Library of Heaven is Path
1239 Save the People!
"Audacious!" Song shi roared furiously.
"As master teachers, we seek to enlighten and guide others with our words and actions. On top of imparting knowledge to others, we aim to instill the correct values into them so that they will eventually become upstanding members of our society! If, as you have said, a person's nature cannot be changed, what would be the point in the existence of master teachers? Can I take it that you are you refuting Kong shi's teachings and the purpose of the Master Teacher Pavilion?" Zhang Xuan bellowed authoritatively.
"I… That's not what I mean!" Song shi quickly denied it.
To refute Kong shi's teachings and the purpose of the Master Teacher Pavilion… Even if he inflated his guts tenfold, he would not dare do something like that!
"Then, can I take it that you are refuting the decisions made by the Progeny of Combat and the Combat Master Hall headquarters?" Zhang Xuan continued cornering Song shi with his words.
"T-that's not what I mean either!" Song shi quickly waved his hand.
While the Combat Master Hall was a subsidiary of the Master Teacher Pavilion, the Progeny of Combat was still not a person whom a small figure like him could refute.
"If that is not what you mean, what else do you mean then? In a world of drunkards, you are the only sober one?" Zhang Xuan mocked.
"You…" Choked to the point that his face had turned scarlet, Song shi knew that he would only fall deeper and deeper into the ditch if he allowed Zhang Xuan to continue questioning him. Thus, he turned to Yao shi and clasped his fist. "Yao shi, we are all aware of the rituals that the depraved poison masters practice. Putting aside the vile nature of their cultivation techniques, they use human blood and even human lives to breed their gu… Such is the unspeakable brutality that they carry out!
"I have no idea why those poison masters were accepted into the Combat Master Hall, but in my opinion, it might just be another form of imprisonment so as to prevent them from doing any more evil in the world, rather than an acknowledgement of their noble personality."
"You said that the nature of their cultivation techniques is vile?" Zhang Xuan suddenly interjected with lifted eyebrows. "As a master teacher, you should be well aware of how important it is to verify your facts before speaking. I find it hard to comprehend how you can utter such blatant nonsense before an 8-star master teacher. Do you understand the consequences of lying to a higher ranked master teacher?"
"What kind of rubbish are you talking about?" Song shi roared back.
"Rubbish?" Zhang Xuan stared at Song shi disdainfully for a moment before shaking his head. He turned his gaze to Elder Xu and the others below the execution platform and said, "Elder Xu and the other esteemed poison masters! Pardon me, but I would like to ask you to drive your cultivation technique to show Song shi if your cultivation technique is really of vile nature as he claims!"
"Yes!" Nodding, Elder Xu and the others swiftly drove their zhenqi, and their auras swiftly permeated the surroundings.
Their auras were upright and orthodox. Not only were they devoid of the eerie and bone-chilling sensation that most unorthodox cultivation techniques emanated, they even felt warming and soothing, reminiscent of an embrace.
"This…" Song shi was flabbergasted.
As a quasi 8-star master teacher, he had met plenty of poison masters in his time. Due to their long-term contact with lethal poison, each of them had a deeply unnerving aura to them.
Yet, the poison masters before him did not have such a feeling to their aura; it was even warm and comfortable.
Paying no heed to Song shi's shock, Zhang Xuan clasped his fist and asked, "Yao shi, may I ask if the cultivation techniques they practice are vile in nature?"
Hearing those words, Yao shi shook her head and replied, "Their zhenqi is pure and orthodox. I don't see anything vile in their cultivation technique."
Turning his gaze back to Song shi, Zhang Xuan continued. "This should be enough evidence for you to prove that they have already turned for the better, right? They are already members of the Combat Master Hall, but you keep insisting that they are poison masters of the Poison Hall, claiming that they are depraved and practice vile arts. Since that's the case, I would like to ask what the meaning of 'depraved' and 'vile' is in your view. Is it something that you conceptualize in your mind?"
"I…" Song shi's body trembled. He could not find an argument to refute Zhang Xuan's words.
He did not participate in the arrest of Elder Xu and the others, and they did not make any attempt to break out during their captivity either. As such, he was oblivious to the warm and soothing aura of the poison masters, and he could not have imagined that poison masters practiced such an orthodox and upright cultivation technique either.
It took a very long time before Song shi was able to speak once more. "Even if their cultivation techniques are orthodox, it's still a fact that they knocked out everyone in the royal palace! There is nothing you can say that can possibly refute that!"
"Since that's the case, why don't I go through the case with you in details so that you can finally give up struggling?"
Waving his hand grandly, Zhang Xuan turned to the 8-star master teacher and said, "Yao shi, allow me to recount the ins and outs of the matter to you. I hope that you and the rest of the crowd can help me judge this matter!"
"Feel free to speak." Yao shi nodded.
"The truth is like this. The Qingtian Emperor of the Qingtian Lineage did not just possess superior cultivation, he was also a formidable soul oracle! He possessed a particularly sinister secret art that allowed him to nab the souls of anyone for his own use. To put it in more direct terms, as long as your cultivation was beneath his and you are within a set area of him, he would be able to draw your soul out of your body and imprison it, and he would be able to use it to nourish himself afterward!"
"Nab the souls of others? Nourish himself?"
"That's right!" Zhang Xuan flicked his wrist, and an altar fell to the ground. "This is the medium he used to carry out his soul nabbing, and there's a formation inscribed on it. Yao shi, please take a look!"
It was the altar that he had used to corner the real Qingtian Emperor back then.
"These inscriptions…" After examining the altar carefully, Yao shi's expression turned grave. "I have never seen such an altar before, but I am aware of the existence of a soul art that allows one to nourish oneself with the souls of others. This is also one the contributing factors that eventually led to the Master Teacher Pavilion's eradication of the Soul Oracle Guild back then!"
While Yao shi had never seen the altar before, with her eye of discernment as an 8-star master teacher, she could still vaguely tell that the altar seemed to be powerful against souls. If one activated it using a certain method, there was a good chance that it could be used to drag a cultivator's soul out of their body, thus effectively conducting the 'soul nabbing'.
"Indeed! And to be honest with you, this ability isn't just limited to the Qingtian Emperor. As the Qingtian Emperor's lackey, Chu Tianxing also knew this ability from him!" Zhang Xuan revealed.
"You are saying that Chu Tianxing was a soul oracle as well?" Yao shi frowned.
"That's right!" Zhang Xuan nodded.
"Do you have any evidence to prove that?" Yao shi asked.
Pledging loyalty to the Otherworldly Demonic Tribe and practicing soul arts imparted from them, this was a huge crime to pin on Chu Tianxing. Even though Chu Tianxing was already dead, he was still not a person who could be slandered without concrete evidence.
"I have a way to prove that. Elder Bai, please bring the corpses of Chen Zhe, Pavilion Master Gou, and the other 7-star master teachers!" Zhang Xuan instructed.
An elder of the Qingyuan Empire Master Teacher Pavilion at the bottom of the execution platform replied affirmatively before turning around and walking away.
This elder had participated in the operation at Chen Zhe's residence to nab Tian Qing as well, so they were both acquainted with one another.
Not too long later, Elder Bai returned. With a flick of his wrist, a row of corpses appeared on the ground.
Due to the sinister nature of their deaths, the Qingyuan Empire Master Teacher Pavilion had used a unique method to preserve their bodies so as to facilitate future investigation. On top of that, the bodies of Saint realm cultivators did not decompose easily either. As such, those corpses remained extremely fresh, as if they had just died not too long ago.
Zhang Xuan beckoned Yao shi over and said, "Yao shi, please take a look and see if you can find something common among all of them."
Yao shi walked over and began examining the corpses intently. Gradually, a frown appeared on her face.
These corpses were perfectly unharmed, be it their exterior or their internal state. However, their souls had disappeared without a trace.
"They have died as a result of the disappearance or dissipation of their souls," Yao shi concluded after taking a look at all of the corpses.
"Un." Zhang Xuan nodded. "They are all victims of the soul nabbing secret art. Furthermore, according to my investigation, I have found one common point among the death of all these 7-star master teachers—they came into contact with Chu Tianxing prior to their deaths. We should be able to verify this through conducting a formal investigation in the Master Teacher Pavilion."
Chu Tianxing had entered the Qingyuan Empire Master Teacher Pavilion multiple times in order to visit King Zhongqing, and on the night before the deaths of master teachers, Chu Tianxing had paid the Master Teacher Pavilion once again. During his visit, he had come into contact with all of the master teachers who had died. Back then, Zhang Xuan had not made the connection, but after learning from the other Vicious that Chu Tianxing had pledged loyalty to him, it had not been too difficult to deduce the full story.
No matter how formidable the other Vicious was, without a suitable medium, it was impossible for him to kill an individual in Qingyuan City from the Marshlands of the Northern Meadows. The reason he had been able to do so was likely because Chu Tianxing had left or fed them something.
"I can testify that the night before the killings, Chu Tianxing did drop by our Master Teacher Pavilion to pay a visit to King Zhongqing. During his visit, he brought many gourds of fine wine to share with us!"
"I can testify to that as well!"
Right after Zhang Xuan said those words, several master teachers beneath the execution platform swiftly shouted over.
Chu Tianxing had been exceptionally friendly that day, so the encounter with him had left quite the impression on the master teachers.
Seeing that there were so many master teachers standing up to testify on Zhang Xuan's behalf, Yao shi knew that this matter was likely true. She turned to Zhang Xuan doubtfully and asked, "You are saying that… Chu Tianxing used a secret art to kill all of those master teachers?"
"Even if he was not directly responsible for the killings, there's no doubt that he played an integral role in them," Zhang Xuan replied affirmatively.
"Wu shi and I deduced that there was something wrong with Chu Tianxing, but due to several considerations, we dared not move recklessly. Most importantly, if we dealt with Chu Tianxing, the mastermind behind him, the Qingtian Emperor, would surely have fled for fear that he had been exposed. While the Qingtian Emperor remained alive, the threat that he posed to the Qingyuan Empire would never have come to an end.
"As such, under the cover of going into seclusion, we secretly gathered a group of experts to head to the Marshlands of the Northern Meadows to deal with the Qingtian Emperor. The journey was fraught with dangers, but with some luck, we managed to accomplish the mission we set out for. I have spoken of this matter previously, so I'll just skip the details."
Yao shi nodded in response.
"Even though we left discreetly, Chu Tianxing, as the emperor of Qingyuan Empire, still noticed an anomaly. Perhaps realizing that he had been exposed, he became desperate and decided to make one last stand!"
"One last stand?"
"Indeed. According to my deductions, there's a very good chance that Chu Tianxing was planning to use his soul nabbing secret art to gather as many the human souls in Qingyuan City as he could to nourish himself and raise his cultivation. Of course, it would have been impossible for him to kill so many experts at once, but if he limited his targets to those beneath Saint realm, it wouldn't have been much trouble to gather tens of millions of souls with sufficient preparation. If he succeeded, the entire Qingyuan City would have become a living hell!" Zhang Xuan spoke with a fearful edge to his voice, as if he still could not believe that Chu Tianxing would actually resort to such depraved actions.
"Zhang shi, you are saying that… Chu Tianxing was intending to kill every single cultivator beneath Saint realm in Qingyuan City?"
"W-what? How is that possible? That is madness!"
Zhang Xuan had spoken loud enough that the large crowd gathered beneath the execution platform could hear him clearly, and they could hardly believe what they had just heard.
The severity of the matter had far surpassed their imagination!
"Even if I do not speak of them, I'm certain everyone here is aware of the consequences of betraying mankind. Once exposed, that individual will become the enemy of everyone on the continent, living a life worse than death. Considering that, he would have no qualms resorting to extreme actions so long as he had sufficient power to survive!" Zhang Xuan harrumphed coldly.
The crowd fell silent.
In face of death, even the most rational of people could possibly lose themself. Even the most docile of dogs could bite when forced into a corner, let alone a man as ambitious and prideful as Chu Tianxing.
"It's with such worries in mind that I specially instructed Sun Qiang, Liu Yang, Elder Xu, and the others that if Chu Tianxing took any suspicious actions, even under the risk of being misunderstood by the populace, they were to get rid of Chu Tianxing as soon as possible. This is the responsibility and burden that we, as master teachers, have to bear!
"It's due to those commands that Liu Yang infiltrated the royal palace and pretended to be captured while Sun Qiang, Elder Xu, and the other poison masters knocked out all of the guards with their poison. While their actions may have appeared reckless, it was the best they could do in the spur of the moment. It reduced the casualties to the minimum while sparing Qingyuan City from a bloodbath.
"As such, I think that not only should Sun Qiang and the others not be punished, they should even be praised for saving countless lives! Yet, without attempting to investigate and make sense of the matter, Song shi recklessly sentenced all of them to death. So, how could I possibly watch them be killed? I know that there are rules to the Master Teacher Pavilion, but surely there are times when exceptions have to be made!"
The more Zhang Xuan spoke, the more vehement his voice became.
"Ah…" Hearing those words, Elder Xu and the others stared at one another blankly.
Sacrificing ourselves to save the people… When did our actions suddenly become so noble?
Everything Zhang shi has spoken of, why is it that…
… this is the first we are hearing of it?