And for him to see a higher level painting that depicted the identical mountain range to the one he had seen before... Could they be depicting the same location?
"Kong shi's image isn't on the painting though. Did the painter intentionally choose not to draw it, or did he not notice Kong shi's presence?" Zhang Xuan frowned.
Flicking his wrist, Zhang Xuan took out the painting he had acquired from the Qingtian Emperor and compared it to the mountain range on the ninth level painting before him. The features were completely identical to one another, well, with the exception of the lake of bathing ladies.
"That's the [White Creek Mountain] of the Empire Alliance. It's located at a place very far away from the Sanctum of Sages, such that even a Saint 7-dan beast would require a flight of three months in order to reach there!" Taking a glance at the painting in Zhang Xuan's hand, Luo Xuanqing said.
He was slightly surprised initially to see that Zhang Xuan had a painting of the same scenery as the ninth level painting before them, but he didn't think too much into it. After all, due to the splendid scenery at the White Creek Mountain, there were quite a few paintings of it circulating out there in the world.
"White Creek Mountain..." Zhang Xuan muttered beneath his breath as he tightened his fists.
"While the painting you have can't compete with the ninth level painting up there, it's still a commendable work of art. It has managed to bring out the splendor and beauty of the mountain range in full." Luo Xuanqing complimented.
This was a painting that could astound all painters in the Qingyuan Empire, but to Luo Xuanqing's eyes, it could only be considered to be 'commendable'.
"Indeed…" Zhang Xuan replied perfunctorily as he kept the painting back to his storage ring with his mind wandering somewhere else.
Now that he knew that the mountain range depicted in the painting was the White Creek Mountain, he would have to make a trip over there to take a look. Since Kong shi's apparition was spotted there, there was a good chance that he might find Kong shi's ancient domain over there too.
While the two of them were chatting, the spatial bubble rose up from the river and arrived before the massive ninth level painting.
"Are we able to enter this painting too?" Looking at the lifelike painting before him, Zhang Xuan asked in curiosity.
There was bound to be a reason as to why the elder who had left the Dongxu Gourd here would leave a ninth level painting here as well. If they could enter the painting, they might just be able to unravel the secrets behind this folded space.
"It should be possible…" Luo Xuanqing pondered for a moment before nodding.
"I'll head in to take a look then." Zhang Xuan said with a smile before heading in.
This painting was not drawn on a paper but on top of the folded space. It consisted of multiple layers stitched together by the fabric of space, so Zhang Xuan had to fly for quite some time before he finally arrived before the massive mountain range.
The sheer expanse the mountain range took granted it an imposing and grand aura.
Flying upward, Zhang Xuan soon arrived at where he had replaced Kong shi's image with the bathing ladies, and he swiftly scanned the area. A moment later, he shook his head in disappointment.
There was nothing special to be seen here. There was no apparition of Kong shi or any hidden folded spaces and the such.
"Nevertheless, there should still be some reason why the elder chose to leave this ninth level painting in here…" Zhang Xuan mumbled contemplatively beneath his breath.
If this ancient domain was really left behind by Ancient Sage Qiu Wu, everything would make perfect sense.
He was Kong shi's servant, and the reason why he left behind this painting was likely to remind future generations that there was something lying in the White Creek Mountain!
Zhang Xuan continued scanning through the mountain range, but he was unable to find anything or note. Eventually, he could only return with empty hands.
When he finally returned back to Luo Xuanqing and the others' side, the mountain range suddenly shuddered slightly before dissipating silently.
"This painting has been around for too long. It's likely that time had already left it tattered throughout, and the only reason why it's still able to maintain its original appearance is likely only because no one has touched it yet. Your act of entering the painting had placed too much stress on the painting, thus inevitably resulting in its dissipation." Luo Xuanqing explained.
The slightly stunned Zhang Xuan nodded in realization.
In a sense, this was similar to how even if old possessions were able to retain their beautiful outer appearances, their worn out within would only cause them to crumble to dust upon touch.
Zhang Xuan took one last glance at the dissipated painting before turning his gaze back forward. A rather wide passageway had appeared before them.
Following behind Luo Xuanqing and the others' footsteps, he landed on top of the passageway.
After all of the spatial distortion he had been through, it felt reassuring to have his feet planted onto solid ground.
"The artifact that I sensed is in there!" Yun Lianhai said with eyes gleaming with excitement.
As soon as he stepped onto the passageway, the fuzzy feeling he had received from the treasure before suddenly turned extremely distinct. As long as they were to walk down this path, they should be able to find quite a few good stuff.
Hearing that the treasure was located not too far away from them, the crowd immediately felt energized, and they began making their way forward.
Before long, a palace unfolded before their eyes.
While it was called a palace, it wasn't too big or extravagant. Instead, its ancient design seemed to be communicating the long history behind it.
"It's likely that there might be danger in here. Let me head in to take a look first." Luo Xuanqing said before taking the lead forward.
The gates of the palace were carved from stone, and it was densely filled with inscriptions.
"These are Spatial Inscriptions, unique characters which Ancient Sage Qiu Wu has created! Through studying these characters, one could comprehend the essence of space. Our clan has a detailed interpretation of these words." Luo Xuanqing exclaimed in astonishment.
"Spatial Inscriptions?" Zhang Xuan looked at those characters contemplatively for a moment before nodding.
He had seen those words at the Qiu Wu Palace as well.
The Heavenly Demon Great Sorrow Palm was written using these words. Back then, he had no idea what those words meant, but he still managed to learn the battle technique through emulating the form of those words.
"If that's the case, does that mean that the ancient domain is really left behind by Ancient Sage Qiu Wu?" Bi Hongyin asked in agitation.
Even though Ancient Sage Qiu Wu was Kong shi's servant, his true strength was no weaker than the founder of the Sanctum of Sages, Ancient Sage Bo Shang. More importantly, his comprehension of space had reached an extremely high level. If they could obtain his heritage, it would only be a matter of time before they achieved a breakthrough to Saint 8-dan or even Saint 9-dan.
"That's most likely to be the case... But it's a little weird though. My clan has a huge collection of books detailing the life of Ancient Sage Qiu Wu, but we have never heard that he has left behind such an ancient domain before!" Luo Xuanqing said with a bewildered frown.
"As complicated as this ancient domain appears to be, to experts of the caliber of an Ancient Sage, it's something that they can create on a whim. I think it's likely that not even Ancient Sage Qiu Wu remembered about this ancient domain he had left behind…" Yun Lianhai said.
Coming from a clan of treasure hunters, he had come into contact with simply too many treasures in the world.
There were many ancient domains which appeared to be mystifyingly profound to those of the later generations, and the treasures within them were incredibly valuable too. However, to those who had left them behind, those might not bear much significance at all.
The difference in realms inevitably led to a huge difference in how they assessed the value of things.
"That's true." Zhang Xuan nodded in agreement.
Take him for example, he wouldn't even blink an eye if someone were to throw a million high-tier spirit stones before him. However, in the Myriad Kingdom Alliance, just the possession of a single high-tier spirit stone could already be considered as a great wealth.
Similarly, while the Dongxu Gourd might seem to be incomparably valuable to them, it might just be something that an Ancient Sage would just toss away casually.
"Luo Xuanqing, since you recognize those characters, what is written on there?" Yun Lianhai asked.
"It's a message intended for the later generations who discover this ancient domain. The general meaning is that those who are able to come this far are bound to have a deep understanding of space and are qualified to obtain his heritage. Ah, the way to open the door is also detailed on it…" Luo Xuanqing said as he examined the inscriptions on the wall closely.
After many years of studying these Spatial Inscriptions, the Luo Clan had already compiled a book that allowed others to interpret the meaning behind these characters.
"Heritage? Does this meant to say that the heritage of Ancient Sage Qiu Wu lies in the palace?"
"That seems so." Luo Xuanqing nodded. Taking a deep breath, he said, "I'm going to open the door now, so be careful. It isn't easy for us to come to this point, so nothing must go wrong at this moment…"
After saying those words, he took a step backward before he raised his hand and tapped his finger forward. A surge of zhenqi poured forth and struck the gates.
He sent out a total of three such surges of zhenqi in a '品' formation, and energy began rippling across the surface of the gates. 'Jiyaya!', it began to slowly open.
Luo Xuanqing immediately drove his zhenqi to create a protective barrier around him in preparation for what would appear.
Ancient Sage Qiu Wu was a respected and celebrated figure, but since he had left his heritage behind here, he must have set up all kinds of trials in order to assess the qualification of those who sought his heritage. It would be better for them to proceed carefully.
Luo Xuanqing stepped into the palace, and some time later, he waved his hand to beckon for the others and said, "There's no danger. Come in!"
The crowd quickly swarmed in and found themselves standing within a hall. It was completely empty, except for a sculpture erected not too far away.
"It's Ancient Sage Qiu Wu!" Upon seeing the face on the sculpture, Zhang Xuan exclaimed.
He had seen Ancient Sage Qiu Wu back in the Qiu Wu Palace, so naturally, he could recognize the sculpture here too.
"This is Ancient Sage Qiu Wu?"
Despite coming from illustrious backgrounds, this was the first time they were seeing Ancient Sage Qiu Wu's sculpture.
"I have seen before Ancient Sage Qiu Wu's painting, that's indeed him." Luo Xuanqing replied before directing a perplexed glance at Zhang Xuan. "Zhang shi, how did you know it's him?"
Ancient Sage Qiu Wu had maintained a low profile in his lifetime, so there weren't too many records on him. The Luo Clan was only able to recognize the other party through a painting they had in their possession, so how was the young man before him able to recognize it with a look?
"You said earlier that those words were left behind by Ancient Sage Qiu Wu, so I thought that the sculpture must be him as well…" Zhang Xuan replied sheepishly.
The Qiu Wu Palace carried the secret of the Heavenly Art of Dimension Unravel, so it was best for him to avoid talking about it for the tie being.
On the other hand, seeing that Zhang Xuan was unwilling to speak about the matter, Luo Xuanqing also didn't push him for a response either. Everyone had their own private encounters and secrets, and there was no purpose in insistently dredging them up.
Instead, he walked over to the sculpture, kneeled onto the ground, and respectfully kowtowed a few times before standing up once more.
"Our Luo Clan's understanding of spatial laws originated from Ancient Sage Qiu Wu's heritage, so our ancestor has made a rule that if any member of the Luo Clan were to encounter Ancient Sage Qiu Wu's sculpture or will, we must kowtow to him to honor him as our grandteacher!" Luo Xuanqing explained.
"The Luo Clan's understanding of spatial laws originated from Ancient Sage Qiu Wu's heritage?" Zhang Xuan was astonished.
He turned to look at Yuan Xiao and the others, but they seemed to already be aware of this matter.
"Space is an intrinsic nature of the world, so unlike swordsmanship and the others, which can be developed into many different Quintessences, it has only one true path. As such, their heritages are more unified…" Zhang Xuan came to a realization.
He should have known this earlier.
It was no wonder why the Annal of Bedstead Disquisition Sage Luo had left behind was able to perfect the Heavenly Art of Dimension Unravel. It turned out that the both of them had originated from the same source.
"Junior Luo Xuanqing plays respect to Ancient Sage Qiu Wu!"
After saying those words, Luo Xuanqing reached out his hand and placed it on the lower pedestal of the sculpture.
A light buzz echoed in the air for a moment before brilliant light burst forth from the sculpture. The unmoving sculpture slowly opened its eyes.
"The will of Ancient Sage Qiu Wu…"
Bi Hongyin, Yuan Xiao, and the others widened their eyes in shock, and without any hesitation, they kneeled to the ground.
One must know that Ancient Sage Qiu Wu was an expert which was even older than the founder of their respective heritages, such that even those founders would have to kneel down and address him as 'senior'.
"Back then, while I was passing by here, I happen to chance upon the seed of the Dongxu Gourd, so I decided to plant it, hoping that it would be of some help to the later generations. The fact that you are able to come this far shows that you have achieved a deep comprehension of space and is qualified to obtain my heritage…" the sculpture began speaking.
"Thank you, Ancient Sage Qiu Wu…"
Everyone felt agitated to receive Ancient Sage Qiu Wu's recognition. Luo Xuanqing was just about to utter some words of gratitude when he suddenly realized that not too far away, Zhang Xuan was still standing.
A frown emerged on his forehead as he berated, "Zhang shi, why are you not paying your respects to Ancient Sage Qiu Wu…"
But barely after those words were spoken, Ancient Sage Qiu Wu's sculpture had also turned his head over, and a horrified look appeared on his face, "You again!"