A suffocating sensation assaulted Zhao Xingmo's chest, and he spurted blood once more.

Even though his standing as a guide was nothing in the Sanctum of Sages, in his many years of invigilating the candidates, there had never been any genius who had been able to defeat him in the same cultivation realm.

But this time, not only had he been defeated, he was even being looked down upon.

The immense frustration that he felt left him on the verge of explosion.

"Hold it in, hold it in…" Zhao Xingmo took a few deep breaths to suppress that feeling of frustration in his chest before pushing himself out of the wall.

As indignant as Zhao Xingmo felt from his loss, it would only be more embarrassing if he vehemently denied it. He would at least be able to retain some of his dignity if he accepted it graciously.

At this point, he suddenly recalled the surnames of the duo, and a thought came to him.

Looking at the young man before him, he said, "You are indeed an impressive individual. In the same cultivation realm, even I am no match for you. Zhang Xuan and Zhang Jiuxiao, are the both of you from the Zhang Clan, the Sage Clan?"

If they were both geniuses from the Zhang Clan, it would make sense why he was not a match for them when fighting in the same cultivation realm.

While the Sanctum of Sages had plenty of experts who could deal with such offspring of Sage Clans, a mere guide like him was not one of them.

"Jiuxiao is from the Sage Zhang Clan, but I am not…" Zhang Xuan shook his head. "I am an orphan, born in the remote Tianxuan Kingdom."

He had never really given this matter much thought before, but thinking about it once more, there was something quite suspicious about it.

Logically speaking, it should not have been anything much for him to be born in the remote Tianxuan Kingdom, but the fact that he was plagued with the Innate Fetal Poison was a huge anomaly in itself.

According to the Sage Yuan Clan, Tianxuan Kingdom was one of those ancient lands where descendants of Sage Clans could recover and awaken their bloodlines. For this reason, many Sage Clans had chosen to leave their offspring in such places, only taking them into the clan once their bloodline achieved a certain mark.

Could it be that… he was also a member of the Sage Zhang Clan, just that he was one of those children who had been left in an ancient land to awaken his bloodline?

If that was the case, it would explain why a humble nobody in Tianxuan Kingdom would be plagued with such a fearsome poison.

His current comprehension of poison had already reached the level of 7-star, but he still had no clue how the Innate Fetal Poison could be resolved. He had even attempted to use Wei Ruyan's Innate Poison Body to curb it at one point, but its effectiveness was limited.

From this, it was apparent that the Innate Poison Body was one of the most formidable poison, even when placed among grade-9 poisons!

In other words, the person who had planted the poison on him was at least a 9-star poison master… and possibly one of the strongest ones at that!

It was unthinkable for an expert of that caliber to travel to the small Tianxuan Kingdom just to deal with a nobody like him. Could it really be that the person whom he had possessed was also a member of the Sage Zhang Clan, just like Zhang Jiuxiao?

It's no wonder I always felt like pummeling Zhang Jiuxiao whenever I met him… this might be a resonance in our bloodline!

Zhang Xuan stroked his lower jaw in deep contemplation.

I really should find an opportunity to look into this matter.

Knowing that this was not the time to be thinking such miscellaneous thoughts, Zhang Xuan decided to put the matter aside for the moment.

"I thought that you were from the Sage Zhang Clan too." Zhao Xingmo looked at Zhang Xuan in intrigue before falling silent.

Since Zhang Xuan had already said that he was not from the Zhang Clan, there was no point pressing on. It would only make things awkward. Thus, Zhao Xingmo changed the topic and said, "Alright, since the both of you have cleared the primary selection, I'll bring you to the Qianchong Empire for the secondary selection. The other chosen candidates should already be gathering there, so we must make haste."

"Qianchong Empire?"

"Yes. We will be heading there right now. You have two hours to prepare, make whatever arrangements you need to and bid farewell to others. Once the two hours are up, we'll set off right away," Zhao Xingmo said.

The reason he had been in a rush earlier was because the semester for the Sanctum of Sages was about to start, so the secondary selection in the Qianchong Empire had to be conducted soon. However, the Qingyuan Empire happened to be located the furthest away from the Qianchong Empire, so there was a need for them to make haste.

"Two hours?" Not expecting that they would be in such a rush, Zhang Xuan was taken aback. He pondered for a brief moment before turning to Zhao Xingmo with a grim expression. "Right, Zhao shi. There's a matter that I would like to consult you on, and this matter is very important to me. Thus, I hope that you can give a precise answer to me."

"As long as it's something I am aware of and the information isn't confidential, I'll answer your question," Zhao Xingmo replied.

Zhang Xuan clenched his fists tightly and said, "I would like to ask if Luo Ruo… I mean the little princess of the Luo Clan is currently in the Sanctum of Sages."

Initially, Zhang Xuan had intended to ask using Luo Ruoxin's name, but after some thought, he realized that there was a good chance that Luo Ruoxin might not be her real name. After all, as the little princess of the Luo Clan, there were bound to be many who would want to claim her life or hold her hostage against the Luo Clan, so it would not have been surprising if she adopted a pseudonym with that in mind.

If Luo Ruoxin was not in the Sanctum of Sages, it would be meaningless for him to head there.

If that was the case, he would be better off heading straight to the Empire Alliance to raise his cultivation. After all, he already had the position of an honorary elder in that Master Teacher Pavilion, so it would be much more convenient for him to access precious cultivation resources there.

"The little princess of the Luo Clan?" Zhao Xingmo frowned upon hearing Zhang Xuan's question. "Why are you asking for her whereabouts?"

"This matter is very important to me. Zhao shi, I hope that you can answer my question." Zhang Xuan clasped his fist and bowed respectfully.

"Alright then!" Seeing that Zhang Xuan was serious about this matter, Zhao Xingmo briefly hesitated before shaking his head in resignation. "The little princess of the Luo Clan was indeed studying in the Sanctum of Sages, and with her outstanding talent, she managed to enter the Inner Sanctum. However… a while back, for some unknown reason, she suddenly disappeared, and no one has seen her since then. But when I was coming here, I heard rumors that the Luo Clan had managed to locate her, and they were intending on sending her back. Of course, I could not verify the authenticity of the rumors, so I can't say for sure if she is truly returning to the Sanctum of Sages."

"She really is from the Sanctum of Sages?" Zhang Xuan heaved a sigh of relief.

It seemed like Mu shi's guess was indeed correct.

Since that was the case, he would have to head to the Sanctum of Sages. This was the only clue he had to find Luo Ruoxin at the moment, and even if Luo Ruoxin was not there, he might still be able to find some clues to her whereabouts.

If he could find Luo Ruoxin, he would be able to discuss with her how they should deal with her marriage with the young prodigy of the Zhang Clan on the third month next year.

"You are acquainted with the little princess of the Luo Clan?" Zhao Xingmo was taken aback. "According to what I know, the little princess has a cold personality…"

"I guess we can be considered to be acquainted with one another." Zhang Xuan nodded in response.

The other party would probably die of fright if he were to say that she was his girlfriend. Low profile, low profile!

Even though Zhang Xuan had attempted to conceal his emotions, Zhao Xingmo could still see traces of affection in the young man's eyes. He fell silent for a moment before advising, "There's an engagement between the Luo Clan and Zhang Clan. Given that you aren't from the Zhang Clan, I advise you not to disturb the little princess. Otherwise, I fear that you might find yourself in deep trouble.

"The little princess of the Luo Clan doesn't just boast a high cultivation, she's also known for her peerless beauty. There are none in the Sanctum of Sages that come close to matching her grace. For this reason, she has countless admirers among the younger generation. However, due to her ties with the Zhang Clan, all those who dare approach her have been viciously taught a lesson."

Zhao Xingmo's words were roundabout, but Zhang Xuan could still roughly understand the intentions behind them.

He had seen Luo Ruoxin's true appearance through his Eye of Insight, and it was no exaggeration to say that even Yu Fei-er, Luo Qiqi, Hu Yaoyao, and the others did not come close to comparing to her. Given so, it was inevitable that she would have countless admirers.

It seemed like the Zhang Clan was quite domineering, teaching all of those who harbored any thoughts toward her a lesson. Well, that worked to his favor too.

"Thank you for your advice." Still immersed in his relief from learning that Luo Ruoxin was likely in the Sanctum of Sages, Zhang Xuan did not pay much heed to Zhao Xingmo's advice.

Instead, he began to plot his next move. Firstly, he should find a way to obtain Zhang Jiuxiao's blood. If he could induce a resonance with the latter's blood, that would mean that he was a member of the Zhang Clan as well. If so, he could infiltrate into their ranks and secretly get rid of that unparalleled young prodigy that everyone had been talking so much about!

If he was not… well, that might work out even better. He could do as he please without having to consider the Zhang Clan's position. Anyone who dared stand between him and Luo Ruoxin would be crippled!

Of course, either way, he would have to possess sufficient strength first before he could do anything.

"Return here in two hours sharp. We'll be setting off together!" After saying all that should be said, Zhao Xingmo waved his hand, dismissing the two of them.

Thus, Zhang Xuan and Zhang Jiuxiao clasped their fists before taking their leave.

Zhang Xuan headed straight to the Combat Master Hall and took Sun Qiang with him. After which, he bade farewell to Hall Master Xing and the members of the Xuanxuan Faction.

Before he came to Qingyuan City, he had still had the accompaniment of Wang Ying and Liu Yang. But now, only he and Sun Qiang were left. After spending so much time with one another, the departure of his direct disciples had really left him with an empty feeling inside.

Following behind Zhang Xuan, Sun Qiang suddenly recalled a matter and said, "Young Master, there was a messenger from Hu Yaoyao earlier. She wished to relay the news that she has been recommended to cultivate at the Terpsichore Guild main headquarters due to her outstanding talent, and she will be leaving Qingyuan City in half a month's time."

"I see." Zhang Xuan nodded.

It was not for no reason that Hu Yaoyao had been called a bewitching devil. She had a sensual figure and disposition that seemed to draw others to her helplessly. It was as if the terpsichore occupation had been created just for her. In view of that, it was not too surprising that the Terpsichore Guild main headquarters had taken her away.

"Also, when Young Master was at the Master Teacher Pavilion, Chu gongzi also dropped by earlier to relay his gratitude to you. He's currently the regent of the Qingyuan Empire, and they are still deciding on the inauguration date. With the Master Teacher Pavilion and Combat Master Hall working in unison to push this through, there shouldn't be any problems with the inauguration," Sun Qiang said.

It was due to Zhang Xuan's recommendation that Pavilion Master Wu, Hall Master Xing, and the others nominated him to be the next emperor of the Qingyuan Empire. With two True Leaving Aperture realm experts backing him, the other rivaling factions would not dare to make any reckless moves.

"As for the members of the Xuanxuan Faction, it seems like they are planning to remain at the Combat Master Hall for the time being to raise their cultivation as fast as possible, so they won't be returning to the Hongyuan Master Teacher Academy for the time being."

As the cultivation of the members of the Xuanxuan Faction was still too low, they would only become a burden when heading to a higher tier empire. Nevertheless, they sought to become a source of strength for Zhang Xuan, so they decided to remain in Qingyuan City for the time being and focus on their cultivation.

Zhang Xuan could roughly fathom their thoughts. Since they had already made their decision, he would not interfere in their choices. Nodding slightly, he turned to Sun Qiang and said, "Let's go."

Returning to the Master Teacher Pavilion once more, Zhang Xuan saw that Zhao Xingmo, Zhang Jiuxiao, and the two listening in students were already prepared to depart from Qingyuan City.

The aerial saint beast that Zhao shi had prepared was at Saint 6-dan pinnacle, and the small house it carried on its back was extremely spacious. Even if they took more people along, there would not be any problem at all.

After bidding Pavilion Master Wu farewell, Zhang Xuan leaped on the back of the aerial saint beast, and its massive wings began flapping powerfully. Before long, they were already well on their way toward the Qianchong Empire.

"The Qianchong Empire is the strongest country among the Eight Conferred Empires, and the head of its regional Master Teacher Pavilion is a Half-Grand Dominion realm expert. He's a real quasi 8-star master teacher, wielding strength far greater than Song shi!"

While the group was sitting around in the small house on the aerial saint beast, Zhang Jiuxiao began introducing the various aspects of Qianchong Empire to Zhang Xuan.

Naturally, in order to maximize his chances of entering the Sanctum of Sages, he had done his research on the Eight Conferred Empires before he chose the Qingyuan Empire Master Teacher Pavilion.

"Half-Grand Dominion realm?" Zhang Xuan's eyebrows shot up.

The gap between each cultivation stage became more and more significant the higher one's cultivation was. Similarly, there was also a huge disparity between a Leaving Aperture realm pinnacle cultivator and a Half-Grand Dominion realm cultivator.

It seemed like it was not without reason that the Qianchong Empire was the leading power of the Eight Conferred Empires. Under the lead of such a powerful pavilion master, it was inevitable that its national power would be strong as well.

"There will be a secondary selection in the Qianchong Empire, so I'll offer you some guidance on your cultivation over the next few days. Try to advance your cultivation as much as possible during this period of time, or else it might be difficult for you to clear the secondary selection," Zhang Xuan instructed sternly.

Even on a Grand Dominion realm aerial saint beast, the journey from the Qingyuan Empire to the Qianchong Empire would still take roughly six to seven days. This period of time should be enough for Zhang Jiuxiao to make several breakthroughs in his cultivation.

Otherwise, the slot that he had obtained with great difficulty would really go to waste.

"Un. Thank you, Zhang shi!" Zhang Jiuxiao quickly nodded.

With Zhang Xuan's eye of discernment and capability, if Zhang Jiuxiao could obtain his personal guidance, his cultivation would surely be able to advance by leaps and bounds over the next few days.

"There's no need to stand on ceremony." Zhang Xuan waved his hand calmly. At this point, he suddenly recalled the matter that had been on his mind all this while, and he turned to Zhang Jiuxiao and said, "Jiuxiao, give me a droplet of your blood essence. I want to examine it closely to see if there's any way I can raise the purity of your bloodline."

"A droplet of my blood essence? Sure!" Without any hesitation, Zhang Jiuxiao flicked his forefinger, and a droplet of blood shot straight into Zhang Xuan's palm.Chu gongzi refers to Chu Xiang, who is the man whom Zhang Xuan met at the Spring Pavilion Terpsichore Guild and the Blacksmith Guild. When Wu shi asked Zhang Xuan to recommend a suitable candidate to be the emperor, Zhang Xuan recommended him.



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