Library of Heaven is Path
1255 How Can Zhang shi Be That Weak?
If Zhang Xuan rejected the cup of wine, it would make him appear weak, and he would be made a laughingstock as a result of that. However, if he accepted the cup of wine, there would surely be plenty of people who would stand up in opposition to it.
Just thinking about the matter was enough to leave him with a splitting headache.
As Zhang Xuan was contemplating on how he should resolve this crisis, Pavilion Master Yue suddenly smiled slightly. With a tap of his finger, the floating wine cup before him immediately flew toward Zhang Xuan.
It seemed like the other party had no intention of allowing him turn down his 'goodwill'.
"Zhang shi, this is just a token of my sincerity. I hope that you can accept it!"
The wine cup arrived before Zhang Xuan.
Just as Zhang Xuan was about to catch it, a powerful pressure hidden amid the cup suddenly crushed down on Zhang Xuan, threatening to tear his body apart.
In the face of the pressure, Zhang Xuan's eyebrows shot up.
The movement of the wine cup was not too fast, making the gesture appear amiable on the surface. But in truth, Pavilion Master Yue had tampered with the wine cup so as to humiliate Zhang Xuan publicly.
If Zhang Xuan failed to catch the wine cup and allowed the fine wine within to spill, it would make it seem as if he had a complete lack of respect for Pavilion Master Yue, not even reciprocating the latter's goodwill. Once that happened, the crowd in the area, already displeased and indignant by how Pavilion Master Yue had chosen to bestow the wine upon Zhang Xuan, would surely make use of this opportunity to defame and put him down.
Through this, on top of getting back at Zhang Xuan for the affairs with Song shi, Pavilion Master Yue would also be able to portray himself as a magnanimous and gracious man, further winning the respect of others. Truly two birds with one stone! Formidable!
"I'll be graciously thanking Pavilion Master Yue for this cup of wine then!"
If it had been anyone else, this abrupt trick would surely have caught them off guard, causing them to embarrass themselves. However, Zhang Xuan was different. Through his Eye of Insight, he was able to sharply identify the flow of zhenqi around the cup.
Without any exaggerated movement, he lightly lifted his chopstick and tapped the wine cup ahead of him.
The movement of the chopstick was not too fast, but it carried the aura of an indomitable spear. In the blink of an eye, it struck the wine cup.
A hole was struck into the bundle of zhenqi shrouding the cup.
The zhenqi immediately dissipated into the surroundings like a deflated balloon. At the same time, without the support of the zhenqi, the wine cup began falling to the ground.
With a swift movement, the wine cup was caught in between the chopsticks.
The set of actions from Zhang Xuan flowed fluidly, as if he was simply calmly catching Pavilion Master Yue's wine with his chopsticks. To an outsider, there was nothing incongruous about Zhang Xuan's actions at all, but Pavilion Master Yue's face froze for an instant.
The energy he had shrouded around the wine cup was something that even Primordial Spirit realm pinnacle cultivators would have been unable to withstand. Yet, the young man was actually able to neutralize his zhenqi so easily. From this, it could be seen that the other party's grasp over his strength had already reached an astonishing level.
Based on the intelligence he had received, Zhang Xuan's strength was mainly built upon a Saint intermediate-tier cauldron that he possessed.
There was nothing in the intelligence that he had received that said that Zhang Xuan possessed such powerful strength himself!
Naturally, Zhao Xingmo would not speak of his humiliating defeat against Zhang Xuan to another, and the others present in the room back then—Pavilion Master Wu, Yao shi, Zhang Jiuxiao, and the others—out of respect for the guide of the Sanctum of Sages, would never gossip about such a matter.
As a result, even with the superior intelligence network that Pavilion Master Yue commanded as the head of the Qianchong Empire Master Teacher Pavilion, there was no way he could have been aware of the surge in Zhang Xuan's cultivation and his near invincible fighting prowess in his cultivation realm.
Most of the information he had was obtained from Song shi's account.
And Song shi, having suffered a huge setback in Zhang Xuan's hands, would naturally put him out to be as vile as possible, accusing the other party of using his artifact to launch a surprise assault on him. As for the rest, he was a little too ashamed to speak of it. As a result, there was a lapse in the information regarding Zhang Xuan.
Nevertheless, despite his shock, Pavilion Master Yue did not allow it to show on his face. Instead, he covered it with a chuckle. "Zhang shi, cheers!"
After which, he raised his wine cup and gulped the wine down in a single mouthful.
Zhang Xuan replied with a polite smile and raised his wine cup as well. However, before he could drink it, the young man known as Yun shi abruptly stood up and yelled, "Hold it for a moment!"
Everyone immediately turned their gazes over.
"Yun shi, what's wrong?" Pavilion Master Yue asked in bewilderment.
"Pavilion Master Yue, everyone has agreed earlier that the cup of wine should go to the one who is most qualified to drink it. I know that you have said earlier that Zhang shi is the strongest among us, but I can't help but feel a little indignant about that. Thus, if it isn't too much to ask, I would like to challenge him to a battle." Yun shi clasped his fist toward Pavilion Master Yue before directing a provocative gaze toward Zhang Xuan.
There was no one in this room who would willingly miss the opportunity to savor the Tianchen Brew from Old Man Tianchen. For this opportunity to go to an unknown figure from the Qingyuan Empire… Putting aside him, there was no one in this room who did not feel indignant about that!
"Indeed. I think that we should still hold a competition to decide the allocation of the wine!"
"We are all aware of the circumstances surrounding the Qingyuan Empire. If I'm not mistaken, Zhang shi over here is currently at Primordial Spirit realm intermediate stage, the same cultivation realm as one of my students! I really don't think that he's qualified to enjoy this cup of wine from Pavilion Master Yue!"
"Zhang shi, surely you won't turn down our request to spar, will you? In any case, we will all be participating in the secondary selections tomorrow, so why don't you give us a show of your strength first?"
All the candidates spoke up one after another, and they did not neglect to send looks of hostility toward Zhang Xuan while they were at it.
It seems like I have really underestimated the prowess of this cup of wine…
Looking at how vehemently the crowd was speaking up against him, Zhang Xuan could not help but sigh.
Despite Zhang Jiuxiao's previous explanation, he had been hoping that the others would not go so far for a mere cup of wine, and he would have been spared this unnecessary trouble. However, it seemed like the allure of the wine was truly irresistible to them.
Pavilion Master Yue contemplated for a moment before nodding. "I have already bestowed the wine upon Zhang shi, so I'll leave him to decide its allocation. However, I don't wish to see any acrimony arising out of this matter, understood?"
He had already ignited the spark, and all that was left was to sit back and watch the show.
"We understand, Pavilion Master Yue." Hearing those words, Yun shi's eyes lit up. Those words could be taken as a silent consent to his proposal. Thus, with a cold sneer, Yun shi turned to Zhang Xuan and said, "Zhang shi, do you dare duel me? If I were to win, the wine shall be mine to savor!"
Swirling the wine in the cup, Zhang Xuan asked leisurely, "Oh? Then what if you lose?"
"Lose?" Yun shi's lips crept up in derision. "Don't worry, I won't lose."
"I don't think your words can dictate whether you will win or not. Even if I'm on the weaker side, I still do have a chance at victory. Earning nothing when I win, losing a cup of fine wine when I lose—don't you think that the bet you are proposing is too convenient?" Zhang Xuan pointed out to Yun shi nonchalantly.
Yun shi was silent for a moment before harrumphing coldly. "What do you propose then?"
The cup of wine was bestowed upon the young man by Pavilion Master Yue. From such a perspective, the bet was indeed a little unfair to the other party.
"Simple. Both you and I know the value of this Tianchen Brew—a cup of it is worth at least ten concentrated high-tier spirit stone. However, I'll give you a discount. As long as you take out five concentrated high-tier spirit stones, I'll have the duel with you. If I lose, you can take the wine away with you. Otherwise, the spirit stones will be mine to take!" Zhang Xuan said.
That Yue Yiquan had intentionally come up with this show to embarrass him, but who was to say that this was not an opportunity for him? With just a bit of manipulation, he could make use of this opportunity to scrape this bunch of geniuses clean!
It was unlikely that they would be able to take out ten concentrated high-tier spirit stones, but five… Considering their standing as the top-notch geniuses in their regions, they might have that many.
"Five concentrated high-tier spirit stones?" Upon hearing the bet, Yun shi frowned in hesitation.
He had not expected the bet to get so big.
"If you do not dare to stake the spirit stones, I'm afraid that this wine will be mine to savor…"
Unwilling to waste his breath, Zhang Xuan began raising the wine cup, seemingly ready to gulp it down in a single mouthful.
"Wait a moment!" someone bellowed at that moment, and another of the master teachers stood up. "Yun shi, if you don't have the guts to challenge him to a duel, I'll be taking your place. That wine shall be mine to take!"
After saying those words, the master teacher flicked his wrist, and a jade container appeared before everyone's eyes. He pried it open lightly, revealing five radiant spirit stones within.
"Here are five concentrated high-tier spirit stones. Feel free to check if you want to!" The master teacher flicked his hand, and the spirit stones flew toward Zhang Xuan.
Zhang Xuan caught those spirit stones and examined them closely. A moment later, he nodded. "These are indeed concentrated high-tier spirit stones."
Before this huge crowd, the master teacher was not worried that Zhang Xuan would steal those spirit stones. He calmly walked into the center of the hall and said, "Good! The preliminary selection was a test of fighting prowess, so why don't we compete on that as well? Do you dare to accept my challenge?"
The hall was rather spacious. While 33 outstanding talents were seated around the room, there was still substantial empty ground in the center to carry out duels and the sort.
"You want to have a duel with me?" Zhang Xuan unconfidently looked at the master teacher before him, and after a moment of hesitation, he asked, "May I know what your cultivation is at the moment?"
Seeing the fearful look on Zhang Xuan's face, the master teacher could not help but sneer coldly. "I am at Primordial Spirit realm pinnacle… If you really are that afraid, I can suppress my cultivation to Primordial Spirit realm intermediate stage for the duel!"
To already be losing out in terms of aura prior to the battle… Even before conducting the duel, it was apparent who the winner would be.
"That would be for the best!" Heaving a sigh of relief, Zhang Xuan placed the cup down before getting to his feet. He slowly walked over to the empty space in the middle of the hall.
The master teacher introduced himself as Zhang Xuan walked over. "I am Liu Chongxin from Beiye Empire!"
The next moment, Liu Chongxin's eyebrows shot up, and he began suppressing his cultivation. In the blink of an eye, his cultivation had fallen to Primordial Spirit realm intermediate stage, just like Zhang Xuan.
"Qingyuan Empire, Zhang Xuan!" Zhang Xuan nodded hesitantly before clasping his fist. "Please have mercy on me later on."
"Hehe, I will." Seeing how the other party had suddenly turned so cowardly after challenging him arrogantly a moment ago, a contemptuous smirk emerged on Liu Chongxin's lips. With a flick of his hand, his palm began turning red. "Let's begin!"
After saying those words, he began dashing toward Zhang Xuan with imposing momentum.
"Liu shi's movements may seem reckless on the surface, but these actions are actually carefully calculated. From the very first move, he is already using his Metalcore Palm!"
"Those who have cleared Zhao shi's selection had to withstand three moves from those two listening-in students from the Sanctum of Sages. Given so, how could he be at all ordinary? Liu shi's reckless exterior is just a performance to provoke his opponent into making a careless move. In truth, he's in perfect control of the situation!"
The cultivators who were familiar with Liu Chongxin began discussing discreetly.
Those who were able to surpass countless other master teachers and clear the preliminary selections were all extraordinary geniuses. Even though Zhang Xuan might have appeared weak on the surface, Liu Chongxin still knew better than to underestimate his opponent.
As soon as the palm fell, the surrounding air immediately began to redden, as if a coal that had lit up under intense heat.
The Metalcore Palm was the ultimate technique of the Beiye Empire Master Teacher Pavilion. A Saint intermediate-tier battle technique, the might it harnessed was comparable to even the Grand Constellation Finger.
"Interesting!" Zhang Xuan seemed to have gotten into the fight as well. He raised his palm as well to meet the other party's assault.
The palm art he was using was also a Saint intermediate-tier battle technique, Cloud Crane Palm!
Despite its grand sounding name, the palm was centered around flexibility. Clearly, this was a sign that Zhang Xuan was unwilling to face Liu Chongxin's Metalcore Palm directly, intending to use other means to bypass it.
"Do you think that I'll allow you to deflect my palm that easily? Dream on!" Sneering coldly, Liu Chongxin intensified the pressure from his palm.
All of a sudden, it was if the surrounding space had collapsed toward Zhang Xuan, leaving only a single path for the Cloud Crane Palm to travel through, effectively preventing the Cloud Crane Palm from exploiting its flexibility to maneuver around the Metalcore Palm.
He was trying to force a direct confrontation between them through his superior might!
As soon as the two palms collided with one another, Zhang Xuan's face immediately paled, and he retreated several steps backward. At the same time, his arm bent slightly as well under the impact. Fearing that his opponent would notice his weakness, he hurriedly hid it beneath the sleeves of his robe.
"And here I was still wondering how formidable you were. With just this bit of strength, you were still dreaming of drinking the Tianchen Brew?" Seeing that his assault was effective, Liu Chongxin burst into a heart laughter.
"This…" On the other hand, Zhang Jiuxiao stared blankly at the unexpected sight before him.
Slowly, realization dawned upon him, and sympathy seeped into his eyes. "Zhang shi… can't possibly be that weak. I guess it's time to start praying for Liu shi over there…"
Every time Zhang Xuan behaved like that, someone would be in for a round of misfortune. He had undergone that many times himself, so he could be considered a veteran.