Zhang Xuan quickly turned to Luo Ruoxin, only to see her directing a smile of assurance toward him. It seemed like she had known that this would happen right from the start.

Knowing that this was not an unexpected development, Zhang Xuan internally heaved a sigh of relief before looking at Yuan Tao worriedly once more. The latter's body was still continuing to bloat up. In less than a minute, his height had already shot up to eight meters tall, and it seemed as if he would blow up at any moment.

Should worst come to worst, Zhang Xuan was prepared to step in at any moment to save his student.

"This is a trial for him. If he's able to take in the phantasm, he'll be able to rise above the rest," Luo Ruoxin said telepathically.

"Take in the phantasm?" Zhang Xuan was surprised to hear those words. A thought flashed through his mind, and he narrowed his eyes in shock. "Do you mean that… Yuan Tao is currently trying to assimilate the phantasm into his body?"

Zhang Xuan had wrapped the phantasm together with his Heaven's Path zhenqi before striking it into Yuan Tao's body. He had thought that he would only be temporarily storing the phantasm inside Yuan Tao's body, but based on what Luo Ruoxin was saying… Yuan Tao was trying to assimilate the phantasm.

The phantasm was a manifestation of Kong shi's many years of lectures! It was impossible to gauge how powerful it was in terms of energy, but the knowledge of cultivation and battle techniques that it boasted would leave anyone frenzied over it!

Just the lengths that the Hundred Schools of Philosophers had gone to in order to acquire the altar gave a good idea as to how invaluable the phantasm was!

Assimilating that trove of knowledge was a far greater fortuitous encounter than even advancing one's cultivation to Ancient Sage!

"The Terra Qilin is a beast tamed by Kong shi himself, and it serves as the crux of a portion of the Temple of Confucius. It shares a similar origin as the phantasm, thus allowing the phantasm to fuse flawlessly together with it. You have already done what you can as a teacher. As for how far he can go, that's something that he'll have to decide on his own!" Luo Ruoxin remarked as she gazed at Yuan Tao calmly.

Hearing those words, Zhang Xuan could not help but gulp down a mouthful of saliva.

His girlfriend sure was extraordinary! There was probably no one on the Master Teacher Continent would ever dream of violating a phantasm left behind by Kong shi. Yet, his girlfriend had actually designed a ploy to allow Yuan Tao to assimilate the phantasm into his body. This was really unthinkable!

Previously, he had thought that she was an expert from the Hundred Schools of Philosophers. However, from the looks of it, that was unlikely to be the case. There was no way an offspring from the Hundred Schools of Philosophers would treat Kong shi's phantasm in such a manner.

"Spit it out right now!"


At the same time, Yan Xue and the others finally managed to make sense of what was happening, and their faces reddened in fury. It looked as if they would explode at any moment.

They had put in great effort in order to bring the altar and phantasm over… But who would have thought that despite all their planning, the treasure would end up going into someone else's belly?

Hula!

Yan Xue was unable to take it anymore. He whipped out a sword and directed it toward the heart of the bloated Yuan Tao from behind.

As he drove his sword forward, it produced a metallic resonance in the air, as if he was weaving his sword through the surroundings. With each movement of his sword, it seemed to gain greater strength and speed, as if the very world was augmenting his swordsmanship.

Despite his young age, it seemed like he had comprehended Sword Quintessence… and just like Zhang Xuan, it seemed like he had grasped at least two of them!

"Humph!" Witnessing Yan Xue's attack, Zhang Xuan's eyebrows shot up, and he harrumphed coldly.

He drew the Dragonbone Divine Spear and darted in front with a swift flit, appearing behind his student in an instant. Raising his arm, he pushed the spear forward with astounding momentum.

With Zhang Xuan's soul cultivation having reached Intuitive Impulse realm consummation, he was already able to stand toe-to-toe with Sempiternal realm consummation cultivators without a problem.

Ding ding ding ding!

The tip of his spear met Yan Xue's blade. In the blink of an eye, they collided with one another multiple times. A frightening shockwave rippled into the surroundings, crushing everything in its path. Even space seemed to be creaking under barrage of attacks as small dimension rifts appeared in the area.

"Zhang Xuan, do you know what you are doing? Without Kong shi's phantasm sealing the area, the entire Temple of Confucius will lose its grounding! This space will swiftly be struck by a space-time turbulence, and we could be permanently stuck in the rifts of space-time, unable to return to reality!" Yan Xue bellowed furiously as he launched frenzied assaults one after another.

"Since you know the consequences, why did you still make my student steal Kong shi's phantasm?" Completely unfazed by Yan Xue's questioning, Zhang Xuan replied calmly as he fended perfectly against Yan Xue's attacks.

In the first place, it was the Hundred Schools of Philosophers who concocted the entire scheme to steal the altar, but when something did not go according to their plans, they immediately pointed their fingers to him instead. Was this how the descendants of the seventy-two Sages conducted themselves?

"I admit that we are the ones who first attempted to steal the phantasm, but we have other motives…" Before Yan Xue could finish, an overpowering aura suddenly swept across the area. It was as if huge tidal waves were crashing around the area, interrupting the battle between the two of them.

Sou sou sou!

Both Zhang Xuan and Yan Xue were forced to part and retreat a far distance away from one another.

Zhang Xuan quickly drove the Heaven's Path zhenqi through his body to heal his injuries before standing up to look at the very center of the overpowering aura. He saw that Yuan Tao's height had already risen beyond ten meters, and it seemed as if he was a giant who wielded peerless strength in the world.

Hula!

Raising his head and howling ferociously, Yuan Tao swallowed the avatar of Longxi above his head. The next moment, his aura began to surge steadily.

Aureate Body realm intermediate stage… Advanced stage… Pinnacle… Perfection… Consummation!

Intuitive Impulse realm intermediate stage… Advanced stage… Pinnacle… Perfection… Consummation!

Sempiternal realm…

In the blink of an eye, Yuan Tao had already reached Sempiternal realm consummation!

Even so, his strength was still surging, showing no signs of halting.

"Is he going to push for a breakthrough to Ancient Sage now?" Zhang Xuan narrowed his eyes in agitation.

He did not think that this would be such a huge fortuitous encounter for his student. At this rate, Yuan Tao could very well exceed Zhao Ya and the others and reach Ancient Sage!

"The energy required to reach Ancient Sage it simply too great. His accumulation is too low at the moment, so it'll be hard for him to do so." Luo Ruoxin shook her head with a deep look in her eyes. "Furthermore, the Aeon of Ancient Sage is required in order to push for a breakthrough, and there isn't such a thing here."

"Don't worry, I am here!"

Knowing that this was a rare opportunity for his student, there was no way that he would allow this chance to slip through his fingers. Without any hesitation, he flicked his finger and sent a jade bottle toward Yuan Tao.

Tzzzz!

As soon as the jade bottle came before Yuan Tao, its cap opened, and crimson droplets flowed into his mouth. Before long, tremendous energy was coursing through Yuan Tao's body, granting him the strength that he required to push for a higher realm.

Blood of the Ancient Sages!

Fortunately, he had acquired quite a few droplets of Ancient Sage blood after scheming against the Ancient Sage from the Hundred Schools of Philosophers. This was the ideal situation to use them.

At the same time, he opened the Canvas of Four Seasons and allowed the Aeon of Ancient Sage to flow out into the surroundings.

Kacha!

With these two factors in place, Yuan Tao's on-the-verge-of-exploding body seemed to have finally burst through the resilient bottleneck holding him back, and his aura surged once more.

His aura became so powerful that it seemed like clouds would billow and thunder would rumble at a wave of his hand. Even space did not seem to be able to restrain his might any longer.

Hong long!

A cultivation ordeal appeared.

Heavenly flame and lightning gushed down from the sky as if it was the end of the world.

Even Yan Xue and the others, who wanted to force Yuan Tao into spitting out the phantasm, did not dare approach him.

They could tell that Yuan Tao had just summoned the Ancient Sage Ordeal, the final trial that one had to undergo in order to push for a breakthrough to a higher level of existence. Death would swiftly befall them if they approached a power of this scale.

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The relentless searing of the heavenly flame and the ceaseless tempering of the lightning bolts swiftly refined the rampaging energies within Yuan Tao's body, causing his figure to become compact once more. He returned from a height of ten meters to his usual size.

Lightning and flames appeared to crackle on the surface of his body, and it seemed like he was slowly learning how to wield these two frightening powers of nature. Even space seemed to cower in the face of his strength.

"The Ancient Sage blood has been fully depleted!"

However, very soon, Yuan Tao's growth sputtered to a stop. He was going to push through the final bottleneck that stood in between him and a true Ancient Sage, but the energy that he had proved to be insufficient.

The amount of energy required for a breakthrough to Ancient Sage was simply too great. Zhang Xuan had harvested quite a few droplets of blood from the Ancient Sage of the Hundred Schools of Philosophers earlier, but it was apparent that they were still lacking.

Huhuhu!

As the amount of energy in Yuan Tao's body swiftly depleted, the cultivation ordeal also seemed to slowly dissipate⁠. However, it was not because Yuan Tao had cleared the ordeal but that it was abruptly terminated. In other words, his attempt to push for a breakthrough to Ancient Sage was a failure.

A chance to achieve a breakthrough to Ancient Sage was extremely hard-to-come-by, such that it could be said that it happened by sheer chance. If one failed to achieve a breakthrough, it was hard to tell when an impetus to make a breakthrough would come once more. It might not even come at all!

To make matters worse, the difficulty of the Ancient Sage Ordeal the second time around would at least be two times harder.

In other words, it was nigh impossible for a cultivator to successfully push for a breakthrough to Ancient Sage if they failed the first time.

It was a truly lamentable situation to fail due to a lack of energy.

"Will his effort be wasted just like that?" Zhang Xuan mumbled beneath his face with a livid look on his face.

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