2101 The One Who Returned
The Hall of Gods stood above a black vortex, reminiscent of a rock plugging up a leaky roof. He had been wanting to check it out for some time now, but due to the limitations of his cultivation, he hadn't been able to approach it. However, now that he had become a real god, even though the forces surrounding the black vortex were frightening, he had no fear of it anymore.
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It had taken him four hours to leave the Hall of Gods previously, but this time around, it only took him a few minutes to get there.
It still looked as grand and splendid as before. Black mist could be seen revolving around the Hall of Gods, and if one peered into the vortex beneath, one could see dimension rifts within.
Zhang Xuan flew to the top of the vortex and sensed a peculiar energy trying to claw its way toward him, as if attempting to devour him whole.
"I should head in to take a look!"
Wrapping himself with his newfound divine powers, he dived into the vortex.
The spatial turbulence within the vortex struck him relentlessly with a force that even Semi-Divinity realm cultivators were unable to withstand. However, to the current Zhang Xuan, it was not sufficient to hurt him.
At the eye of the vortex, he saw a pitch-black passageway that led to uncharted territories.
But for some reason, he felt as if there was a utopia lying on the other side. He felt a desire to venture in to take a look. "Could this be the entrance to the Firmament?"
Zhang Xuan could not help but remember the spatial passageway leading to the Azure from the Kunxu Domain. From the Hundred Schools of Philosophers to the formation and the Ancient Sage corpse, traces of Kong shi could be seen in it.
The same went for the passageway right before him.
The Hall of Gods above was guarded by Kong shi's will, and the first bundle of Aura of Divinity that he had received was from Kong shi as well.
After his will replaced Kong shi's to guard the Hall of Gods, he became cognizant of the rules governing the Hall of Gods. As long as someone could defeat his will, he would be able to obtain a bundle of Aura of Divinity too.
The only issue with that was that... his will was simply too strong. There was no way Zhao Ya and the others would be a match for him, or else he would have long brought them over to harvest a bundle.
"I should head back and wrap everything up before exploring this area once more..."
He turned around and flew out of the vortex.
Zhao Ya, Han Jianqiu, and the others would likely be dying of worry after seeing Kong shi chasing right after him. At the very least, he should return to take a look.
He flew across the boundary once more, and before long, he was already back at the Ethereal Hall headquarters.
With a thought, he lowered his aura to the level of a Semi-Divinity realm cultivator.
Based on what he knew, there would be a cultivation ordeal after reaching the level of the gods. If he disguised his cultivation, he might be able to push it back a little.
After he was done, he tore apart the space ahead of him and stepped into the dimension rift.
When he finally appeared once more, he was already standing right above the Heaven Anchoring Boulder.
He swiftly confirmed his direction before tearing apart the space ahead of him once more, and this time, he arrived at the area right above Starchaser Palace.
Seeing that a cultivation ordeal had not fallen on him yet, he heaved a sigh of relief before quickly assessing the surroundings.
The war against the Ethereal Hall, Blackmirror Citadel, and Evanescent Immortal Sect had already ended, leaving behind many corpses on the ground.
"Teacher, you're back!"
Sensing Zhang Xuan's aura, Zhao Ya and the others immediately rushed over in agitation.
Even though they looked a little unkempt, fortunately, it did not seem like any of them were severely injured. Heaving a sigh of relief, Zhang Xuan asked, "How did the battle go?"
"We have captured Citadel Lord Bai and Sect Leader Gu of the Blackmirror Citadel and Evanescent Immortal Sect respectively. The others have also surrendered. With their top powers taken down, those two sects are pretty much goners. As for the Ethereal Hall, we managed to capture everyone as well!" Zhao Ya explained.
After Hall Master Kong left the battlefield to pursue Zhang Xuan, the alliance among the three powers had swiftly collapsed into a pile of scattered sand.
Zhao Ya and the others had reached the Semi-Divinity realm, and all of them were wielding Semi-Divinity artifacts. Even though the enemies had a lot of experts in their ranks, they did not stand a chance against Zhao Ya and the others. Furthermore, the 100,000 True Immortals joined the fray, thus resulting in a completely one-sided battle.
It was a complete wipeout for the enemy. All those who were still alive had surrendered.
"It's good that everything has been settled." Zhang Xuan nodded.
With Zhao Ya and the others joining in the fray, they had been able to easily curb the enemy Semi-Divinity realm experts. Once the top experts had been taken care of, the rest would be a walk in the park.
The casualties at the starting phase of the battle were high, but they swiftly reduced after Zhao Ya and the others joined the battle as well. As such, the damage suffered by the four sects and the aquatic creatures was not too great.
"Did you manage to collect Little Chick's ashes? Where are they?" Zhang Xuan asked.
Little Chick had died for his sake.
If not for it sacrificing itself to block Kong shi, there was no way he would have managed to cleanse the Aura of Divinity in time and successfully make a breakthrough.
"We did manage to collect them, but..."
Knowing the feelings their teacher had for his tamed beast, Zhao Ya and the others had immediately gathered the ashes of Little Chick as soon as the battle ended.
"But?" Zhang Xuan frowned.
"Even as we gathered the ashes together, they continued to burn with fervor," Zhao Ya said with a bitter smile as she pointed at the ash pile.
Zhang Xuan quickly turned his head and saw a bundle of golden flames burning ceaselessly. It was the very same location where Little Chick had been killed and razed to ashes by Kong shi's clone.
Perplexed, he quickly made his way over to take a closer look at the bundle of golden flames. Slowly, a frown formed on his forehead.
The golden flames right before his eyes were not too strong, but he could clearly sense life being nurtured within them.
"What does this mean? Is Little Chick... still alive?" Zhang Xuan was stunned.
The little yellow chick had been sliced into dozens of pieces by a sword before being burned to ashes. Even a real god would have died after sustaining such damage! So, how could he still sense the presence of life within the golden flames?
While Zhang Xuan was still staring at the golden flames with narrowed eyes, an altar suddenly materialized right beneath them.
It was the one that he and Wu Chen had brought over from the Master Teacher Continent. Tzzzzzz!
A black aura seeped out of the altar and surged right into the golden flames.
The golden flames flared up in response to the black aura. From the size of a football, it grew to roughly the height of a man before abruptly expanding into a fiery ball of over ten meters in diameter.
Even so, the flow of black aura from the altar to the golden flames showed no signs of stopping.
Young Master, the altar seems to have formed a connection with another altar, forming a portal..."
Wu Chen and Du Qingyuan swiftly made their way over together to take a closer look at this baffling situation.
"Portal?" Zhang Xuan asked with narrowed eyes.
"It's similar to the portal we used previously in order to teleport over to the Hall of Gods." Wu Chen nodded.
Back then, Zhang Xuan had specially made a trip down to the Master Teacher Continent in order to use the altar to conduct a ritual and forge a connection between the two altars. He could tell that the same thing was happening right before him.
It was just that...
"Didn't Kong shi's clone destroy the other al..." Zhang Xuan was halfway through his words when his eyes suddenly widened in bewilderment. "Wait a moment. Is it... coming from the altar in the City of Collapsed Space?"
Back then, he had been told that there was only one such altar on the Forsaken Continent. Due to that, he had specially made a trip back to the Master Teacher Continent to fetch it.
However, not too long ago, he had encountered a similar altar in the City of Collapsed Space! Du Qingyuan had been with him back then, and she had verified that the altar shared the same origin as the one from Starchaser Palace and the Otherworldly Demonic Tribe.
With such a thought in mind, Zhang Xuan walked forward to examine the black aura.
"It's indeed the air of degeneration..."
In fact, it was more than just the air of degeneration. It had been refined and compressed into a form that was extremely similar to the corrupted Aura of Divinity that he had received from the black skeleton.
"Could it be that…"
A thought suddenly arose in Zhang Xuan's mind. He swiftly brought his hands together to tear a rift in space so that he could teleport over to the City of Collapsed Space to verify his deduction. But before he could do so, a towering pillar of flames rose into the sky before abruptly bursting apart, revealing a cute little yellow chick.
The little yellow chick stretched its back lazily before waddling out from the lingering flames.
Zhang Xuan's eyes widened in astonishment, as if he could not believe what he was saying. Then, a mixture of delight and relief seeped into his eyes as he hurriedly rushed up to the little yellow chick.
The fellow in front of him looked not much different from before. It was still covered with a thin layer of yellow fur, reminiscent of a new hatchling. However, its cultivation had already reached the same level as him—godhood.
"You managed to make a breakthrough..." Zhang Xuan muttered in disbelief.
He had previously fed the other party a fair number of Immortal Pills and plenty of Semi-Divinity realm blood... Heck, it had even drunk a droplet of god blood!
Yet, its cultivation had refused to advance even a fraction.
It was one thing for it to survive Kong shi's assault, but how did its cultivation manage to shoot up two realms simultaneously and reach the level of the gods?
Suddenly, Zhang Xuan felt a little indignant inside.
It was through his efforts and talent that he was able to raise his cultivation so quickly. On the other hand, the fellow in front of him only ever put all sorts of weird things into its mouth, but it was still able to improve almost as quickly as him!
He felt like a diligent student who always studied for all his tests, but somehow, the friend who squandered his time playing games always managed to score better grades than him!
"Of course!" Little Chick flapped its wings as it tilted its chin upward smugly.
"Did you manage to recover your memory? Zhang Xuan asked.
"Not yet!" Little Chick replied with the same smugness.
Zhang Xuan felt an urge to berate Little Chick for its unjustified smugness, but as he watched the little yellow fellow waddling around the area energetically, he eventually exhaled deeply with a helpless smile on his face before saying, "Forget it. Your memory will eventually come back to you. You can take your time for that."
He was only glad that the latter was still alive.
That being said, he still felt a little cheated of his feelings. It was as if he had gotten agitated over nothing. Not to mention, the little fellow had managed to become a god as a result of this incident.
Was this what they meant by 'rising from the ashes'?
Thinking about it, it was a little surprising that Little Chick had survived the ordeal. He doubted that his clone could have survived if the latter had been in the same position.
"The Aura of Divinity is a necessity to reach the level of the gods. The black aura that Little Chick took in earlier seems to be the same as what the black skeleton gave me..." Zhang Xuan fell into deep thought.
Chances were that Little Chick had used the corrupted Aura of Divinity in order to reach his current state.
But that too presented a doubt. The corrupted Aura of Divinity harnessed such pure air of degeneration that even gods would face great trouble if they absorbed it into their bodies.
That was why he had used it as one of his cards to curb Kong shi's clone, and it had ended up playing a vital role in the battle.
Even he had needed to use the will of 100,000 True Immortals to cleanse the air of degeneration from the corrupted Aura of Divinity before he was able to assimilate it into his body...
Yet, Little Chick just absorbed it directly!
"Speaking of which, Little Chick's bathwater has the effect of dispelling the corrosion of the air of degeneration..." Zhang Xuan swiftly came up with a deduction. "Does this mean that the air of degeneration has no effect on it at all, such that it can even be considered a tonic to it? That would also explain why it wanted to eat the black skeleton back then..."
When they paid a visit to the City of Collapsed Space, Little Chick had cried that it was hungry and asked if it could eat the black skeleton. However, in view of the tremendous strength of the black skeleton, he did not allow it to act audaciously.
But thinking back, Little Chick had never really eaten anything that it did not need before. Could it be that it wielded the power to curb the black skeleton and the air of degeneration around it?
Well, it seemed like its true form was not just any ordinary cock. There was a chance that it might really be an extraordinarily powerful legendary beast!
It was just a pity that it had lost its memory. Otherwise, he could have found a way to help it regain its strength swiftly, and he would have had someone to rely on when he headed over to the Firmament.
Perhaps this was for the best. If others realized that he was backed by a chick or a cock, it would not do his image any good.
While Zhang Xuan was still deep in thought, Little Chick suddenly waddled over and spoke to him furtively. "Master, I think I found the way for me to advance my cultivation..."
"Oh?" Zhang Xuan's eyes lit up. "Tell me more."
"Back then, I was completely powerless after breaking out of the Dongxu Gourd. However, after being nearly burned to death by the Nine-headed Fiery Phoenix, my cultivation rose all the way up to the Heavenly High Immortal realm. This time, I was also burned to a crisp, and my cultivation rose again... So, I was thinking that perhaps the trigger to raise my cultivation lies in being roasted?" Little Chick said.
"This..." Zhang Xuan contemplated for a moment before nodding.
"It does seem that way. Shall we give it a try?"