"What?" Zhang Xuan narrowed his eyes in astonishment as sweat poured down his body.

The sword qi was extremely swift, moving as fast as a streak of lightning. Not only that, it also harnessed formidable might within it. Even with Zhang Xuan's recent surge in cultivation, he instantaneously realized that it would be difficult for him to clash with that sword qi face on at a whim.

Thus, with a slight step, he executed the Unbounded Voyager. As if space had been compressed, that slight step allowed Zhang Xuan to cover three meters in an instant, placing him right next to the wall.


At the same time, the sword qi flew by him with a cold gale, vanishing into the distance.

That was a close one!

It was fortunate that he had recently gained a deeper comprehension of the laws of space and the Unbounded Voyager, or else that single surge of sword qi might have just left him severely wounded!

That should be around… Leaving Aperture realm primary stage! Zhang Xuan clenched his fists tightly as he made a rough estimate.

It was a very brief encounter, but it had allowed Zhang Xuan to verify the strength of the enemy—Leaving Aperture realm primary stage, as well as an expert in swordsmanship.

He was already capable of facing such an opponent with his current strength, but there was still a need for him to be wary around them. In a clash between experts, the slightest moment of carelessness could cost one's life.

For example, if he had not reacted swiftly to the sudden assault, he would have fallen there and then!


Barely after Zhang Xuan heaved a sigh of relief, a powerful killing intent suddenly permeated the area as two more surges of sword qi flew over, one from the front and one from the back.

In this narrow tunnel, these two surges of sword qi were more than enough to seal his path, leaving him nowhere to hide.


Knowing that he could not dodge as he did previously, Zhang Xuan flicked his wrist and whipped out his Glacier Rain Sword. With a powerful slash, he collided with the two surges of sword qi.

While the Glacier Rain Sword was only a Saint low-tier artifact, it was still able to display astounding prowess when paired with Zhang Xuan's mastery in swordsmanship. A deafening sonic boom echoed in the air, and the resulting powerful shockwave blasted the top layer off the walls of the tunnel.


Zhang Xuan's Glacier Rain Sword creaked under the overwhelming pressure it was placed under against the two surges of sword qi, nearly shattering. Nevertheless, it still managed to fend off the two surges of sword qi.

Knowing that he would remain at a critical disadvantage if he continued clashing with the enemy within the narrow tunnel, Zhang Xuan swiftly made use of this opportunity to advance forward.


His movements were quick, but the enemy's sword qi was even quicker. Barely after taking two steps, he felt sword qi tearing toward him once more. This time, there were four surges. If he forced his way through, there was a good chance that he would be sliced into tiny pieces.

Thus, Zhang Xuan flicked his Glacier Rain Sword to fend off the sword qi once more.

However, it seemed as if the opponent was simply getting started and was building up more momentum as the battle continued. After four surges, the enemy flung six surges of sword qi at him, and astoundingly, the strength of each sword qi was even stronger than the previous wave.

This seems to be a type of Sword Formation or some kind of unique sword art!

Even though Zhang Xuan had no idea who was behind the attacks, he could tell that the sword qi was the product of some kind of formidable Sword Formation or sword art.

Not daring to get careless, he drove the zhenqi within his body and tapped the area ahead of him lightly.


In an instant, it felt as if space itself had turned viscous. The six surges of sword qi significantly slowed down, posing no more threat to Zhang Xuan.

With a series of slashes with the Glacier Rain Sword, Zhang Xuan managed to overcome each of them. Just as he was about to advance once more, eight surges of sword qi arrived in his vicinity.

Following the previous pattern, the eight surges of sword qi were each stronger than the previous six. With their overwhelming might, they actually caused the viscous space that Zhang Xuan had just set up earlier to shake intensely, and with a resounding 'huala!', it dissipated altogether.

Deng deng deng deng!

Suffering a power backlash, Zhang Xuan was forced to retreat two steps before coughing up a mouthful of blood. He swiftly stretched a hand forward and gathered his zhenqi before his palm in the form of a sphere to defend himself from the powerful onslaught of sword qi.

The powerful surges of sword qi had really taken him by surprise this time around. Upon reaching Embryonic Soul realm pinnacle, his fighting prowess was already comparable to a Leaving Aperture realm intermediate stage cultivator. Yet, despite his strength, he ended up being knocked back by just a couple of sword qi surges!

A thought suddenly came to Zhang Xuan's mind. Each wave of sword qi is faster and stronger than the last. Could this be the legendary Crimson Emerald Duplet Swordsmanship?

Having read all the books in the Qingyuan Empire Combat Master Hall, he was rather familiar with the legendary formations and battle techniques that had appeared in the history of the Qingyuan Empire

Many years ago, there had been two extremely talented sword practitioners in the Combat Master Hall. They had managed to earn the opportunity to head to the Qianchong Empire's Sword Lagoon, and over there, they had comprehended a unique Sword Formation known as the Crimson Emerald Duplet Swordsmanship.

In a sense, it could also be considered as a collaborative formation centered around swords. Through the sheer might of the Sword Formation, they had been able to overwhelm even Leaving Aperture realm intermediate stage cultivators with ease!

But more than a thousand years ago, the duo had abruptly gone missing without leaving behind their heritage, and there were many who presumed that they had died.

However, to see this legendary Sword Formation appear here… Could it be that the duo had been killed by Vicious, and their bodies had been forged into Soulless Metal Humanoids?

If that was the case, Zhang Xuan would truly be in a bad position.

If I can't see them in action, I won't be able to compile a book on them and analyze the flaws in the battle technique. This won't do. If I continue wasting time here, once the battle on the other side ends, the threads will disappear along with the only clue we have leading to Vicious at the moment, Zhang Xuan thought grimly.

Knowing that he could not afford to waste any time, he decisively flicked his wrist to take the massive Golden Origin Cauldron out.

"Pave a way forward!"

"Roger that! Don't worry, Master. They are only a bunch of weaklings. Watch how I, Ding Ding, crush them into smithereens!" Roaring furiously, the Golden Origin Cauldron began on a ferocious charge through the tunnel.

Ding ding dang dang!

The sword qi produced a resounding metallic echo upon coming into contact with the Golden Origin Cauldron, but it did little to slow its movements.

After being infused with the Black Goldcrystal Ore, the defense of the Golden Origin Cauldron had been enhanced by leaps and bounds. On top of that, the Golden Origin Cauldron's cultivation had also reached Leaving Aperture realm advanced stage, two cultivation stages higher than the assailants. As powerful as the enemies' sword qi was, they were still unable to overcome the Golden Origin Cauldron's defenses.

Seeing how the Golden Origin Cauldron was able to deal with the Sword Formation with ease, Zhang Xuan heaved a sigh of relief as he followed closely behind it. The narrow tunnel was roughly eighty meters long, so it did not take him too long to arrive at the other end.

What he was met with was another large hall.

This hall had clearly been manually dug out, and it was roughly a hundred meters in diameter.

Upon entering the hall, Zhang Xuan's Spiritual Perception was no longer limited by the previous formation. Thus, he extended it, and he soon noticed two figures swiftly retreating from him.

While those two figures appeared no different from ordinary humans on the surface, be it in terms of skin, hair, or flesh, the lack of expression on their faces betrayed their identities as Soulless Metal Humanoids.

"Do you think that I'll allow you to get away that easily after assaulting me?" Zhang Xuan sneered coldly as he raised his palm.


An imposing force burst forth with astounding momentum toward the duo.

Heavenly Demon Great Sorrow Palm!

Sensing the powerful might of the palm art, the two Soulless Metal Humanoid swiftly turned around to defend against the palm with the swords in their hands.

However, having broken their Sword Formation, the momentum they had built up all this while had vanished without a trace. As such, the might of their sword qi was only comparable to the first wave of assault that they had launched previously.

Zhang Xuan's Heavenly Demon Great Sorrow Palm crushed their sword qi in a flash. Following which, the sound of ribcages shattering filled the hall as the two Soulless Metal Humanoids were smacked into the wall.

Seeing how Zhang Xuan incapacitated the both of them with a single blow, the Golden Origin Cauldron exclaimed anxiously, "Master, please leave one of them to me!"

This was a rare opportunity for it to try out its newfound strength, so naturally, it wanted cannon fodder to pummel as well.

"Fine, I'll leave them to you then," Zhang Xuan said.

His main goal was Vicious. As for these small fries, it would suffice to render them powerless.

"Wonderful!" Hearing those words, the Golden Origin Cauldron exclaimed in excitement. It immediately charged forward and crashed right into one of the two Soulless Metal Humanoids with its powerful body.


The Soulless Metal Humanoid did not even last for an instant before being reduced to a pancake plastered on the wall.

"Hahahaha, there's no one who is a match for Grandpa Ding! Hahahahaha!" Gripped with excitement, the Golden Origin Cauldron burst into laughter before abruptly turning to face the remaining Soulless Metal Humanoid.

Horrified, the Soulless Metal Humanoid swiftly struggled free from the wall and began to run away.

"Do you think that you will be able to flee from your Grandpa Ding?" Harrumphing coldly, the Golden Origin Cauldron charged forward once more.

Perhaps realizing that it would not be able to outrun the Golden Origin Cauldron, the Soulless Metal Humanoid drew its sword and launched a powerful chop toward it.

The powerful chop produced a crisp metallic sound on the Golden Origin Cauldron before the sword abruptly snapped into two. Following which, the Soulless Metal Humanoid was smacked into the wall.


Its bones were immediately shattered into nonexistence, and it became another painting on the wall, just like the previous Soulless Metal Humanoid.

"Ah…" Zhang Xuan was rendered speechless.

He had thought that the Golden Origin Cauldron would only subdue them. After all, these two Soulless Metal Humanoids had once been honorable experts of the Combat Master Hall, so it would have been good to have Hall Master Xing take them back to be buried. Yet, who would have thought that the Golden Origin Cauldron would actually destroy their bodies so utterly?

Oh well, it was not a big deal.

Ultimately, they were already dead. It would suffice to relinquish their bodies from Vicious' control and allow them to rest in peace.

Besides, the combat masters of the Combat Master Hall were not as sentimental as the Master Teacher Pavilion. On the battlefield, there was nothing more important than preserving one's life, so how could they possibly have attention to spare for any of those formalities?

Eye of Insight! Zhang Xuan began tracing down the threads once more, only to find that they extended underground.

Zhang Xuan walked over and placed his hand on the area where the threads disappeared. As expected, there was a trapdoor there.

Zhang Xuan lightly pushed it open with his forefinger.

Geji! Geji!

Instead of entering the trapdoor immediately, Zhang Xuan beckoned for the Golden Origin Cauldron. "Come over here for a moment!"

"Coming!" The Golden Origin Cauldron swiftly flew over.

"Head in first to check if there is any danger inside," Zhang Xuan instructed.

The sword qi he had faced in the tunnel had reminded him of the need to remain cautious in the Ghost Cavern. If not for the recent rise in his cultivation, he could have died under the onslaught of sword qi.

In any case, since he had the Golden Origin Cauldron, there was no need for him to take the risk to explore uncharted territory by himself. He could have the cauldron enter first, and depending on what it encountered, he would be able to take preparations in advance.

"Roger that!" the Golden Origin Cauldron replied before decisively jumping into the trapdoor.


"Master, I think that I am stuck…"

Zhang Xuan was speechless.

The Golden Origin Cauldron happened to be the perfect size to plug up the trapdoor.

"Never mind, come out first." Shaking his head, Zhang Xuan plucked the Golden Origin Cauldron out before driving his zhenqi and stepping into the trapdoor himself warily.

There was not a sound to be heard in the passageway beyond the trapdoor. Nevertheless, with the previous experience, Zhang Xuan dared not lower his guard. Holding the Glacier Rain Sword tightly in his grasp, he proceeded forward a step at a time.

Soon, he arrived at the very end of the flight of stairs. Surprisingly, the enemy did not spring a sudden assault on him this time around.

Zhang Xuan flicked his wrist to whip out a Night Illumination Pearl before tossing it on the ground ahead of him, lighting up the room before him.

It was yet another vast hall, just like the one above.

Scanning the room, a frown surfaced on Zhang Xuan's forehead.

The threads manipulating the Soulless Metal Humanoids vanished in this room, so he had expected to see Vicious there. But contrary to his expectations, there was not a person to be seen in the area.


Zhang Xuan was just about to scan the room thoroughly to see if he could find anything when the mechanical clicking of a mechanism suddenly echoed behind him. Turning around, he saw that the passageway that he had come from had already been sealed shut.

While it was not the Dragon Severing Lock, it was not a seal that he could break within a short period of time either.

Zhang Xuan was dazed for a moment before realization struck him. They are intending to separate me from Hall Master Xing and the others!

At this point, it was clear that the other party's intention was to divide their group up so as to deal with them one by one.

Knowing that there would be something lying in wait for him within the hall, he did not rush to break the seal. Instead, taking a deep breath, he began examining the hall carefully.

"Since you have already succeeded in isolating me from the rest of my group, isn't it about time for you to show yourself?"

"A wise man you are, Zhang shi!" a faint voice sounded from the depths of the hall.

Following which, a human-like figure suddenly emerged from the wall on the opposite side.

Thinking that it was an effect produced by some kind of illusion, Zhang Xuan did not pay much heed to it. However, when he took a closer look at the appearance of the figure, he could not help but frown.

"You… still aren't dead?"

The person before him was none other than the person he had conducted Soul Search on back in Qingyuan City, the individual whom he had given Vicious to consume—the Qingtian Emperor!



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