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"You have been invited here to save the tree, not to burn it down!"
"Ridiculous, this is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard! Who doesn't know how to kill a tree, do we still need you for that?"
Everyone was stunned for an instant after hearing Zhang Xuan's words before bellowing furiously.
There must be something wrong with your head!
You spoke as if we were completely useless, but when asked for a solution, you proposed to burn the tree instead…
The Bodhi Saint Tree was the very foundation of the Yu Clan, and the herbologists had used every means at their disposal to treat it desperately, fearing that their failure would result in their heads being lopped off. That young lad had spoken as if he had some incredible means up his sleeves, but to think that the solution he proposed would be to burn down the tree… This was utter insanity!
Yu Shenqing's body shook, and he nearly fainted on the spot as well.
Watching Zhang shi render the elders in the room speechless with his words earlier, he had seen a glimmer of hope for the Bodhi Saint Tree. But after hearing his solution, he realized that the other party was just toying with him!
The Bodhi Saint Tree was already on the verge of death. If it were to be burned down, wouldn't it lose its life immediately?
Noticing Yu Shenqing's hesitation, Zhang Xuan's eyebrows shot up. "I won't force you if you don't trust me. However, if you wish to save the Bodhi Saint Tree, you'd better make your decision quickly!"
"Save?" Yu Shenqing's lips twitched.
Are you sure that you are really saving the Bodhi Saint Tree and not murdering it?
"That's right!" Zhang Xuan nodded before placing his hands behind his back and waiting patiently.
"This…" Seeing the grim look on Zhang shi's face, it didn't seem like the other party was joking around.
After a moment of hesitation, Yu Shenqing turned around to the old eunuch, Luo Fu, and instructed, "Do as Zhang shi says!"
Even though he still thought that it was ridiculous to burn down the tree, the fact that Zhang Xuan was the principal of the Master Teacher Academy, along with the various incredible feats he had achieved, still convinced him to trust the other party this once.
More importantly, those elders had been here for two years, but there wasn't the slightest improvement in the Bodhi Saint Tree's condition. It would be no exaggeration to say that the tree's death timer had already started ticking.
Since Zhang shi was so confident in the matter, perhaps it was worth giving his method a try, especially since there was no better solution at hand. If the tree still died eventually, it could only be said to be its fate.
"Your Majesty, I beseech you to reconsider your options!"
"Don't listen to the lies of this fellow. The Bodhi Saint Tree is already in a very feeble state; it won't be able to survive being burned!"
Seeing that Yu Shenqing had really instructed his men to bring oil and a paper match over, Elder Zhao and the others immediately panicked, and they rushed forward to advise him otherwise.
"Please calm down. Zhang shi is the pr… a very talented master teacher from the Master Teacher Academy. I believe there is a reason why he made such a decision…"
Yu Shenqing was just about to reveal Zhang Xuan's other identity when he suddenly realized that this matter was supposed to remain a secret until the inauguration ceremony, so he could only quickly change his words.
Seeing that Yu Shenqing was being beguiled by the young lad, Elder Zhao exclaimed in agitation, "I don't deny that master teachers are knowledgeable and discerning, but in the field of herbology, there is no one who can top us in Hongyuan Empire, and none of us here have ever heard of a saint herb being saved by being burned!"
They came from the top herbology clans with long heritages behind them. The wisdom of their predecessors had been passed down from one generation to the next, forming incredible compendiums of knowledge. Yet, despite being the successors of these compendiums of knowledge, none of them had ever heard of a herb being saved through burning.
That was no different from drinking poison to alleviate one's thirst, a concept that completely went against the theories of herbology. It was something that could never happen.
"Indeed! Each occupation has its own experts, and even master teachers can't possibly be knowledgeable about every single occupation in the world. After all, there is only one Kong shi!" another elder added.
Legend had it that on top of being the founder of the Master Teacher Pavilion, Kong shi had been skilled in many occupations as well. In fact, the heritage of many existing occupations had been compiled and organized by him.
The young lad before them might be a formidable master teacher, but even master teachers weren't capable of everything. There were times when they, too, would fail!
Hearing the words of the elders, Yu Shenqing's determination began to waver. However, thinking about Zhang Xuan's identity, he eventually still gritted his teeth and said, "Say no more, I have already made up my mind. Let's just do as Zhang shi instructs!"
While they were talking, the palace attendants had already brought pails of oil and a paper match into the room.
Zhang Xuan, upon seeing that Yu Shenqing was willing to put his trust in him at a crucial moment like this, nodded in satisfaction. He instructed the palace attendants to spill the pails of oil all over the tree, and when that was done, he blew on the paper match to light it up.
Note: Usually, lighting up the paper match consists of blowing on it as well so as to increase its exposure to air.
In no haste to ignite the oil, Zhang Xuan turned to the herbologists in the room and said, "There are countless herbologist clans in the world, and they each have their unique ways of cultivating and treating medicinal herbs. While you all might be considered to be the best herbologists in Hongyuan Empire, do you really believe that you have grasped all possible treatment methods in the world?"
Elder Zhao and the others fell silent.
The pursuit of knowledge is an endless race. Every day, new things were being discovered, and new heritages were being formed. Who would dare say that they had already seen it all?
Not even Kong shi would dare to arrogantly declare so!
Otherwise, he wouldn't have been rendered speechless by the words of two young children while passing through a remote country back then.
"The spirit of the Bodhi Saint Tree is not dead but asleep. You rushed into treating it without checking its condition thoroughly, nearly causing its death… Forget it, just watch and see." Shaking his head, Zhang Xuan threw the paper match over.
As soon as the paper match came into contact with the oil, the entire tree immediately burst into flames.
"He really is burning the tree…" The mouths of Elder Zhao and the others twitched uncontrollably.
After spending two years with the Bodhi Saint Tree, they already possessed some feelings for it. Thus, they couldn't help but feel a stabbing pain in their hearts as they watched the flames gradually devouring the tree.
Yu Shenqing also couldn't help but clench his fists tightly as he watched the flames.
At this point, he really didn't know whether he was right or not to trust Zhang Xuan.
On the other hand, Zhang Xuan was staring at the flames intently, seemingly waiting for the right moment.
Shortly after, he raised his hand and said, "Extinguish the flames!"
A few guards immediately rushed forward and stifled the flames around the Bodhi Saint Tree with their zhenqi.
Even the weakest of them was at the Ethereal Treading realm, and with their strength combined, it took barely more than a moment for them to extinguish the flames.
With the flames gone, everyone got a clear glimpse of the current state of the Bodhi Saint Tree. At this point, its exterior was charred black, and there wasn't the slightest hint of life from it.
Without saying a word, Zhang Xuan walked up to the tree and began striking it at certain locations while circling around it.
After striking it consecutively thirty-six times, he finally came to a halt.
Just as everyone was wondering what Zhang Xuan was up to, the latter returned to Yu Shenqing and the others' side and snapped his finger.
The charred exterior of the tree abruptly burst apart.
"T-this… How is this possible?"
The sight that unfolded before their eyes left everyone stupefied.
Beneath the charred exterior of the tree was a tree trunk only about an arm thick, but it was overflowing with vitality, like a young sprout blossoming from the old tree. It was just that it had been hidden beneath its withered exterior previously.
But considering how the exterior was already nearing death, how could the insides of the tree still remain so vibrant?
This sight was mystifying, and there was no one who could comprehend what was going on.
Elder Zhao and the others had diagnosed and treated many herbs in their time, but they had never encountered or even heard of such a scenario before.
Seeing the looks of incomprehension on the faces around him, Zhang Xuan explained calmly, "It isn't because this Bodhi Saint Tree is nearing death that it is unconscious. Instead, it was out of self-preservation by the spirit to protect its foundation that it chose to conceal itself in the core of the tree. As a result, the external layer was no longer sustained by the spirit, thus resulting in its death-like state.
"You overlooked this and forcefully infused another spirit into it. Through doing that, you nearly destroyed its remaining foundation. If you had really succeeded then, the Bodhi Saint Tree would have already died by now…"
The bodies of Elder Zhao and the others shuddered in astonishment.
The other party was right.
Under the condition that the current spirit hadn't died yet, if a new spirit were to be infused into the body, it would result in a huge fight, and in the worst-case scenario, the two spirits might just end up killing one another.
In other words, it was truly a blessing that they hadn't succeeded then. Otherwise, they would have been the culprits behind the Bodhi Saint Tree's death!
"But Zhang shi, the Bodhi Saint Tree has been perfectly fine for many years. Why would it suddenly need to resort to a self-preservation maneuver?" Yu Shenqing asked, puzzled. The others also turned doubtful gazes to Zhang Xuan as well.
"I am not too sure about that either. Under normal circumstances, a spirit will only do that if it has suffered severe injuries… Try recalling this. In the period of time just before the Bodhi Saint Tree started to wither, did anything happen?" Zhang Xuan said.
The Library of Heaven's Path had reflected the flaws of the Bodhi Saint Tree, but it didn't delve into the reason for its condition, so he wasn't too sure either.
"This… I don't think that anything major happened in that period of time!" Yu Shenqing frowned. "Two years ago… That should be around the time when the old principal of the Master Teacher Academy went missing. Oh right, the vice head of the Physician School, You Xu, visited once in that period of time to procure a seedling from the tree, saying that he wanted to try cultivating it to help locate the old principal's soul. Other than that, I don't think that there are any outsiders who have approached the tree!"
"You Xu?" Zhang Xuan frowned.
That fellow was the culprit behind Wei Changfeng's death, and in order to let Wei Ruyan exact vengeance for her father personally, he had the other party imprisoned in his own manor for the time being.
Was the other party related to this incident as well?
"That's right. Vice School Head You Xu is a talented herbologist himself, so I invited him over to take a look at the Bodhi Saint Tree's condition as well, but he wasn't able to tell what was wrong with it either," Yu Shenqing replied.
"I see… Forget it, let's put that matter aside for now. For the time being, we should find a way to awaken the spirit from its slumber first!" Zhang Xuan said.
It had been two years since the Bodhi Saint Tree was poisoned, so it would be difficult to track down the culprit now. Besides, this had nothing to do with him, so there was no need for him to get involved in the matter.
Understanding this, Yu Shenqing also chose not to talk about it any further.
Stepping forward, Zhang Xuan walked up to the Bodhi Saint Tree once more and placed his palm on it before falling into deep thought.
A moment later, he flicked his wrist and took out a gigantic wine gourd. Uncorking the lid, a concentrated surge of spiritual energy immediately gushed into the surroundings.
"That is… Earth Vein Spirit Essence?" The eyes of Yu Shenqing and the elders lit up.
Earth Vein Spirit Essence contained the energy of the earth, which made it exceptionally nourishing to medicinal herbs. It was an incredible treasure to herbologists.
Pouring the Earth Vein Spirit Essence on the vigorous tree trunk, innumerable buds began growing at a rate visible to the eye on the bald tree, and they gradually sprouted to form lush leaves.
"This… the spirit has been awakened?"
Upon seeing this sight, Yu Shenqing and the other elders couldn't help but tremble in excitement.
For the tree to undergo such rapid growth, it could only mean that the sleeping spirit of the Bodhi Saint Tree had awakened!
However, the Earth Vein Spirit Essence only had the effect of replenishing spiritual energy within saint herbs, it shouldn't have been capable of rousing an unconscious spirit.
Just what kind of mystical means did Zhang shi use?
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