The Innate Fetal Poison which had plagued him for over a year had disappeared without a trace. However, remaining in its place was a ball of black smoke.

This bundle of black smoke wasn't too big, roughly the size of a fingernail. It sat quietly in the midst of his meridians, not moving at all.

I have no idea what it is, but it's unlikely to be anything good. Let me see if I can get rid of it!!

Zhang Xuan continued to channel the black flame into his body to burn the ball of black smoke, but it didn't seem to faze the ball of black smoke at all. Even the Empyrean Heavenly Flame, which boasted the ability to be able to burn anything down, was completely ineffective against it!

What in the world is this ball of black smoke?

Following which, Zhang Xuan tried to use his soul energy and zhenqi to expel the ball of black smoke out of his body, but to his astonishment, it seemed to have taken root in his body. No matter how he tugged and pulled, it refused to budge at all.

Could this be the 'problem' which Kong shi was referring to back then? Zhang Xuan thought with a frown.

After taming the Pavilion Master Token, he encountered Kong shi's will, and the latter told him that it wasn't too difficult to resolve the Innate Fetal Poison. What was troublesome was the problem that came after it… 

He had successfully eradicated the Innate Fetal Poison, but in its place, this ball of black smoke appeared… There was no doubt the 'problem' which Kong shi was referring to was this!

Something which even Kong shi deemed to be 'a problem' was likely to be really difficult to deal with. 

This ball of black smoke is residing in one of my smaller meridians, so my Primordial Spirit is unable to slip in. Furthermore, it doesn't seem like my Library of Heaven's Path is working on it either… Zhang Xuan frowned in frustration.

He had used his Eye of Insight, Library of Heaven's Path, and everything at his disposal, but he was still unable to identify what the ball of black smoke was.

Forget it! Judging from its state, it doesn't seem to pose any harm to me for the time being. I guess I'll have to ask Kong shi about it the next time I meet him…

Zhang Xuan examined the ball of black smoke carefully, and it didn't seem to be poisonous. Deeming it unlikely to cause him any harm in the short run, he decided to put this matter aside for the time being.

While he was a little unnerved by its presence, it didn't seem like he was able to get rid of it at the moment.

In any case, he had finally managed to resolve the Innate Fetal Poison, and that was truly a huge load off his chest!

The tension which had been weighing him down over the past year vanished without a trace, and he suddenly felt light and free.

Huhu!

At the same time, the dark clouds in the sky were already halfway through their dissipation, and the heavenly flame tribulation was likely to flee very soon.


The current heavenly flame tribulation doesn't pose any threat to me anymore…

Even when the tribulation was at its full prowess, it was unable to bring him down. Given that it was already in the midst of dissipation, there was no way it would be able to hurt him anymore.

It would be a waste to allow the black flame to dissipate just like that though. Otherwise, who knows when I'll be able to encounter it once more? Zhang Xuan thought. 

The corners of his lips crept up as he flicked his wrist and took out a three meters wide round platform.

Golden Origin Spirit Stone!

This was the treasure which the Dragonbone Divine Spear had given him back at Ancient Sage Ran Qiu's ancient domain. However, as he had no suitable flame to process the material, he could only store it in his storage ring all this while. However, since there were remnants of the heavenly flame in the sky, and it happened that he had no other use for it at the moment, this was an ideal opportunity to reforge the Golden Origin Cauldron!

That fellow had been following him for a very long while now. However, as he had advanced his cultivation too quickly, it didn't take long before it was rendered redundant. Since he had some spare time at the moment, it would be a good chance to upgrade this loyal subordinate of his!

Hu!

As soon as the Golden Origin Spirit Stone came into contact with the black flame, the precious metal which even the most powerful earth flame would have difficulty processing began to soften. In less than ten breaths, the massive platform had already been reduced to a puddle of metallic fluid.

"Golden Origin Cauldron, come out!" Zhang Xuan flicked his wrist.

Hu!

The Golden Origin Cauldron materialized in the air. As soon as it appeared, it squealed out in delight, "Master, did you suddenly miss me? Did someone bully you again? Tell me who he is, and I'll have him reduced to…"

But before it could finish squealing, it swiftly realized that something was amiss. When it noticed the black flames wrapped around it, its voice quivered in horror, "M-master, what's that? Why is it so hot? Master, did I offend you somehow that you actually want to melt me down? Please, don't kill me! If you really want me to, I can even give my first time to you!"

"..." Black lines streaked across Zhang Xuan's face. "Shut up! I am trying to upgrade you right now. If you dare utter another word of nonsense, I'll toss you into the black flames and burn you to death!"

"Ahhh… Yes, master!" Hearing that its master was actually intending to upgrade it instead, the Golden Origin cauldron heaved a sigh of relief.

Just as it was about to say something, intense heat from the black flames suddenly gushed in from the surroundings. Under the overwhelming heat, Its body began to distort as it lost its structural rigidity. It was gradually starting to melt.

Zhang Xuan waved his hand, and the melted Golden Origin Spirit Stone swiftly flew over. He began to fuse it together with the Golden Origin Cauldron.

"No, this isn't right… The Golden Origin Spirit Stone is too high tiered! The smithing techniques that I have learned previously can't apply to it… How much of it do I need to fuse into the Golden Origin Cauldron in order to maximize its strength?" Zhang Xuan suddenly froze as a question popped up in his head.

His comprehension of smithing was only at 8-star pinnacle at the moment, and the knowledge he had was clearly insufficient to properly process the Golden Origin Spirit Stone!

A certain proportion had to be struck between various ores in order to maximize the resilience of the resulting alloy. The more precisely the resulting alloy stuck to the ratio, the more powerful it would be.

He had never worked with the Golden Origin Spirit Stone before—it was simply too rare! He had only heard of its name before, so there was no way he could have known at what ratio it should be fused with the other metals in order to create a perfect alloy.

"I was too reckless…" Zhang Xuan's face twitched awkwardly.

If the proportion of the alloy was wrong, no matter how much good stuff he packed into the forging process, the resultant artifact was unlikely to be too powerful.

His only thought then was to make full use of the black flame to reforge the Golden Origin Cauldron that he failed to think the matter through thoroughly. Considering that he had already started to fuse the Golden Origin Cauldron together with the Golden Origin Spirit Stone, it was already too late for him to turn back now.

"Forget it! The Golden Origin Spirit Stone is an exceptionally powerful material, so the more the merrier. In any case, the materials used to forge the Golden Origin Cauldron is too mediocre, so it would be good to replace them all at once…" Being an optimistic person, Zhang Xuan tossed those concerns to the back of his mind.

Even if the proportion was wrong, an artifact which had the Golden Origin Spirit Stone mixed into it couldn't possibly turn out to be weak. Since he had already gone wrong, he might as well add more of it! Perhaps, it might rectify his previous mistakes!

Tzzzzzzz!

As the Golden Origin Cauldron fused with the three meters wide round platform, it was swiftly reduced to a metallic lump.

Hu!

At this moment, the dark clouds seemed to have run out of power, and with a 'hu!', the black flames began extinguishing one after another.

"Crap, the black flames are vanishing too quickly. I haven't even started forging it yet!" Zhang Xuan's face twitched in horror.

He was supposed to be upgrading the Golden Origin Cauldron, not to disfigure it! If the black flames were to vanish altogether, the alloy would swiftly solidify, making it nigh impossible for him to reshape it back to the form of a cauldron!

Zhang Xuan quickly flicked his wrist and whipped out a hammer. He rushed forward and began hammering the metallic lump into shape with powerful strikes.

Ding dang ding dang! Ding dang ding dang!

The sound of hammering echoed loudly in the air.

… 

Outside the Shrine of Kong shi… 

Ren Qingyuan and the others were looking at the dark clouds above with worried looks.

"Even I would have to flee in the face of the Empyrean Heavenly Flame… Considering that Zhang shi has just achieved a breakthrough not too long ago, will he really be able to survive the cultivation ordeal?"

"I don't know either, but… doesn't he have the ability to control the lightning tribulation? Perhaps, he might be able to do the same with the heavenly flame tribulation too!"

"There's a fundamental difference between lightning tribulations and heavenly flame tribulations… Look up there! He's dashing into the midst of the dark clouds now!"

Seeing Zhang Xuan dash into the midst of the dark clouds, the crowd wasn't reassured in the least. Instead, their worry only served to deepen.

"He might still be able to withstand the lightning energy in the storm clouds of lightning tribulations, but those dark clouds harness a massive inferno within them! How is he going to survive such intense heat?"

"Isn't that sheer recklessness? We can only pray that he has a plan in mind…"

While the 9-star master teachers were still discussing amongst one another, the dark clouds began showing signs of dissipation.

"Oh? The heavenly flame tribulation is about to dissipate…"

"So quickly? It can't be that some mishap has happened to him, can it?"

The crowd quickly turned their gazes to the sky, wanting to see if the legendary genius was able to beat the odds and survive against the devastating Empyrean Heavenly Flame. However, they ended seeing something they didn't expect to see instead.

Amidst the dark clouds, they saw a human silhouette taking out a hammer, and he began hammering a lump floating in front of him.

Ding dang ding dang! Ding dang ding dang!

There was a rhythm to the hammering, which sounded surprisingly pleasurable to the ears.

"H-he is forging a weapon?"

Following that question, silence drifted amongst the master teachers.

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