Zhang Xuan was unfamiliar with the Sanctum of Sages, which made it difficult for him to find his way around. Hearing Luo Xuanqing's confident declaration, Zhang Xuan's eyes immediately lit up.
If he could have someone show him around, he would be spared from a great deal of trouble. Besides, he was more than willing to pummel Zhang Chun, not to mention the fact that the fellow still owed him quite a few pinnacle spirit stones. A few days had passed since then, so it was about time for him to collect the debt.
"There's no need for formalities with me!" Luo Xuanqing laughed heartily as he took the lead forward.
Even though the cultivation of the young man before him was ordinary, he had shown extraordinary expertise in setting up formations and guiding others to achieving a breakthrough. Even for him and the Luo Clan, there were many benefits that could be derived from befriending such a person.
Not to mention, the young man's personality happened to be to his liking as well.
While proceeding ahead, Luo Xuanqing sent out a few messages with his Communication Jade Token, and a moment later, he turned to Zhang Xuan with a smile and said, "That fellow isn't in the Inner Sanctum but the Shrine of Seers. Let's corner him there."
"Shrine of Seers?" Zhang Xuan frowned.
"It's a branch of the Seer Guild, similar to the place where you took the 8-star formation master back then," Luo Xuanqing explained.
"You mean… there's a branch of the Seer Guild here?" Zhang Xuan's eyes lit up in excitement.
He had heard of this occupation in the past. It was an Upper Nine Paths occupation that was shrouded with mystery. Seers were known to be able to use mysterious methods to foresee the events of the near future and use this knowledge to harness fortune and ward off bad luck.
Most Sage Clans would have a few seers serving as their honorary elders, assisting them in making important decisions.
All along, Zhang Xuan had only heard rumors about the occupation, but so far, he had not met a single seer in real life. Who would have thought that there would actually be a branch of the Seer Guild in the Sanctum of Sages?
"Of course! Where do you think the Sanctum of Sages is? Most likely, Zhang Chun is trying to get a seer to look into your background after getting done in by your tamed beast," Luo Xuanqing said with a chuckle.
The fact that Luo Xuanqing was able to find out that Zhang Chun was in the Shrine of Seers so quickly could only mean that he had many pair of eyes in the Sanctum of Sages.
"He's getting a seer just to look into my background? Wouldn't it be far more efficient for him to just ask around?" Zhang Xuan shook his head.
In his view, engaging the help of a seer for something so trivial was truly meaningless. After all, his background was stated in detail in his records, so all it would take was for Zhang Chun to tap into his connections to access it. Furthermore, there was likely a certain degree of error in the ability of any seer. It felt counterintuitive to go through so much trouble just to obtain possibly inaccurate information.
"The Zhang Clan has always been rather superstitious, and they regard seers and their ability of divination very well. The current clan head, Sword Saint Xingmeng, has even invited all the 9-star seers to the Zhang Clan over the past few years," Luo Xuanqing said with a disdainful sneer.
"Why would he invite so many 9-star seers over to the Zhang Clan?" Zhang Xuan asked in bewilderment.
As the number one clan in the Master Teacher Continent, the Zhang Clan's position was extremely stable, and it was blessed with many talented offspring as well. Just what were they so dissatisfied about that they needed to engage the help of seers to look into?
"Who knows what's going through the minds of those lunatics?" Luo Xuanqing shrugged.
The Shrine of Seers was located in the Hall of Erudition, just like the other examination grounds. Flitting swiftly forward, it did not take them too long to arrive at their destination.
Even though the Shrine of Seers was located within the Hall of Erudition, it emanated a completely different vibe from the examination grounds of other occupations. The building was extremely old, carrying the slight scent of the primordial ages.
The entire building felt like an upside-down tortoiseshell, covered with all kinds of bizarre cracks on its surface. It was a rather mysterious feeling that was hard to describe, but it seemed like the building was infused with the will of the heavens, serving as a window to peer into the secrets of the world.
The doors to the other examination halls were all wide open, but this particular building had its gates tightly shut.
"This is the Shrine of Seers?"
"Un. I tried picking up the seer occupation at one point in time too, but despite studying it for several days, I wasn't even able to qualify as an apprentice, so I chose to give up on it in the end. Well, it's really quite an enigmatic occupation. It's not right to say that they are a bunch of frauds as their prophecies and insights do turn out to be astoundingly accurate from time to time. Then again… the notion of using just a few tortoiseshells or copper coins to predict one's fate is just plain ridiculous to me." Luo Xuanqing shook his head.
"Every established occupation has a reason for its existence. The fact that the seer occupation has been able to survive several dozen millenniums without being phased out shows that it has its own meaning of existence," Zhang Xuan replied.
Survival of the fittest—those that were inept and useless would eventually be phased out with time. The fact that the seer occupation was able to be passed down for such a long period of time meant that it was not as simple as it seemed.
"You really talk like my younger sister. The last time I spoke with her about this matter, she said those words to me as well." Luo Xuanqing glanced at Zhang Xuan with a displeased look.
"It's my honor to share the same thoughts with the little princess." Zhang Xuan chuckled softly in response.
"Don't even bother trying to bootlick me!" Luo Xuanqing shot a glance at Zhang Xuan before continuing. "It's only because I have a good impression of you that I'm giving you this advice right here. Don't harbor any thoughts toward my younger sister. Firstly, there's no way you'll be able to catch her eye with your strength, and secondly, an outsider like you can't possibly go against the will of the Zhang Clan and the Luo Clan. This might sound a little harsh, but you'd do well to sever any wishful thinking you have toward her!"
Hidden within Luo Xuanqing's blunt exterior was a meticulous heart. After spending several days with one another, he could not help but notice that the young man had an unnatural interest in the affairs of his younger sister.
If anyone else had been so nosey, he would have simply resorted straight to his fists. After all, his title as the King of Destruction was not for show. However, the young man had helped him greatly and even aided him in achieving a breakthrough. In view of that, he decided to persuade the young man instead.
It was not that he was resistant to the idea of having the young man become his brother-in-law, but he knew that such a matter was absolutely impossible.
Even he, one of the core members of the Luo Clan, was unable to change his younger sister's fate, so what could a mere Leaving Aperture realm pinnacle fellow do?
Thus, it was better to sever all wishful thinking right from the start, or else it would only hurt more as time went by. It was not easy for him to meet a person whom he could get along with, and he would hate to see the other party falling into danger over the matter concerning his younger sister.
"There's no way I'll be able to catch her eye? That's hard to say. After all, who could fathom the capriciousness of life?" Zhang Xuan remarked deeply.
It was a sheer coincidence that he stumbled upon Luo Ruoxin in the midst of the Verdant Mountain back then, and it was also a sheer coincidence that those spirit beasts had gathered around her then, prompting him to make a move to save her. Without all of those coincidences, their fates probably would have never intersected, and they would not have gotten to know one another.
It was truly a marvel how fate was able to bring about a meeting of two people from two completely different worlds.
"Half of those who harbored those thoughts have been crippled by me, and the other half have been crippled by Zhang Chun…" Luo Xuanqing harrumphed coldly.
Just as he was about to continue speaking, the doors to the Shrine of Seer suddenly opened.
Following which, a young man wearing a long robe walked out from within.
"Seniors, my teacher invites you in!" The young man clasped his fist to greet Luo Xuanqing and Zhang Xuan before displaying an inviting gesture to usher them into the Shrine of Sages.
"Is your teacher… Master Feng Zhongquan?" Luo Xuanqing assessed the young man before him intently before his eyes suddenly lit up.
"Indeed." The young man nodded quietly, but he was not able to fully conceal the glee that was beaming on his face.
"Master Feng Zhongquan has always been an elusive figure in the Sanctum of Sages. I heard that Zhang Chun has paid a visit to him seven times, only to be shut out each time around. Are you sure that your teacher really wants to meet me?" Luo Xuanqing could hardly control his body from trembling in agitation.
Those of the Zhang Clan had a deep respect for seers, and Master Feng Zhongquan could be said to be the most formidable seer in the Sanctum of Sages. Zhang Chun had visited him on many occasions, only to be turned away before he could even pass over his name scroll. Yet, for Master Feng Zhongquan to send his student to invite him in… Didn't that mean that he was far more respected and esteemed than Zhang Chun?
With this, he would be able to give Zhang Chun a good mocking later on.
Hearing those words, the young man shot a nonchalant glance at Luo Xuanqing and said, "My apologies, I should have been clearer in my words. The one whom my teacher wishes to meet is the young friend beside you."
"Your teacher wants to meet me?" Zhang Xuan was stunned. "Why?"
He had only recently arrived at the Sanctum of Sages, and he did not even know who Master Feng Zhongquan was. Why would the latter suddenly request to meet him?
"I'm afraid that I don't have the answer to your question. You'll have to head in to find out."
In truth, the young man also found the matter inconceivable.
His teacher was a deeply esteemed figure on the Master Teacher Continent, such that he could even afford to snub the deputy sanctum head and the other elders if he wanted to, and there would be nothing they could do to him. Yet, he was actually requesting to meet a twenty-year-old freshman who had no particularly noteworthy background, and he had even instructed him to personally invite the other party in.
This was truly perplexing.
It would have been understandable if the other party was like the little princess, wielding formidable prowess, but he was only a humble Leaving Aperture realm pinnacle cultivator! He might have been considered a genius anywhere else on the Master Teacher Continent, but in the Sanctum of Sages, there were plenty of students who could rival or even surpass him. Even at the very most, his talents could only be considered average.
"Master Feng Zhongquan wants to meet Zhang shi?" Luo Xuanqing widened his eyes in disbelief.
He had thought that this was a good opportunity for him to mock Zhang Chun, but who would have thought that the person whom Master Feng Zhongquan wanted to meet with was the person beside him?
"Alright then." Zhang Xuan was bewildered by the abnormal situation, but seeing that the young man before him really knew nothing at all, he decided to head in to take a look. After all, he had been intrigued by the mysterious abilities that seers wielded for a long time, and this would be a good opportunity for him to see what they were capable of.
So, under the young man's lead, he walked into the Shrine of Seers.
The interior of the Shrine of Seers seemed to be even older than how it appeared outside. There were many bizarre flags planted on the ground, and they divided the main hall into many narrow sectors. There were several dozen young men sitting in a circle in each of these narrow sectors; some were holding onto a copper coin whereas others were holding onto a tortoiseshell. Their eyes were firmly shut, and the tight contemplative frown between their brows suggested that they were trying to fathom something.
At the middle of the circle was a reddish-green beetle placed on top of searing flames, and it looked so withered that it seemed like it was just a push away from falling into the embrace of death.
"Is that… the Light-shelled Beetle, renowned for being able to survive amid lightning?" Zhang Xuan wondered doubtfully.
He had never seen a Light-shelled Beetle before, but he had read records on them. According to the rumors, these lifeforms neither ate nor drank. Only on stormy days where the rain poured and lightning raged would they rise from their hiding places and dash into the sky, taking in the power of the lightning to sustain their existence.
Light-shelled Beetles were extremely elusive, and their numbers were severely limited as well, such that it was viewed as one of the hardest beasts to find in the world by the beast tamers. Yet, to think that they would be roasting it on the flames… this was really perplexing.
He had never heard of the Light-shelled Beetles being edible! And even if they were edible, how were they going to split it among the several dozen young men? It would not even be enough to stuff the gap between their teeth!
Noticing the doubtful look on Zhang Xuan's face, Luo Xuanqing sent a telepathic message over to fill him in. "This is one of the daily training that seers have to undergo. The crux behind this exercise is to seal all of their senses and use their will to fathom the will of the heavens to predict whether the Light-shelled Beetle has been burned to death or whether it'll climb out from somewhere."
He might not be a seer himself, but he had spent a few days of his life attempting to learn divination, so he had some idea of what was going on within the Shrine of Seers.
Luo Xuanqing's explanation only served to plunge Zhang Xuan deeper into confusion.
Placed upon flames, there was a chance that the Light-shelled Beetle could be burn to death at any moment. But similarly, there was also a chance that it would manage to rise from the searing heat and flee. In a sense, was this not the same as Schrödinger's cat? Until the outcome was determined, all guesses would be naught but guesses.
Seemingly noticing the communication behind him, the young man turned around and explained to them, "The Light-shelled Beetle's ability to resist lightning is, in truth, a struggle against the heavens. For this reason, it's known as the Seer Beetle. Through predicting the life and death of such a lifeform, one is able to better grasp the elusive and capricious nature of the will of the heavens!"
"I see." Zhang Xuan nodded, but it was difficult to tell whether he truly understood those words or not. He shot a glance at the beetle on the charcoal and asked with a frown, "Given the intense heat of the charcoal there, that Light-shelled Beetle should already be on the verge of death, no?"
"On the verge of death?" Hearing those words, the young man shook his head with a chuckle. "I've divined that beetle before. It'll live up to a hundred years…"
But before he could finish his words, the sound reminiscent to a balloon popping echoed in the air. The Light-shelled Beetle that was lying on the charcoal a while ago abruptly swelled up and exploded into dust.
"Ah…" Zhang Xuan shot a bizarre look at the young man and asked, "Could it be that… today is its hundredth birthday?"