The plate-like artifact emanated a brilliant glow that enveloped the area in brightness. Standing amidst the brilliant glow, Zhang Xuan felt his body stiffening up. He found that he was unable to move nor drive his zhenqi at all.
"You should be proud that you have forced me to use the Goldenspirit Lock," the youth looked at Zhang Xuan with utter coldness in his eyes.
Just as Zhang Xuan had thought, the plate-like artifact was indeed a Semi-Divinity artifact—the Goldenspirit Lock!
This artifact could seal the lifeforce, soul, and zhenqi of an individual, locking it down in place.
"Break!" Zhang Xuan desperately drove his zhenqi in hopes of breaking free of these shackles.
But for some reason, no matter how he drove his energy, it felt like there was a powerful dam blocking his way. No matter how much momentum he had built up, he was unable to force his energy through at all.
Without any energy to sustain his body, there was no way he could fight. The only fate that awaited him was to be captured.
The Goldenspirit Lock slowly descended from the sky. Even before it could come into proximity, he could already feel tremendous force crushing down on him, causing fresh blood to spurt forth from his acupoints.
A resounding buzz suddenly echoed in the air.
The jade token which Han Jianqiu had given him shattered in this instant, and a spherical light barrier swiftly formed around him.
The formation of the barrier neutralized the pressure that was crushing down upon Zhang Xuan, allowing him to regain his footing. He quickly gulped down a bottle of the gourd’s bathwater before he felt himself recovering a fair bit. Nevertheless, he still felt sapped of strength from head to toe.
He thought that he shouldn't be too far off from matching Semi-Divinity realm cultivators and artifacts since he was able to fight toe-to-toe with Heavenly High Immortal realm experts, but he realized he couldn't be more wrong than that. As soon as he came into contact with the Goldenspirit Lock, he realized that the difference between the two realms was far greater than what he could have imagined.
It was no wonder why the entire Azure was so fearful of the gods. Even a Semi-Divinity artifact was powerful enough to render High Immortals helpless in its presence.
"A protective amulet forged using a Semi-Divinity realm cultivator's blood essence? You sure do have quite a few good things on you. However, how long will your protective barrier last?" the youth laughed coldly as he continued infused his zhenqi into the Goldenspirit Lock.
The artifact continued descending down upon Zhang Xuan, and the sheer pressure caused pitch-black lacerations to appear in the surrounding space.
Even the light barrier forcefully dented inward under the crushing force exerted by the Goldenspirit Lock, seemingly ready to burst apart at any moment. Zhang Xuan was still standing within the protection of the light barrier, but he could already feel a suffocating sensation seizing his chest.
This won't do. I'll die at this rate! Zhang Xuan thought.
The energy in the protective amulet was limited. Even though Han Jianqiu claimed that it was able to withstand an attack from a Semi-Divinity, he knew that it would only last till all of its energy was expended. Once the light barrier shattered, he would be a goner!
"What are you waiting for? Hurry up and devour that artifact up there!" Zhang Xuan exclaimed anxiously.
"It's too powerful... Unless you can halt its attack long enough for me to devour it whole, otherwise I wouldn't be able to handle the crushing pressure it was emanating either..." the Dongxu Gourd cried out indignantly.
"Halt its attack?" Zhang Xuan's face turned livid.
If he was able to do so, he wouldn't have been cornered to such an extent either!
Knowing that he couldn't afford to hold back his trump cards anymore, Zhang Xuan shouted, "You should come out and help too!"
His clone immediately materialized not too far away. With a disapproving frown etched on his forehead, he rammed his body furiously right toward the youth.
The crushing pressure emanated by the Goldenspirit Lock spanned over an area, which meant that his clone was affected by it too. However, it didn't seem to hinder his clone's movements by too much.
His clone was forged out of the Nine Hearts Lotus, which granted him an unbelievably powerful body. By the sheer strength of his body, his clone was able to remain unfazed before the immense pressure coming from the Goldenspirit Lock, thus minimizing the reduction in his fighting prowess.
"This is your clone?"
The youth didn't expect Zhang Xuan to have a clone so powerful that it could withstand the pressure from the Semi- Divinity Goldenspirit Lock. However, he quickly recovered from his surprise and sneered coldly, "It won't make a difference. Your fate is already sealed!"
As the youth spoke, he gathered his strength in his fist and executed a powerful punch right toward the clone.
The powerful punch accurately struck the head of the clone.
The head of the clone was crushed inward. But as if it was unaffected by the attack, the clone continued ramming forward with the same frightening momentum.
The clone rammed right into the chest of the youth, causing numerous fractures on the latter's ribcage.
The youth was taken aback by the sheer tenacity of the clone. When he raised his gaze once more, he was even more astounded to see that the latter's head had already recovered back to normal, as if nothing had happened to it at all.
The youth narrowed his eyes as cold sweat poured down his back.
Indestructibility was said to be an ability that the gods possessed, but the other party's clone actually reached such a frightening level... What was going on over here?
"I don't believe it. There's no way a mere clone could have reached the level of indestructibility!" the youth bellowed.
With a swift leap forward, his body warped into a blur as he charged right toward the clone. He only had a single arm right now, which placed him in a disadvantageous position. The appearance of the protective amulet and the indestructible clone had really taken him aback. Just the notion that he might fail his mission at this rate was enough to make him berserk.
No matter what, he couldn't afford to fail here!
The youth flailed his arm so swiftly that it seemed as if several more arms had sprouted from his body. As his zhenqi gushed forth along with his movements, the surrounding air suddenly felt incredibly heavy.
Despite having one of his hands destroyed, it didn't seem like his fighting prowess had been affected by too much. The strength he could summon at his will was still as terrifying as before.
"Petty tricks! Just watch how I'll unravel your attack with a single move!" the clone declared proudly.
Without resorting to any technique or anything, he simply forcefully rammed his body toward the youth once again Peng peng peng peng!
The youth sank his fist into the clone's face, chest, belly, and all over. Innumerable depressions were appearing all over the clone at a rapid pace, but even something like this couldn't stop the clone's charge at all. Before he knew it, the youth had been knocked down by the clone's tenacious ram once more.
Blood spurted from the youth's mouth as he was sent flying backward. In this very moment, he felt so indignant that he could explode on the spot.
What the heck? This wasn't a battle at all! The other party was simply exploiting the indestructibility of his body to charge all around...
This was the first time he felt so stifled ever since he started cultivating!
"If you are truly capable, why don't you stop ramming me with your shoulders and fight me in a proper battle!" the youth hollered angrily.
"You don't want me to ram you?" the clone tilted his head questioningly. "I'm fine with that too."
Following that, the clone leaped up and sat right down on the youth.
Feeling a searing pain on his face, the youth spurted blood.
I told you not to ram me, so you used your bottom to sit on my face instead? Do you have no dignity as an expert?
Hell, you are even worse than a common ruffian!
Watching as his clone fought with the youth, Zhang Xuan heaved a sigh of relief.
Due to the youth having his hands full dealing with his clone, the pressure from the Goldenspirit Lock lessened significantly. This was the ideal time for him to make a move. With such thoughts in mind, he quickly exclaimed telepathically to the Dongxu Gourd, "What are you waiting for? Go!"
The Dongxu Gourd rushed out from Zhang Xuan's dantian, and before the Goldenspirit Lock could even react, it had already vanished from the spot.
It was devoured whole just like that.
At the same time, the light barrier from the protective amulet also reached its limit and dissipated as well.
It was fortunate that he had moved quick enough, or else the Goldenspirit Lock would really be a huge pain to deal with!
Heaving a sigh of relief, Zhang Xuan turned to his clone and his youth as he quickly assessed how he could best intervene in the fight to help his clone defeat the last Heavenly High Immortal. But all of a sudden, the space above him suddenly began shaking intensely.
An indomitable aura was slowly leaking out into the surroundings.
Alarmed by this aura, both the clone and the youth halted their battle and turned their gazes to the sky.
A gourd was floating quietly in the air.
Devouring the Semi-Divinity artifact had provided it with the final push it required in order to break free of its seal. "That's the culprit who devoured all of my artifacts?"
The face of the youth paled as his body trembled slightly.
His Heavenly High Immortal-tier sword, Earthly High Immortal-tier seal, and Semi-Divinity Goldenspirit Lock... They were all devoured whole by this fellow?
Was that fellow really just a gourd?
"Did it succeed?" Zhang Xuan's eyes lit up.
When he gave the Dongxu Gourd 200 Superior Immortal Pills earlier, the latter said that he was already on the verge of a breakthrough, just that he was lacking that one final push. Who could have thought that devouring the Semi-Divinity artifact would actually provide it with the momentum it needed to break free of the seal?
He couldn't wait to see just what kind of legendary beast the Dongxu Gourd was to emanate such an imposing aura. Was it an Ancient Divine Dragon? A Taotie? A Pixiu?
Zhang Xuan stared at the scene intently with bated breath.
Based on the Dongxu Gourd's self-introduction and his ability to devour artifacts and energy, he knew that the other party was bound to be an extraordinary beast. He had browsed through some relevant materials, and he eventually narrowed the selection to these legendary beasts.
Ancient Divine Dragons were blessed with the strength of a god at birth, making them frightening foes to make enemies out of.
Taotie was known for its ability to devour all matter in the world. It was born with an innate space within its stomach, allowing it to store any prey of any size.
Pixiu devoured their preys whole, never allowing anything to go to waste. The prey it consumed would eventually become parts of its body...
Regardless of which of the three it was, one thing was for sure. Once the Dongxu Gourd broke free of its seal, no one would be able to stop its rise anymore.
Even if the Hall of Gods were to dispatch a real god to deal with him, he would have nothing to fear too!
Zhang Xuan couldn't stop trembling in excitement as he looked forward to much easier days ahead.
The aura that the Dongxu Gourd was emanating from above was still growing stronger by the moment, such that the folded space was starting to collapse inward. The cracks on the Dongxu Gourd's exterior began to creep further downward, and resounding 'Kacha! Kacha!' sounds could be clearly heard.
This... There's no way I can match something like this. I need to run away right now!
Seeing such a sight, the body of the youth tensed up. He immediately turned around and began tearing apart the folded space before him, intending to flee from the scene.
Even if he had to abandon his mission, he had to report to his master that the target possessed an overpowered artifact!
"Do you think that you can still get away?"
How could Zhang Xuan allow the youth to run away and tip off the Hall of Gods? He channeled his Gods' Sword Intent into the Tongshang Sword and drove it right toward the youth.
His clone, the Dongxu Gourd, the Soulless Metal Humanoid, and his protective amulet... He had displayed all of his trump cards to the other party. If he were to allow the other party to get away with his secrets, the Hall of Gods would be able to start making preparations to deal with him!
No matter what, he had to get rid of the youth by hook or by crook!
Ding ding ding ding!
Faced with Zhang Xuan's ferocious offense, the youth had no choice but to turn around and protect himself. With his forceful palm strikes, he was able to keep Zhang Xuan's sword qi at bay.
Despite the overwhelming prowess of the Gods' Sword Intent, Zhang Xuan's cultivation was simply a little too lacking. Faced against a powerful Heavenly High Immortal like the youth before him, he was unable to claim the decisive advantage.
Seeing that the battle had resumed’ the clone began ramming toward the youth once more. Before long, the youth suffered more fractures all over his body.
The youth felt so stressed inside that he felt like screaming hysterically.
He had never felt so stifled in his life before!
He had faced plenty of opponents that were stronger than him in his lifetime, and he had always been able to defeat them with ease. This was the first time he had felt so indignant fighting against someone of lower cultivation than him.
"At the very worst, I'll just bring you down with me!"
Seeing how the coordination between Zhang Xuan and his clone was swiftly improving, the youth realized that it was impossible for him to get away. There was a good chance that he would lose his life here.
Something within his snapped in that instant, and with a furious howl, he channeled all of his zhenqi into his dantian. He was planning on exploding his cultivation!
Even if he couldn't get away, he had to make use of such means to tell his master that this fellow was more frightening than they had thought!
Zhang Xuan narrowed his eyes in astonishment. He hurriedly put up a defensive swordsmanship, forming a massive sphere of sword qi around him.
He couldn't hope to stop the explosion of an expert of such caliber. All he could do was to reduce the damage he would sustain.
Before the explosion even began, Zhang Xuan could already sense a heavy pressure caused by the extreme condensation of zhenqi within the youth's body. It was so heavy that even holding onto his sword felt extremely strenuous.
The blood in his body was forced against his veins and arteries, and it felt like they would soon break apart under the pressure.
"This is the prowess from a Heavenly High Immortal exploding his cultivation?" Zhang Xuan narrowed his eyes in disbelief.
This was the first time he saw a Heavenly High Immortal exploding his cultivation, and it was far stronger than he had thought.
Even though he had already infused his Gods' Sword Intent into his defensive swordsmanship, he knew that he would sustain severe injuries that he wouldn't be able to recover from in the short run if the explosion were to really occur.
The pressure only continued to grow stronger and stronger. Just when Zhang Xuan thought that he was going to succumb to it, all of the tension in the air suddenly vanished like a receding tide.