It took half a day for Zhang Xuan and Jiang Yao to return to Starchaser Palace.

First Elder Zhao Yue widened her eyes in disbelief upon seeing Jiang Yao. She had thought that their previous parting would be eternal, but the latter had managed to return alive!

"It's all thanks to Sect Leader Zhang Xuan's help," Jiang Yao explained.

"Sect Leader Zhang Xuan? Are you referring to the new head of the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion?" First Elder Zhao Yue was stunned.

Jiang Yao nodded before asking, "Is our palace master back yet?"

First Elder Zhao Yue shook her head.

"That's weird. I sent a message to our palace master after I was safe, so she should have returned right after receiving my message. Why isn't she here yet?"

She did not know exactly where Du Qingyuan had headed to, but it should not be as far off as the City of Collapsed Space, so she should have been able to return ahead of them.

"Let's just wait a bit more. Our palace master might have been held up by something else. Given her strength, it's unlikely that anything bad will have happened to her," First Elder Zhao Yue replied.

"Un." Jiang Yao nodded.

She settled Zhang Xuan down in one of the accommodations before pacing around the main hall, waiting for Du Qingyuan to return. However, even after half a day, Du Qingyuan was nowhere to be seen. This caused the two elders to start to panic.

"Let's head to the Ritual Palace and try to get in contact with our palace master through a ritual," Jiang Yao said with a frown.

They had been with Du Qingyuan for over a thousand years, and they knew the latter's temperament very well. The latter should have rushed over as soon as she received the news. She was not the type to allow anything else to hold her up when it came to urgent business.

Yet, she was not even responding to their messages. Could she have met with some kind of danger?

Worried sick, Jiang Yao and First Elder Zhao Yue headed to Zhang Xuan's accommodation to urge him to come along with them before rushing to the Ritual Palace.

In the massive room, an altar similar to the one that Zhang Xuan had seen back in the City of Collapsed Space stood at the very center.

The two elders of Starchaser Palace quickly placed several offerings on the altar, and a moment later, a sky-blue flame seedling suddenly appeared on it.

It was a known fact that the altars of Starchaser Palace could even cross dimensions to establish a connection link with the gods, so reaching a person within the same dimension should not pose a problem at all.

The sky-blue flame seedling flickered slightly, seemingly trying to summon someone. Jiang Yao dripped three droplets of blood onto the altar, and a powerful blaze rose up from the flame seedling as it morphed into the form of a person.

The silhouette of the person became more and more distinct, but all of a sudden, with a resounding pop, the flame abruptly burst apart.


Watching the entire process from the side, Zhang Xuan frowned.

Having lived in the capital of the Master Teacher Continent's Otherworldly Demonic Tribe for some time, he had browsed through their massive collection of books. As such, he had some understanding regarding the rituals they conducted.

This occurrence did not mean that the ritual had failed. On the contrary, the ritual had succeeded—it was just that the person they were trying to reach could not be summoned.

In other words...

"Something has happened to our palace master," Jiang Yao and First Elder Zhao Yue muttered with utterly pale faces.

Jiang Yao turned to Zhang Xuan and anxiously explained, "Usually, the ritual would forge a connection link with our palace master's consciousness, allowing us to communicate directly with her. The abrupt dissipation of the flames means that either our palace master is rejecting the connection link... or she's in no state to accept the connection link..."

Zhang Xuan's eyes narrowed into slits.

Even after all the countermeasures that Du Qingyuan had prepared to distract the Hall of Gods, she was still caught by them in the end?

If that was really the case, the Hall of Gods was far more terrifying than he had thought!

"What should we do now?" Jiang Yao asked First Elder Zhao Yue anxiously.

In view of her safety, Du Qingyuan did not inform anyone of their whereabouts prior to her departure, so no one knew where she had gone.

Given everything that she had done, it went without saying that she would have made sure to conceal her trail properly. So, it would be nigh impossible for them to find her.

First Elder Zhao Yue suddenly thought of something, and she hurriedly took out a jade token from her storage ring. "Before our palace master left, she told me to crush this jade token if she didn't return..."

Right after saying those words, she immediately crushed the jade token.

Weng!

There was a flash of light, and a line of words appeared in the air.

"Should I fail to return to Starchaser Palace, the one who will take my place as the palace master will be Zhang Xuan from the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion. Regard him with the utmost respect and obey his commands unconditionally."

"This..."

Reading the words in the air, First Elder Zhao Yue and Jiang Yao exchanged gazes before hurriedly turning to look at Zhang Xuan.

Zhang Xuan was also flabbergasted by the matter.

Du Qingyuan had left a will behind to appoint him as the next head of Starchaser Palace... What was going on?

Taking a closer look, he realized that there was an illusory figure right next to the message. His eyebrows shot up as he hurriedly pointed at the figure and asked, "Is that lady over there your palace master?"

That illusory figure was the deity who had appeared on the Master Teacher Continent back when Sovereign Chen Yong conducted the ritual to summon Luo Ruoxin!

First Elder Zhao Yue nodded. "That's indeed our palace master."

"As I expected..." Zhang Xuan nodded slightly before a bitter smile crept onto his lips.

He had guessed as much when he realized that the indigenous population living on Starchaser Island were from the Otherworldly Demonic Tribe.

He was just a single step away to learning the truth, but who could have thought that a mishap would occur at this moment?

That person was likely the only one on the Forsaken Continent who knew of Luo Ruoxin's true identity, as well as where she had gone afterward. If something really happened to her, his only source of information would be severed.

He had initially been a little surprised that Du Qingyuan would nominate him to be the next palace master, but after some thought, he could understand the rationale behind her decision.

The only power who wielded the ability to force her, one of the strongest Semi-Divinity realm experts on the Forsaken Continent, into a corner was the Hall of Gods.

And the only one who really wielded the strength to go against the Hall of Gods was him, the new sect leader of the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion who had comprehended the Gods' Sword Intent!

On top of that, while the names 'Liu Yang' and 'Zheng Yang' might have sounded foreign to others, as the one who had saved Wu Chen, it was likely that Du Qingyuan might have heard a thing or two from him and guessed that they were actually all him.

It was probably in view of his current power and influence on the Forsaken Continent that she wanted to entrust Starchaser Palace to him so as to help it tide through this difficult period.

"Sect Leader Zhang." Jiang Yao turned to Zhang Xuan and clasped her fist. "We believe that our palace master has her reasons for issuing such an order, and we are willing to heed her commands. May I know what your view on the matter is?"

The two of them had personally witnessed Zhang Xuan's four Semi-Divinity realm beasts, so they had no doubts regarding his abilities.

Furthermore, Du Qingyuan was a wise and discerning person. They trusted her judgement.

"Since Palace Master Du trusts me so, I'm willing to take on the position as the new head of Starchaser Palace." Zhang Xuan nodded.

He had thought that it was just a great deal of trouble to lead a sect initially, but the Hall of Gods had turned out to be a much more difficult opponent than he had expected. In order to counteract them, the Six Sects would have to unite together, but they would need someone to rally under.

If he could become the head of Starchaser Palace, that would definitely give him much more credence.

More importantly, Starchaser Palace held the means to contact Luo Ruoxin, even if Du Qingyuan was missing at the moment.

"Thank you, Sect Leader Zhang." First Elder Zhao Yue bowed deeply. "We'll make preparations for the inauguration ceremony right now. For the time being, please do have a good rest at the accommodation we prepared for you. You must be exhausted after the trip to the City of Collapsed Space. Those from the other five sects should only be arriving tomorrow."

Those from the other five sects had gathered together in order to discuss the details of how they would deal with the Azure Bridge. It would be good to hold the inauguration ceremony with the other five sects as witnesses to build prestige.

They had no idea why Du Qingyuan would nominate the incumbent sect leader of the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion as her successor, and to be honest, they had some qualms regarding the issue. However, they were also aware of the benefits it would bring.

Having a common leader would create a firm foundation for an alliance between the two sects, thus granting them more power to deal with the Hall of Gods.

"I understand." Zhang Xuan nodded. "For the time being, I wish to take a look at the library of Starchaser Palace."

Even though he had already reached the High Immortal realm, he was unable to advance his cultivation any further until he gathered sufficient cultivation techniques to compile the High Immortal realm Heaven's Path Divine Art.

"Of course, allow me to lead you there," First Elder Zhao Yue said.

She quickly led Zhang Xuan over to the library before leaving to arrange the upcoming inauguration ceremony.

So, Zhang Xuan quickly collected all the books within the library.

Half a day later, he left the library and headed to an isolated chamber.

As expected of a power that could communicate with the gods, Starchaser Palace had a massive collection of cultivation technique manuals that surpassed even that of the Sevenstar Pavilion.

This was especially so when it came to books relating to souls. The soul-related books in the other sects had could only be considered elementary compared to what they had.

Compile!

With a jolt of the Library of Heaven's Path, all the soul-related books were compiled into a High Immortal realm Heaven's Path Soul Art.

Shortly afterward, he moved on to compile all the High Immortal realm cultivation techniques that he had gathered so far.

With trembling fingers, Zhang Xuan nervously flipped open the compiled book, and after taking a look, he heaved a sigh of relief.

"There are still three more flaws, but they can be resolved by using items as catalysts..."

Even though Starchaser Palace's collection of High Immortal realm cultivation techniques was limited, it was fortunate that they had collected quite a lot of insights and cultivation experiences of High Immortals over the years.

"Water of Heavy Silver, Metal of Luminescent Star, and Grass of Biting Leaf..."

Each of these three items would resolve one of the flaws, but they were incredibly invaluable, such that they were worth even more than the diamond that the Sevenstar Pavilion had used earlier in the Ocean of Exiled Stars.

"I managed to obtain some Grass of Biting Leaf back in the City of Collapsed Space, and its potency is even greater than that of normal ones, so that's fine..." Zhang Xuan quickly ran through the various items that he had at the moment.

The City of Collapsed Space was fraught with dangers, but the natural treasures that thrived in that environment still managed to convince many cultivators of each generation to brave the dangers.

Back then, before he encountered the Degeneration Beasts, he had grabbed all the medicinal herbs that he could find, and fortunately, the Grass of Biting Leaf was among them.

"As for Metal of Luminescent Star... What luck! There happens to be one in Bai Xuansheng's storage ring!"

Zhang Xuan had secretly taken Citadel Lord Bai Xuansheng's storage ring before, and he had quickly checked on the contents earlier. There were all sorts of valuable things in there—two Heavenly High Immortal-tier weapons, all sorts of precious medicinal herbs, ores, and cultivation resources. The Metal of Luminescent Star was among them, too.

Thus, all he was lacking was the Water of Heavy Silver.

He had read about this item in the books before. Similar to the Northern Sea Dragon Orb, it existed in the depths of the ocean, making it extremely difficult to find. Even the Sevenstar Pavilion, which had a massive information network and all sorts of connections, did not have a clue as to where to source one at the moment.

"Maybe I should take a look in the Ethereal Hall. It would be best if I could buy one straight away, but otherwise, I could try putting up a bounty."

Since it was recorded in the books, it meant that there was someone in the world who had used it before. The only power that boasted a greater information network and more connections than the Sevenstar Pavilion was the Ethereal Hall.

The Ethereal Hall had branches all over the Forsaken Continent, and most cultivators accessed the Ethereal Hall frequently. While he harbored some doubts regarding the Ethereal Hall after the encounter with Fu Chenzi, he felt that this was a risk that he had to take.

Otherwise, there was no saying when he would be able to find the Water of Heavy Silver.

If he could advance his cultivation to the Heavenly High Immortal realm, he would be in a much better position to deal with the warriors of the Hall of Gods.

With such thoughts in mind, Zhang Xuan left his room and quickly looked for First Elder Zhao Yue.

"Here is a High Immortal realm Ethereal Token. Starchaser Palace is located on the remote Starchaser Island, so we didn't isolate Starchaser Palace from external Ethereal Halls. As such, you can enter the Ethereal Hall here," First Elder Zhao Yue said as she passed an Ethereal Token over.

Thank you," Zhang Xuan replied with a smile.

On the other hand, Jiang Yao gazed at Zhang Xuan with a conflicted frown before eventually saying, "Be careful. I don't have any concrete evidence, but I'm not sure if the Ethereal Hall is trustworthy anymore."

"I know. I will be careful." Zhang Xuan nodded grimly before taking his leave.

He headed back to the isolated chamber and sat down. Holding the Ethereal Token tightly in his hand, he stared at the wall before him contemplatively.

Thinking back, I was connected to the Ethereal Hall those two times before I was assassinated by the warriors of the Hall of Gods. Will it be the same this time?"

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