Library of Heaven is Path
1223 Celestial Designer Lock
Right after Zhang Xuan said those words, a dark mist abruptly burst forth from him. In the blink of an eye, a massive group of inner demons had rushed into the surroundings.
There was more than a hundred of them.
Back then, in the Combat Master Hall's Heart Division, Cang Xu's fragmented soul hidden within his body had resulted in the generation of a huge army of inner demons in the Trial of Inner Demons, and Cang Xu had attempted to use them to kill him. Eventually, he had managed to tame those inner demons, and he had kept them inside a jade bottle ever since then.
The hundred or so inner demons immediately rushed for the puppets.
"This is mine, don't you dare snatch it from me!"
"Hey, I was the one who saw it first…"
"I am Demonsee, and he's Demondee. We're inner demons who were personally named by our teacher! Nameless small fries like the rest of you should know your own place and go to the back of the queue!"
Upon seeing the huge army of puppets before them, the inner demons immediately charged forward to claim a body for themselves. Before the hundred puppets could even cause a shred of damage, every single one of them was already lying powerlessly on the ground.
"Y-you…" Vicious nearly lost his mind.
Only he knew how much time, effort, and precious materials he had spent on forging each and every one of those puppets. Those puppets were to become the invincible army that he would command upon his return, and he had been confident that they would easily kill the young man before him.
Yet, who could have known that the young man had prepared a hand for this as well!
To actually have more than a hundred inner demons in your possession… Does your family actually deal in inner demons?
"You bastards, get up and kill him!" Vicious bellowed wrathfully.
But plagued by inner demons, the eyes of the puppets were glazed. They remained motionless on the ground, as if lifeless corpses.
Reverting back to its usual, imposing presence, the Golden Origin Cauldron stepped forward and spoke confidently. "Master, let me smash all of them to smithereens! Otherwise, once the puppets struggle free of their inner demons, they will surely pose a threat to us once more!"
At the same time, it glared down on the puppets on the ground, seemingly wanting to suffocate each and every one of them with its massive bottom.
"Smash them to smithereens?" Zhang Xuan shook his head. "While they are only puppets, they do have their own consciousness. It would truly be a huge pity to kill all of them."
Just like the Golden Origin Cauldron, these puppets had spirits of their own. It would have been cruel to massacre over a hundred of them just like that.
"But…" the Golden Origin Cauldron frowned.
Even if they were to spare the puppets, it was not as if the puppets would spare them once they struggled free of the inner demons. Faced with more than a hundred Leaving Aperture realm puppets, it would only take moments for them to be pummeled to death!
"Jeez, I guess I have no choice then!" Shaking his head, Zhang Xuan waved his hand grandly with a deeply reluctant look on his face.
All of the puppets lying on the ground were packed into his storage ring.
Those puppets were currently in a state of confusion, so they could not resist being pulled into the storage ring at all. Furthermore, as artifacts, they would not suffocate to death in the storage ring either.
"…" the Golden Origin Cauldron.
"…" Vicious was so choked up that he could not speak a word at all, and he even nearly spurted a mouthful of blood.
Those puppets are mine! Mine!
This is robbery! How can you steal my possession right before my eyes?
You planned for this right from the start, right? Right?
Vicious was livid with rage, but there was nothing he could do in the situation.
All his puppets had been incapacitated, so he no longer had any subordinates who could possibly stop Zhang Xuan.
Ignoring the speechless Golden Origin Cauldron and clone, as if not feeling the slightest guilt for his actions, Zhang Xuan remarked leisurely, "I'll have to preach to them later on and have them renounce evil for good. It seems like I have unwittingly made another huge contribution to the Master Teacher Pavilion!"
With a few steps, he walked over to the door where the puppets had emerged from and walked in.
Once again, there was another flight of stairs leading downward. Just like before, he had his clone lead the way.
This time, they did not encounter any danger on the way. Before long, they reached the end of the passageway.
"This is… a labyrinth?" the Golden Origin Cauldron asked.
This time, instead of a vast hall, they were met with countless smaller rooms densely packed together. There were many possible paths to take, just like in a labyrinth.
More importantly, when Zhang Xuan scanned the area with his Spiritual Perception, he realized that it was not able to reach the end of the labyrinth. It was as if the entire labyrinth stretched across the whole island!
"This… What is this supposed to be used for?" Zhang Xuan's clone was bewildered.
In fact, even Zhang Xuan himself was taken aback.
He scanned the room with his Eye of Insight, and he realized that each of the small rooms was forged out of a unique material, making the walls particularly resilient. He could hardly imagine how much it would have cost to build such a gigantic labyrinth.
To make a comparison, the cost of crafting these rooms was at least a hundred times the price required to forge all the puppets he had encountered earlier.
"Are these residences for those puppets?" the Golden Origin Cauldron asked after a moment of contemplation.
"Residences? Would a hundred puppets require this many residences?"
Scanning the area with his Spiritual Perception, Zhang Xuan could perceive at least ten thousand rooms. Putting aside the question of if the puppets would require a room for themselves, surely there was no need to construct so many of them!
Unable to make sense of the bizarre labyrinth, Zhang Xuan shook his head as he began heading down one of the paths. "Let's not bother with that for the time being. Make sure to keep your guard up; don't give Vicious an opportunity to assault you…"
If it had been anyone else, they would have swiftly lost their way due to the identical rooms everywhere. However, through his Eye of Insight, Zhang Xuan was able to vaguely perceive an extremely thin strand of thread in the air. After walking for around ten minutes, passing by countless rooms in the meantime, they finally arrived before an open stone door, which revealed another passageway that led further downward.
Since they had already come this far, the two men and one cauldron walked into the passageway without any hesitation, heading downward once more.
As soon as they reached the end of the passageway, they immediately felt a concentrated burst of killing intent gushing their way, threatening to tear their consciousness into shreds.
Having practiced the simplified Heaven's Path Soul Art, Zhang Xuan's clone was still able to withstand the overwhelming killing intent. However, the Golden Origin Cauldron shook feebly in the face of the fearsome killing intent, unable to stand against it.
Despite having reached Leaving Aperture realm advanced stage, it was ultimately still a mere spirit and not a soul. Inevitably, its ability to withstand the powerful killing intent of the Otherworldly Demonic Tribe was lacking.
"You should return for now." Zhang Xuan swiftly stowed the Golden Origin Cauldron back into his storage ring before assessing the room before him together with his clone.
It was a spacious underground chamber. There was a square box hanging in the middle of the chamber, propped up by four thick chains embedded in the wall at the four corners. Zhang Xuan could not tell what kind of material the box was made of, but there was an eerie cold glint reflected off its black exterior.
The powerful burst of killing intent had originated from the box.
"Vicious… is inside?" Zhang Xuan's clone muttered softly.
"Very possibly so," Zhang Xuan replied with a grim frown.
The sheer concentration of the killing intent in that previous burst showed that the purity of the bloodline of whatever was sealed within the box had already exceeded that of the Qingtian Emperor. In the Ghost Cavern, the only one who could possibly possess a purer bloodline than the Qingtian Emperor was Vicious.
Beneath the black box was an altar that bore a striking resemblance to the one he had used to deal with the Qingtian Emperor earlier, just that it was slightly bigger. There were bizarre inscriptions all over it, and for some reason, there seemed to be an air of desolation shrouding those inscriptions. It felt as if one would be torn in two just by approaching it.
Zhang Xuan's clone picked up a stone and tossed it at the altar.
Countless sword qi burst forth from the altar, slicing the stone into powdery remains.
"This…" Zhang Xuan's eyebrows shot up.
The altar in his possession was used to nab souls whereas the altar right before him seemed to have a Slaughter Formation inscribed into it.
Even if it was him, he had no doubt that he would be reduced into minced meat if he was caught amid the sword qi.
In other words, anyone who tried to approach the black box would be instantaneously killed by the endless sword qi.
"You are here, aren't you?" Unable to see through the box nor the altar through his Eye of Insight, Zhang Xuan began scanning the surroundings as he called out.
"Humph! Even if you managed to find your way here, it makes no difference at all. As long as you are unable to open the box, your mission is doomed to end in a failure!" Vicious' eerie voice echoed within the chamber.
"You are in the box?" Zhang Xuan narrowed his eyes.
"Indeed. Even if you know it now, what can you do about it?" Vicious mocked.
Hearing those words, Zhang Xuan fell into deep contemplation.
Back at Chen Zhe's residence, when the other Vicious had nabbed his soul, he had muttered to himself, saying that as long as he devoured Zhang Xuan, a Celestial Master Teacher, he would be able to escape from his restraints. From the looks of it now, he had been referring to this box back then.
If he opened it and the other Vicious escaped… Considering how even the Vicious in the Book of Heaven's Path would not be able to make a move, Zhang Xuan was not too confident.
But… if he did not let Vicious out, there would be no way he would be able to kill the latter through the black box.
Let me see what it is!
Perplexed, Zhang Xuan slowly walked toward the black box.
The closer he came to the black box, the more powerful the killing intent became. If it had been Wu shi and the others, or perhaps even an 8-star master teacher, their minds could have very well succumbed by now.
However, Zhang Xuan was different. Driving his Heaven's Path zhenqi, he was able to easily dispel the pressure arising from the killing intent. Before long, he was already standing at the perimeter just outside of the altar's area of attack.
He did not dare proceed any further, but from this distance, he was already able to get a good look at the black box through his Eye of Insight.
The black box was roughly fifty centimeters in length, and there was not the slightest opening in the box, as if it was just a lump of metal.
"What is it?" Zhang Xuan's clone also walked over.
Zhang Xuan pondered for a moment before saying, "If I'm not mistaken, it seems to be… the Celestial Designer Lock!"
"Celestial Designer Lock?" Zhang Xuan's clone asked in confusion.
He had been in the storage ring over the past few days, and Zhang Xuan had not had any time to share his newly-learned knowledge with him yet. As such, his current knowledge was far beneath Zhang Xuan's.
"The Celestial Designer Lock is a unique artifact known to be the most unyielding lock that a celestial designer can create. It's often used to seal away highly dangerous objects, and once the lock is in place, not even the creator of the Celestial Designer Lock will be able to open it! If one forces it open, the content of the box will be utterly destroyed!" Zhang Xuan said.
"It's different from Celestial Designer Mechanical Container in the sense that the Celestial Designer Mechanical Container can be opened whereas the Celestial Designer Lock is intended for permanent sealing!"
Zhang Xuan had once encountered a Celestial Designer Mechanical Container, and while it had been difficult to open, those who managed to find the key would still be able to open it. On the other hand, the Celestial Designer Lock was like a dead knot. What was sealed within was doomed to never see the light of the day again.
If one forcefully pried it open, what was sealed within the box would be destroyed as well.
"Since that's the case, isn't it obvious what we should do? As long as we attempt to pry open the black box forcefully and trigger the self-destruction of the Celestial Designer Lock, we will be able to kill Vicious, right?" Zhang Xuan's clone said.
It was not as if they were here to save Vicious. If they could kill him, that would be for the best.
"This…" Zhang Xuan shook his head. "I fear that things might not be as simple as that!"
Stroking his lower jaw, he began circling around the altar, deep in thought.
If it was as easy as his clone made it out to be, there was no way Vicious would have allowed them to come this far so easily!
While they might have been unable to get close to the Celestial Designer Lock, if they were to knock the box with their zhenqi, they should be able to trigger its self-destruction without coming under the attack of the altar.
But it was precisely how easy and convenient everything was that left Zhang Xuan deeply apprehensive inside.
Could an expert of Vicious' caliber really be done in that easily?
"Clone, let's take a look around the area and see if we can find anything!" Zhang Xuan said as he swiftly imparted what he had learned recently to his clone.
After which, he began walking around the perimeter of the altar's area of attack to check for any anomalies.
The underground chamber was massive, and its walls were reinforced with the same unique material as the one used to construct the rooms in the labyrinth above.
Frowning, Zhang Xuan placed his finger lightly on the wall.
A book materialized in the Library of Heaven's Path.
Upon taking a look, Zhang Xuan frowned.