"There's nothing here at all?"
An identical figure appeared right beside Zhang Xuan's clone.
He thought that he would immediately be faced with the offense of innumerable Semi-Divinity realm cultivators once he teleported over, but there was no one in sight at all.
"However, there seems to be something really suspicious about this place."
The more empty the place looked, the more unnerving it felt.
Leaping off the altar, Zhang Xuan was intending to wait for Kui Xiao and the others to come over when he suddenly felt a chill run down his spine. He immediately reached forward to grab the altar.
But before his hand could reach the altar, a burst of sword qi shot out from below.
Kacha! Kacha! Kacha!
The domineering energy tore the altar into smithereens.
As a result of the destruction of the altar, the dimension portal between the two altars vanished.
On the other side of the portal, Wu Chen spurted a mouthful of blood. His face turned pale from weakness, and his body trembled uncontrollably.
Noticing Wu Chen's current state, Kui Xiao and the others quickly turned their gazes over.
"Someone destroyed the altar on the other side and severed the connection. Zhang shi won't be able to return anymore..." Wu Chen muttered with eyes widened in horror.
"What do you mean by that?"
Everyone was stunned to hear those words.
"There is only one altar from the Starchaser Palace. Its destruction means that the only pathway to the Hall of Gods has been severed. We won't be able to head over to save him anymore even if we wish to do so. Similarly, he won't be able to return back here through the altar anymore..." Wu Chen replied.
Realizing the graveness of the situation, the crowd looked at one another in astonishment.
The eyes of Zhao Ya and the others also reddened in agitation.
Doesn't this mean that our teacher is in grave danger?
It's all our fault! If not for our weakness, our teacher wouldn't have been placed in such a precarious position!
We have to raise your cultivation swiftly so that we can save him!
A determined light could be seen in the depths of their eyes.
On the other side of the portal, Zhang Xuan looked at the destroyed altar before him with clenched fists.
It wasn't that his reflexes weren't fast enough. Rather, the enemy had left a formation right beneath the altar to ensure that it would be destroyed as soon as he came over, thus severing all of his paths of escape.
In other words, no matter what the enemy had prepared for him from here onward, he could only advance ahead and deal with whatever that came his way promptly. Retreating was no longer an option for him.
"I thought that you wanted my Library of Heaven's Path? How are you going to hold the ritual now that you have destroyed the altar?" Zhang Xuan spoke with a deep voice as he examined his surroundings nonchalantly.
The reason why Kong shi sent Fu Chenzi and the others to capture Du Qingyuan was so that he could acquire the altar required to hold the ritual. After all the planning he had done, he eventually chose to destroy it without any hesitation.
Could it be that Kong shi's goal had changed? Was it that he no longer desired the Library of Heaven's Path anymore?
Zhang Xuan's voice echoed loudly across the path ahead.
After waiting for some time, there was still no response.
It was as if there was no other living being here other than him.
"I guess I can only advance forward."
With completely no idea as to what the other party was up to, Zhang Xuan felt as if he was walking into a lion's den. With a frown on his forehead, he raised his foot and began making his way forward cautiously.
His clone followed closely behind him.
The passageway wasn't too long. It didn't take long before a massive palace appeared before his eyes.
It was even more magnificent and grander than the Hall of Gods he had seen previously. It was erected above a massive cradle of air currents, sealing the cradle entirely such that not the slightest bit could leak out.
Zhang Xuan was a little taken aback.
The sight before him looked like a whirlpool being clogged up by a humongous behemoth. No matter how powerful the whirlpool was, it was unable to faze the behemoth at all.
Such was the grandeur of the palace.
Pitch-black air streams seemed to fly toward the unfathomable darkness, leaving one's heart trembling from the eerieness. Yet, none was able to taint the palace, reminiscent of a valve in a pipe.
I should try entering the palace.
No matter what Kong shi was up to, he could only dive right into it and try to make his way out alive. The problem wouldn't solve itself just by him waiting outside.
He walked to the entrance of the palace together with his clone and saw two humongous pillars rising deep into the void. It looked as if the centerpiece that was pinning the palace in place, preventing it from flying away along with the air currents.
Perplexed, Zhang Xuan activated the Eye of Insight to take a closer look.
"It's a Semi-Divinity artifact?" Zhang Xuan remarked in surprise.
He couldn't help but recall how the doors of the Hall of Gods had been a Semi-Divinity artifact too.
He took out the Tongshang Sword and brandished it lightly. A burst of sword qi slit through the air currents, heading right for the two pillars.
A spark could be seen as it struck the pillar, but it didn't leave the slightest mark at all.
"Even the pillars of this palace are so formidable... Just where is this place?" Zhang Xuan murmured in astonishment.
The palace before him was distinctly different from the Hall of Gods, but the materials that were used to build it seemed to be of even higher quality than the latter.
The gates of the palace weren't locked nor shut, so Zhang Xuan was able to walk in without any problems.
A few steps later, Zhang Xuan realized that something was amiss.
He turned around to look at his clone, who was still standing by the doorway, and asked, "Aren't you coming along?"
"I can't step across the doorway."
The clone demonstrated by taking a step forward, but in the next moment, a force assaulted him, causing him to retreat several steps consecutively. It was as if there was an invisible force field blocking his way, preventing him from advancing any further.
"You can't step across the doorway?"
Zhang Xuan walked back to the doorway and tried touching the area which his clone was unable to pass through.
There was nothing at all. Yet, it was a fact that his clone was unable to advance a step at all.
"Never mind. You should enter my storage ring for the time being then," Zhang Xuan said with a wave of his hand.
After keeping his clone into his storage ring, he walked into the doorway again. However, just as he was going to pass through, his clone suddenly materialized out of the storage ring and stumbled backward.
This time, Zhang Xuan was really stunned.
His clone was driven out even when he was hiding in the storage ring?
Wasn't this invisible barrier a little too domineering?
They tried a few more methods, but his clone was simply unable to walk into the palace.
"Since you aren't able to enter the area, you should wait here for the time being," Zhang Xuan sighed deeply.
"It seems like Kong shi knows how troublesome it is to deal with my clone, so he did something to separate me from my clone..." Zhang Xuan thought warily.
As formidable Kong shi was, he was only able to fight his clone to a draw back then. This probably made Kong shi view his clone as a major threat, so he intentionally prepared this so that he could deal with him individually.
In other words, it was likely that he would meet in danger within this palace.
If so, should he continue advancing?
Holding the Tongshang Sword tightly, Zhang Xuan took in a deep breath.
If I dare not to face Kong shi even after my cultivation has reached Semi-Divinity realm, I'll never be able to break open the dimension barrier and ascend to the Firmament, Zhang Xuan closed his eyes and thought.
A cultivator's state of mind was extremely important.
There was only a thin line between recklessness and cowardice. Once a cultivator caved in to his fears, he would lose his courage to charge forward in times when it truly counted.
Most likely, Kong shi had prepared this in order to put him in a dilemma.
It wouldn't be wrong for him to back out right now. He only had one life, and there was no wrong in prioritizing his safety.
However, the faces of Luo Ruoxin and his direct disciples flashed across his head at this moment. There was something that was more important to him at the moment that he couldn't give up on, even if he had to take this gamble.
So, he cast aside his fears and walked right into the palace.
The interiors of the hall were unlighted and nothing could be seen at all.
There was something in the darkness that seemed to be wearing down his senses and mind. Even when he activated the Eye of Insight, he was still unable to peer through it.
"I'm already in here. Make your move if you wish to kill me!" Zhang Xuan slowly advanced forward with his sword in hand.
Echoes of his voice sounded all over the palace, but there was no response at all.
Perplexed, he backed away slightly, wanting to leave the darkness temporarily to reassess the situation. However, in the next moment, he felt his back pressing against a wall.
He had barely taken a few steps away from the gates earlier, and before he knew it, the gates had already vanished!
To put it in other words...
He was already trapped in the formation of the enemy.
Zhang Xuan pressed his hand against the wall behind him and willed.
If he could just use his Library of Heaven's Path here, he would be able to peer through the formation right before him. Weng!
The Library of Heaven's Path jolted in his mind, but no book was compiled.
"Damn it!" Zhang Xuan cursed beneath his breath.
Just as he had thought, this palace was severed from the heavens too. Only Kong shi, who knew about the Heavens' Imperfections, would prepare such a hand to deal with him.
Plunged in the midst of utter darkness, where his senses were confounded and his mind was befuddled, he was in a truly vulnerable position. It seemed like this was Kong shi's trump card against him!
I have no choice. Since I'm unable to use my eyes and my Spiritual Perception, I can only rely on my ears then... Zhang Xuan thought.
He was nervous but he wasn't panicked yet. He closed his eyes and focused his attention on his ears. The silence in the air caused a ringing sensation in his ears that made it hard for him to hear, but through focusing his full attention, he was still able to pick up some of the minute noises carried along with the wind.
It was the sound of water droplets dripping, and it was coming from a distance away.
Zhang Xuan brandished his sword, and a surge of sword qi flew right in the direction where the water droplets were coming from.
But astonishingly, there was no response at all.
It was as if the darkness had swallowed his sword qi at some point in time, unraveling his attack.
Just as Zhang Xuan was utterly perplexed as to what was happening, Kong shi's voice suddenly echoed in the air, "Walk out of this room before the water drips out. Otherwise, you'll be evicted from here."
Evicted from here?
Zhang Xuan's confusion only served to further deepen.
Didn't Kong shi intentionally lure him here in order to deal with him?
Why would he threaten to evict him out of this room then?
The altar has been destroyed, so even if I am evicted from this palace, I won't be able to leave this area either. Instead, I might just be trapped till my death. So, I have no choice but to follow his rules for the time being. Once I find him and save Palace Master Du, I'll make sure to rip him apart... Zhang Xuan thought as he exhaled deeply.
No matter what Kong shi was up to, he would just have to deal with everything the other party had prepared. Eventually, he should be able to find Kong shi at the end of the path!
Having decided on his next course of action, he began examining his surroundings carefully.
Even though I can't see anything at all, there's nothing attacking me either. Most likely, this is a Confinement Formation, Zhang Xuan thought.
The fact that it could hinder his Spiritual Perception and Eye of Insight likely meant that it was a Confinement Formation far beyond his imagination.
Nevertheless, as long as it's a formation, there is bound to be some anomaly in the flow of spiritual energy in the surroundings. As long as I can figure out the flow of spiritual energy, I should be able to deduce the locations of the formation core and formation flags. With that, it shouldn't be too difficult for me to overcome the formation! Zhang Xuan thought.
So, he closed his eyes and began perceiving his surroundings carefully.
The key purpose of formation flags and formation core was to redirect the flow of spiritual energy based on the needs of the formation. Given so, there was bound to be some anomalies in the flow of spiritual energy in the surroundings where a formation existed.
As long as he could create a visual mapping of the flow of spiritual energy in his mind, he would be able to find a way to resolve this issue.
This was also the most fundamental formation deciphering method on the Master Teacher Continent.
As the most proficient formation master on the Master Teacher Continent, it went without saying that he was familiar with these basics.
Something is wrong. It feels like the spiritual energy in here is... homogeneous?
To his surprise, the concentration of spiritual energy within the palace was equal. There was no concentration gradient at all. This threw Zhang Xuan off a little.
He took two steps forward and tried perceiving his surroundings once more. The concentration of spiritual energy was still the same.
He tried taking a few steps left and a few steps right too, and it was still the same.
This didn't make sense. Was his deduction wrong?
Were there no formation flags and formation core here?
Left with no choice, Zhang Xuan finally took out a compass and placed it on his palm.
He couldn't even see the needle on top due to the deep darkness, but as long as it moved, he would still be able to sense the direction it was pointing toward.
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