When the third streak of lightning finally dissipated, the ominous clouds in the sky finally scattered, as if they had finally accomplished their mission. The Golden Origin Cauldron also heaved a sigh of relief before slumping weakly to the ground, as if a lump of mud.

Having reached the Leaving Aperture realm, it was finally able to make basic movements like a human, such as walking and holding up items.

Zhang Xuan walked up to the Golden Origin Cauldron and placed his hand on it. A moment later, he heaved a sigh of relief.

While the latter was completely drained after withstanding three consecutive streaks of lightning, fortunately, its spirit remained mostly unharmed. As long as it rested well, it would be able to recover within three months.

Of course, if Zhang Xuan were to treat it personally, its recovery period could be significantly reduced.

"You should return to the Myriad Anthive Nest for now and recuperate under the Saint Bodhi Tree," Zhang Xuan instructed.

The Saint Bodhi Tree that he had planted in the Myriad Anthive Nest was exceptionally effective in nourishing souls and spirits. Since most of the damage that the Golden Origin Cauldron had sustained was to its spirit, it would do it some good to cultivate there.

"Yes, Master!" Knowing its own condition, the Golden Origin Cauldron decisively entered the Myriad Anthive Nest without any hesitation.

After the Golden Origin Cauldron left, Zhang Xuan turned around to face Chu Xiang. "Chu gongzi, thank you for helping me upgrade my artifact. As a token of my gratitude, I'll give you these ores…"

Back then, Zhang Xuan had obtained quite a handful of ores from Emperor Chu Tianxing. While he had used some of them to upgrade the Golden Origin Cauldron, there was still a substantial portion of them remaining. Since Chu Xiang had helped him, the least he could do was give those to him to thank him.

"Zhang shi, there's no need for that. Instead, I should be the one thanking you. This experience has truly given me a deeper insight into smithing!" Chu Xiang quickly waved his hand to turn Zhang Xuan down.

The very experience of upgrading the Golden Origin Cauldron was worth more than any ores or reward. As long as he digested everything that he had done today, his proficiency in smithing would surely improve by leaps and bounds.

"Alright then." Seeing that Chu Xiang was reluctant to accept the ores, Zhang Xuan did not insist on it either.

Considering how the other party was able to fork out a concentrated high-tier spirit stone for an Exclusive Dance back at the Spring Pavilion, there was no doubt that he came from a privileged family. Thus, it was very likely that those ores did not mean much to him.

After settling the matter with Chu Xiang, Zhang Xuan turned his attention to Guild Leader Qin. "Guild Leader Qin, regarding this… I'm really apologetic that I reduced the Blacksmith Guild to this state…"

He had not expected for such a mishap to happen during the upgrade of the Golden Origin Cauldron either. It was out of goodwill that the other party had allowed him to upgrade his weapon at the Forging Hall, but he had ended up reducing the other party's guild to rubble. No matter what, he had to take responsibility for the damage he had caused.

It was truly fortunate that no one had been injured in the incident, otherwise there was no way he would have been able to compensate for that.

"To make up for your losses, I'll have the Master Teacher Pavilion restore the Blacksmith Guild to its original state," Zhang Xuan said awkwardly.

"I'll be counting on Zhang shi then." Guild Leader Qin heaved a sigh of relief.

If the Master Teacher Pavilion was willing to help, it probably would not even take a day for the Blacksmith Guild to be restored to its former glory, or even better than that. This outcome was at least still acceptable to him.

"Un." Zhang Xuan nodded. He swiftly sent a message to Wu shi to inform him of the matter and have him dispatch some men over to help him clean up the mess. Last but not least, he turned his gaze onto Master Lin Jie and said, "I am truly apologetic for having interrupted your lecture. I'll be taking my leave now, so feel free to continue."

"…" Master Lin Jie's eyelids twitched.

All the blacksmiths have already been evacuated from the place, so who am I to lecture?

Furthermore, how am I supposed to lecture them after they have witnessed your exquisite use of smithing? Even if they did not say anything out of politeness, I would still be too embarrassed to lecture them with my half-assed knowledge!

If only I knew this would happen, I never would have agreed to come to the Qingyuan Empire Blacksmith Guild to conduct a lecture. Since there is such a formidable expert at the Master Teacher Pavilion, why in the world did they still bother to invite me?

Just the thought of it left Master Lin Jie deeply stifled within.

After bidding farewell to the crowd at the Blacksmith Guild, Zhang Xuan did not return to the Master Teacher Pavilion. Instead, he flew out of Qingyuan City and headed to the wooden hut where the Qingtian Emperor had dragged his soul to previously.

The area was extremely quiet and isolated, making it appropriate to deal with the problem concerning Vicious there.


Flicking his wrist, the Book of Heaven's Path appeared before Zhang Xuan's eyes. Taking in a deep breath, Zhang Xuan stretched his hand forward and grabbed it.


The heart and finger sealed within a page in the book slowly materialized.

Due to Zhang Xuan's lack of strength, he had kept Vicious sealed within the Book of Heaven's Path all along, not daring to let him out.

However, he had no choice but to let Vicious out this time around in order to allow the latter to undergo the Leaving Aperture Ordeal and successfully advance to the Leaving Aperture realm. In any case, Vicious had already submitted part of his soul to him, so he did not have to worry about a betrayal.


As soon as Vicious escaped from the confines of the Book of Heaven's Path, the heart and he finger immediately released extremely concentrated Zhenqi of Slaughter. In an instant, it felt as if someone had filled the entire wooden hut with water, making the surroundings incredibly suffocating.

Seeing how Vicious was still in the mood to show off, Zhang Xuan harrumphed coldly. "Alright, hurry up and devour the Qingtian Emperor's soul and raise your strength. Otherwise, if the other Vicious in the Marshlands of the Northern Meadows notices your presence, he'll surely come after you like a mad dog!"

"Alright!" Vicious answered meekly before swiftly absorbing the Qingtian Emperor's soul.

Suppressed within the Book of Heaven's Path, the rate at which he could absorb the Qingtian Emperor's soul was severely limited as well. However, with his release, he was finally able to utilize his strength to its maximum, and it did not take long for him to fully devour the soul.


Gradually, dark, ominous clouds began gathering in the sky.

Vicious had successfully invoked his Leaving Aperture Ordeal as well.

Unlike the Golden Origin Cauldron, even though Vicious had lost his memory, he was still an old monster who had lived for countless years. As fearsome as the Leaving Aperture Ordeal was, he was able to clear it as if it was a mere walk in the park.

Just like the Golden Origin Cauldron though, he also underwent three consecutive lightning strikes, and his cultivation rose all the way to Leaving Aperture realm advanced stage before gradually sliding to a halt.

The Qingtian Emperor was ultimately only a Leaving Aperture realm primary stage soul oracle. Even though his soul harnessed an incredible amount of energy in it, it was only sufficient for Vicious to reach Leaving Aperture realm advanced stage.

Seeing that Vicious had succeeded, Zhang Xuan heaved a sigh of relief. "Good, rest up well. I'll be bringing you to the Marshlands of the Northern Meadows in two days, so make sure that you are in your peak condition to deal with the other Vicious by then."

Now that he had two Leaving Aperture realm advanced stage experts protecting him, he was in a much safer position than before. On top of that, he also possessed substantial strength himself after achieving a breakthrough to Saint 3-dan Embryonic Soul realm. As long as the Vicious in the Marshlands of the Northern Meadows was not beyond the Leaving Aperture realm, he would be able to deal with the other party without much trouble.

"Alright, time to return to the Combat Master Hall." Sending Vicious back into the Book of Heaven's Path, Zhang Xuan flew to the Combat Master Hall.

All in all, his trip out had only taken around eight hours in total, but his fighting prowess and trump cards had increased significantly.

Currently, the combat masters from the other three Combat Master Halls were in an intensive exchange with the Xuanxuan Faction, and they were currently negotiating for a long-term alliance.

Zhang Xuan decided not to interfere in the matter, allowing the others to sort it out among themselves. Just as he was about to find Hall Master Xing to discuss the matter about heading to the Marshlands of the Northern Meadows, he suddenly saw Yu Fei-er flying over.

"Zhang shi, Qiqi has left Qingyuan City!"

"She has left?" Zhang Xuan was taken aback. "Where did she go?"

It was just earlier in the afternoon that she had asked him to accompany her for an entire day, and he had even spent two hours guiding her on pill forging. Why would she suddenly leave?

"I'm not too sure either!" Yu Fei-er shook her head.

"Did she say anything?" Zhang Xuan asked. Even if he had rejected Luo Qiqi, the latter was not the sort to leave without saying farewell. Could something have happened to her?

"She said that she had some matters at home to attend to, so she needed to leave for the time being," Yu Fei-er replied.

"Some matters at home to attend to?"

"Un. I saw the introduction letter she submitted when applying to the Master Teacher Academy. She was introduced by the Baiyuan royal family, so I figure that she's the princess of the Baiyuan Empire. I heard a few days earlier that there has been some unrest in the Baiyuan Empire, and several members of the royal family have been injured. Perhaps she has left to resolve the issue!" Yu Fei-er said.

"Baiyuan Empire…" Zhang Xuan pondered for a moment before nodding.

He seemed to have recalled someone saying that Luo Qiqi was the princess of some empire back when he first met her.

Baiyuan Empire was a Tier-1 Empire, too. While it was significantly stronger than the Hongyuan Empire, it still paled greatly in comparison to the Qingyuan Empire.

Noticing Zhang Xuan's worry, Yu Fei-er said, "The Baiyuan Empire is just a Tier-1 Empire, so their strongest power should be at Saint 1-dan pinnacle. Considering that Qiqi is a Saint 2-dan cultivator, she shouldn't have any problem suppressing the unrest there."

"Un." Zhang Xuan nodded.

With Luo Qiqi's recent rise in cultivation, it would be easy for her to deal with the unrest in her homeland.

Just that, the recent consecutive departures of his students did leave him feeling slightly down within.

Yu Fei-er hesitated for a moment before speaking. "Zhang shi. To be honest with you, I intend to return to the Hongyuan Empire soon, too."

"You are leaving, too?" Zhang Xuan asked.

"Yes. I have thought about many things over the past few hours, and I have come to a realization. You are a dragon who will eventually ascend to great heights; not even the Qingyuan Empire nor even the Empire Alliance will be big enough for you to fully spread your wings. Only a person like the little princess from the Luo Clan will be worthy of being by your side," Yu Fei-er said with downcast eyes.

"I am only an insignificant princess from a Tier-1 Empire, so it's indeed about time for me to stop my delusions. Rather than pursuing an impossible goal, I might as well focus my attention on my cultivation. Perhaps one day, I can reach a height where I could make you spare a glance at me too…"

She had always been a decisive person, and since she had made her decision, she would not hesitate in carrying it out.

Over the half a year she had been with Zhang Xuan, deep inside her heart, she had already realized that it was just a matter of time before he became someone completely out of her reach.

Watching as the distance between them grew bigger and bigger, she felt more and more anxious and apprehensive. It was not too long ago that he had been weaker than her, but before she could truly grasp it, he had already become a person far nobler and stronger than her.

Rather than chasing behind him anxiously and allowing panic to gradually consume her, perhaps it would be much better if she took her leave and calmed down first.

"This…" Not expecting Yu Fei-er to come to a decision so quickly, Zhang Xuan pondered for a moment before nodding. "I understand. Take care of yourself."

Even with his state of mind, he was still unable to fully comprehend and resolve the dilemma of love. From his feelings for Luo Ruoxin, he could tell how difficult it was for a person to give up one that they liked. In fact, it was due to his reluctance to lose Luo Ruoxin that he was so motivated to push himself to his limits.

Yet, within just a few hours, Yu Fei-er had been able to sort out her feelings and sever whatever sentiments she had for him. From this perspective, she was indeed a courageous individual.

Most likely, she would become a very capable monarch, possibly achieving accomplishments far exceeding those of her father, Yu Shenqing.

"Zhang shi, farewell." With a light smile, Yu Fei-er turned around and left.

Just like her arrival, she left without any hesitation as well.

It seemed like she could see through Zhang Xuan's determination as well. She knew that Zhang Xuan's heart was only big enough to house the little princess of the Luo Clan, and her persistence would only become a nuisance to him. Since that was the case, perhaps leaving was the best decision. At the very least, she would be able to leave behind a good impression in his mind.

Leaving the Combat Master Hall, Yu Fei-er turned around to gaze at the majestic building behind her as she clenched her fists tightly in agitation. Qiqi probably has the same thoughts in mind as me. Dealing with the affairs back home is one matter, but she probably doesn't know how she can face Zhang shi after her rejection either. Nevertheless, I should still hasten my footsteps so as to not lag behind her.

She and Luo Qiqi were both extremely prideful people. It had not been easy for them to find someone whom they loved, but the both of them had ended up being rejected together. It was inevitable that they would find this hard to swallow.

If we just followed behind you and accepted your guidance and generosity, even if we eventually caught up with you, we would not be able to harbor any intentions toward you anymore.

Indeed, we might be unworthy of you now, but we'll continue working hard! Eventually, with our own strength, we will climb to a height where we will be qualified to stand beside you!

This shall be my resolve, as well as my pride!



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