However, he could feel the needle in the compass spinning ceaselessly, not stopping at all.
There were only two reasons behind such a phenomenon. It was either the flow of spiritual energy was too chaotic or that the concentration of spiritual energy was completely equal throughout.
Spiritual energy is similar to the flow of water. It's possible for the water within a well to be peaceful and motionless, but as soon as something intrudes its space, ripples would be produced... Zhang Xuan thought.
"Thus, it's a logical impossibility for the spiritual energy to remain unmoved even after I have entered this space. This only goes to show that there's something unnatural about the spiritual energy here... or else, it could also mean to say that the spiritual energy I am sensing is off! In other words, this Confinement Formation confounds one's ability to sense spiritual energy as well!"
Zhang Xuan had never seen this Confinement Formation before, but he had his trove of knowledge with him. He had read many books relating to formations back on the Master Teacher Continent and on the Azure as well, so it wasn't too difficult for him to figure out what was happening before him.
"I should try sealing my six senses!"
Most Confinement Formations work through interfering with a cultivator's senses. So, the only way to prevent such interference from occurring was to seal off one's senses.
In an instant, Zhang Xuan felt as if he had been cast into oblivion. He was unable to see, hear, touch, or smell anything. Even his consciousness seemed to have been plunged into a state of hibernation.
This tranquil silence lasted for quite a while, then an image of a slight gap with water dripping from it seemed to surface in Zhang Xuan's mind.
This gap wasn't too big, allowing only a droplet of water to fall out at a time. It was what that was causing the dripping sound.
"This is it!"
With a silent exclamation, Zhang Xuan channeled his Gods' Sword Intent into his hands before pulling it down furiously upon the slight gap, as though it was a massive sword with a length that could reach the heavens.
It was as if the dark cloth around him had been sliced apart.
Zhang Xuan opened his eyes, and just as he had expected, his sense of sight had returned to him. Innumerable torches lit up the path ahead of him brightly.
The Confinement Formation is indeed a trap for the heart... Zhang Xuan exhaled deeply as he thought in relief.
He knew that he had gambled right this time around.
The Confinement Formation confounded not only one's senses but one's soul too. The only way to overcome it was to cast aside one's reliance on one's senses and use one's raw intuition to identify the source of the dripping water.
In truth, it had very little to do with one's understanding of formations. As long as one had a resilient state of mind, one should be able to find it eventually and overcome the trial easily.
You have overcome the Heart Oblivion Formation within a tenth of the allocated time, proving that your cultivation and state of mind are fairly decent. You are qualified to proceed on to the second floor," Kong shi's voice echoed in the air.
Following that, a stone staircase abruptly descended from the top.
"Heart Oblivion Formation? Qualified? What the hell are you up to?" Zhang Xuan bellowed in bewilderment.
He thought that Kong shi would have made preparations for countless Semi-Divinity realm cultivators to ambush him as soon as he teleported over via the formation, but all the other party did was to put him through a Confinement Formation, and now, he was telling him he was qualified to move to the second floor?
Just what was that fellow up to?
However, he was only met with silence. The doubts he harbored remained unanswered.
Taking in a deep breath, Zhang Xuan made his way up the stone staircase.
As soon as he stepped onto the first step, he felt an inviolable pressure crushing down on him, as if attempting to push his soul out of his body.
This pressure seems to have originated from the gods... Zhang Xuan thought with a frown as he continued moving up the steps.
The pressure that crushed down on him left him with a feeling of helplessness in the depths of his hearts. It felt as if it was shackling down his bloodline and his life force.
It was an instinctive fear, similar to how the knees of an ordinary human would shake in the face of a tiger.
This was a feeling that came from the depths of his soul, so there was no way he could avoid it.
However, such a trial was nothing to him at all.
The pendant that hung in front of his chest emanated a slight warmth that dissipated the pressure around him.
Zhang Xuan walked up the stairs without any trouble, and soon, he arrived on the second floor of the palace.
Similar to before, he was faced with a spacious hall in front of him. There were eight paintings positioned in an Eight Trigram Formation hanging on the walls in front of him. It felt like they were trying to seal something off.
Zhang Xuan took a closer look at the paintings in front of him.
The paintings depicted eight men, each of them wielding a weapon of a different kind. One brandished a sword, one wielded a saber, one gripped onto a steel whip, one carried a metal hammer...
As Zhang Xuan walked toward the painting, he could feel a sharp sensation coming from the paintings.
"These paintings can't be considered as amazing artistic works, but the person who made the paintings clearly possesses exceptional skills. With a few simple strokes, he was able to infuse the essence of the person he was drawing into the painting..."
Zhang Xuan's mastery of painting had already reached 9-star back when he was still at the Master Teacher Continent. He dared not to claim that his painting skills were on par with Kong shi, but at the very least, he didn't think that he was too lacking in comparison to the latter...
The paintings in front of him were drawn simply, such that even a 3-star painter of the Master Teacher Continent would be able to produce artwork of such quality as well. However, what was powerful about these paintings was how they had precisely captured the power and disposition of these eight people accurately.
This was a feat that not even Zhang Xuan would be able to achieve.
"Could this be the drawings of a god?"
Zhang Xuan could only imagine a real god to be capable of infusing such amazing power into an ordinary piece of paper through a brush and preserve its might for so many years.
Of the eight paintings, six of them were colored. One of them had turned grayish, making it reminiscent of a black- and-white photograph whereas the last one had lost half of its color, making it an incomplete piece. It was hard to tell whether the artist had failed to color it in the first place or it had started fading off at some point in time.
Zhang Xuan studied the paintings for a little longer, but he was unable to identify any useful clues form it. At the same time, he didn't hear Kong shi's voice sounding either.
So, he walked up to one of the paintings to take a closer look.
There was nothing else in this massive hall other than these eight paintings, so he knew that the key to advancing on from this area lay within the paintings. Most likely, he would have to find a way to uncover their secrets.
The painting he walked up toward was one that depicted a brawny man with eyes as large as bells. The man carried two metal hammers in his grasp, and his bulging biceps hinted at the great strength he wielded. Zhang Xuan hesitantly reached out to touch the painting.
Following that, he vanished on the spot. When he reappeared once more, he was already standing in the midst of vast, barren lands.
It was a completely white world that was devoid of greenery or anything else. It felt almost as if he had descended into an illusory dream.
"Make your move."
Raising his head, Zhang Xuan saw a brawny man looking at him coldly with two metal hammers in his grasp.
"Did I... enter the painting somehow?" Zhang Xuan was stunned.
The brawny man standing before him was indeed the same person he had seen in the painting earlier. It seemed like he had been pulled into the painting!
"Why should I fight with you?" Zhang Xuan asked with a frown as he looked at the ferocious man in front of him.
He was still trying to figure out what was happening to him when the other party told him to make a move.
"If you don't make a move, you'll be trapped here for your entire life," the brawny man harrumphed coldly.
Paying no heed to whether Zhang Xuan was willing to fight or not, the brawny man swung his hammers right toward him.
Before it even struck, the sheer force behind the hammers made cold sweat from behind Zhang Xuan's back.
To his astonishment, the strength of the brawny man had already exceeded that of the Heavenly Semi-Divinity realm cultivator he had encountered on the Ocean of Exiled Stars... In fact, his strength might even be greater than Kong shi's!
In that instant, Zhang Xuan realized that even if the person standing before him wasn't a god, he was an existence not too far away from that.
Zhang Xuan raised his hand to take out his sword, only to realize that his mental connection with his storage ring had been severed. On top of that, at some point in time, a pair of gigantic metal hammers had appeared in his hands too.
He didn't think that his choice of weapons would be limited in the painting too, and his complexion turned awful. He would have been fine if it had been any other weapons, but he had never practiced any battle techniques that required the use of hammers!
Before Zhang Xuan could groan about the situation he was in, the brawny man had already swung a metal hammer right toward his ribcage.
The key advantage of fighting with a hammer was the superior torque it provided due to its weight, thus enhancing one's strength significantly. Even though it was impossible for hammer wielders to be as agile as sword practitioners, they were able to restrict the movements of their opponents due to their sheer strength.
Zhang Xuan took a step back and avoided the attack as he thought anxiously, I guess I have no choice but to learn on the spot then...
While he had never practiced any hammer-related battle techniques or fighting style before, he did gather quite a few battle technique manuals relating to hammers. It was just that he had left them lying on the shelves of the Library of Heaven's Path, never bothering to compile or learn them.
But since he was limited to only using hammers in here, he had no choice but to learn it right now.
Zhang Xuan gathered all of the books relating to hammers together and assimilated them together, forming a brand new book.
He tapped his finger on the newly compiled book, and knowledge immediately flowed into his mind.
He was indeed worried about the grayish gaseous substance that grew in his body each time he used the Library of Heaven's Path, but given the desperate situation he was in, he couldn't care that much anymore.
He would just have to find a way to resolve them in the future. Otherwise, it was likely that he would die from the crazy brawny man chasing after him with two gigantic hammers first.
The severing of the heavens only prevented his Library of Heaven's Path from gathering the flaws of other objects, but he was still able to access the Library of Heaven's Path through his consciousness and access the books in them.
While dodging the brawny man's attack, he quickly assimilated the Heaven's Path Hammer Art, turning it into his own.
Once he fully comprehended the Heaven's Path Hammer Art, his aura abruptly changed. In an instant, his aura grew heavy like a mountain, reminiscent of a being that wouldn't waver in the face of anything.
Peng! Peng! Peng! Peng!
He began clashing hammers with the brawny man, but that didn't seem to be a good idea. Astonishingly, his Heaven's Path Hammer Art was actually weaker than the brawny man's battle technique. He was still able to stand his ground for the time being as his strength was at least able to match the brawny man's might, but the feedback from each clash made his arm feel a bit number.
Fortunately, it seemed like it was the other party had taken on some damage too. The brawny man's attack speed had visibly decreased.
"But it would still be difficult for me to defeat him before my zhenqi runs out at this rate. I'll have to think of another method …"
Even though the brawny man was just a person in a painting, the strength he wielded was almost comparable to that of the gods. Zhang Xuan was indeed able to stand his ground against the other party after he had achieved a breakthrough to Semi-Divinity realm, but it still wouldn't be an easy feat for him to triumph over this opponent.
If he were to allow things to continue at this pace, even if he were to win the battle, he would still have exhausted himself significantly in the midst of doing so.
That would be dangerous, especially considering he didn't know where Kong shi was and what he was up to.
The brawny man's hammer art is even more profound than my Heaven's Path Hammer Art. If I could just infuse his maneuvers into my battle technique too, I should be able to win the battle... Zhang Xuan thought
Despite having practiced the Heaven's Path Hammer Art, he could tell that his battle techniques were still a little lacking as compared to his opponents. Unless he could learn his opponent's moves, infuse it into his own, and create an even stronger battle technique, or else it would be a difficult battle for him.
With such thoughts in mind, Zhang Xuan quickly paid closer attention to the brawny man's movements.
Hu hu hu hu!
The other party continued pressing on with his offense furiously whereas Zhang Xuan made use of the opportunity to remember every single one of his moves.
After trading a hundred blows, Zhang Xuan's eyebrows shot up in surprise.
His hammer art only has 12 basic moves, and everything else aside from that are just transformations and extrapolations from those 12 moves?
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