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Wu Xu hurriedly rushed forward to pull his companion out of the wall and fed him a recovery pill.
After consuming the recovery pill and resting for a moment, the Half-Saint Brother Lu finally regained consciousness. Pointing a shaking finger at Zhang Xuan, he felt as if he was going to burst into tears.
It is one thing for an Ethereal Treading realm lad like you to possess a Spiritual Perception realm saint beast as a tamed beast, but to have a Saint-tier artifact on top of that… Tell me the truth, are you actually Kong shi's illegitimate son?
Otherwise, how can you have so many good items in your possession?
"What's wrong? You were the one who told me that I can resort to any means at my disposal as long as Byzantium Lad doesn't interfere in the battle. You were the one who set the rules, and I simply followed them!" Zhang Xuan shrugged nonchalantly.
A strong feeling of frustration welled up in Brother Lu's chest, and he spurted yet another mouthful of blood.
What was this!
He had thought that the other party could only have a Byzantium Helios Beast as his trump card. As long as he restricted that, he would be able to pummel the other party as he pleased. How could he have known that the other party would have a cauldron on top of that?
The person who I want to fight is you, not your Saint-tier artifact… You might not have broken any rules, but how the hell am I supposed to fight with a Saint-tier artifact?
There is no way I can win, right?
Gritting his teeth, Brother Lu exclaimed, "What I mean is a fight without relying on any artifact or saint beast, a proper duel between two cultivators using their own strength!"
Fearing that the other party would whip out some kind of powerful item next, he emphasized 'using their own strength'.
"I see. So, you want to have a proper duel as martial artists?" Zhang Xuan asked.
"That's right. Do you dare accept my challenge?" Brother Lu taunted.
He had always been a proud person, but he had ended up being humiliated more than he had ever been in his life today. If he didn't vent it out today, it would become a permanent trauma that would hunt him for life.
While it was unbecoming for a Half-Saint expert like him to challenge an Ethereal Treading realm cultivator, in view of the many means the other party possessed, not even he could say that he had absolute confidence in achieving victory.
"Sure, but the stakes will be doubled!" Zhang Xuan replied calmly.
A duel? As long as there is sufficient money involved, I am open to negotiations.
"Fine by me!" A glint flashed across Brother Lu's eyes as he nodded in agreement.
"Remember, you have already lost once, so you owe me a hundred high-tier spirit stones!" Zhang Xuan reminded.
Brother Lu harrumphed. "You don't need to worry about that; I won't stoop so low as to renege on my promise! But of course, if you lose, I hope that you can fulfill your end of the bet as well!"
"Alright then. I won't take advantage of you; I will give you two hours to recuperate from your injuries before we begin the duel, lest you refuse to admit defeat later on!" Zhang Xuan waved his hands casually.
It should have been a good thing that the other party was giving him some time to recuperate, but for some reason, Brother Lu felt as if the other party was mocking him, and he felt another warm surge gushing up his throat once more. It took some time before he managed to recover, and after taking a deep breath, he nodded. "Fine!"
It was through countless battles that he had managed to attain his current strength. He knew that it was precisely in crucial periods like this that he shouldn't allow his emotions to cloud his rationality. Two hours might not be sufficient for him to make a full recovery, but he should be able to exert around 95% of his full strength by then.
And to him, that was more than enough!
Brother Lu turned to Wu Xu and said, "Wu Xu, give me two of your Miniature Restorative Pills!"
"Yes!" Wu Xu nodded.
The Miniature Restorative Pill was an extremely valuable grade-6 pill, and he was usually reluctant to use one even when he was injured. However, knowing that Brother Lu had gotten injured for him, he passed them over without any hesitation.
This grade-6 pill was known to be effective on even the injuries of Saint realm experts. Even if the two pills couldn't guarantee a complete recovery, they should improve his condition significantly.
Swallowing the Miniature Restorative Pill, Brother Lu immediately felt the medicinal energy coursing through his body, and his pale complexion swiftly regained its color.
The Golden Origin Cauldron turned to Zhang Xuan and advised, "Master, given that this fellow was able to survive my attack, his strength is extraordinary. It would be best not to make light of him!"
By the side, the Byzantium Helios Beast also nodded in agreement.
The two of them had exchanged blows with Brother Lu, and even though they were able to subdue the other party easily, they could feel that the fellow's strength far surpassed that of ordinary Half-Saint cultivators.
Even though their master wasn't a weakling either, he was still some way off from matching the other party.
"I know." Zhang Xuan nodded.
Through the Eye of Insight and Library of Heaven's Path, he knew that the other party possessed exceptional prowess, which he couldn't match in his current state.
However, the outcome of a battle couldn't be determined by just mere stats. The decisions one chose to make in the midst of a battle played a vital role, too.
Even though Zhang Xuan felt that he wouldn't lose, he still thought that he should make some preparations just in case. This was also why he had proposed taking a two-hour break before the duel.
The enemy needed time to recuperate, but he needed time to prepare his hand as well.
Zhang Xuan turned to Hu Yaoyao and the others and asked, "Do you have any Ethereal Treading realm cultivation technique manuals? I need as many of them as possible!"
The best way for him to stand against that Brother Lu was to raise his cultivation and narrow the gap between them.
Two hours might not be much to anyone else, but to him, as long as he compiled the corresponding Heaven's Path Divine Art manuals, he would be able to raise his cultivation swiftly!
"We do have some!" Hu Yaoyao nodded, and the four of them began taking out all of the Ethereal Treading realm cultivation technique manuals they had.
As the leaders of their respective factions, they tended to keep quite a handful of cultivation technique manuals of lower cultivation realms in their storage rings so that they could refer to them whenever they were guiding their subordinates in their cultivation. For Ethereal Treading realm, they had around several hundred books each.
Zhang Xuan swiftly scanned them with his gaze, collecting them into his Library of Heaven's Path. By compiling all of them together, he successfully formed the Ethereal Treading realm Heaven's Path Divine Art.
Zhang Xuan turned to them and asked once more, "What about Chrysalis realm cultivation technique manuals?"
"I only have twenty Chrysalis realm cultivation technique manuals with me at the moment!"
"Twelve here. Dong Xin is more meticulous, so she might have more with her."
"I do have a few more, but I only have around forty of them in total."
Soon, gathering the four's Chrysalis realm cultivation technique manuals together, there was a total of around a hundred books or so.
After collecting them all into the Library of Heaven's Path and compiling them, the result was just as Zhang Xuan had expected. There were still too many flaws to form a complete Heaven's Path Divine Art.
Nevertheless, the portion regarding the breakthrough to Chrysalis realm was still perfected.
In other words, he had the Heaven's Path Divine Art manuals to cultivate from Ethereal Treading realm primary stage all the way to Chrysalis realm primary stage!
"Guard me, I need to cultivate now!" Zhang Xuan said.
Even though he had failed to compile the complete Chrysalis realm Heaven's Path Divine Art, he was still rather satisfied with the result.
"Yes!" The others nodded, but they couldn't help but trade perplexed glances with one another.
To cultivate right before the duel… Isn't that just desperately grasping at straws?
But despite the doubts in their mind, they still made sure to guard him earnestly. They hid him behind them while directing their gazes intently at Wu Xu and Brother Lu, fearing that they might attempt to do something in the meantime.
However, even though the two of them had resorted to some underhanded means out of their desperation to obtain the Scarlet Firefly Fruits, they still had their pride as martial artists. As such, even though they had noticed that Zhang Xuan was cultivating, they didn't try to disrupt him in any way.
They chose to focus their efforts on recuperating from their injuries instead, so that they would be in their top condition for the duel two hours later.
Seeing that they weren't going to pull anything, Hu Yaoyao heaved a sigh of relief. However, with her attention freed, doubts about the impending duel began sprouting in her mind. Unnerved, she turned to Senior Byzantium Helios to ask him about the chances of Zhang shi achieving victory, hoping to ease her worries, when she suddenly heard Dong Xin gasping in shock.
"What's wrong?" The others immediately turned to her with doubtful gazes.
With a body stiffened with shock, Dong Xin pointed behind her. "Look at Zhang shi!"
Hu Yaoyao and the others turned around to take a look, and what they saw left them dumbstruck.
"Is it just my imagination, or has Zhang shi's cultivation reached… Ethereal Treading realm intermediate stage?" Xue Zhenyang uttered with quivering lips.
They had gotten a clear glimpse of Zhang Xuan's cultivation when he made a move against Wu Xu earlier—Ethereal Treading realm primary stage. Yet, in just a short moment after he started cultivating, why did it feel as if the latter had achieved a… breakthrough?
"It's not your imagination. He has indeed reached Ethereal Treading realm intermediate stage!" Hu Yaoyao nodded affirmatively. "Most likely, Zhang shi must have been stuck at Ethereal Treading realm primary stage for quite a long while and was already on the verge of a breakthrough!"
Advancing a single stage abruptly wasn't much to be surprised about. To use an analogy, if one was already standing before the goal of a marathon, all it would take was one final push to successfully achieve the breakthrough.
There was no need to make a fuss over it.
"That does seem to be the case. No wonder Zhang shi agreed to have a duel with the other party so readily; it seems he was already on the verge of a breakthrough. However, it doesn't seem like advancing a single stage will make much of a difference to the outcome… Ah?" Xue Zhenyang remarked while he nodded, but then he suddenly exclaimed in the midst of his words.
"What is with you again?" Seeing Xue Zhenyang make a big fuss out of everything, Long Cangyue was rendered speechless.
No matter what, they were the cream of the crop in the Master Teacher Academy, competent and knowledgeable. Why did it seem that after meeting Zhang shi, they had all become countryside bumpkins who were ignorant of the world?
"Why do I feel like… Zhang shi has reached Ethereal Treading realm advanced stage? Could my eyes be playing tricks on me?" Xue Zhenyang's face paled as he rubbed his eyes forcefully.
He was certain that Zhang shi had just reached Ethereal Treading realm intermediate stage a moment ago, so how could he be at the advanced stage right now? Even the greatest genius in the world couldn't advance that fast!
"Advanced stage? You must be joking! All of us clearly saw it just now, and he is definitely at the intermediate stage…" Long Cangyue chuckled softly, and just as he was going to make a joke about how Xue Zhenyang's eyes had been failing him recently, he suddenly caught a glimpse of Zhang Xuan, and his eyes widened in shock. "Holy moly!"
"He… really is at advanced stage!" Long Cangyue exclaimed with tears threatening to spill from his eyes.
On the other hand, watching the frenzied state that the other two were in, Hu Yaoyao and Dong Xin hurriedly turned their gazes over, and their eyes couldn't help but widen in astonishment as well.
It appeared that Zhang shi was truly at Ethereal Treading realm advanced stage!
Could they have made a mistake earlier?
But was it really possible for all four of them to make such an elementary mistake simultaneously?
However… no matter how they looked at it, the other party was indeed at Ethereal Treading realm advanced stage! There was no mistake about that!
Before the few of them could recover from their shock, Dong Xin suddenly exclaimed with a hoarse voice, "Wait a moment… he isn't at Ethereal Treading realm advanced stage but… Ethereal Treading realm pinnacle!"
The group couldn't help but feel the world spinning around them.
With a tearful expression, Hu Yaoyao gasped, "Why does it seem like he is attempting a breakthrough to Chrysalis realm? No, he is indeed attempting a breakthrough… Wait, that isn't right, he has already reached Chrysalis realm!"
The group couldn't help but be dumbstruck once again. The young man behind them was already a Chrysalis realm primary stage expert at this very moment!
To advance from Ethereal Treading realm primary stage to Chrysalis realm primary stage, one entire realm, in less than an hour… Even though they had witnessed the sight with their very own eyes, they still couldn't help but think that they were in a dream.
Feeling so shocked that her mind was going to explode, Hu Yaoyao asked, "Dong Xin, how long did it take you to advance from Ethereal Treading realm primary stage to Chrysalis realm primary stage?"
"Two years and four months… With this record, I was already considered one of the fastest cultivators in the Master Teacher Academy…" Dong Xin replied hoarsely.
When she'd achieved the feat back then, she had felt a huge surge of confidence, which had made her feel as if she was unrivaled in the world…
But looking at the young man before her, she realized that her record didn't even come close to being associated with the word 'fast'…
It felt as if even a turtle would be faster than her!
It was no wonder that, back at the Elder Hall, that fellow had said that his rate of cultivation had slowed due to him being busy with various matters. Back then, she had thought that he was just bragging, but after witnessing this sight, she realized that not only was he not bragging, he was even being incredibly humble…
At this moment, a random, passing thought raced through her mind.
If she were to run to the Ten Great Master Teachers to tell them that Zhang shi was actually extremely humble and low profile, would they think that she was exaggerating and throw her out?
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