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"Indeed, it's the Hu Po Recuperation Art!" Lu Cheng nodded. "Do you know its effects?"
"According to what I know, this secret art doesn't really treat one's injuries. Instead, it aims to trigger the potential of one's body, suppressing one's injuries so as to draw one's fighting prowess to the peak temporarily. This is an emergency maneuver that we combat masters only use under desperate circumstances on the battlefield," Wu Xu replied.
Just as Zhang Xuan had guessed, they were combat masters. As the warriors of the Master Teacher Pavilion, it was inevitable that they would have to face deadly battles frequently.
On the battlefield, losing the ability to fight meant that one was just moments away from death.
As such, an elder of the Combat Master Hall, Hu Po, created such a secret art aimed not to heal one's injuries, but to trigger the potential harnessed within the body to grant one the ability to disregard one's injuries and continue fighting.
This secret art had managed to save many combat masters from desperate circumstances.
Eager to obtain the Scarlet Firefly Fruit earlier, he had ended up using this secret art as well.
"You're right. Then, do you know the flaw of this secret art?" Lu Cheng asked.
Wu Xu nodded. "The flaw is… as soon as the effects end, one's injuries will worsen."
"That's right, one's injuries will worsen, and there is a chance that one's cultivation might plummet as well…" Lu Cheng said grimly. "Zhang shi seemed to know the condition I was in, so he went easy on me from the very first move, and he chose to avoid the places where I was injured previously. Otherwise… I wouldn't have survived three moves, let alone a hundred!"
"This…" Wu Xu still found the matter a little inconceivable, thinking that Brother Lu was just overthinking it.
"You don't believe me?" Lu Cheng shook his head. "The Hu Po Recuperation Art suppresses one's injuries by forcing it into a few acupoints. For me, it is the Hongmen and Zhanghui acupoints. If the other party had struck either of these two points, I would have suffered severe backlash from my injuries."
Wu Xu nodded in agreement.
The essence of the secret art lay in manipulating one's zhenqi to seal one's injuries, and the mingmen of these seals would be located on certain acupoints, depending on the cultivator themself.
"Take a look at this…" With a bitter smile, Lu Cheng pointed to his clothes.
Wu Xu hurriedly took a look, and his eyes immediately narrowed in astonishment.
On the area of the clothes corresponding to where Brother Lu's Hongmen and Zhanghui acupoints were located, there were small holes reminiscent of a thin needle; it would have been hard to notice them if one didn't take a closer look.
"These were… left by him?" Wu Xu's voice quavered in fear as he spoke.
"Indeed. From the very first move, he had already noticed my weakness and swept his foxtail grass at those two points. Back then, I hadn't realized it yet, thinking that he might just not have sufficient power to complete the attack. However, the next moment, in order to avoid hurting me, he forcefully diverted his attack to my Shanzhong acupoint on my chest…"
As Lu Cheng spoke, a hint of deference surfaced in his eyes. "In truth, if it had been a life-and-death duel, he could have killed me in the very first blow. However, he chose to go easy on me. It was just that I wasn't aware of it then…"
"T-this…" Wu Xu's face paled as it dawned on him what kind of figure he had just crossed earlier.
To be able to go easy on his opponent in such an intense battle, was he still human?
That was way too fearsome!
"Even I can hardly gauge the true prowess of Zhang shi. He is truly like an unfathomable enigma. By no means should we ever make an enemy out of him again," Lu Cheng said grimly.
"Yes!" Wu Xu nodded.
Since even Brother Lu wasn't a match for Zhang shi, there was no way he would dare to provoke the other party once more.
"Alright, you should hurry up and recuperate from your wounds; then you can attempt a breakthrough to Half-Saint. Once you succeed, you will be able to follow us to the Four Great Academies to participate in the selection of new members and accomplish that mission. Otherwise, it will be an extremely long time before you get another chance!" Lu Cheng said.
"Don't worry, Brother Lu. I will surely succeed this time around!" Wu Xu said with great determination.
On the journey back, Hu Yaoyao and the others spent most of their time reinforcing their Half-Saint cultivation, and Zhang Xuan also used this time to reinforce his Chrysalis realm cultivation as well.
It was a silent half-day journey back to the Hongyuan City.
From their departure to their return, they had only taken slightly more than a day. When the sun started rising from the horizon once more, Hongyuan City was already in sight.
A moment later, as Zhang Xuan glanced downward, he was completely stunned.
Is that… my manor?
What had been rubble when he last saw it had transformed into an exquisite manor that didn't pale in comparison even with the royal palace.
On top of that, he could vaguely feel a handful of grade-6 formations that not only gathered spiritual energy in the area but wielded astounding offensive and defensive capabilities as well.
What has happened? Zhang Xuan was unable to understand what had happened during his absence.
School Head Zhao and the others had said that they would send someone to repair his manor for him, but did they really have to make it so extravagant?
Outsiders might just think that this was the royal palace itself!
"Let's head down to take a look!"
After bidding Hu Yaoyao and the others farewell, Zhang Xuan had the Byzantium Helios Beast descend to the courtyard of the manor.
As soon as they landed, Sun Qiang immediately rushed up to greet him.
"What happened?" Zhang Xuan asked in bewilderment.
"It's the Hongyuan royal family! I tried to stop them, but they insisted on fixing the manor. In the end, I could only watch helplessly as they made this," Sun Qiang said indignantly.
In truth, he was also completely dumbfounded by the happenings as well.
He could still understand it if the Master Teacher Academy had dispatched some men to fix their manor, but for the royal palace to get involved as well, and to go such great lengths at that… Just what were they up to?
"The royal palace?" Zhang Xuan blinked blankly.
He had been kicked out of the royal palace by the emperor himself two nights ago. Why would the other party offer to fix his manor all of the sudden?
"That's right. Not only so, Emperor Yu Shenqing has also visited three times in your absence, requesting to meet you…" Sun Qiang said.
"He wants to meet me?" Zhang Xuan's bewilderment deepened.
Were all emperors as unpredictable as that? It was as if they suffered from severe mood swings!
But just as Zhang Xuan was confused by the situation before him, one of the manor servants abruptly rushed in to report that Emperor Yu Shenqing had turned up once again!
"Invite him in." Zhang Xuan waved his hands.
Even though he had no idea what the other party was up to, it happened that he needed the other party's Bodhi Saint Tree. This was a good opportunity to ask about it.
"Yes!" Sun Qiang headed out.
A moment later, Zhang Xuan met Emperor Yu Shenqing in the main hall. The latter clasped his fist upon meeting him and greeted, "Zhang shi!"
Zhang Xuan gestured for him to take a seat before asking, "Your Majesty, I am thankful that you sent your men to fix my manor, but may I know the reason behind it?"
"We had some misunderstanding the other night, so I hope that we can reconcile our differences through this," Yu Shenqing quickly replied.
"Misunderstanding?" Zhang Xuan shook his head. "Don't worry about it, it's really nothing much."
He hadn't really taken the matter that night to heart.
After all, he was also at fault for destroying the other party's main hall and ruining the banquet.
Seeing that there wasn't any hint of unhappiness on the other party's face, Yu Shenqing heaved a sigh of relief. "I'm glad to see that Zhang shi isn't angry about it."
He had been worrying over this matter for the last two days, fearing that he had offended the other party, but it seemed like the other party hadn't taken the matter to heart.
But that was no wonder as well. A person who could create and gift such a formidable set of cultivation techniques on a whim was likely to be a magnanimous person, unbothered by such trifling matters in the world.
After chatting for a moment longer, Zhang Xuan raised his request. "I heard that the royal family has a Bodhi Saint Tree. If it isn't too much, may I borrow it for something?"
"Bodhi Saint Tree?" A conflicted expression surfaced on Yu Shenqing's face. "This…"
"It isn't convenient?" Zhang Xuan frowned.
Since he had promised to save Wei Ruyan, he would keep his word. However, if Yu Shenqing were to refuse to lend him the Bodhi Tree, there would be nothing he could do either!
"It isn't that…"
With a shake of his head, Yu Shenqing sighed deeply, "To be honest with Zhang shi, our Bodhi Saint Tree, for some unknown reason, started to wither some time ago. The situation has worsened particularly in the recent two years… I have tried all kinds of means, but I have been unable to reverse its declining condition. I fear that in its current state, it isn't too far from death anymore!"
"Wither?" Zhang Xuan was taken aback.
"That's right. I have invited over a hundred herbologists over the past two years, but none of them were able to resolve its illness," Yu Shenqing replied despondently.
The condition of the Bodhi Saint Tree was a huge secret of the royal family, so he had been guarding it tightly all along. However, since Zhang shi had asked about it, he could only reply honestly.
"Can you take me over to take a look?" Zhang Xuan asked after a moment of thought.
"Zhang shi wants to take a look?" Yu Shenqing asked in astonishment.
"Indeed. I do know a thing or two about herbology too, so I might just be able to help you on this matter," Zhang Xuan explained.
He had once solved a problem for a herbologist back in the Myriad Kingdom Alliance, so he wasn't unfamiliar with the occupation.
Hearing those words, Yu Shenqing's eyes lit up, and he nearly leaped up in excitement. "Zhang shi is knowledgeable in herbology as well? That's great!"
His ears were already on the verge of growing calluses from hearing about the incredible deeds that Zhang shi had accomplished. After two years of effort, he already didn't harbor much hope for the recovery of the Saint Bodhi Tree. However, if Zhang shi were to make a move, there might still be a chance for it to happen!
Without any hesitation, he immediately brought Zhang shi onboard the saint beast he had arrived on and headed back to the royal palace.
Upon landing in the royal palace, Yu Shenqing led the way, and after twisting and turning about numerous roads, they finally arrived at a residence.
"The Bodhi Saint Tree is right inside…" Yu Shenqing said as he gestured toward the building.
"Here?" Zhang Xuan frowned.
He had never been to this residence before, but he couldn't help but notice that there were no formations set up in the area. Considering how valuable the Bodhi Saint Tree was, was it really fine to leave it lying around without any protection?
Noticing Zhang Xuan's doubts, Yu Shenqing answered, "The Bodhi Saint Tree is only useful for those who practice soul cultivation techniques, so, perhaps in the whole of Hongyuan Empire, it only has value to our Yu Clan. Others wouldn't benefit from it. Besides, having reached Saint realm, it already possesses its own sentience, and it detests being surrounded by formations, so…"
"I see." Zhang Xuan nodded.
Formidable saint herbs, just like Saint-tier artifacts, possessed sentience. It was harder to absorb spiritual energy from the surroundings if they were surrounded by formations, so they loathed it.
While speaking, the duo entered the residence, and a few elders within immediately walked over and greeted respectfully, "Your Majesty!"
These elders were all Saint realm experts, and they were probably stationed there to take care of the Bodhi Saint Tree.
"Zhang shi, this is the Bodhi Saint Tree!"
Zhang Xuan turned his gaze over and saw a majestic tree in the middle of the courtyard. It had an extremely thick trunk, and it towered at a height of around a dozen meters tall.
However, the leaves on its branches were shriveled and sparse, and traces of white had surfaced on the tree trunk as well. It didn't seem to be in a good condition.
"Indeed, the Bodhi Saint Tree is nearing death…" Zhang Xuan frowned deeply.
It was spring, the season when everything came to life and vitality permeated the air, but the massive tree was showing clear signs of decline. There was no doubt that it was extremely ill.
Had it not been for the royal family pumping in endless resources to sustain its life, it might have already died.
Unable to determine its condition from a distance away, Zhang Xuan asked, "Can I take a closer look?"
"Of course, feel fr…"
Yu Shenqing nodded, but before he could finish his words, one of the elders stepped forward and said, "Your Majesty, it is not advisable for anyone to approach the Bodhi Saint Tree now!"
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