past tens of thousands of years. There was a good chance that it was no ordinary heavenly flame tribulation.

Zhang Xuan could understand that this cultivation ordeal was unconventional, but wasn't this… way too strong?

Even his Aureate Body realm consummation Primordial Spirit was having trouble coping with the intense heat of the Empyrean Heavenly Flame! It was to the point that it seemed as if his consciousness would simply fade away at any moment… 

He could hardly bring himself to think what would have become of him if he had he not advanced his soul cultivation to Aureate Body realm in advance!

Perhaps, he would have lost his consciousness in the moment he absorbed the heavenly flame in his body, thus allowing the heavenly flame to ravage his body as it pleased! 

If it was already so difficult for him, how did Kong shi, who didn't possess the Library of Heaven's Path, survive this nigh impossible ordeal?

Zhang Xuan couldn't help but wonder in incredulity.~10km

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