Translator: StarveCleric Editor: StarveCleric
"Elder Sun, we have memorized the cultivation technique you have imparted to us!"
An hour later, Elder Xu clasped his fist and reported to Zhang Xuan.
"Destroy those books then." Zhang Xuan replied with a wave of his hand.
Elder Xu and the others nodded, and with a powerful flick, the secret manuals disintegrated to ashes before scattering into the surroundings, as if they hadn't appeared in the first place.
"Elder Sun, where can we find you in the future? We wish to repay the favor to you!" Knowing that it was only a matter of time before the 'envoy of the founder' would have to leave, Elder Xu couldn't help but ask.
The other party had granted them a second life, and no words could possibly be sufficient to express the gratitude they felt towards him.
"Where to find me?" Zhang Xuan shook his head. "There's no need for you to seek me. If I have any matter that I require your help for, I'll come and find you."
"Then…" Elder Xu hesitated for a moment before asking. "May we have the honor of knowing Elder Sun's true identity? This way, if you have any instructions for us in the future, even if you aren't able to meet us in person, you can simply send a messenger to us, and we'll brave through even the flames of hell for you!"
"This…" Zhang Xuan was intending to refuse that request of theirs as well, but looking into the expectant eyes of the poison masters before him, he found himself hesitating for a brief moment before eventually relenting, "Alright then. Actually, my true identity is the principal of the Hongyuan Master Teacher Academy, Zhang Xuan... 's butler! However, I am a very low profile person, so I hope that you can keep this matter a secret!"
"Principal Zhang's butler?"
"I have heard of Principal Zhang. He's famed to be a once-in-a-thousand-years prodigy, and despite his young age, he was unanimously nominated to become the principal of the Hongyuan Master Teacher Academy!"
"So you're Principal Zhang's butler! Understood!"
"Senior Sun, rest assured. We will never speak a word of this matter to another soul…"
Upon learning of Zhang Xuan's 'true' identity, the poison masters quickly nodded their heads excitedly.
"Alright, let's leave the underground prison!" Zhang Xuan said with a wave of his hand.
Nodding, Elder Xu and the others began walking out of the door. After confirming that they had all left, Zhang Xuan heaved a sigh of relief. He reverted back to his original appearance before slowly heading out as well.
By the time he left the underground prison, the poison masters had already been brought back to the Combat Master Hall, leaving behind only Hall Master Xing, Wu shi, Luo Qiqi, and the others.
Seeing that Zhang Xuan was fine, the crowd heaved a sigh of relief before quickly gathering around him.
"I have already talked to those poison masters, and they will heed the commands of the Combat Master Hall in the future." Zhang Xuan smiled.
"Un! Principal Zhang, thank you for your words of wisdom!" Hall Master Xing clasped his fist and thanked.
"Words of wisdom?" Seeing the delight and gratefulness on the other party's face, Zhang Xuan was bewildered.
He had noticed Hall Master Xing's reluctance regarding the matter when he first proposed it, and he had been worried that the latter would abruptly change his mind halfway through. Yet, after returning from a short trip to the underground prison, the other party was suddenly thanking him for the matter?
Just what in the world had happened for the latter to change his mind so swiftly?!
"You're being too polite. This is part of my responsibility as a master teacher." Even though Zhang Xuan had no idea what was going through Hall Master Xing's head, humility had always been one of his dominant traits, so he quickly replied so.
On the other hand, seeing how humble Zhang Xuan was, not taking credit for his action at all, Hall Master Xing's respect for the other party deepened.
How in the world could there be such a selfless person in the world? Was he the living embodiment of altruism?
"Principal Zhang, may I know what you intend to do after this?" Wu shi asked.
"I intend to pay a visit to the Painter Guild and the Appraiser Hall to take the corresponding 7-star examinations so that I can be promoted to a 7-star master teacher." Zhang Xuan revealed his intentions without any reservation.
He was originally intending to head to the Appraiser Hall, but he was suddenly called here by King Zhongqing on the way... Thinking about it, he couldn't help but feel that it was a huge waste of time.
"Does Wu shi has any matter for me?" Zhang Xuan asked.
"To be honest, I was thinking that if Principal Zhang doesn't have any urgent matter at hand, it would be good if you could follow me to the Master Teacher Pavilion to discuss the results of my investigation…"
"The results of your investigation?"
"Un." Wu shi nodded. "According to what Zhang Yinqiu said, the master teacher who had duped him of the intelligence goes by the name of Chen Zhe, who happens to be the direct disciple of Vice Pavilion Master Tian as well. I have already arrested Chen Zhe, and he's currently imprisoned in our Master Teacher Pavilion. If Principal Zhang is free now, I would like to invite you over to meet him."
"This…" Zhang Xuan was slightly hesitant.
In truth, he wasn't too interested in this matter.
Since even Vice Pavilion Master Tian himself had been imprisoned, it would do for the Master Teacher Pavilion to slowly interrogate the both of them. At this point, it didn't really matter whether he were to be involved in the matter or not.
Just as he was about to turn down Wu shi's request, the latter suddenly smiled, "Actually, there's no need for Zhang shi to rush into taking the painter and appraiser examination. To tell you the truth, there will be an Appraisal Convention later on, and if you are free, I can bring you there along with me. The head of the Appraiser Guild and Painter Guild should be attending as well, and if I were to introduce you to them there, it should make things more convenient for you on their side."
"Appraisal Convention? What is that?" Zhang Xuan asked doubtfully.
"From time to time, when new artifacts of unknown backgrounds are uncovered, a convention would be held over them so as to appraise the artifacts and see if they could be fixed. While it may appear to be an event for appraisers, over the years, it has gradually evolved into a high-class social event where most renowned and influential figures in Qingyuan City would attend." Wu shi replied.
Zhang Xuan pondered for a moment before nodding, "Alright then."
He had departed from the Combat Master hall early in the morning, and after the events at the Terpsichore Guild and King Zhongqing Manor, it was already in the late afternoon now, nearing evening. Rather than fumble his way into the guild and waste more time, it would be far more convenient for him to first meet the heads of the Painter Guild and Appraiser Hall for the matter.
Hearing Zhang Xuan agree to the matter, Wu shi smiled in delight, "Great! I'll be leaving first to make some preparations then. I'll see you at the Master Teacher Pavilion later on!"
After which, he turned around and left.
Shortly after, Hall Master Xing and the others bade their farewell as well, leaving only Zhang Xuan, Sun Qiang, Luo Qiqi, and Yu Fei-er around.
Zhang Xuan turned to the other three and said, "You all should return to our accommodation at the Combat Master Hall."
"Yes!" Knowing that he had caused a huge trouble this time around, Sun Qiang quickly nodded obediently.
"Teacher, I have some doubts which I would like to ask you... May I know if it's convenient for you?" Luo Qiqi bit her lips as she looked at Zhang Xuan nervously.
"Of course, feel free to ask anything." Zhang Xuan replied with a kind smile.
Noting that Luo Qiqi had something private to ask, Sun Qiang and Yu Fei-er took their leave.
After confirming that there was no one around, Luo Qiqi set up an isolation barrier around them before asking, "Teacher, the affairs today have left some doubts in my mind, and I hope that you can answer them. I have been paying a close look to the earlier conflict... Vice Pavilion Master Tian and King Zhongqing have attempted to pin a crime on you using underhanded means, and I do agree that they should be punished for it... but is it really alright to frame them like that? Wouldn't that be going too far? Isn't it against the values preached in the Way of Teacher?"
She had known Zhang Xuan ever since the time she had spent in Huanyu Empire, and for the longest of time, she had viewed the latter to be a role model for her.
From saving her in Wu Yangzi's underground chamber to risking himself to rescue Yu Fei-er to venturing into the dangerous Cloudmist Ridge to tame all of the saint beasts...
All of these matters only served to build the noble and selfless image of the young man before her.
With time, his image within her grew bigger and bigger, and she even began to think that he was just like the World's Teacher, a true master teacher through and through... Admittedly, he did resort to some schemes from time to time, but those were minor incidents, and they always concluded in a positive end.
But... everything she had witnessed today had overturned her view of him.
No matter what, Vice Pavilion Master Tian was a 7-star pinnacle master teacher, the vice head of the Qingyuan Empire Master Teacher Pavilion... To directly oppose a respected elder was already an infringement of the formalities and values that master teachers believed in and embraced.
As such, she found that her faith was starting to waver.
Instead of replying to Luo Qiqi's doubts directly, Zhang Xuan asked her a question, "What does being a master teacher mean to you?"
"Master teacher... As teachers, we serve to clear away doubts and bring mankind to a greater height of prosperity. As role models, we strive to conduct ourselves honorably, displaying desirable values for others to emulate…"
"Wrong! Your interpretation is all wrong!" Zhang Xuan shook his head.
"Wrong? These are the commandments that all master teachers must learn to recite. There's no master teacher who doesn't know about it…" Luo Qiqi frowned in incomprehension.
"It's true that master teachers serve as teachers and role models to mankind, but we shouldn't neglect the fact that they are humans as well!" Zhang Xuan replied.
"Un. As long as we remain human, we will have our own emotions and thoughts. That's simply our nature. Kong shi didn't create the Master Teacher Pavilion to churn out batch after batch of mindless puppets. Formalities and rules are there to guide, not to dictate. In situations where following rules and formalities go against one's conscience, it's fine to break free of it and do what one deems to be right." Zhang Xuan said.
"Master teachers should never aim to blindly follow existing conventions, that's what it means to stagnate and wither. Only when we open our mind and question freely will we be able to bring mankind to further heights, and that's what it means to be a master teacher!"
"This…" Luo Qiqi fell into deep thoughts.
"I have once met a cultivator whose father is a master teacher. From a very young age, he has deeply respected his father and heeded the latter's words obediently, devoting his entirety to cultivation. He had always regarded his father's words to be the absolute truth. However, his father has never managed to achieve a breakthrough before his death, and this matter had left a trauma in the cultivator's heart. Deep within, he felt that since his father was unable to achieve a breakthrough, there was no way he would be able to take the final step forward either... Under his father's looming shadow, even when he has accumulated sufficient zhenqi and knowledge to achieve a breakthrough, his attempts still ended in failure." Zhang Xuan said.
"That is what it means to have a fixed mindset! While we are master teachers, we are students in the long road of life as well. As students, we should expand our minds and doubt what we see and hear instead of blindly heeding the words of those who have come before us. Take the incident today for example, it's clear that Vice Pavilion Master Qing is at wrong, so why should I just take his words for it and accept his verdict?
"He has a far higher standing than me, and I have no way to going against him directly. As a result, I can only resort to other means in order to stand up against him and protect myself."
"Then... what if a formidable master teacher were to use rules and conventions to force me to accept his point of view?" Luo Qiqi asked with a gleam in her eyes.
"Follow your heart!" Zhang Xuan replied with a smile. "No matter how formidable a master teacher is, can he be any more formidable than Kong shi? In fact, even if Kong shi were to order you to kill a man, claiming that it's for the welfare of mankind, does that mean that you really should do it? Ultimately, you shouldn't allow others to dictate your actions. Look into your conscience, and determine what is right and wrong for yourself! As long as you disagree with the other party's words, you are always entitled to the right to reject his point of view! In the first place, if the other party is using rules and conventions to force you into submission, disregarding your own personal thoughts, he's already breaking the very foundations that make a master teacher. Since that's the case, there's no need to uphold formalities with the other party either!"
"This…" The light in Luo Qiqi's eyes grew brighter and brighter, as if realization had dawned upon her.
"Alright. In the end, those tricks are just means to protect oneself. I can't say that they are honorable, but sometimes, there is little choice but to resort to them. As long as you don't go overboard with them or utilize them to cause harm to the innocent, they aren't fundamentally at odds with the teachings of the Master Teacher Pavilion. There's no need for you to think too much into it." Zhang Xuan shook his head.
It was clear that the other party had cornered herself this time around.
Master teachers shouldn't be inflexible individuals who only knew how to abide by the rules. Different circumstances called for the application of a different set of standards, and master teachers should know how to flexibly adapt to the situation whenever it was required.
Luo Qiqi was a talented individual, but she was simply lacking in the adaptability that Hu Yaoyao and the others possessed.
"I understand!" Upon hearing the explanation, Luo Qiqi's eyes lit up. She raised her gaze to look right into Zhang Xuan's eyes and said, "Since teacher has already said so, I think that I should follow my heart as well. Teacher…"
"... I like you!"
"..." Zhang Xuan.