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There were only two lines of words on it, and the message was simple.

It said that they still had something to do at the Combat Master Hall, so they had to take their leave in advance. They would meet them later on when the ancient domain opened. As for the reason for their departure, they hadn't said a word about that.

After reading the message, Zhang Xuan was perplexed.

Weren't they still doing fine yesterday, agreeing to a sparring session with the Xuanxuan Faction and saying that they would work together to improve collectively? Why would they suddenly leave in the blink of an eye?

Why were the elders and master teachers whom he came into contact with always so unreliable?

Despite having lived in the Hongyuan Master Teacher Academy for some time, they actually left without bidding farewell at all, as if there was some kind of monster chasing them behind their backs. This was really far too disrespectful of them.

How did such a lawful and courteous person like him end up being surrounded by such a bunch of undependable acquaintances? Ah, how distressing...

"Did anything happen in the Combat Master Hall?" Shaking his head, Zhang Xuan turned to School Head Mo and asked.

"That doesn't seem likely. I asked them about it through our shared mode of communication, and they said that they just had some private matters to attend to. As for what the private matter was, they weren't willing to speak of it no matter how I asked them about it... Oh, right! Principal Zhang, when I returned yesterday night, I noticed that all of them were injured. Could it be related to that?" School Head Mo pondered for a moment before replying.

Earlier, while returning to his residence after finally having finished the matters at hand, he had happened to see Combat Master Liao and the others returning to their accommodations with bruised faces and swollen cheeks. In order to avoid potential awkwardness, he had chosen not to ask about it. But thinking about it now, there was a very high chance that the two matters were related.

"Injured?" Zhang Xuan scratched his head in bewilderment.

Hadn't they gone to offer pointers to the members of the Xuanxuan Faction? How did they end up getting injured instead?

"Forget it, there's no point thinking too much about the matter. We will know the truth when we ask them a month later."

Since the combat masters had already left, there was no point thinking about it. Besides, he didn't have the time and effort to deal with it either.

After asking a few more questions and discussing the academy's administrative issues with School Head Mo, he returned back to the manor and reminded Wang Ying and the others to work hard on their cultivation. When all this was finally done, he carefully placed Wei Ruyan into the Myriad Anthive Nest, got onto the back of the Byzantium Helios Beast, and began heading for Jingyuan City.

The journey in search of the Poison Hall was going to be incomparably dangerous, so he chose not to bring his other direct disciples along, and he didn't intend to tell anyone else about his whereabouts either. In any case, it would be much more convenient for him to move alone than in a group too.

Jingyuan City was located at the extreme northeast of Hongyuan Empire, located in proximity to Hongyuan Empire's largest inland sea. As compared to Hongyuan City and Firesource City, it was relatively poorer and shabbier due to its remote location and cold climate all year round.

As merchants rarely visited Jingyuan City, there weren't too many people who knew of the situation there. The information that the Master Teacher Academy had on it was also rather lacking.

All that was known about it was that it was a small borderside city with frigid weather all year round. Considering the Poison Hall's nature of building its branches in remote locations, there was indeed a good chance that the Hongyuan Empire Poison Hall was located here.

Of course, it was still too early to say for sure.

While the old principal had put a lot of work into acquiring that intelligence, there was no guarantee that it would be definitely true.

This was why Zhang Xuan had chosen to make haste. A month might have seemed like a long time, but given the secrecy shrouding the Poison Hall, it might not necessarily be sufficient.


"My fame has grown considerably after becoming the principal of the Hongyuan Master Teacher Academy. If I were to suddenly appear in Jingyuan City in my own identity, I could risk alarming the Poison Hall…"

Seated on the back of the Byzantium Helios Beast as he advanced towards the small city marked on the map, Zhang Xuan lowered his head contemplatively.

He was no longer the nobody he was back then. He was currently the esteemed principal of one of the Four Great Master Teacher Academies of Qingyuan Conferred Empire, and his standing was on par with a 7-star master teacher.

The Poison Hall had always been in a tense relationship with the Master Teacher Pavilion. If he were to recklessly barge into Jingyuan City and investigate the whereabouts of the Poison Hall, he could very well face grave danger when his identity was exposed.

Thus, there was a need for him to don a disguise.

After pondering for a moment, Zhang Xuan began to warp his muscles and bones. His facial features began to change from those of a twenty-year-old young man to a forty-year-old middle-aged man's, and his physique also grew much bigger than before.

At the same time, driving his Heaven's Path zhenqi, the aura shrouding him also began to change. It became a little violent and ferocious, unlike the restrained and low profile disposition he usually commanded.

In his current state, if he didn't explicitly state that he was Zhang Xuan, not even Wang Ying or his other direct disciples would be able to recognize him.

The Heaven's Path zhenqi allowed him to conceal his aura, and the Heaven's Path Golden Body allowed him to alter his appearance freely. Considering that he was able to pass off as even an Otherworldly Demon with those two means, how difficult could it be for him to disguise as another human?

The Byzantium Helios Beast flew ahead at full speed, and ten days later, a city covered in snow appeared over the horizon.

Looking at it from afar, it was significantly smaller than Hongyuan City. Nonetheless, as compared to Huanyu City and the Myriad Kingdom City, it was still of a sizeable scale.

Many dull gray buildings were erected amidst a field of clear white snow, and they stretched all the way into the faraway distance. From above, the city resembled a tranquil ink painting.

"It is already nearing the middle of summer, but this land is still covered in snow…" Zhang Xuan couldn't help but be awed by the work of nature.

It was now the season when Hongyuan Empire would normally be covered by a lush layer of greenery. Yet, the city before him was freezing cold, leaving him feeling as if he had stepped into a different world.

"You should get into the Anthive Nest first."

Landing in a remote forest, Zhang Xuan had the Byzantium Helios Beast enter the Myriad Anthive Nest before making his way through the field of snow towards the city.

The Byzantium Helios Beast rarely appeared in public view, but it was still best for him to remain hidden just to be safe.

After paying the entrance fee of ten low-tier spirit stones, Zhang Xuan entered the city.

Walking through the streets, Zhang Xuan thought, It won't do for me to search blindly through the city. I must find a guide to bring me around!

The clues he had received thus far had pointed to Jingyuan City to be the most likely location where the Poison Hall was located, but there was no way he would be able to find its exact whereabouts easily.

Back then, to enter the Red Lotus Ridge Poison Hall, he had to depend on the local Great Herb King to lead the way. Otherwise, there was a good chance he wouldn't have been able to find it even if he were to spend his entire life searching for it.

This was also the main reason why the Poison Hall was able to preserve its lineage for so long despite its betrayal back then.

After taking a look around the city, Zhang Xuan suddenly noticed a bustling tavern not too far away.

"Severing Sorrows Pavilion... Severing one's sorrows through joy and wine, a fine name indeed!" Chuckling softly, he made his way towards it.

A tavern was usually the place of gathering for those from all walks of life, making it an ideal location to scout out intelligence. Besides, after flying for more than ten days, Zhang Xuan's mouth was already craving a bite of good food. It would be a good opportunity for him to let loose for a bit and try out the local delicacies.

"Guest, this way please…" An attendant welcomed Zhang Xuan with a fawning smile.

"Un." Zhang Xuan nodded as he casually tossed a middle-tier spirit stone over. "Give me the quietest seat inside."

"Sure thing!" The attendant's eyes lit up as he hurriedly led the way, "I will bring you to your seat!"

A middle-tier spirit stone was no longer of much value to Zhang Xuan, but to weaker cultivators or ordinary citizens at the lower end of the social stratum, it was a huge fortune.

After settling down in his seat, Zhang Xuan casually ordered several of the local specialties before gesturing for the attendant to come closer.

"This is my first time in Jingyuan City. If I need to gather some information, who would be the best person for me go to?"

There was no way a humble attendant of a tavern could possibly have any substantial news about the Poison Hall, so Zhang Xuan couldn't be bothered to ask directly about it. Thus, he decided to ask for a reliable news source instead.

The sale of information was always a lucrative trade regardless of location. It wasn't rare for cultivators to offer astronomical prices in exchange for vital information, so information brokers could always be found in most cities.

"If you wish to gather information, the best place to go is, without doubt, the [Inkcloud Quarter]! They command the most extensive intelligence network in Jingyuan City, and the information they provide is also the most accurate of all…" the attendant said with a hushed voice.

"Inkcloud Quarter?"

"Un. It's the biggest marketplace of our Jingyuan City. Not only do they sell artifacts, pills, and other common commodities, but they also deal in information as well! Even intelligence on the Hongyuan royal family isn't beyond reach there! Just a while ago, someone had specially purchased intelligence on Princess Yu Fei-er, planning to head to the capital to propose to her…"

Due to the generous tip Zhang Xuan had offered him earlier, the attendant was extremely friendly.

"Propose?" Hearing those words, Zhang Xuan shook his head.

Given Yu Fei-er's explosive temper, anyone who dared to propose to her would probably be pummeled to death on the spot.

However, the fact that the Inkcloud Quarter had intelligence on Princess Yu Fei-er despite their long distance from the capital was a testimony to the capability of the Inkcloud Quarter.

Zhang Xuan proceeded to ask about its location, and after learning that it wasn't too far away, he dismissed the attendant.

Despite how remote Jingyuan City was, the food was excellent, and Zhang Xuan devoured it delightfully. After he finished, he got up and left for Inkcloud Quarter.

Inkcloud Quarter was a massive market dealing in almost everything that one could think of it, be it paintings, ores, formation plates, or anything of the sort.

There were several guards standing imposingly at the entrance, each of them exuding a powerful aura that deterred any potential troublemakers. They were all Transcendent Mortal 7-dan Perfect Harmonization realm experts.

Such strength would definitely place them amongst the ranks of the top experts of Huanyu Empire, and yet, they were serving as mere guards here. It seemed like there was indeed something extraordinary about Inkcloud Quarter.

Walking in, Zhang Xuan found himself surrounded by vendors and huge crowds walking to and fro. It was extremely lively.

Intelligence regarding the Poison Hall was definitely classified, so it was impossible for the ordinary vendors around him to be selling such vital information. Thus, Zhang Xuan walked straight up to the front desk, and with a cold face, he commanded, "Get your manager here. I have something to ask him!"

As he said those words, he lifted his forefinger. A surge of incomparably sharp sword qi that sent shivers down one's spine flickered on the tip of his finger, revealing his Nascent Saint pinnacle cultivation.


Seeing that the man before him was far beyond his means to deal with, the front desk receptionist hurriedly got up and left. Not too long later, he returned with a middle-aged man.

"Esteemed guest, I am the manager of Inkcloud Quarter, Zhu Xiao. May I know what request you have of us?"

The middle-aged man was a Half-Saint cultivator. While he was surprised by Zhang Xuan's powerful aura, he was still able to retain his composure as he maintained an attitude that was neither humble nor arrogant before him.

"Arrange a quiet chamber for me. I have something important to talk about!" Zhang Xuan glanced at Zhu Xiao nonchalantly and said.

"This way, please!" Without any hesitation, Zhu Xiao stepped forward and led the way.

They quickly arrived at a private room. Zhang Xuan took a look around the area before nodding in approval.

He really had to say that he was impressed by the extent to which the Inkcloud Quarter had gone in order to maintain the confidentiality of their dealings. There were all kinds of formations set up around the room, such that even if a battle were to occur within, those outside still wouldn't notice a thing. Its security was indubitably top-notch.

"Are you satisfied with this room?" Zhu Xiao asked with a smile.

"Not too bad." Zhang Xuan nodded. After which, he turned a sharp gaze towards Zhu Xiao and spoke, "I want intelligence on the Poison Hall. Offer a price!"

"Poison Hall?" Zhu Xiao frowned. He shook his head and said, "I'm afraid that I will have to disappoint you. We don't have any news on the Poison Hall here, so I will have to ask you to ask something else."

"You don't have any news on the Poison Hall?"

At this point, Zhang Xuan abruptly burst into a hearty laughter. Flicking his wrist, he took out a pile consisting of more than a hundred high-tier spirit stones and asked, "Is this enough?"

Upon seeing the huge pile of high-tier spirit stones, Zhu Xiao's eyebrows visibly shot up in astonishment despite his attempt to retain his composure. Eventually, he clenched his jaws and replied, "My apologies, but this isn't a problem of money. Our Inkcloud Quarter truly doesn't have any news on the Poison Hall!"

Paying no heed to the other party's words, Zhang Xuan flicked his wrist and took out another gleaming pile of five hundred high-tier spirit stones. In an instant, the spiritual energy in the air grew considerably more concentrated.

"Is this enough?"


Zhu Xiao's face paled. "This matter is already beyond my jurisdiction. I have to report it to my boss…"

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