"Tea…"

Overwhelmed by his agitation, Dan Xiaotian was just about to call out 'teacher' when he saw the latter shaking his head, so he swiftly halted what he was saying.

His teacher had instructed him earlier that he wished to keep a low profile and didn't want to stand out too much. So, while it was fine for him to greet his teacher normally in a private setting, he should address the latter as his friend before outsiders.

Considering that there wasn't too huge of an age gap between the two of them, it was unlikely that others would suspect him.

"Paying respects to Elder Lu. I am Zhang Xuan, Dan Xiaotian's friend," Zhang Xuan said as he walked over.

It was only at this moment that Huo Jianghe got a good look at Zhang Xuan's face too, and his expression turned a little unnatural.

They had crossed one another back at Hongyan Market, but as the other party was tightly wrapped in bandages back then, he didn't recognize the other party instantly. However, putting the physique together with the voice, it was obvious that the person standing before him was the same person who had put him down at Hongyan Market!

"You asked if Dan Xiaotian is going to give up… Do you think that it's possible for him to become an Ancient Sage within an hour?" Elder Lu Yun asked with a frown.

"That's right," Zhang Xuan replied with a nod. "I was injured previously, and he was the one who saved me, so I know of his true strength. In truth, he has already reached Ancient Sage a long time ago, but he overexerted himself while trying to treat me, resulting in his cultivation plummeting back to Great Sage 3-dan. As long as he receives the appropriate treatment, I believe that it shouldn't be too hard for him to return back to his peak within an hour's time!"

"Dan Xiaotian is actually an Ancient Sage?" Perplexed, Elder Lu Yun turned to look at Dan Xiaotian once more.

Are you sure this is how an Ancient Sage should be like? Even if you are making up lies, you should come up with something more believable! Is it really alright for you to be spouting nonsense just like that?

Dan Xiaotian was also completely caught off guard by what Zhang Xuan had said.

It was only yesterday that he was still an insignificant Saint 6-dan cultivator, and he thought that it was already an incredible feat how his cultivation could rise all the way up to Great Sage 3-dan after the gu inside him was killed. Yet, his teacher was telling him that he was actually already an Ancient Sage?

When did I become an Ancient Sage? Why do I not know of it?

"Give me an hour and don't allow anyone to interrupt me. I guarantee that I'll bring him back to his peak!" Zhang Xuan insisted despite the skeptical glances that others were shooting at him.

He knew that it sounded ridiculous to most of them here, especially since it was obvious to almost everyone here that Dan Xiaotian was indeed a Great Sage 3-dan cultivator. However, if he were to claim to raise Dan Xiaotian's cultivation by two realms within an hour instead, that would make an even more unbelievable story… 


And things would only get worse if he succeeded. Such an alarming deed would bring unwanted attention to him. Others might try to do him and Dan Xiaotian harm in hopes of figuring out his secret.

Thus, after much consideration, he decided to go with the story that Dan Xiaotian was already an Ancient Sage.

After all, the notion of a person recovering his strength wouldn't be as shocking as otherwise.

Sigh, it sure is troublesome to maintain a low profile. But what can I do about it? I, Zhang Xuan, am the type of person who likes to silently help others from the shadows without expecting anything in return!

"That's no trouble at all." While Elder Lu Yun felt that there wasn't much hope, he still decided to go along with the other party this once, considering how confident the other party appeared to be. He turned to Huo Jianghe and said, "Bring them to a quiet location. Meanwhile, I'll test the other examinees!"

"Yes, Elder Lu!" Huo Jianghe replied before leading Zhang Xuan and Dan Xiaotian away.

He had been residing in the City Lord Residence the past few days, so he was extremely familiar with its layout. The residence he was allocated with was in a relatively quiet region, and rarely would there be anyone walking around there. It was the ideal place to bring Zhang Xuan and Dan Xiaotian to.

Entering Huo Jianghe's room, Zhang Xuan emphasized once more that they mustn't be interrupted before sending Huo Jianghe away and shutting the doors. As soon as the doors were closed, Dan Xiaotian immediately kneeled down in front of his teacher and cried out, "But teacher, I am not an Ancient Sage…"

"Are you saying that I'm lying earlier?" Zhang Xuan refuted.

"This…" Dan Xiaotian's face reddened.

It was extremely disrespectful for a disciple to claim that his teacher was lying… though the issue became rather subjective when the teacher was truly lying.

"You are indeed not an Ancient Sage just yet, but that doesn't mean that you won't be one an hour from now!" Zhang Xuan added with a confident smile.

"Does teacher believe that I am able to advance two cultivation realms within an hour?" Dan Xiaotian was still a little hesitant.

It was not that he didn't believe in his teacher's capabilities, but he didn't believe in himself.

If it was that easy to advance one's cultivation, the Forsaken Continent would have been filled with Ancient Sages by now.

"Hush. From now onward, you are to heed my instructions strictly. Don't hesitate or go against whatever I tell you to do. Just do as you are told, got it?" Zhang Xuan said.

"Yes, teacher!" Dan Xiaotian replied with a nod.

From the moment Zhang Xuan freed him from his affliction, he had already made up his mind to never go against his teacher's commands.

Zhang Xuan took a look at Dan Xiaotian from head to toe before starting, "You have been taking in spiritual energy over the past ten years, but you didn't refine them into zhenqi. The unrefined spiritual energy has been tempering your body all this while, causing your body and meridians to be far stronger than the other cultivators. As long as we alter your meridian network a little, it shouldn't be too difficult to induce a breakthrough in your cultivation!"

Dan Xiaotian was confused, "Alter… my meridian network?"

Was it possible to change something innate like that?

Wasn't it supposed to be fixed at birth? Wasn't one's meridians supposed to be very delicate?

The so-called 'cultivation going berserk' was the result of one accidentally channeling one's zhenqi into the wrong meridians for one reason or another, thus resulting in a violent backlash from one's body.

If even directing one's zhenqi wrongly could induce such severe consequences, was it really alright to simply alter one's meridians like that? 

"Indeed. It's a method which I have just thought of, but I haven't tested it out yet. Would you like to give it a try? If you succeed, it'll be a direct stairway to the top. You'll become an esteemed Ancient Sage of this world. But if you were to fail… you could very well become crippled and unable to cultivate!" Zhang Xuan said grimly.

"..." Dan Xiaotian felt like tears were threatening to pour from his eyes.

After all his teacher spoke of, his plan was still only in the realms of theory. It hadn't been tried out in practice at all… 

To actually try something that is untested on me… 

My teacher sure is courageous! But teacher, the thing is that I am not sure whether I'll be able to match your courage...

While Dan Xiaotian did think that this teacher of his was unreliable from time to time, his teacher had been there for him when it truly counted. Thus, it didn't take long for him to nod hesitantly in agreement, "Teacher, my life belongs to you. If not for you, I could have very well be dead by now. I am willing to entrust my life into your hands once more!"

"Good! Let's get it over and done with then!" Zhang Xuan nodded in satisfaction.

And the truth was… Zhang Xuan really wasn't lying. He only thought of this method a moment ago.

He was confident that he could get any cultivator to achieve a breakthrough to Ancient Sage with his guidance and ample resources within a few days, but to achieve a breakthrough of two realms within an hour… Not unless the other party practiced the complete Heaven's Path Divine Art like him!

But of course, there was no one in the world who could practice the complete Heaven's Path Divine Art other than him. If Dan Xiaotian were to do so, he might just end up dying from being crushed by the heavens.

So, Zhang Xuan could only search for other alternatives.

Through his careful examination, he found that the meridians of those in the Azure were even more perfect than those of the Otherworldly Demonic Tribe, but they hadn't reached the level of perfection yet.

There were many flaws in the meridians of mankind, and that was why even at maturity, they still remained ordinary humans. Those in the Hundred Schools of Philosophers had slightly fewer flaws, so they were able to reach Zongshi realm at maturity. As for the indigenous population of the Azure, their meridians had the fewest mistakes, so they were able to reach Saint 9-dan by adulthood. 

It was clear that if the perfection of one's meridian network came with a lot of advantages. It put one at a starting line ahead of the others, and it allowed one to cultivate faster than the others as well.

Previously, Zheng Yang and the others also only managed to reach Dimension Shatterer realm swiftly due to the modification of their meridian network too.

But of course, there were also other circumstances at play over here, so he couldn't say for sure that things would work out for Dan Xiaotian as well. It was not to say that Zhang Xuan wasn't confident in his theory, but it was just that there was a very, very small possibility that things might not go the way he wanted to, so he felt that he had to warn Dan Xiaotian in advance.

With a flick of his wrist, a huge pot and a stack of firewood appeared in the room. It was only then that he realized he forgot to store water in his storage ring as well, so he quickly left the room to fetch a pail. Before long, the water was already boiling in the pot under the stack of burning firewood.

"Alright, come out and take a bath…"

He sent a telepathic message toward his dantian, and soon, the Dongxu Gourd appeared before him. It dived right into the pot of water and exhaled deeply in pleasure.

While his Heaven's Path zhenqi was able to swiftly heal one's wounds, he wasn't certain that it would be enough to heal a wound as major as the total rupturing of one's meridians within just an hour. 

Furthermore, perhaps it was because the constitutions of those in the Azure and the Master Teacher Continent were different, or that those in the Azure were too adapted to the mercury-like spiritual energy in the environment, somehow, the mercury-like spiritual energy in the air was less effective on them for healing purposes. Otherwise, all Ancient Sage cultivators in the Azure would be a pain to deal with if they could just keep healing up swiftly in the middle of the battle.

Thus, he thought of using the Dongxu Gourd for that purpose.

That pot of water was effective even on a Dimension Shatterer realm cultivator like him. Thus, it shouldn't have any problem with Great Sage cultivators like Dan Xiaotian.

While Zhang Xuan was boiling the water, he turned to Dan Xiaotian and said solemnly, "You have to bear with the pain."

"Yes!" Dan Xiaotian nodded.

Following Zhang Xuan's instructions, he sat on the floor unmovingly.

Zhang Xuan walked up and placed his palm on the young man's abdomen. He infused his zhenqi into the young man's body and jolted it forcefully.

Pu!

Blood spewed frenziedly out of Dan Xiaotian's mouth.

In an instant, all of the meridians in his body were ruptured by his teacher.

The overwhelming pain caused a blackout in his head, and he nearly fainted just like that.

Any other sixteen-year-old would have fainted by now, but after all of the challenges he had gone through since six, his willpower was already as tough as steel. Gritting his teeth forcefully, he was able to barely retain a sliver of his consciousness.

"Remember this, you mustn't pass out no matter what happens!" Zhang Xuan emphasized once more.

He began to drive his Heaven's Path zhenqi into Dan Xiaotian's body in order to connect his meridians together according to a more perfect network.

The Heaven's Path zhenqi that was formed from the mercury-like spiritual energy was much purer and denser from before. As it made its round through Dan Xiaotian's ruptured meridians, it swiftly mended them back together in a more perfect network mapping.

"It does work! I was able to reconnect his meridians, but it seems like the rate at which my Heaven's Path zhenqi is healing his injuries is not able to catch up…" Zhang Xuan heaved a sigh of relief when his job was finally done. 

The Heaven's Path zhenqi could heal internal and external injuries, but it was much less effective in healing those whose foundations had been shaken. The rupturing of one's meridians happened to be one such major injury that even the Heaven's Path zhenqi could only do much about. 

Without at least half a month of rest, Dan Xiaotian wouldn't be able to make a full recovery! Of course, this was already an amazing feat considering the severity of the condition.

However, there was only an hour to go before Dan Xiaotian was seventeen, so time wasn't on their side.

Thus, he brought the Dongxu Gourd's bathing water to Dan Xiaotian lips and said, "Drink it…"

Gritting with the pain, Dan Xiaotian forced himself to swallow the water.

Just like what Zhang Xuan said, his body was extremely tempered such that it was no different from that of an Ancient Sage anymore. As such, while drinking water was extremely painful for his current fragile state, it didn't pose a threat to him.

Gugugu!

As the bathwater seeped into his body, his injuries swiftly healed up at a visible pace. In less than a minute's time, he was already healed up and back to normal.

"This…" Dan Xiaotian widened his eyes in disbelief.

He dared not believe that a gourd's bathing water would actually be so formidable.

Seeing that Dan Xiaotian still had the leisure to be dazing off when they were already shot on time, Zhang Xuan smacked his head and berated, "Hurry up and absorb some spiritual energy and push for a breakthrough!"

"Y-yes!" Dan Xiaotian hurriedly focused his attention back to cultivation.

Even though his meridians had ruptured earlier, it didn't affect his cultivation at all as his zhenqi was stored within his dantian. As such, he had already regained his Great Sage 3-dan consummation cultivation as soon as his meridians had healed up.

Barely after he started cultivating, he found that the bottleneck that had limited him previously was already loose, allowing him to push for a breakthrough at any moment.

"Break!"

Without any hesitation, he drove his zhenqi and crash down the bottleneck. The limitation on his cultivation was released, and he successfully broke into Great Sage 4-dan Sempiternal realm.

His breakthrough didn't stop there.

Sempiternal realm primary stage.

Intermediate stage.

Advanced stage.

Pinnacle.

Perfection.

Consummation.

In less than an hour's time, he was already a foot into Ancient Sage, seemingly on the verge of achieving a breakthrough at any moment.

However, it was also at this moment that Zhang Xuan felt the energy within Dan Xiaotian's body gradually dying down, reminiscent of a receding tide. It was just one last step, but Dan Xiaotian had already lost the momentum to push it through.

"It seems like I have been underestimating this matter. No matter what, a breakthrough to Ancient Sage is still a major leap. Even in the Azure, it's no easy feat to take this step forward…" Zhang Xuan thought as his heart tightened up.

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