Library of Heaven is Path
Zhang Xuan swiftly imparted the Great Art of Inner Demons to 'Luo Ruoxin' before instructing, "Alright, revert to your original form."
"Yes, Teacher!" 'Luo Ruoxin's' silhouette blurred before reverting to the appearance of an inner demon. Its figure was permeated with a demonic air that seemed to send one's thoughts into disarray upon sight.
"What's your name?" Zhang Xuan asked.
"My name? I was born just a moment ago from your thoughts, so I don't have a name yet," the inner demon replied sheepishly.
"I see. Since that's the case, why don't I give you a name? Let me think…" Zhang Xuan pondered for a moment. "Alright, I'll call you Demoneh then!"
"Teacher, thank you for bestowing me with a name!" Demoneh replied gleefully.
Demoneh, Demoneh… There was a nice ring to the name that his teacher had given him.
"Alright, you can go out now!"
While Demoneh was still immersed in the delight from being given a name, he suddenly heard the voice of the young man, and he quickly nodded.
The next moment, the pitch-black space abruptly vanished without a trace. The surroundings before Zhang Xuan blurred, and before he knew it, he found himself standing right before the lake once more, as if what had just happened was merely a dream.
Seeing that Zhang Xuan had regained consciousness, Zhang Jiuxiao quickly asked worriedly, "Zhang shi, are you alright?"
Turning around, Zhang Xuan saw the entire group looking at him worriedly, as if fearing that something would happen to him.
"Don't worry, I'm fine." Zhang Xuan waved his hand.
Noting how Zhang Xuan seemed to be completely fine, devoid of the slightest disorientation in his mental state, Zhang Jiuxiao asked, "You… didn't encounter any inner demons?"
The lake could reflect the inner desires within one's heart, and these desires were the perfect tool to generate inner demons within one. There was no way their enemy would have passed on this opportunity to deal with them! Inner demons were the greatest fear of cultivators, capable of magnifying their greatest fears to put them through unbearable mental torture… So how could Zhang shi have returned completely fine?
"I encountered one," Zhang Xuan replied leisurely. "Come out and greet my companions!"
"Yes!" A black mist suddenly appeared before Zhang Xuan, and it gradually morphed into the form of an inner demon. It respectfully bowed to the others and said, "Demoneh pays respect to my teacher's companions!"
"That is… an inner demon?"
The lips of the entire group twitched as their eyes nearly bulged out of their sockets from disbelief.
That was a living inner demon! In the real world! Greeting them respectfully!
"Principal Zhang, what is going on?" Division Head Liao asked with quivering lips.
As the head of the Heart Division, he had read countless books regarding inner demons, and he knew very well that inner demons were existences bound to the thoughts of a cultivator, so it should have been impossible for them to exist in the real world. Furthermore, born from the darkness of an individual's heart, they were malicious beings who craved to destroy, so how could there possibly be one that was this obedient?
Before Zhang Xuan could respond, Demoneh readily replied with the utmost admiration in his tone. "Teacher has enlightened me from the darkness I was in. If not for him, I might still have been living my days groggily within a living hell. It's truly a huge blessing that I was able to meet my teacher!"
The faces of the group twitched so intensely that it felt as if they would fling their cheeks off their faces.
Surely inner demons could not be considered an independent lifeform… Even inner demons could have teachers?
"There's no need to get so caught up with a matter as trivial as this. Speaking of which, do any of you want to give the lake a try?" Zhang Xuan gestured to the lake as he spoke.
After a long moment of silence, Zhang Jiuxiao raised his hand and said, "I'll give it a try!"
He had come here before, and he knew that the inner desires reflected in the lake could give rise to inner demons within one's heart.
But for an inner demon to accept a cultivator as its teacher… This was really his first time seeing something as bewildering as that.
At the same time, it also made him extremely excited. He suddenly felt as if a brand-new world had opened up before his eyes, and he felt tempted to give it a try too!
"Un." Zhang Xuan infused a portion of his will into Zhang Jiuxiao's body before gesturing for the latter to take a look in the lake. "Alright, go ahead and take a look."
"Alright!" Turning his gaze to the lake, Zhang Jiuxiao immediately saw countless inner desires stacked upon one another surfacing on top of the lake, and these images seemed to resonate in his mind as well, leaving him feeling as if he would go insane.
He immediately tried to sever these inner desires from his mind, but before he could do so, his surroundings suddenly faded. Just like what had happened to Zhang Xuan earlier, he found himself plunged into darkness.
A towering demon slowly rose before Zhang Jiuxiao's eyes, and there was a savage sneer on his lips.
Upon seeing the appearance of Zhang Jiuxiao's inner demon, the will that Zhang Xuan had left within the latter's body widened his eyes in disbelief.
His inner demon… is me?
Who would have expected that he would actually be the greatest inner demon of the offspring of the Zhang Clan!
"I… will surely surpass you!"
Zhang Jiuxiao had initially entered with the intention of accepting the inner demon as his student, but upon seeing the inner demon, his eyes immediately glazed over in confusion, and he began shouting frenziedly at the top of his lungs.
Unlike Zhang Xuan, who could control his own state of mind, as soon as the inner demons appeared, the negative emotions that he had bottled up in his mind suddenly burst forth, consuming his consciousness whole, robbing him of his rationality.
"Surpass me? You wield great potential, but it's a pity that the cultivation technique you wield is beneath mine. However, if you cultivate according to my words, you might just be able to stand a chance…" the inner demon tempted with a beguiling voice.
Zhang Jiuxiao struggled internally for a moment, but eventually, he still caved in. "… Very well then!"
So, this is what it is like when an ordinary cultivator encounters inner demons… Zhang Xuan was astonished.
So far, he had encountered inner demons on three occasions. It was only on his first encounter, during his Saint Ascension Ordeal back in the Qiu Wu Palace, that he had been beguiled for a brief moment. As for the remaining two times, he had been able to retain his consciousness. He had thought that most cultivators would have been the same as him, but it seemed like that was far from the case.
From the very start, the very existence of the inner demons reflected the inability of the cultivator to control their heart, resulting in an opening for the inner demons' birth. As a result, it was not too difficult for an inner demon to breach a cultivator's mental resilience and drive them berserk.
Alright, I should start cleaning up now… After learning how inner demons were born, Zhang Xuan's will finally emerged from where it was hidden.
"Little Demon, come. I'll accept you as my student…"
"Will Jiuxiao be fine?"
Looking at Zhang Jiuxiao's shaking silhouette before the lake, the faces of the group turned grim.
"Principal Zhang has a deep understanding of inner demons. Since he was the one who gestured for Zhang Jiuxiao to head over, there shouldn't be a problem," Division Head Liao replied.
"I hope so…"
At that moment, Zhang Jiuxiao suddenly exhaled a mouthful of turbid air before slowly opening his eyes.
Following which, a pitch-black demon appeared before everyone's eyes.
Zhang Xuan turned to the demon and commanded, "What are you waiting for? Hurry up and greet my companions!"
"Yes, Teacher! Demonbee pays respect to my teacher's companions!" the inner demon greeted respectfully.
"Demonbee?" Hearing that name, Demoneh fell into a daze.
Why did it feel like there was something wrong with that name?
In the midst of his bewilderment, it heard its teacher speaking once more. "Who's next?"
"I'll give it a try, too!" Division Head Liao said before walking forward.
Not too long later, another inner demon surfaced before everyone's eyes, and it immediately bowed respectfully.
"Demonsee pays respect to my teacher's companions!"
"Demondee pays respect to my teacher's companions!"
"Demoneh, Demonbee, Demonsee, Demondee… A, B, C, D…"
At this point, Demoneh finally understood what was going on, and it nearly spurted blood.
It had been gleeful about the name that Zhang Xuan had given it, but who would have thought that it was actually such a casual one!
Looking at the neat row of inner demons before him, Zhang Xuan nodded in satisfaction.
"Alright, we have four inner demons now. Who else wants to give it a try?"
"Allow me!" Division Head Wei stepped forward.
But before he could get to the lake, the ground suddenly tremored intensely. Amid violent waves, the water level in the lake fell swiftly, as if someone had pulled open the plug in a bathtub.
When the lake had finally been emptied of water, a flight of stone steps slowly rose, leading deep underground.
Not expecting the lake to suddenly dry out when he had only acquired four inner demons, Zhang Xuan frowned in displeasure. "What's going on? I haven't collected enough inner demons yet…"
Before Zhang Xuan could finish his words, the eerie voice from before echoed once more, but this time, it seemed to be quivering with anger. "If you wish to meet me, come down…"
It was no wonder Vicious was furious.
He had thought that as long as he could get the group to look into the lake, he would be able to generate inner demons within their minds and successfully put them under his control, turning them into his subordinates. Yet, the other party had ended up collecting the inner demons as his students instead!
At this rate, not only would he not be weakening the other party's fighting prowess, he would even be bolstering their forces instead!
The reason I am breeding inner demons in your mind is to use it to control you all, not to turn them into tools for your usage!
The more Vicious thought about it, the more furious he felt.
If not for the fact that he had been sealed underground and was unable to make a move personally, he definitely would have charged right up to kill Zhang Xuan with a single slap!
He had met plenty of people who did not go by the book in his lifetime, but this was the first time he had seen one who ripped the book into shreds without a care in the world!
Hearing Vicious' voice, Zhang Xuan sighed deeply before beckoning for the group to head down the stone stairs. "Let's carry on then."
Even though the lake had only receded a moment ago, there was not the slightest dampness or mud on the stone steps. It was unknown what the stone steps were made of, but the area was so dark that it was extremely difficult for the group to make out their surroundings.
Zhang Jiuxiao flicked his wrist and took out a couple of Night Illumination Pearls before tossing them forward. Their warm glow provided some light for the group's passage forward.
Eventually, they arrived at a vast hall. Due to the limited light in the area, they were not able to fully make out the situation within the hall.
Zhang Xuan stood at the forefront of the group, leading the way forward.
Upon stepping into the hall, Zhang Xuan saw many corpses lying in the area. From the amount of dirt that had accumulated on the corpses, it could be seen that they had already been dead for many years. Yet, bizarrely, the corpses remained perfectly intact physically, just that they were without their souls.
Soulless Metal Humanoids!
"This…" Zhang Xuan frowned.
Through the tattered rags that remained on the corpses, he could tell that most of them were master teachers… and they had all been forged into metal humanoids.
Zhang Xuan narrowed his eyes in fury.
At this moment, he suddenly heard Ji shi's astonished voice. "Vice Pavilion Master Liu!"
Turning his gaze over, he saw Ji shi standing over one of the Soulless Metal Humanoids with anxiety in his eyes.
"Vice Pavilion Master Liu?"
"Yes, he's the vice head of our Northern Meadows City Master Teacher Pavilion! His full name is Liu Yiyu, and he went missing three years ago. I thought that he had gone into seclusion to push for a breakthrough, but who would have thought…" Ji shi's voice trembled in horror, and a lump at the back of his throat cut off the rest of his words.
"This…" Zhang Xuan was intending to console Ji shi when Wu shi suddenly walked up to one of the Soulless Golden Humanoids as well and exclaimed, "Elder Xing!"
One of the elders from the Qingyuan Empire Master Teacher Pavilion explained, "Elder Xing is an elder of our Master Teacher Pavilion, and he disappeared eight years ago. How could he be here, too?"
As the group proceeded forward under the glow of the Night Illumination Pearls, they swiftly found many familiar faces. Almost all of them were Primordial Spirit realm master teachers.
Most of them had disappeared in the past twenty years, and most had thought that they had either gone into isolation or had died. Yet, for them to have all been captured and converted into these darned things… Unforgivable!
Zhang Xuan sighed deeply. "There's no saving them anymore. They have all been converted into Soulless Metal Humanoids, empty vessels for soul oracles to maneuver…"
"Damn it!" Wu shi's face reddened in rage. "I'll have this matter reported to the Master Teacher Pavilion headquarters and have them exact vengeance for all of them! To kill so many master teachers and forge them into puppets… There's no way I'll let that bastard get away scot-free!"
"Hehehehe, report to the Master Teacher Pavilion headquarters, you say?" Vicious' voice sounded once more. "I'm afraid that it is already too late for you to do so…"
Right after those words were spoken, the hall suddenly shook intensely, and a loud crashing sound echoed behind them. Turning around, they saw that a massive boulder had already sealed the entrance that they had entered through.
Recognizing the artifact, Zhang Xuan's face darkened. Dragon Severing Lock!
It was the Dragon Severing Lock that was specially forged by celestial designers. Judging from how resilient it was, it would be difficult for even a Leaving Aperture realm pinnacle expert to break it!
While the group was still in shock, the Soulless Metal Humanoid in the area suddenly opened their eyes simultaneously.