"Hall Master Kong has always been a mysterious person. He made his name several thousand years ago, reaching heights that are comparable to our founders. Our founders have already turned to dust, but he remains active in the world. It's truly hard to imagine just how far he has advanced in his cultivation!" Gu Zhuiyun remarked.

"Given his standing, it's hard to imagine that he would renege on his words and steal our Guardian Artifacts. I don't see any harm lending it to him for a month."

The sharp Han Jianqiu immediately realized what Gu Zhuiyun was getting at, and a deep frown appeared between his eyebrows. "So, you are here to advise us to lend our Guardian Artifacts to Hall Master Kong too?"

Gu Zhuiyun nodded. "Indeed. We are doing this for the collective welfare of the Six Sects. Our Evanescent Immortal Sect and Blackmirror Citadel have already agreed to forge an alliance with one another. If we clear the Azure Bridge together, the number of Semi-Divinities that we have will far surpass that of the rest of you. Once that happens, there's no way you will be able to catch up to us anymore..."

"Are you threatening us?" Elder Kui Xiao asked with a glint in his eyes.

"I'm just presenting facts," Gu Zhuiyun replied calmly.

Han Jianqiu and the others fell silent.

There was some truth in what Gu Zhuiyun was saying. The balance among the Six Sects was maintained by the fact that they only had a Semi-Divinity realm cultivator each, and none of them had any Semi-Divinity artifacts.

Once the balance was broken, the future would become uncertain.

Those in the weaker position could very well find their sects slowly being devoured by the others, thus becoming nothing more than words in the annals of history.

"If it's such a good deal, why did Hall Master Kong send you to persuade us instead of coming here himself?" Elder Kui Xiao asked.

He had five words to describe the deal that Hall Master Kong was offering them—too good to be true. Given that the Guardian Artifacts were part of the foundation of their sects, there was no way they could loan them out too easily.

That being said, to receive a Semi-Divinity artifact and precious information concerning the Hall of Gods in return for lending their Guardian Artifacts for a month... this was a deal that was really moving, so much that it reeked of a scheme.

Years of experience as the heads of their respective sects had taught them to look at things objectively. If something was too good to be true, that was likely the case.

If he was really offering that good a deal, why did Hall Master Kong not approach them himself?

"Hall Master Kong has something more important to deal with at the moment, so he's unable to personally negotiate. That being said, he has promised that he will rush to the Heaven Anchoring Boulder prior to the descent of the Azure Bridge. However, it will be pointless to only acquire the information regarding the warriors of the Hall of Gods then. You will have lost precious time to make preparations in advance and exploit their weaknesses," Gu Zhuiyun replied.


Even if the candidates knew the weaknesses of their enemies beforehand, there was still a huge gap between them and the warriors of the Hall of Gods. They would need to make preparations beforehand in order to bridge that gap and achieve victory.

For that, they would need some time.

"You should hurry up and make up your minds. We'll have to make our way over to the Heaven Anchoring Boulder after Sect Leader Zhang Xuan concludes the inauguration ceremony. I'll just take it as you aren't interested in the deal if you aren't able to come to a decision by then," Gu Zhuiyun said, standing up from his seat. "That's all I have to say.

Farewell."

Having said his piece, he turned around and flew away.

Bai Xuansheng quickly followed behind him.

After the two of them had departed, the atmosphere in the room grew heavy once more.

Elder Kui Xiao was the first one to stand up. "Elder Han, I'll be taking my leave."

Elder Qin Yuan swiftly rose to his feet and said, "I'll be leaving, too."

Just like that, the two of them left the main hall.

Seeing that everyone had left, Han Jianqiu pondered deeply for a moment before getting up. "I should also quickly get in contact with our sect leader to discuss this matter with him..."

This matter could very well determine the survival of their sect in the long run. This was not something that he could decide by himself anymore.

While Han Jianqiu was attempting to contact Zhang Xuan, Elder Qin Yuan quickly caught up with Elder Kui Xiao and stopped him for a conversation.

"It's likely that Starchaser Palace and the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion have received some sort of information that prompted them to nominate the same person as their sect leaders, thus sealing their alliance. The Blackmirror Citadel and the Evanescent Immortal Sect have also accepted the Ethereal Hall's deal, forming an alliance of their own through this. That leaves only us. We aren't in a good position at all," Elder Qin Yuan said with a bitter smile on his lips.

this. That leaves only us. We aren't in a good position at all," Elder Qin Yuan said with a bitter smile on his lips.

"My thoughts exactly. Shall we form an alliance of our own?" Elder Kui Xiao nodded in agreement.

As the heads of their respective powers, they had to be extremely sensitive to the power balance among the Six Sects, or else they might just end up getting devoured before they knew it.

In the earlier meeting, they had found that they had been placed in a weaker position than the rest, and that had forced them to have to go along with the whims of the others. This was not a good position to be in.

"Since things have reached this point, I'll send a message to our hall master and urge him to come back quickly. It would be good if he could meet Pavilion Master Liu Yang face-to-face to discuss the details regarding our alliance," Elder Kui Xiao said.

"Un. I'll inform our pavilion master about the matter right away." Elder Kui Xiao nodded.

So, the two of them took out their Communication Jade Tokens and began liaising with their newly inaugurated heads.

Zhang Xuan had been recuperating on his way back to Starchaser Island, and by the time he arrived at his destination, he had already recovered to his full strength.

As he made his way over to Starchaser Palace, he flicked his wrist and took out a Communication Jade Token.

"Sect Leader Zhang, please head to the accommodation of the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion as quickly as possible." There was a map below the words that indicated the position of the accommodation.

It would be good to meet Han Jianqiu and ask him how in the world I ended up becoming the sect leader of the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion, Zhang Xuan thought with a shake of his head.

So, he quickly flitted over to the location marked on the map.

He had still been an ordinary elder when he left the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion, so when in the world did he get promoted? To make matters worse, it seemed like the entire world, with the exception of him, knew of the matter!

Barely after flying a few li, he suddenly flicked his wrist and took out another Communication Jade Token.

"Hall Master Zheng, please head to the Changyuan Gazebo. There are important matters that we need to discuss with you."

The person who had sent the message was Elder Qin Yuan.

"Changyuan Gazebo?" Zhang Xuan murmured beneath his breath.

He did not think that two sects would look for him simultaneously. He took a look at the map indicated below and found that the Changyuan Gazebo was not located too far from the accommodation of the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion.

He pondered for a moment before bringing his clone out and saying, "I need you to head to the Changyuan Gazebo to check out what's going..."

But before he could finish his words, a bizarre expression appeared on his face. He flicked his wrist once more, and yet another Communication Jade Token materialized in his grasp. There was a line of words on it. "Pavilion Master Liu, come to the Greenfate Quarters as soon as you receive this message. There are urgent matters that we need to talk about …"

The person who had sent this message was Elder Kui Xiao.

"Hmm?"

Zhang Xuan was stunned.

He had thought that he could head over to the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion's accommodation to meet Han Jianqiu while his clone made his way over to the Changyuan Gazebo to meet Elder Qin Yuan, but it turned out that all three sects wanted to meet him at once...

How was he supposed to deal with this situation?

"Never mind, let's deal with whatever we can at the moment. I'll head to the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion's accommodations, and you can head to the Changyuan Gazebo... No, that won't do. Forget it, I think it'll be better if you come with me!"

Zhang Xuan eventually dropped the idea of sending his clone over by himself.

Even though his clone had originated from his soul, for some reason, it felt as if his clone was suffering from a dissociative personality disorder, taking on a completely different character from him. His clone was a compulsive braggart, making use of every chance it had to show off.

It completely lacked humility and a low-profile disposition. How could someone like that be trusted to do great things?

What if his clone caused trouble while meeting Elder Qin Yuan? That would only add to his burdens! Since that was the case, he might as well keep the other party with him.

Thus, he returned his clone to his storage ring before rushing ahead. Half a minute later, he arrived at the accommodation of the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion.

"Sect Leader Zhang!" Han Jianqiu quickly stood up and bowed.

He went through the earlier happenings in detail before asking, "What should we do now? Should we accept the Ethereal Hall's deal?"

"The Ethereal Hall is trading a Semi-Divinity artifact and information regarding the Azure Bridge for the right to borrow the Guardian Artifacts of the Six Sects for a month?" Zhang Xuan was slightly bewildered by the news.

Had it been in the past, he certainly would have accepted such a deal. Considering that it was the World's Teacher of the Master Teacher Continent that he was dealing with, he could trust that the latter would not use the Guardian Artifacts improperly.

But now, he dared not make such assumptions.

It might still have been possible that Fu Chenzi had colluded with the Hall of Gods behind Kong shi's back, but he had proved that the token that Kong shi had given him was actually the key that lured the experts of the Hall of Gods to him. It was apparent that something was amiss!

"This matter could have severe implications. I think it would be for the best to meet Hall Master Kong in person so that we can better understand what he's trying to do," Zhang Xuan said.

If Kong shi was indeed making this deal in order to help the Six Sects, the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion would be at a severe disadvantage if it turned down the offer. However, at the same time, given the bizarre movements from the Ethereal Hall recently, it was more important than ever to tread carefully.

"I understand," Han Jianqiu replied with a nod. Then, with a hint of doubt in his eyes, he continued asking, "Sect Leader Zhang, did you receive some sort of important news that prompted you to become the new head of Starchaser Palace?"

"That's a long story..."

Zhang Xuan went through the details about how the Hall of Gods had forced Starchaser Palace to submit to them, how the Ethereal Hall had gotten involved in the matter, and how Du Qingjoian had abruptly disappeared without a trace.

He did not mention his identity as the new head of Sevenstar Pavilion.

After hearing the matter, a grim look appeared on Han Jianqiu's face.

"I am very familiar with Du Qingyuan. Her cultivation is very powerful, such that even I would have difficulties trying to defeat her. There aren't too many powers in the world that have the ability to make her vanish without a trace."

Zhang Xuan frowned. "Who on the Forsaken Continent has the ability to do that?"

If there was not too big a gap in prowess, Du Qingyuan should have at least been able to send out a signal for help.

Taking the old man he had encountered above the Ocean of Exiled Stars not too long ago as an example, even though the other party possessed means far exceeding his expectations, if he wanted to, he would have been able to send out a signal.

The fact that Du Qingyuan was unable to do so showed something.

"The Hall of Gods is an existence that towers over the entire Forsaken Continents. It's an extremely powerful organization that could potentially be under the control of real gods. If there are real gods on the Forsaken Continent, there's no doubt that they would be the strongest existences here. Putting aside Du Qingyuan, even if all Six Sects joined hands with one another, we still wouldn't be able to beat the other party!" Han Jianqiu said.

Zhang Xuan nodded in agreement.

He had never met a god in person, but without a doubt, a real god would surely wield powers far surpassing that of Semi-Divinity realm cultivators. It would not be too surprising if Du Qingyuan was unable to do anything in the face of a real god.

"Other than the Hall of Gods, the next most likely person would be none other than the head of the Ethereal Hall. The fact that Hall Master Kong was able to snatch the (God)' character from the Hall of Gods shows that he wields prowess far beyond our imagination. Even if he isn't a god, it's likely that he isn't too far away from them anymore."

"Un." Zhang Xuan nodded.

Kong shi's accomplishments on the Forsaken Continent served as evidence to his incredible means.

"As for the rest, I'm afraid I don't know that much either. Since the Forsaken Continent is the land abandoned by the gods, it's possible that there could still be some surprisingly powerful existences roaming these lands that we don't know about," Han Jianqiu added.

Those words brought a frown to Zhang Xuan's forehead.

He had never considered such a possibility before.

Thinking about it, the Forsaken Continent had been a part of the Firmament in the past. Since that was the case, it was not impossible for there to be even more powerful life forms roaming these lands.

They continued chatting for a bit longer, and through the conversation, Zhang Xuan found out that the Forsaken Continent was far more complicated than he had thought. Shaking his head, he decided not to dwell too much on it and instead asked, "By the way, I heard rumors that I am the sect leader of the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion. May I know what that is about?"

With a smile on his lips, Han Jianqiu explained about the declaration he had made shortly after Zhang Xuan's departure.

"I see..." Zhang Xuan nodded with a bitter smile on his lips.

So, the other party had done it in order to protect him.

It was just that it was not working at all. Even after learning that he was the heads of the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion, the Sevenstar Pavilion, and the Myriad Beasts Hall, the Hall of Gods had still made a move on him without any hesitation!

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