If anyone else had said those words to her, she definitely would have had the other party thrown off the back of the crane. However, it was different with the young man before her.
Through his guidance, he was able to make Luo Xuanqing achieve a breakthrough within just a short span of time. That was more than enough to prove that he was a man of great abilities. Achieving a breakthrough to Saint 7-dan pinnacle was not a small matter, but compared to a breakthrough to Saint 8-dan, it was indeed a walk in the park.
"Let me take a look at the cultivation technique manual you are practicing. I need to know the nature of your cultivation technique in order to determine a feasible direction to work in," Zhang Xuan said.
"Alright!" Bi Hongyin flicked her wrist and passed a book over.
Zhang Xuan took the book and casually flipped it open.
"Seven Strings Music Forging Art!"
The cultivation technique that Bi Hongyin practiced was the strongest technique of the demonic tunists. With her body as the zither and her breaths as strings, she was able to produce music on thought. Even a simple word or hum from her was imbued with great power, drawing others under her control.
After looking through the other party's cultivation technique, Zhang Xuan took out the book he had compiled on Bi Hongyin when she executed her battle technique earlier and studied both of them together. Some time later, he finally arrived at a solution.
"Cultivators of the Seven Strings Music Forging Art are able to temper their zhenqi into the seven strings of a zither, and upon breaking through to the Phantasmal Space realm, they are able to form the Seven Strings Dominion. Enemies who step into the Seven Strings Dominion will feel as if they have fallen into a world filled with demonic tunes. The slightest lapse in one's guard against it could result in the injuring of one's Primordial Spirit and the breeding of inner demons within one's mind.
"It's indeed not too easy to achieve a breakthrough with this cultivation technique. However, you have already accumulated a strong enough foundation for a breakthrough, just that you are currently lacking one last thing," Zhang Xuan analyzed with a frown.
"May I know what it is?" Bi Hongyin asked anxiously.
"Your Seven Strings Dominion isn't sharp enough yet. If an equally-skilled demonic tunist could put you under great pressure through attacking your openings, it should be possible to trigger your potential, allowing you to push for a breakthrough," Zhang Xuan said.
There were quite a few major flaws in Bi Hongyin's cultivation technique, but considering how far she had come cultivating it, it was already too late to change it. If she wanted to surpass her current bottleneck, there was only one way to do it—to use music to stimulate her music!
By attacking the biggest openings in her body, her body would be placed under immense stress, and this would force her body to achieve a breakthrough.
"Put me under great pressure?" Bi Hongyin was stunned for a moment before a bitter smile broke on her face. "Suppression by demonic tunes requires one to achieve a very high level of mastery in demonic tunes. The only person I know who can achieve this feat is my teacher, but it's a pity that she's not here. As simple as the idea is, it won't be easy to carry it out in practice."
"I happen to have some experience in demonic tunes as well. If you trust me, we can give it a shot," Zhang Xuan said with a smile.
"You are a demonic tunist too?" Bi Hongyin could hardly believe what she was hearing.
"I did learn it for a while. Right, do you have any books regarding demonic tunes? Let me take a look through them. I need as many books as possible so as to find a detailed way as to how I can help you achieve a breakthrough," Zhang Xuan said.
"Alright." Bi Hongyin nodded.
She flicked her wrist, and a huge pile of books immediately appeared on the back of the crane. She turned her gaze to Zhang Xuan and said, "These are all of the books relating to demonic tunes that I have with me at the moment. There are around two thousand of them here."
Responding with a nod, Zhang Xuan swiftly scanned through the books with his eyes and collected them all into the Library of Heaven's Path.
After which, he picked up a book and began flipping through, but meanwhile, his consciousness was immersed in his Library of Heaven's Path, studying these books.
Even though he had the 7-star demonic tunist emblem, he had only browsed through 6-star demonic tune manuals before, so effectively, his comprehension of demonic tunes was only on par with 7-star primary demonic tunists. Such a level of proficiency was still far from enough for him to resolve the problems Bi Hongyin was facing.
After some commotion, a book materialized in the air.
Fortunately, a Heaven's Path Demonic Tune Art was compiled. With just a simple tap, he assimilated the knowledge contained within it. Thus, he opened his eyes once more and said, "Alright, I have found a solution to the problem."
Bi Hongyin glanced at the 'Discourse on Sheet Music' in Zhang Xuan's hand and asked in disbelief, "So fast?"
She had read the book when she had just become a 7-star demonic tunist. It simply introduced some of the simpler grade-7 demonic tunes and playing techniques. To make an analogy, it was somewhat similar to 'A Collection of Nursery Rhymes'. Was the young man really going to induce a breakthrough in her using such a book?
"Un." Without explaining the matter, Zhang Xuan instructed, "Sit down and take out your zither."
Despite harboring an ocean of doubts in her mind, Bi Hongyin still sat down, took out her zither, and gently stroked it with her fingers.
The melody of a zither began sounded in the air.
As soon as Bi Hongyin started playing, her disposition changed. It grew towering and imposing, reminiscent of a tall tsunami that threatened to drown one within it.
Meanwhile, Zhang Xuan flicked his wrist and took out a zither as well.
This was the zither that School Head Jiang had made for him using a unique branch procured from his own residence. Even with his current level of proficiency in demonic tunes, it could still be a considered a decent zither.
Stroking on the zither lightly, a melody drifted gently into the surroundings.
His zither playing did not harness too much offensive power; instead, it carried a fleeting and distant feeling that seemed to gradually draw one deeper into the melody, putting one in a trance.
Even though he had managed to compile the 7-star Heaven's Path Demonic Tune Art, he had not had a chance to cultivate it yet, so his prowess in demonic tunes was still only comparable to a 7-star primary demonic tunist.
Nevertheless, every note played was impeccably timed in between Bi Hongyin's playing, messing up her tempo. In terms of prowess, Bi Hongyin felt as if she was facing a 7-star pinnacle demonic tunist head-on.
Tring trringg ting tring!
In just moments, Bi Hongyin's face had turned crimson, and she nearly spurted blood on the spot.
"He's really powerful…"
Initially, Bi Hongyin still had some reservations about Zhang Xuan's proficiency as a demonic tunist, but just from this short encounter, she found that the other party's grasp of demonic tunes had reached a level far above hers!
This was truly frightening!
Formations, medicine, beast taming… It was already formidable that he possessed such astounding mastery in those occupations, but to think that he would possess such superb talent in demonic tunes as well! Just how in the world did he study?
While Zhang Xuan was stimulating Bi Hongyin's potential to help her push for a breakthrough to Phantasmal Space realm pinnacle, Yuan Xiao and the others were looking on with envy on their faces.
However, their envy did not last for too long before Yun Lianhai remarked, "Is it just me… or is the divine crane moving downward?"
Luo Xuanqing and the others lowered their heads and saw that the Seven-colored Divine Crane, which had been flying steadily a moment ago, was suddenly going on a downward trajectory.
"It's indeed moving downward. However, at the speed it's moving, this shouldn't pose any trouble," Luo Xuanqing replied.
Not even a second after saying those words, the divine crane's neck suddenly arched backward, and its eyes were bulging so much that it seemed as if they would pop out at any moment.
It fainted on the spot.
The mouths of Luo Xuanqing and the others twitched.
They were all Saint realm experts, so even if their aerial saint beast were to plummet, they would still be able to maintain their flight. But…
Can't the two of you calm down a bit? Look, even the Seven-colored Crane can't tolerate you two anymore!
If something really happens to it, how do you plan on returning to the Sanctum of Sages?
Luo Xuanqing hurriedly waved his hands to support the divine crane and the others, slowly guiding the group to the ground.
All the while, Zhang Xuan and Bi Hongyin remained completely engrossed into playing against one another, oblivious to the suffering of the divine crane.
As such, despite having lost consciousness and landed on the ground, the divine crane's body continued convulsing endlessly, and white foam flowed out from the edges of its mouth. It was almost as if whipping a corpse!
Just as Luo Xuanqing and the others were hesitating over whether they should stop those two so as to save the divine crane from its agony, a resounding buzz reverberated from Bi Hongyin's direction. Her aura surged, breaking straight through the clouds and into the heavens. The bottleneck that had confined her at Phantasmal Space realm advanced stage had been broken!
"Phantasmal Space realm pinnacle? She really achieved a breakthrough… and it's just been five minutes!"
Yuan Xiao and Yun Lianhai glanced at one another with widened eyes.
Previously, Zhang Xuan had said that he could help Bi Hongyin achieve a breakthrough within five minutes, and putting together the time he had spent on reading through a book and playing the zither… it just happened that five minutes had passed!
This… Wasn't his calculation a little too precise?
"Alright, it's done!" Playing the very last note, Zhang Xuan put his zither back into his storage ring before exhaling deeply. He stood up and stretched his back lazily.
It was only at this moment that he finally recovered his trance, and after a short moment of confusion, a frown emerged on his forehead. "Hmm? Why are we on the ground?"
With his limited proficiency in demonic tunes, he had needed to focus his attention fully on his playing, so he did not notice the falling of the crane. As such, he could not help but be perplexed by the situation before him.
Logically speaking, they should still have been some distance away from reaching the Sanctum of Sages, so… why would they suddenly land on the ground?
"Why don't you take a look for yourself?" Seeing the confused look on Zhang Xuan's face, the veins on Luo Xuanqing's temples bulged as he pointed to the side.
Zhang Xuan hurriedly turned his head and saw the divine crane lying unconscious on the ground. Its tongue was stretched out, and its slender legs were twitching every now and then. Amazingly, he realized that its spasms were in tempo with the melody he had been playing before.
"It must have truly enjoyed the music I have played earlier to be dancing along to my melody even in its sleep!" Zhang Xuan remarked in awe. "It sure has fine taste in music!"
"…" The crowd.
"Zhang shi, I happen to have reached a bottleneck in my cultivation as well. Can you give me some guidance too?"
"I'm just a step short of a breakthrough, too."
Bi Hongyin's breakthrough had left Yuan Xiao and Yun Lianhai deeply moved. They realized that this was a good opportunity for them as well.
Zhang Xuan had initially planned to turn down their requests, but in view of the great sincerity they were showing him—neither of their 'sincerity' was worth any less than the grade-8 formation flags that Bi Hongyin had gifted him—he solemnly pondered over the matter for a split second before reluctantly agreeing to help them as well.
Yun Lianhai's cultivation was the lowest of the group, and his fighting prowess was not too strong, so helping him achieve a breakthrough was much easier. On the other hand, due to his powerful defensive prowess and strong foundation in cultivation, it was much more difficult for Yuan Xiao to achieve a breakthrough.
Nevertheless, that did not pose much of a problem for Zhang Xuan. He summoned the Netherworld Azure Dragon Beast and commanded it to give Yuan Xiao a beating he would never forget, and not too long later, the latter successfully achieved a breakthrough.
The group rested on that spot for an entire day and reinforced their cultivation before continue their journey back.
By then, the Seven-colored Divine Crane had already recovered from its previous trauma. Well, it would still make abrupt halts and plummet several hundred meters from time to time in the midst of its flight, but all was still well.
However, due to that, their journey ended up being much longer than expected. What that should have been a five-day flight ended up taking them ten whole days.
Fortunately, this time could not be said to have been wasted. The crowd managed to reinforce their cultivation, thus increasing their fighting prowess significantly. This was especially so for Luo Xuanqing. At Half-Dimension Sundering realm and ready to achieve a breakthrough at any moment, he was already standing at the very top of the Inner Sanctum.
"Zhang shi, are you interested in accompanying me to look for Zhang Chun?" Luo Xuanqing suddenly asked while he was leaping down the back of the divine crane after landing in a vast courtyard.
"Look for Zhang Chun?"
"Indeed. It isn't easy for me to one-up him, so it goes without saying that I should make use of this opportunity to vent my many years of pent-up frustration. Otherwise, wouldn't my breakthrough have been in vain?" Luo Xuanqing said as he licked his lips savagely.
"This…" Zhang Xuan hesitated for a moment before saying, "Actually, I'm planning to take the 8-star examinations for my other supporting occupations so as to push for a breakthrough to 8-star master teacher."
It had been quite some time since he had obtained the Sanctum Head Token, and time was rather tight for him too. It was about time for him to at least clear the 8-star master teacher examination and unlock one of the seals.
Otherwise, he might not be able to make it in time for Luo Ruoxin's marriage.
"You want to take the 8-star examinations for your supporting occupations?" Luo Xuanqing looked at Zhang Xuan contemplatively. "Which examinations are you planning to take first?"
"Hmm, spirit awakener, apothecary, physician, painter, beast tamer, celestial designer, terpsichore, and appraiser… Any of these should be fine," Zhang Xuan replied.
In order to qualify for the 8-star master teacher examination, he would need to have eight 8-star supporting occupations, and so far, he had only cleared his 8-star formation master examination. He really needed to work much harder.
"Ah, I have dest… I mean cleared those examinations before, so I am quite close with the personnel there. Why don't you follow me to pummel Zhang Chun, and I'll take you on a walk through all of them right after?" Luo Xuanqing said with a grand wave of his hand.