After converting his Heaven's Path zhenqi to lightning attribute, he was indeed able to absorb the lightning energy to advance his cultivation swiftly.
But upon witnessing how happy he was absorbing the surrounding lightning energy, his clone also began absorbing as well... And the result of that was the sight which everyone had just seen. Seeing how furiously its energy was being devoured, the lightning tribulation was terrified, and it immediately turned around and fled...
For the lightning tribulation, the existence of fear to all cultivators, to end up running away instead...
There was no way they would have believed such a thing to be possible if they hadn't seen it unfolding before their very eyes.
However, even though the lightning tribulation didn't have any sentience, considering how it had the ability to grow stronger in accordance to the strength of the one undergoing the ordeal, it wasn't too surprising to think that it would have the ability to 'avert danger' as well. Given how furiously he and his clone were absorbing its energy, it was only natural that it would be frightened.
"I should have absorbed more while I could! I only managed to advance my cultivation up to Leaving Aperture realm advanced stage, and I'm not done cultivating my Heaven's Path Golden Body yet. My physical body is only on par with half-Saint high-tier artifacts at the moment…" Zhang Xuan shook his head and sighed deeply.
He was still thinking that given how huge the lightning tribulation was, he would at least be able to master the Heaven's Path Soul Art and Heaven's Path Golden Body. Who could have thought that it would suddenly turn around and run away?
"Oh well! At the very least, I did manage to advance my fighting prowess considerably. With my current strength, I should be able to match Saint 6-dan Grand Dominion realm pinnacle experts even without using the Three Swords of Lingxu. In fact, even Half-Phantasmal Space experts shouldn't pose too much of a threat to me!" Zhang Xuan consoled himself.
In this short period of time, not only did he manage to raise his zhenqi cultivation to Saint 5-dan Leaving Aperture realm pinnacle, he also managed to advance his soul cultivation to Leaving Aperture realm advanced stage, and his physical body achieved a level of resilience comparable to half-Saint high-tier artifacts...
All in all, they added up to a severalfold increment in his fighting prowess.
Previously, there was no way he would be able to defeat the puppet of the Jia Corridor without using the Three Swords of Lingxu, but with his newfound strength, he would be able to crush the latter with just a single finger.
In fact, even if he stood on the spot and allowed the puppet to attack him freely, the latter would still be unable to inflict the slightest bit of injury on him.
And of course, if he were to use the Three Swords of Lingxu, he would be able to match even Saint 7-dan intermediate stage experts!
If he were to face Luo Xuanqing once more, even if he was still no match for the other party, at the very least, he wouldn't be as powerless as he was previously.
"Alright, I'll be heading off to rest first. Remember to inform me the next time something as good as a lightning tribulation occurs, I haven't had my fill yet…" the voice of Zhang Xuan's clone echoed in his mind.
As soon as the lightning tribulation showed signs of fleeing, his clone had decisively returned back to the Myriad Anthive Nest in order to prevent anyone from noticing his presence.
"Un." Zhang Xuan nodded.
Just like how Zhang Xuan's fighting prowess had grown substantially from absorbing the energy from the lightning tribulation, his clone had also benefited greatly from the earlier free buffet. In fact, it seemed like his clone had grown by a greater degree at that.
In the first place, his clone was forged out of the Nine Hearts Lotus, which was invulnerable to lightning. Due to the immense amount of lightning energy it had absorbed, it gained the ability to infuse the power of lightning in its attacks, thus resulting in a significant enhancement in its fighting prowess!
Even without crossing hands, Zhang Xuan was well aware that he was no match for his clone in his current state...
Thinking of this, he couldn't help but sigh deeply once more.
Others might think that he possessed decent talent, but the truth was that he was someone who couldn't even match up to his disciple, subordinate, his girlfriend... and even his own clone! Was there anyone in the world who was as pathetic as him?
He couldn't help but feel deeply stifled within.
It felt like the long year he had spent cultivating had been all in vain.
"Are you... alright?"
When Zhang Xuan finally returned back to Luo Xuanqing and the others, he saw that everyone was staring at him with looks of disbelief.
"I'm fine." Zhang Xuan nodded before grumbling indignantly, "If not for that coward fleeing so quickly, I would have definitely taught it a good lesson!"
"..." The crowd.
"Let me introduce this bunch over here to you." Knowing that they would only feel more stifled if they were to continue chatting about the topic, Luo Xuanqing gestured to the other three and introduced them, "You should know Bi Hongyin by now, she's a genius from the Demonic Tunist Guild headquarters. This towering fatty over here is a prodigy from the Yuan Clan, Yuan Xiao. And last but not least, this shorty over here is a genius from the Yun Clan, Yun Lianhai."
"Pleased to meet all of you." Zhang Xuan clasped his fist and greeted them.
Indeed. People of a certain social standing did tend to hang out with those of the same standing as them.
The Yuan Clan and Demonic Tunist Guild headquarters... He had never heard of the Yun Clan before, but given how the shorty was able to fit into their group as well, the Yun Clan must be a rather formidable power as well.
"As for this young man over here, he's Zhang Xuan, Zhang shi. I met him yesterday while I was taking the 8-star formation master examination. I believe you all should have gotten a good glimpse of his capabilities by now." Luo Xuanqing said.
"Of course, of course…"
The others quickly nodded in agreement.
Not only did the young man manage to shatter Bi Hongyin's formation plate with ease, he even sent the lightning tribulation fleeing in fear... They had no idea of knowing what the young man did in the storm clouds to produce such an inconceivable outcome, but just based on what he had accomplished so far, they dared not to underestimate him anymore.
"Brother-in... Brother Luo, you haven't explained why you brought me here yet." Seeing that he had received the acknowledgement of the crowd, Zhang Xuan turned a doubtful gaze toward Luo Xuanqing and asked.
He was in the midst of a networking event in the Elite Division when Luo Xuanqing suddenly dragged him here. Despite all that had happened, he still wasn't too sure what the latter was up to.
Luo Xuanqing sealed the surroundings with a wave of his hand in order to prevent others from eavesdropping in before whispering with a hushed voice, "Just a while ago, I discovered a blessed land, and within it, I found a growing [Dongxu Gourd]!"
"Dongxu Gourd?" Zhang Xuan frowned.
Despite the huge number of books he had read, he had never read of the Dongxu Gourd before.
"Dongxu Gourd is a treasure of nature. Using the earth veins as its roots, it absorbs the essence of the sun and the moon, and it takes ten thousand years before it flowers, and another ten thousand years before it bears fruit. In each earth vein, there can only be one Dongxu Gourd... As a result of that, Dongxu Gourds are extremely rare and valuable. If one can cultivate it and fuse it into one's body, the chances which one would be able to achieve a breakthrough to Saint 8-dan would be increased by at least 50%!" Luo Xuanqing said.
"50%?" Zhang Xuan widened his eyes in astonishment.
Beyond Saint 5-dan, while cultivation resources were still as important as always, the cultivator must also achieve a deep understanding of the surrounding heaven and earth and the spatial laws too... As such, any artifact which could increase one's chances of success by 10% or 20% would be highly sought after by all cultivators!
It was unimaginable for an item to be able to raise one's chances of achieving a breakthrough to Saint 8-dan by 50%!
"Indeed. However, the blessed land I have found is fraught with dangers, and it'll be difficult for me to succeed alone. That's the reason why I gathered everyone here, and as long as I can obtain the Dongxu Gourd, I'll compensate all of you handsomely for your efforts." Luo Xuanqing said with a sharp glint in his eyes.
The Dongxu Gourd would a crucial factor in determining whether he would be able to achieve a breakthrough to Saint 8-dan or not. He was determined to obtain it, by hook or by crook.
Hearing those words, Zhang Xuan nodded in realization.
He thought that they had gathered here to challenge some kind of trial, but that was clearly not the case now. Luo Xuanqing had invited all of them here to engage their help in obtaining the Dongxu Gourd!
"Is there a powerful formation guarding the Dongxu Gourd or something?" Zhang Xuan asked.
Considering how his cultivation paled far in comparison to the rest of the group, the only reason he could think of why Luo Xuanqing would invite him here was due to his proficiency in formations.
"Un, there's a grade-8 pinnacle formation around the Dongxu Gourd. I'm not too sure who set the formation up, but I have attempted to breach the formation twice but failed on both occasions." Luo Xuanqing replied with a nod.
"As one of the top clans on the Master Teacher Continent, the Luo Clan should have plenty of capable formation masters. It shouldn't be too difficult for you to engage the help of a couple of them to help you breach the grade-8 pinnacle formation, right?" Zhang Xuan asked doubtfully.
Given the strength and standing of the Luo Clan, putting aside a grade-8 pinnacle formation, they would surely have talents who could easily decipher grade-9 formations as well. Why would Luo Xuanqing seek his help instead?
"The situation is not that easy. The blessed land I spoke about has strict restrictions on it. Those whose ages are over forty or cultivations are at Saint 8-dan or above are prohibited from entering. If one were to forcefully barge in, there's a very good chance that the blessed land would collapse inward, thus causing the treasures within to disappear for good!" Luo Xuanqing said with a bitter smile.
"There's such a restriction?" Zhang Xuan was taken aback. Suddenly, a thought came to his mind, and he asked, "Is it be possible that... the blessed land is an ancient domain left behind by an old expert?"
As Luo Xuanqing had said that the Dongxu Gourd was a treasure of nature, he instinctively assumed that the blessed land it was located in would be a natural terrain as well. However, the presence of a formation and restrictions sounded too much like a manmade work.
"Of course! The Dongxu Gourd can grow in natural conditions too, but as soon as it starts to flower, the aura that it emanates will swiftly draw others to it. Under such circumstances, there's no way it would be able to survive until maturity!" Luo Xuanqing replied.
"I see…" Zhang Xuan nodded.
Treasures like the Dongxu Gourd were extremely valuable. If it wasn't guarded by a formation or something of the sort, there was no way they would have been able to get a shot at it.
"This is how it is. So, I would like to formally invite you to join our team, and regardless of whether we succeed or not, I'll compensate you with a pinnacle spirit stone and a half-Saint high-tier artifact for your efforts!" Luo Xuanqing said.
"Pinnacle spirit stone?" Those three words immediately sparked up a radiant glow in Zhang Xuan's eyes.
Putting aside that Luo Xuanqing was his future brother-in-law, a close kin of Luo Ruoxin and soon-to-be close kin of his, just on the pinnacle spirit stone itself, there was no way he would turn down this mission!
After all, that was what he was lacking the most at the moment.
If he could obtain even a pinnacle spirit stone, he wouldn't have to worry over a lack of spiritual energy for quite a while. At the very least, it should be sufficient for him to reach Saint 6-dan, or if luck had it, perhaps even Saint 7-dan as well!
"That's right. I don't have the pinnacle spirit stones on me yet, but I have already applied for them from my clan. They should be here by the time we return from the blessed land." Luo Xuanqing continued.
"Alright, I'll accept your offer!" Without much hesitation, Zhang Xuan expressed his agreement.
Other than the pinnacle spirit stone, there were also several other reasons why he chose to accept the mission. Firstly, through the shared experiences they would have while trying to obtain the Dongxu Gourd, they should be able to swiftly grow close with one another. And as long as he could take down this future brother-in-law of his, he just might be able to convince the other party to bring him to meet Ruoxin!
Of course, from his previous experiences, it was apparent that Luo Xuanqing was a siscon. Until they grew sufficiently close enough to one another, it was best for him not to speak of or express any interest in Ruoxin before the latter. Otherwise, all of his efforts could very well be undone.
Also, given that he had already been dragged here and learned of such a confidential secret, there was already no room for him to back down!
Otherwise, should the news leak out somehow, he would definitely be the first suspect!
"Good! You are still lacking in strength at the moment, but worry not. I'll protect you, so just follow closely behind me. You just have to make a move when we reach the grade-8 pinnacle formation." Seeing that he had managed to bring Zhang Xuan to his team, Luo Xuanqing heaved a sigh of relief and patted the young man on the shoulder with a peal of hearty laughter.
A cost of his domineering attitude in the Sanctum of Sages, he didn't have too many friends. He did know quite a few individuals who were skilled in formations, but he didn't feel safe revealing the existence of the Dongxu Gourd to them.
After all, the significance of the Dongxu Gourd was simply too great to Saint 7-dan cultivators.
It would be a disaster if his own teammate were to sabotage him at the last moment.
On the other hand, even though Zhang Xuan possessed extraordinary capability as a formation master, his cultivation wasn't too high and he didn't have a powerful background either. Such a person was easier for him to control, which was the reason why he chose Zhang Xuan eventually as well.
"Un." Zhang Xuan nodded.
To be honest, with his current strength, if he were to utilize all of his means, he was confident that he would at least be on par with the rest of the team... But well, it was still best for him to maintain a low profile wherever possible.
Otherwise, as awe-inspiring he would be after using all of his trump cards, he would only end up with the others putting their guard against him and his means. That would only put him in an even more dangerous position in the future.
Besides, his strongest trump cards weren't really suited to be shown in public either, such as Vicious...
"Since we are going to be working together, allow me to give you a brief introduction of these three's abilities so that we can better collaborate with one another later on." Luo Xuanqing said.
"Bi Hongyin specializes in demonic tunes and formations, you should have seen her prowess for yourself earlier, so I won't elaborate too much about that. Yuan Xiao boasts superior defenses, such that it would be no exaggeration to call him a human shield. As for Yun Lianhai... his fighting prowess is slightly beneath the rest of us, but he's from the Sage Clan, Yun Clan... And as you might know, the Yun Clan specializes in seeking out treasures, and they are known around the Master Teacher Continent as a clan of treasure hunters!"
"Treasure hunters?" Zhang Xuan was taken aback. "There's such an occupation in the world?"