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"Elder Zhao, this is Zhang shi. He possesses a deep understanding of herbology, so I invited him to treat the Bodhi Saint Tree as well!" Yu Shenqing quickly introduced.
These elders were herbologists who he had gone to great lengths to invite here. If not for them, the Bodhi Saint Tree might have long died.
"Treat the Bodhi Saint Tree? A young brat like him? Your Majesty, I think you should proceed warily, lest yet another scammer makes things difficult for us once more!" Elder Zhao took a glance at Zhang Xuan and frowned in displeasure.
"Elder Zhao, Zhang shi is different from those before. He is a man of great capability," Yu Shenqing said awkwardly.
"Different? Your Majesty, you say the same words each time, but the results speak for themselves!"
Elder Zhao flung his sleeves and harrumphed. "If you don't trust us, we can leave this instant. There is really no need for you to invite outsiders one after another to render our previous efforts futile!"
"Indeed. Your Majesty, if you don't trust us, we can leave right now!"
The other elders also chirped in agreement, clearly displeased by Zhang Xuan's arrival.
Yu Shenqing hurriedly tried to appease them. "Of course, I trust you all! Otherwise, I wouldn't have entrusted the most important Bodhi Saint Tree of our Yu Clan to you."
Elder Zhao harrumphed. "Your Majesty, if you trust us, we will have to ask you not to invite these kinds of shady figures to interfere with our work. The Bodhi Saint Tree's condition is already very complicated as it is, and we might not be so lucky as to successfully save it the next time someone you invited over who screws it up once more! We will try our best, but whether we succeed or not will depend on fate."
Over the years, Yu Shenqing had invited many herbologists to take a look at the Bodhi Saint Tree's conditions, and there were plenty of them who had given empty promises, hoping that they could succeed by some stroke of luck and make a name for themselves. However, not only did they fail tragically, they even worsened the Bodhi Saint Tree's state. It was these elders who had to work tirelessly for days in order to stabilize its condition.
This was precisely the reason why they felt extremely frustrated whenever Yu Shenqing tried to bring someone new over.
Such an emotion was exacerbated when Yu Shenqing introduced a young lad who was barely in his early twenties as someone who possessed a deep understanding of herbology… Like hell they would believe that!
Even though herbologist wasn't officially recognized as an occupation, it did have its own heritage. Similar to the physicians, it was an occupation containing deep wisdom within it, and the knowledge one learned had to be corroborated with practice as well.
For a young lad who was barely in his early twenties, even if he had start studying from the day he was born, how much could he possibly have learned?
"This…" Yu Shenqing was conflicted.
If it was in the field of pill forging or smithing, he would harbor no doubts about Zhang shi's capability. But herbology… he really couldn't say for sure.
Just as Yu Shenqing was still in a dilemma, not sure who he should side with, the young man beside him ignored everyone and walked straight toward the Bodhi Saint Tree.
There was a formation set up around the tree in order to protect it from further harm, but the young man walked past it as if it were non-existent. In just a short moment, he was already standing before the tree; he then raised his hand and placed his palm on its thick trunk.
"What are you doing?"
Not expecting that young lad to disregard them and head straight for the tree, touching it even, Elder Zhao and the others bellowed furiously. They felt as if their authority had been challenged, and they glared at the young lad in hostility.
"I am not doing anything," Zhang Xuan replied innocently.
After which, he turned to Yu Shenqing and said, "If those fellows want to leave, let them be. It's not like they are doing any good around here…"
The elders immediately lashed out furiously.
"What did you say?!"
"Lad, where are you from? There are just this many herbologist clans in Hongyuan Empire, which one are you from?"
"You sure are haughty for someone your age…"
Yu Shenqing had also brought in plenty of renowned herbologists before, but there were none who had dared disrespect them like that.
After all, they were second to none in the field of herbology in Hongyuan Empire!
It was one thing for that fellow to have disregarded them and overstepped his bounds, but to question their professionalism on top of that…
How dare he!
"What I said is a fact. It's such a simple illness, but none of you managed to see through it, even saying that it would depend on fate… Are you here to treat the Bodhi Saint Tree or to hasten its death?" Zhang Xuan replied calmly.
He had already noticed some problems when he assessed the tree via the Eye of Insight when he first arrived. However, he wasn't too sure whether his analysis was right or not, so he decided to step forward and check via the Library of Heaven's Path as well.
The result was similar to what he had deduced.
The illness was, in truth, not very complicated, but it was extremely difficult to diagnose it accurately by examining just the exterior of the tree.
"You…" Elder Zhao's eyebrows shot up disdainfully as he uttered coldly, "Simple? So, you are saying that you know what illness the Bodhi Saint Tree is suffering from? Speak then, I sure look forward to hearing what comes out of your mouth!"
"Even if I tell you, will you understand?" Zhang Xuan replied impassively.
Given that these fellows had failed to determine the root of the Bodhi Saint Tree's illness despite spending so much time analyzing and treating it, it was doubtful whether or not they would believe him even if he were to tell them.
"You…" Elder Zhao and the others felt as if their veins would rupture from sheer rage.
As the top herbologists of Hongyuan Empire, they had always been the ones to look down on others. This was the first time in a long while that someone had dared underestimate them like that.
Will we understand, you ask?
Lad, does your clan know who you have just provoked? Just wait and see, soon, there won't be a place for you in the circle of herbologists in Hongyuan Empire!
Zhang Xuan turned to Yu Shenqing and urged, "Your Majesty, the Bodhi Saint Tree's condition is dire, and we can't afford to delay it any longer. Otherwise, it might just die in the hands of these men…"
"Audacious! You said that the tree will die in our hands? You'd better explain yourself right now, or else I won't let this matter slide!"
Seeing that the young lad was getting more and more overboard with his words, Elder Zhao stepped forward and glared at the other party menacingly.
A powerful aura burst forth from him, as if saying that he wouldn't hesitate to kill the other party should his words turn out to be nonsense.
As a top-notch herbologist and a Saint realm expert, Elder Zhao had always been respected no matter where he went, and even Emperor Yu Shenqing had to speak to him courteously. Yet, this young lad had actually dared to insult him like that…
This was completely unacceptable!
"The Nine-Nine Soul Consonance Formation, if I am not mistaken, serves to pump spiritual energy into the Bodhi Saint Tree to stimulate its spirit, right?" Zhang Xuan asked calmly.
"You know the Nine-Nine Soul Consonance Formation?" Elder Zhao was slightly taken aback.
Due to the young age and the arrogance of the lad before him, he had already regarded him as one of those incapable fame-seekers. Thus, he hadn't thought that the other party would be able to see through the essence of their treatment so quickly.
The Nine-Nine Soul Consonance Formation was a secret art passed down only among top herbologist clans. It had the ability to stimulate and nurture the spirit within spirit herbs and saint herbs, bringing vitality back to them.
Most herbologists weren't even aware of it.
From their diagnosis, they had determined the cause of the Bodhi Saint Tree's withering to be the dissipation of its spirit. That was why they had spent such a heavy price to set up this expensive formation, hoping to revitalize its spirit and bring it back to life.
But for the young lad to speak in such a manner, could there be a problem with their treatment method?
"Of course! Not only that, you also gathered the spirit of eighteen different saint herbs and tried to forcefully in fuse them into the Bodhi Saint Tree, but it ended in failure," Zhang Xuan said confidently.
"This…" Elder Zhao and the other herbologists traded gazes, stumped by the situation before them.
The other party was right. They had thought that they could swiftly revitalize the tree's spirit by infusing the spirits of other saint herbs into it, but the attempt had ended in a failure.
As the result was unsatisfactory, they hadn't reported this matter to Yu Shenqing, so it was only known among them. How did this fellow learn of it?
Did he deduce it with just a glance?
But that was impossible!
Matters regarding spirits and souls had always been an enigma to most of mankind. It might still be possible to deduce that a successful spirit infusion had occurred by looking at the spirit of the medicinal herb, but if it had been a failure, not even top herbologists like them would be able to discern it. How could the young lad before them deduce it accurately?
"This Bodhi Saint Tree has yet to die, and its spirit is still alive and kicking. Yet, you attempted to infuse another spirit into it to take over its body… It is really a blessing of the heavens that it hasn't died in your hands yet! To still be acting so arrogantly around here despite that, do you have not the slightest bit of shame? I really do wonder where you get your boldness and confidence from!" Zhang Xuan flung his sleeves majestically.
"You… Nonsense! We have checked using various means, and the spirit of the Bodhi Saint Tree has definitely disappeared. How could it still be alive?" Elder Zhao's face reddened in agitation.
Naturally, they understood the implications of a soul infusion, so they had checked over and over again to ensure that their diagnosis was correct. If the Bodhi Saint Tree still retained its spirit, how could they not be aware of it?
Another elder stood forward and said, "Indeed! I checked for its spirit using the Golden Needle Spirit Detection Method thrice, and the results were all negative. Furthermore, if its spirit was still around, how could it allow its body to wither like that?"
Yet another elder nodded in agreement. "I also used the exclusive Green Mist Spirit Detection Method of my lineage, and I can testify that the tree has already lost its spirit!"
It was common knowledge that saint herbs possessed spirit. If one were to forcefully infuse a spirit into a saint herb that still retained its spirit, that would be practically no different from murdering the herb!
If they, who prided themselves on their expertise in the field of herbology, had truly unintentionally killed a herb when they were supposed to save it, they would be too ashamed to continue living.
Another elder waved his hands and harrumphed. "The spirit infusion might have failed, but it sprouted new leaves on the withered tree and alleviated the yellowing of the existent leaves. This is a clear sign of the Bodhi Saint Tree making a recovery. There's really no need for us to listen to the nonsense of an ignorant lad here!"
The others nodded in agreement to his words.
The spirit infusion might have failed, but the fact that it had regained its green glow for even a short moment of time meant that their treatment was effective and they were moving in the correct direction.
"A clear sign that the Bodhi Saint Tree is making a recovery, you say? The leaves might have turned green, but have you checked the roots? Do they show signs of recovering? What about the tree trunk? Does it look healthier, or did the wither worsen?" Zhang Xuan scoffed.
The elders immediately fell silent.
They had checked the condition of the tree thoroughly after the spirit infusion, and the condition of the roots and the trunks seemed to have worsened considerably… But there was a period of adjustment, so it should be normal to see such conditions, right?
"The Golden Needle Spirit Detection Method can indeed check for a herb's spirit, but how long is your golden needle? Can it reach the depths of the tree trunk? If the spirit is hidden in the depths, do you think that your detection method will be effective?" Zhang Xuan continued.
The elders had no idea how to respond to this either.
The Golden Needle Spirit Detection Method responded only upon direct contact with the spirit. If it had been an ordinary medicinal herb, there wouldn't be any problem.
However, considering the massive size of the Bodhi Saint Tree, there was indeed no guarantee that the needle would reach the spirit.
Zhang Xuan turned to the other elder and stated, "A similar problem applies for the Green Mist Spirit Detection Method as well. It works by triggering a response from a conscious spirit, but what if the spirit of the Bodhi Saint Tree is unconscious? Wouldn't the result you receive wrongly reflect that its spirit is dead?"
"Ahh…" Realization struck the elder, and he fell silent as well.
To the Green Mist Spirit Detection Method, an unconscious spirit was deemed to be no different from a dead spirit.
An elder abruptly interjected, "Enough! After all you have said, you still haven't told us how the Bodhi Saint Tree should be treated? If you can't come up with a solution, you are ultimately still the same as us!"
The others immediately nodded in agreement.
The most important thing at hand was to save the Bodhi Saint Tree; everything else was secondary.
"A solution?" Zhang Xuan chuckled lightly before turning to Yu Shenqing. "Your Majesty, I will have to trouble you to get your men to bring some pails of oil and a paper match over…
"I am going to burn the tree!"
Note: Paper match (not an official term) is a rolled piece of paper that contains white phosphorus, nitrogen, sulfur, and various other ingredients. When unrolled, it will come into contact with the air and light up. It is said to have been created in China in AD577.
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