If she really was slapped, what would become of her dignity?

With a trembling body, Xue Qin hurriedly turned to the gray-robed young man and pleaded, "Senior, you mustn't listen to that fellow's nonsense! He's just spewing a load of cr*p! Until we really forge the Nurturing Yang Pill according to his instructions, we won't know if what he's saying is the right answer…"

But before she could finish her words, the gray-robed young man had also turned to face her, and with three swift strokes, he slapped her thrice.

Forehand, pah! Backhand, pah! Forehand, pah!

Every single strike echoed loudly into the surroundings. The young lady's smooth and delicate skin immediately began swelling up.

"Is that enough for you?" The gray-robed young man gazed at Zhang Xuan coldly with his hands behind his back.

He was extremely adept at pill forging, and he had made sure to check all the details personally. Even without forging the Nurturing Yang Pill, he already knew that the young man was correct.

Since the answer was already clear, any obstinacy beyond this point would only sully the good reputation of not only him but the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion too!

"Ah… It was just a casual remark when I told you to slap her. She's just a young lady, and it's not as if she has a marriage agreement with me but went to the extent of coming over to my residence to coerce me to back out of our marriage agreement… But I guess what's done is done, so let's say we're even with that. Please, feel free to be on your way!" Zhang Xuan bowed slightly as if to send the gray-robed young man away.

The gray-robed young man took one last chilling look at Zhang Xuan before turning around to leave. The others that had come with him quickly left along with him. As for the fainted young man, one of the members of the group picked him up and took him away.

They had planned to make use of this as an opportunity to display their prowess and earn the respect of those in the Xuanjiang City, but it had completely backfired on them.

A tremendous amount of rage was boiling in their blood.

After leaving the market, the gray-robed young man looked at the swollen-faced Xue Qin and asked with narrowed eyes, "Who was that?"

Xue Qin shuddered at the chilling voice of the gray-robed young man, and she quickly explained herself. "Senior, I really don't know that person…"

"I was referring to that crippled young man!" the gray-robed young man interjected sharply.

"H-he…" Xue Qin's face turned ghastly pale. "He… has a marriage agreement with me. It was decided by the elders of our clans… However, there's really nothing between us. We haven't even met more than a couple of times…"

"You should know why you were accepted as a menial disciple of the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion!" the gray-robed young man remarked coldly. "In order for inner disciples to focus on their cultivation, they require servants to attend to their needs. It's out of special consideration of your looks and the fact that you are still a maiden that I made an exception and allowed you to join us as a servant and a concubine!"


"I understand…" Xue Qin lowered her head subserviently.

"That had better be the case!" the gray-robed young man said with an impatient wave of his hand.

He walked over to the carriage not too far away and got onto it. Before the carriage set off, his nonchalant voice echoed from within. "I expect you to settle this matter prudently before it reaches the ears of the Sword Pavilion. Also, I want to know the identity and background of that bandaged fellow by tonight. Elder Lu Yun will be here in three days, and I don't expect any complications as a result of this. Understood?"

"Understood…" Xue Qin bowed fearfully, not daring to even breathe loudly.

Da da da!

The carriage finally began moving away.

Only at this moment did Xue Qin realize that her back was drenched in sweat. She glanced back at the Hongyan Market with a murderous look on her face.

"Tell my teacher that we'll be making a move tonight!" she spat coldly.

"Yes, Second Young Mistress!" the young men following behind her replied.



"Thank you, Teacher!"

Seeing how Xue Qin, who had humiliated him time and time again, had been struck in public, Dan Xiaotian felt a little conflicted within. Nevertheless, he knew that his teacher was doing this for him, and he felt extremely grateful for that.

"Since you are my student, there's no way I'll allow you to be wronged," Zhang Xuan replied with a smile. "Alright, I need you to bring me to a quiet room. I would like to test out the Ethereal Token!"

"Yes, Teacher!" Dan Xiaotian nodded.

He quickly approached the middle-aged man from earlier, and before long, they were brought to a silent chamber.

Upon entering the chamber, Zhang Xuan inspected its interior and found that the area had been secured by multiple layers of formations, ensuring its privacy. He nodded in satisfaction before taking the Ethereal Token out.

"Teacher, I heard that the Ethereal Token requires very specific instructions in order to activate it, and a complete activation requires one to pay quite a heavy price…"

But before Dan Xiaotian could finish his words, he saw his teacher tapping a few points on the Ethereal Token, and a resounding 'weng' echoed through the chamber. A brilliant light shone from the surface of the jade token.

It had been completely activated!

Following which, Zhang Xuan dripped a droplet of blood on the Ethereal Token, and the brilliant light immediately warped into intricate patterns before seeping into his glabella.

This sight left Dan Xiaotian stunned.

Based on what he knew, activating the Ethereal Token was a delicate process, so more often than not, one would have to spend a huge number of Ethereal Coins in order to engage the help of an expert for a complete activation. Who could have known that his teacher would be able to activate and tame the Ethereal Token so easily, as if he had done it many times before?

Paying no heed to Dan Xiaotian's astonishment, Zhang Xuan carefully perceived the light seeping into his glabella, and only after confirming that it posed no danger to him did he heave a sigh of relief.

Hu!

The next moment, his consciousness escaped from his body to enter a unique dimension.

"This…"

Lowering his head, he found that his body had become something that was a mix of reality and illusion.

"Welcome to the Ethereal Hall!"

While Zhang Xuan was still making sense of his current situation, a voice suddenly sounded in the air.

"This voice…" Zhang Xuan widened his eyes in astonishment.

This voice was surprisingly familiar to him. There was no mistake about it…

"Kong shi!"

It was Kong shi's voice!

He knew that Kong shi had definitely come to the Azure, but he did not think that the latter would be related to the strongest power of the Azure, the Ethereal Hall!

Or could it be that… the Ethereal Hall had been created by Kong shi?

"Dan Xiaotian mentioned that the Ethereal Hall was created several thousand years ago by a formidable expert… but judging by the timeline, Kong shi should have left the Master Teacher Continent tens of thousands of years ago…" Zhang Xuan's brain churned swiftly to draw links.

At this moment, a possibility suddenly arose in his mind, causing his eyebrows to leap up. "Could it be that… the flow of time in the Azure differs from that of the Master Teacher Continent?"

There had been a whole string of trouble ever since he awoke, so he had not had a chance to really examine the Azure. But now that he was looking at it carefully, there was indeed a difference in the flow of time in the Azure and on the Master Teacher Continent.

As he was making sense of all of this, the earlier voice continued speaking. "I established the Ethereal Hall to allow cultivators to interact with one another and trade safely. In here, you are able to alter your appearance and aura, so there's no need to worry about anyone noticing your true identity in the real world. As long as you are willing to pay the price, you will be able to learn the cultivation techniques you wish to learn!

"Within the Ethereal Hall, everyone is of the same cultivation realm. There's no segregation as a result of standing or power difference. Everyone will be able to interact with one another on equal terms.

"That's all I want to say to you. May you enjoy your time at the Ethereal Hall!"

The voice suddenly trailed off.

Those words made Zhang Xuan more certain than ever that Kong shi was the person behind the Ethereal Hall. After all, it was his vision to create a world where all humans were equally entitled to cultivate and learn.

He knew that he would be able to find traces of Kong shi in the Azure, but considering the time difference, he had thought that it would take a while before he finally heard anything about the latter. Yet, a single Ethereal Token had been able to provide him with so much information.

Suppressing his agitation, he swiftly went through Kong shi's words when a bizarre thought suddenly occurred to him.

"Assuming anonymous identities and interacting with one another as equals… Isn't this pretty much like online chat rooms?"

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