It was through the mouth of the Spirit God that she first heard about this young man.
Back then, she had found it extremely bizarre. How could a young lad from a lower world possibly be qualified to gain the Spirit God's fancy and even become her lover?
Soon after, she received an audience from Sovereign Chen Yong, so she descended an avatar of herself to the lower world. It was then that she met the young man for the first time.
She did not see anything impressive about the young man, but the decision he made pleased her. So, she brought Wu Chen up to the Azure and treated him.
Not too long later, she received news that Zhang Xuan had arrived on the Forsaken Continent, and within just a few days, he had already become the sect leader of the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion. Words could not explain how astounded she was by that news.
She began to realize why the young man was able to catch the Spirit God's sight.
So, she specially made a trip over to the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion to meet him, but he had already left the sect. She left Wu Chen with the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion before returning to the sect alone.
Shortly after, the warriors of the Hall of Gods barged into Starchaser Palace and demanded that she hand over the altar. Knowing that she would not be able to deal with them alone, she wrote her will before running away with the altar. Yet, who would have thought that Hall Master Kong would still end up being able to find her?
Eventually, she was captured and imprisoned.
She thought that she would meet her end. Not even in her wildest dreams did she expect to see Zhang Xuan there, disguised as one of the Semi-Divinity realm cultivators.
With a smile on his lips, the young man took out a sword and said, "Palace Master Du, I'll have to trouble you to take a step back."
Du Qingyuan knew that it was no time for them to be reminiscing about the past and catching up with one another, so she took a step back and raised her arms.
Taking a deep breath, the young man swung his sword.
Ding ding ding ding!
With four metallic clangs, the cuffs binding her wrists and ankles fell to the ground.
Even though the cuffs were not Semi-Divinity artifacts, the fact that they were able to bind a Semi-Divinity realm cultivator meant that they possessed resilience comparable to one. Yet, Zhang Xuan was able to sever them easily with his current strength.
After severing the chains, the young man passed a jade bottle over to her. "Drink this!"
Du Qingyuan quickly uncorked the jade bottle and gulped down whatever was inside. A moment later, her eyes widened in astonishment.
She knew how severe her injuries were. Given that she was already reaching the limits of her lifespan, she thought that her cultivation was already crippled for good. She did not think that she had enough vitality in her to make a full recovery. Yet, a mere bottle of water had cured all of her injuries, nursing her back to full health.
She looked at Zhang Xuan in astonishment, but the latter shook his head and said, "There's no time to explain. Come with me!"
"Alright." Du Qingyuan nodded.
She quickly drove her zhenqi and cleansed her body of grime and dirt, thus reverting to her usual appearance as a graceful palace master. Heaving a sigh of relief, she quickly followed behind Zhang Xuan.
On the other hand, Zhang Xuan could not help but shake his head helplessly when he saw how Du Qingyuan was concerned about her appearance despite the dire situation they were in. Clicking his tongue, he pushed the door open and walked out.
There was no one outside.
Having saved Du Qingyuan, he could not be bothered to keep up his disguise. It was not as if anyone there, except for Kong shi, could defeat him anyway. So, he continued inward.
"The exit is over there," the perplexed Du Qingyuan remarked with a frown.
The deeper they headed in, the greater the danger they would face. Zhang Xuan might be unaware of Hall Master Kong's true strength, but she knew just how insanely powerful that man was. In terms of fighting prowess, he might even be on par with the gods!
Not only so, he also had plenty of Semi-Divinity realm experts under his command. They would be doomed once they were made aware of his intrusion!
"I'm not planning on leaving yet. I'm here for Kong shi," Zhang Xuan explained with a smile.
This time, he had his clone to fight alongside him. On top of that, he had also comprehended the Pathos of Heavens and A Heart of Intertwined Threads. As long as Kong shi had not reached the level of a god, the chances of them winning were extremely high.
The only reason he had chosen to disguise himself was out of fear that it might incite panic, leading to the enemies to quickly get rid of Du Qingyuan or use her as hostage.
Since Du Qingyuan had been saved, there was nothing to hold him back anymore.
"Kong shi? You are referring to Hall Master Kong, right?" Du Qingyuan was stunned. "We won't be able to take him on with just the two of us. We'll need to gather Han Jianqiu and the others..."
Before she could finish her piece, footsteps suddenly sounded ahead of them. A doubtful voice demanded, "Who are you? Wait, aren't you Du Qingyuan? How did you get out? Men!"
That voice echoed loudly throughout the entire hall.
Sou sou sou!
In an instant, numerous figures appeared all around the corridor, sealing off all paths of escape.
"Thirteen Semi-Divinities..." Du Qingyuan trembled in horror.
They would have been perfectly fine if they had snuck away earlier, but this fellow simply wanted to look for Hall Master Kong.
Now that they were surrounded by thirteen Semi-Divinities who were no weaker than her, there was no way they would be able to get away unscathed anymore.
She felt as if the hope that had appeared before her just a moment ago had been shattered, plunging her deeper into the abyss of despair.
Spirit God, you didn't tell me that the person you like is actually so unreliable!
"Oh, aren't you Sect Leader Zhang? Since you have paid a visit to our Ethereal Hall, it would be rude for us not to offer you our warmest welcome, right?"
A Semi-Divinity realm cultivator amid the crowd recognized Zhang Xuan, and his words sparked flames of greed in the eyes of the others.
All of them knew how highly their hall master valued Zhang Xuan. If they could capture him, they would surely be handsomely rewarded for their service!
With overwhelming killing intent lingering in the air, the Semi-Divinities drew their weapons.
Du Qingyuan felt goosebumps rising all over her body. She silently inched toward Zhang Xuan and said, "I'll only be able to deal with two of them at most with my current strength... I have been observing them carefully, and I think I can try opening a path for you to escape by attacking those three right ahead of me. So, pay careful attention and make your escape as soon as you see an opening, alright?"
Only her physical wounds had healed so far. Her soul had not fully recovered yet, and her greatest trump card, the altar, had been destroyed.
It was already formidable that she could keep two Semi-Divinity realm cultivators of the Hall of Gods in check given her current strength.
"I am very grateful that you are willing to brave through the danger to rescue me," Du Qingyuan said with a determined glint in her eyes, "but my lifespan is already coming to an end. If only one of us can make it out of here alive, it should be you. I'll be entrusting the future of Starchaser Palace and the Forsaken Continent to you..."
"There's no need for that!" Zhang Xuan chuckled a little upon seeing Du Qingyuan's response.
Seeing how the two of them were relaxed enough to chat with one another, the leader of the group bellowed, "Everyone, let's take them down together. Our hall master will surely be delighted if he sees that we have managed to capture Zhang Xuan when he returns..."
Unable to hold back their anxiety any longer, the crowd made their move.
Sou sou sou sou!
Surges of energy gushed in from the surroundings, forming a sturdy cage around Zhang Xuan and Du Qingyuan.
"Zhang Xuan, run away!" Du Qingyuan exclaimed.
She did not think that they would actually be so well-trained in collaborative formations. Knowing that they would be trapped if she waited any longer, she immediately dashed forward to make her move.
However, the sight before her suddenly blurred, and the energy cage around them abruptly dissipated. Before she knew it, Zhang Xuan was already standing right before the leader of the pack, his hand clutching onto the latter's neck tightly.
Looking at the leader with a frighteningly nonchalant expression on his face, he asked, "Where is Hall Master Kong?" "H-he has gone out..." the leader replied with a quivering voice.
He was caught completely off guard by how fast Zhang Xuan was, such that his entire body was still trembling from shock.
"He isn't here?" Zhang Xuan frowned.
He had thought that Kong shi would try to assimilate the Aura of Divinity there... If the other party was not there, where else could he be?
This was not good at all. If Kong shi successfully became a god, the consequences would be dire. They would really have no means to deal with him then.
"I don't believe you," Zhang Xuan remarked coldly.
He squeezed his fingers lightly, crushing the leader's windpipe. There was a short moment of silence before he sighed with a frown. "Ha, Kong shi really isn't here..."
There was no way he could take the enemy's words at face value, so he had conducted a Soul Search as well.
But just as the other party had said, Hall Master Kong did not return after heading out.
While Zhang Xuan was shaking his head in displeasure, Du Qingyuan was looking upon the sight before her with an incredulous expression.
It was just a moment ago that she thought they were goners, but in the blink of an eye, her comrade had already taken down the leader of the pack!
What was even eerier to her was how no one in the crowd rushed over to help their own ally. It was as if they were frozen in place!
Du Qingyuan pointed to the other twelve Semi-Divinities around her and murmured, "They..."
They were all standing on the spot, not moving an inch. However, she could see fear deeply reflected in their eyes, as if they were looking at something that terrified them to their souls.
"What's wrong?" Zhang Xuan tossed aside the leader's body before taking out a handkerchief to wipe his hands.
"Why aren't they moving?" Du Qingyuan asked warily.
"They're dead. Dead men aren't able to move," Zhang Xuan replied impassively, as if he was just pointing out a fact.
He had been wondering what Du Qingyuan was so shocked about, but it turned out to just be that.
Since those men had decided to assault them, there was no need for him to show mercy to them. Thus, he had used A Heart of Intertwining Threads to slit their throats, killing all twelve of them in an instant.
He had only chosen to spare the leader temporarily in order to question him.
"They're dead?" Du Qingyuan was stunned.
She carefully walked up to one of the Semi-Divinities and pushed his body carefully.
The Semi-Divinity realm cultivator's body fell flat on the floor, causing the ground to tremble a little. That, in turn, caused the bodies of the remaining eleven Semi-Divinities to fall to the ground as well.
Du Qingyuan rubbed her eyes vigorously, wondering if she had seen incorrectly.
When did he make a move?
How did he make a move?
For thirteen Semi-Divinities to be killed in an instant... how was this even possible?
Was it really true that this fellow had only arrived on the Forsaken Continent a month ago?
Was it possible for someone to become so powerful within such a short period of time?
Du Qingyuan felt a little stifled inside.
To think that there was a period of time where she had thought that this young man was not worthy of the Spirit God. This was probably the first time in the history of the Forsaken Continent that a person had managed to cultivate from Ancient Sage 4-dan to become an unrivaled existence among Semi-Divinities within just a single month.
If he were given another month, would he be able to become as powerful as the Spirit God?
She suddenly had a feeling that everyone else had only been crawling along in their cultivation whereas the young man was sprinting ahead.
"Hold on for a moment," the young man suddenly said.
With a smile on his face, he walked up to each and every one of the corpses and took their storage rings. After that, with a wave of his hand, he chucked all their corpses into his storage ring.
"Not too bad. They seem to have plenty of pills with them. I guess those from the Ethereal Hall are pretty wealthy after all," Zhang Xuan commented with a satisfied nod.
He had wondered where he could find the remaining seventy Premier Immortal Pills required for him to achieve a breakthrough, but to his delight, he managed to gather all of them with several dozen extra after slaying fifteen Semi- Divinities.
As expected of the Ethereal Hall!
"Since Hall Master Kong isn't around, it's unlikely we'll face any danger here. Wait here for a moment, I'll swiftly take a look around," Zhang Xuan said before vanishing from sight.
"Take a look around? What does he want to look at?" Du Qingyuan was left standing on the spot, confused.
Paying no heed to the Du Qingyuan, Zhang Xuan headed to the innermost room along the corridors.
Through his earlier Soul Search, he had been able to confirm that he was in the headquarters of the Ethereal Hall.
Since this was the headquarters, there was no doubt that there were plenty of treasures lying around. Considering how Kong shi had stolen his Aura of Divinity, no matter what, he should at least return the favor a little. Or else, would he not be making a huge loss?
Thus, while he was conducting his Soul Search earlier, he had made sure to keep a close eye on where the treasure vault was.
Naturally, that was where he was heading!
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