Library of Heaven is Path
1211 Hall Master Xing’s Leaving Aperture Ordeal
The Man-eating Lotus had devoured the energy swiftly, precisely, and accurately. Just like what Ji shi had said, it was indeed unlikely for ordinary Transcendent Mortal cultivators to be able to escape from their clutches.
"Other than the Man-eating Lotuses, there are also some unique poisonous worms that live within the marsh. Once bitten, one's body will immediately be numbed, making it impossible for one to exert any strength. Unable to move, one will only continue to sink deeper and deeper into the marshlands, until one is reduced to white bones. There was even a year where a hundred thousand cultivators and master teachers had died here. As such, this area has been labeled as a forbidden zone for cultivators." As Ji shi spoke, he took out a slice of cooked meat from his storage ring and tossed it into the marsh.
Initially, the cooked meat floated on top of the marsh. A moment later, a couple of black beetles suddenly dived out of the marsh and bit the meat. In the blink of an eye, the meat was reduced to a puddle of acid, as if it had been corroded by a very potent acid.
Upon seeing this sight, the faces of the group turned extremely awful.
They had heard rumors about how treacherous the marshlands was, but they hadn't thought that it would actually be so fearsome. Even as Primordial Spirit realm cultivators, they still couldn't help but feel their bodies turning cold in apprehension.
"However, there's no need to worry. As treacherous as the marshlands are, there is a way to pass through it safely. There are some plots of land that float above the marsh, and they form something similar to a suspension bridge. As long as we are able to find these plots of land, we will be able to pass through the marshlands without much trouble!" Ji shi said with a smile.
After saying those words, he leaped ten meters forward and stepped on solid ground on the marshlands. "Everyone, follow me closely. Make sure not to step wrongly or lag behind!"
Following which, he continued to leap forward. In just a dozen steps, he had already covered a distance of several hundred meters.
Zhang Xuan examined the area where Ji shi had landed carefully, and while it was nearly indiscernible, there was indeed a slight difference in the color as compared to the rest of the marsh. It was slightly tinged green, and while there were no plants growing in the area, it gave a feeling of fertility, different from the desolate aura that the rest of the marsh was emanating.
"It doesn't seem likely for these plots of land to have been formed naturally. Most likely, they have been artificially constructed…"
Zhang Xuan had no reason how the marshland came to be, but its formation should have resulted in the ground in the area to sink as a whole. For there plots of land where one could stand on to surface from the marsh, the chances were that they were man-made.
"Let's move on!"
Deciding not to think too deep into the matter, the group had the aerial saint beast to wait for them on the spot while they leaped onto the plots of land as well, following closely behind Ji shi.
As Saint realm experts, their memory far surpassed ordinary humans. Even though they had only briefly seen Ji shi's movements, they were still able to memorize his movements clearly and emulate them without any problem.
"Ji shi, I heard that there are some native saint beasts that live within the marsh. I am curious to know how do they survive in such an environment?"
Considering how poor the environment was, it was truly difficult to comprehend how any saint beasts could possibly grow in the marsh.
"Nearer to the center of the marsh, there will be some 'islands', the largest of them being roughly several kilometers in diameter, which would produce unique saint herbs and ores due to the unique environment of the marsh. As such, there are quite a few saint beasts who would claim those territories for their own in order to dominate those resources. Often, there are some cultivators who unwittingly enter those areas, only to end up killed."
At which, Ji shi suddenly gestured forward and said, "Speak of the devil. There's one of those right in front of us!"
The crowd turned over, and as expected, they saw a significantly larger plot of land right in front of them. Lush with greenery, it resembled a remote island in the midst of an ocean. It was filled with all kinds of plants, and from time to time, they would even see some birds flying in the area.
Proceeding forward, they finally arrived on the island after a ten-minute journey.
The island was roughly five hundred meters in radius, and there was a small hill in the middle of it. It floated above the marsh as if an upside-down tortoise shell.
"We should hurry forward. It'll be best if we could reach the center of the marsh before night time. The marsh gets even more frightening at night!" Seeing that the crowd's attention was wandering around the island, Ji shi urged anxiously.
"Un." Taking a glance at the gradually falling sun, Zhang Xuan nodded in agreement. "Let's proceed forward."
While there was still some time before sunset, the marshlands were simply too huge, and they couldn't fly in the area either. Even if they were to rush at full speed ahead, it would probably take them two to four hours before reaching the middle of the marsh, so they couldn't afford to waste any time.
With Ji shi's deep understanding of the marsh, the group managed to avoid most of the pitfalls along the way. They managed to successfully circumvent the territories of the saint beasts, as well as some of the more treacherous terrain in the marsh, thus saving much time. Four hours later, they were finally nearing the center of the marshlands.
On the way forward, they encountered quite a few cultivators, but the latter chose to take a detour around them.
While the group didn't don on their master teacher robe in order to conceal their identities, the incredible fighting prowess of the group was more than sufficient to strike fear in the hearts of others. Unlike in the city, where the presence of the Master Teacher Pavilion would make others think twice before carrying out any malicious acts, those in the marshlands had no qualms with killing other cultivators to steal their items. In fact, such actions were commonplace here.
Furthermore, if the corpses were to be disposed into the marshlands, it would be difficult for the regional Master Teacher Pavilion to investigate the matter and make an accurate judgement. As such, it was considered as a lawless zone, and in such an area, it went without saying that strength reigned supreme.
After proceeding forward another hour, just when the sun was starting to disappear at the western horizon, Ji shi lifted his finger and pointed, "The island just ahead of us is the very center of the entire marshlands. Based on most of the rumors, the Ghost Cavern tend to appear there the most often, so it'll be good to start out search there before gradually spreading out. Other than that, I don't really have a better idea in mind."
Following his finger, the crowd saw a massive island of roughly eight kilometers in diameter. The land was extremely lush, filled with greenery of all sorts, and there was a towering mountain in the middle of the island. Looking at it from afar, it seemed like a small city.
"Let's head over!"
Before long, the crowd stepped onto the island.
The first thing that they noticed about the island was the astonishingly high concentration of spiritual energy in the area. It felt refreshing and energizing to be in an environment so rich in spiritual energy.
"No wonder why saint beasts would want to live here! Indeed, if one were to cultivate here, one could probably achieve twice as much with the same amount of effort!" Zhang Xuan noted.
It seemed like the island was a natural blessed land for cultivation. Those who cultivate for the long-term here would be able to easily surpass those who lived outside.
As the saying goes, opportunities go hand in hand with risk. Despite knowing the dangers lurking within the marsh, the saint beasts still determinedly chose to reside in the area in hopes that they would be able to attain greater strength.
"Alright, we'll be resting here tonight. It'll be best for us to only start our search for the Ghost Cavern tomorrow morning as venomous worms and the sort will emerge from the marsh at night. Being too hasty in the moment will only slow us down!"
As Ji shi spoke, he flicked his wrist and took out a gourd of high-tier saint beast urine before pouring them in the surroundings. This served as a deter venomous worms and the sort from coming around them.
Having seen many things on their journey here, the remaining members of the group had also seen how terrifying the marsh was with their own eyes. Not saying anything much, they took out the rations they had prepared beforehand and began eating.
Fine wine accompanied with roasted meat, it could be said to be a considerably bountiful dinner.
After eating, Zhang Xuan didn't go to rest. Instead, he crossed his legs and continued to cultivate.
He drove his Heaven's Path zhenqi through his body to temper his Embryonic Soul again and again, trying to push for a metamorphosis as soon as possible.
While Zhang Xuan was at the Combat Master Hall, he had collected all of the books in the Guardian Division to form another Heaven's Path Golden Body, and its effects weren't too bad. Even if his physical body wasn't on par with the Golden Origin Cauldron yet, it definitely didn't pale too much from the latter.
After cultivating for some time, Zhang Xuan suddenly felt a surge of energy pulsating not too far away. Turning his head over, he saw Hall Master Xing's face abruptly reddening, as if he was unable to suppress the energy rampaging within his body.
"What's wrong?" Alarmed, Zhang Xuan quickly walked over and asked.
The others were also jolted awake from their cultivation, and they quickly walked over to check on Hall Master Xing out of worry.
"Principal Zhang, I think that my Leaving Aperture Ordeal might be coming very soon…" Hall Master Xing replied with a pale face.
Hearing those words, Zhang Xuan frowned.
After he had repaired the large rift in Hall Master Xing's Primordial Spirit, the latter swiftly made a breakthrough from Half-Leaving Aperture realm to Quasi Leaving Aperture realm. Under normal circumstances, he should be able to determine when he wanted to summon the Leaving Aperture Ordeal whenever he wanted, so why would it suddenly trigger at this moment?
"What happened?" Knowing that there was something doubtful about the situation, Zhang Xuan asked.
"I'm not too sure either. I was cultivating for a while earlier when I suddenly felt energy overflowing from my Primordial Spirit, attempting to overcome my bottleneck. I tried suppressing it, but I couldn't hold it in…"
At this moment, Hall Master Xing's zhenqi suddenly burst out from his pores, and soon after, ominous clouds began gathering above everyone's head. The lightning ordeal was about to fall.
"Don't worry, it's just the Leaving Aperture Ordeal. With your strength, you'll surely be able to overcome it easily!" Gesturing for everyone else to evacuate from the area where the lightning ordeal would fall, Zhang Xuan encouraged with a smile.
As the head of the Combat Master Hall, Hall Master Xing's physical resilience far exceeded that of ordinary cultivators. It was only because Qingyuan City had been in turmoil for the past few days that he chose to keep putting off his Leaving Aperture Ordeal, especially given the fact that it would take some time for him to recover from the overwhelming damage sustained from the lightning ordeal. Otherwise, he shouldn't have any trouble clearing the lightning ordeal.
While Zhang Xuan was speaking, a streak of lightning suddenly fell from the sky.
Hall Master Xing drew out his Primordial Spirit and dove it straight toward the lightning.
As soon as his Primordial Spirit collided with the lightning, it immediately began shrinking as if cotton in the face of fire. A deep roar resounded deafeningly in the air, reflecting the immense pain that Hall Master Xing was going through.
"What?" Zhang Xuan's eyebrows shot up in alarm.
"The Leaving Aperture Ordeal is incredibly dangerous, shouldn't he keep his Primordial Spirit within his body so as to share the burden of the lightning ordeal with it? Why did he draw his Primordial Spirit out to meet it face on? That's too reckless, too dangerous!" Wu shi exclaimed in horror.
The lightning of the Leaving Aperture Ordeal could temper one's Primordial Spirit, but the devastating might of it was not one which any Primordial Spirit could withstand by itself. As such, most cultivators would choose to use their physical body to ward off most of the lightning, absorbing only a small portion of it into their Primordial Spirit... And yet, Hall Master Xing actually sent his Primordial Spirit straight into the lightning. That was practically no different from suicide!
"No, something is wrong. It doesn't seem like he's doing it voluntarily…" Activating his Eye of Insight, Zhang Xuan's face darkened.
"He isn't doing it voluntarily? You mean that... he's under control?"
The crowd couldn't really comprehend what Zhang Xuan meant.
"It seems like a soul oracle has made a move on him. Knowing that he's on a verge of a breakthrough, the soul oracle forcefully manipulated his Primordial Spirit while he was cultivating to draw down the lightning ordeal before dragging his Primordial Spirit out, wanting to use the Power of Lightning to eradicate first. Or perhaps, he intends to make use of this incident to wear us down while attempting to save him…" Zhang Xuan's eyes narrowed in fury.
"Soul oracle? Does that mean that we have been noticed?" Wu shi's face darkened.
They had swapped out of their master teacher robe and rushed here without any worry in order to get to the mastermind behind the Qingtian Emperor before the other party could get to them.
Yet, who could have known that the other party would still be the one to make the pre-emptive blow?
"That seems to be the case." Zhang Xuan nodded.
Turning his gaze back to the sky, he saw Hall Master Xing's Primordial Spirit gradually growing smaller and smaller under the devastating might of the lightning, seemingly about to dissipate at anytime soon.
As powerful as Hall Master Xing was, given that Primordial Spirits were innately weak against the Power of Lightning, and he wasn't fully prepared to face the Leaving Aperture Ordeal when it descended, the odds were extremely against his favor.
"At this rate, Hall Master Xing really might just die!" Division Head Wei and Division Head Liao watched the situation in anxiety, not knowing what they could do.
Hall Master Xing was not only their leader but an old friend whom they had known for several centuries now. They couldn't bear to watch their old friend being burned to crisp with their own eyes!
"Principal Zhang, do you have a way to save him?"
The duo hurriedly turned to Zhang Xuan desperately, hoping that he would have a way to resolve the situation.
If there was anyone here who could possibly save Hall Master Xing, it could only be the young man before them.
"Rest assured, I'll surely save him!"
Even if the duo didn't say anything, Zhang Xuan would still save Hall Master Xing. With a sharp glint in his eyes, he examined the lightning ordeal before him closely with his Eye of Insight.