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"The God Essence Pill you gave me was poisoned?"

The body of the Phosphor Armored Beast stiffened as it swiftly realized what was going on.

From the start to the end, it had only eaten a God Essence Pill given by Zhang Xuan. Back then, it had made sure to inspect it carefully, and only after confirming that there was nothing wrong did it swallow the pill. Did the other party really put something in it?

But-

Just what kind of poison could it be that would cause it to feel as if the entire heavens were crashing down on it, to the point where the Phosphor Armored Beast was even losing its will to retaliate?

You are quite smart after all," Zhang Xuan replied.

As someone who had risen to the top of the Master Teacher Continent and the Forsaken Continent, he had been through so much that anyone who dared think of him as a naive little boy would eventually regret underestimating him dearly.

A human who dared to openly eat and drink in the woods in the middle of the night, such a situation was practically shouting 'dubious' at him!

For this reason, he had prepared a hand.

In the God Essence Pills that he had given to the other party, he had made sure to infuse several surges of his Heaven's Path zhenqi into them.

If the other party did not show him any ill will, the Heaven's Path zhenqi would help him clear up his blocked meridians and remove any bottlenecks that stood in his way. The unique nature of the upgraded Heaven's Path zhenqi would aid him in preserving his youth as well. It would have been a huge fortuitous encounter for him.

On the other hand, if the other party had other intentions in mind, the Heaven's Path zhenqi would turn into lethal poison in an instant, scourging every nook and cranny of his body, inflicting unbearable pain to him.

"Haha... Hahaha! I never thought that I would be outwitted like that. However, it's still too early for you to relish in your victory. The gazelle meat and the wine you had earlier have my poison as well. I guess we'll just have to trade antidotes," the Phosphor Armored Beast sneered with gritted teeth.

The meat and wine were poisoned?" Zhang Xuan shook his head. "Do you expect me to believe such words?"

On top of everything else, he was a poison master. He could easily tell whether something was poisoned or not. It was obvious that the Phosphor Armored Beast was trying to fool him.

"My wine is indeed free of poison, but it's brewed using a special kind of fruit. It's only suitable for us Phosphor Armored Beasts. If anyone else ingests it, while it won't cause too much of a problem initially, within half a day, his body will be completely covered in scales. An unbearable itch will quickly spread throughout his entire body, making you know what it means to live a life worse than death," the Phosphor Armored Beast said.

"As long as you give me the antidote to your poison, I'll teach you how you can cure the poison. Not only so, I'll allow you to leave safely as well..."


"There's no need for that," Zhang Xuan interjected sharply.

You don't believe me?"

"No. On the contrary, I believe everything that you have just said. Thanks to your reminder, I have just managed to cure the poison," Zhang Xuan replied.

The Phosphor Armored Beast widened its eyes in disbelief upon hearing those words. Then, it quickly shook its head and smiled. "I know what you are doing. You are trying to bluff me. It won't work."

Seeing how the Phosphor Armored Beast was still deluding itself, Zhang Xuan sighed deeply and said, "Your wine is brewed using the Zizhen Fruit found only within this valley. It's the key source of nourishment that ensures the resilience of your scales, and it_s for that reason that you aren’t able to leave this valley. You know that your 'unparalleled defense' will become a joke if you don't have the Zizhen Fruit anymore."

You..." The Phosphor Armored Beast was stunned.

Was the young man a monster?

How could he know a secret which it had been hiding all this while?

The city lord of Twilight City had tried to tame it once, and the terms that he had offered it were truly generous. If it had been in the past, it would have surely turned down the offer without any hesitation.

However, in this generation of receding spiritual energy, it knew that it would only grow weaker and weaker if it remained in this valley. There was no future for it there.

Nevertheless, it had still chosen to turn down the city lord's offer, and it was all because of the Zizhen Fruit!

This fruit was the key to its superior defense. As long as it continued to consume it, it would become stronger and stronger. However, once it stopped its consumption of the fruit, its scales would slowly lose their resilience, thus stripping it of its key strength.

Furthermore, the Zizhen Fruit could only be nurtured using its blood. Once it left the Valley of Falling Clouds, the Zizhen Fruit would swiftly wither and die. For this reason, it could only continue guarding this area.

This was its greatest secret, and it was determined to hide it from the rest of the world. As such, it would pit its life against anyone who entered the valley to chase them away.

Yet, the young man actually knew about its secret!

How was this possible?

"The reason you use the Zizhen Fruit to brew wine is to conceal your consumption of the Zizhen Fruit from the rest of the world. As you have been nurturing the Zizhen Fruit with your blood, anyone else who consumes it will immediately feel discomfort. However, the poison of the Zizhen Fruit means nothing to me at all!" Zhang Xuan replied.

Even the most lethal poison in the world meant nothing before the Heaven's Path zhenqi, let alone mere fruit wine.

"Alright, I hope that I have satisfied your curiosity now."

Zhang Xuan clapped his hands together as he sat down on the stone pedestal where the massive divine beast had been sleeping earlier. With a nonchalant look on his face, he said, "I'll give you two choices. Give me one hundred Zizhen Fruits and two liters of your fresh blood. Of course, I don't intend to make you do it for free. I'll give you twenty God Essence Pills, and you can be assured that none of them are poisoned this time around.

"Otherwise, you can slowly feel your life wilting away with the poison. I can absolute guarantee that no one other than me is capable of lifting that poison. Even if you beg God Monarch Qiankun for help, there's nothing he can do to save you."

"Darn it! I'll kill you!" the Phosphor Armored Beast roared furiously as it charged forward to rip the young man into pieces. However, before it could even move, it suddenly felt its body tensing up.

Before it knew it, the poison within its body had sealed off all its meridians, preventing it from exerting the slightest force at all.

"What the... How is this possible? Just what kind of poison did you feed me?" the Phosphor Armored Beast exclaimed in fear.

There were many experts who had tried to tame it in the past, and some of them had resorted to poisoning it. For this reason, it was considerably well-versed with the most types of poisons. Through its superior constitution, it was able to nullify the effects of most poisons.

But shockingly, it actually found itself completely helpless against the young man's poison!

"You are asking something that you don't need to know about. I have already given you two choices. You should know that I am giving you an opportunity here. Even after your death, I will still able to gather your blood and the Zizhen Fruits without any difficulties!" Zhang Xuan replied.

The complexion of the Phosphor Armored Beast turned incredibly ugly. It hated to admit it, but the young man was right. Once it was dead, the young man could simply do whatever he wanted with it.

There was a moment of silence before it asked, "Is there a third option?"

"There is."

With his hands behind his back, Zhang Xuan stood up and said, "Be my tamed beast and provide me your blood whenever I need it. In exchange, I'll show you the way out of the Valley of Falling Clouds without compromising your defensive ability. Not only so, I'll even help you overcome your bottleneck and become a Celestial God!"

"Hah! Big words, but that's impossible," the Phosphor Armored Beast scoffed.

As a beast that had already transmogrified, it was more than capable of sneaking into human cities. With its strength, it would easily be able to earn enough money for it to enjoy a decadent life.

However, it knew that everything would swiftly unravel once it lost its unparalleled defense. As such, it had been looking for a way out all this while, and it had even snuck into Twilight City many times in hopes of finding a cure, but it could not even find a speck of hope.

It was hard to believe that some twenty-year-old would be able to do it.

Not to mention, the other party even said that he would help it become a Celestial God?

If it was that easy to become a Celestial God, there was no way the city lord would have been the only one to reach that level in Twilight City.

"There's nothing impossible about it," Zhang Xuan replied with a confident glint in his eyes.

He tilted his head up confidently and looked at the Phosphor Armored Beast deeply as he spoke. "The Zizhen Fruit strengthens your defense, but you should also be aware that its side effects are severe. As long as you stop consuming it, you will be consumed by an irrepressible itch, putting you in great agony. It's like a drug. Once you start, you will be forever bound by it."

"Even if you know about its properties, what can you do about it?" the Phosphor Armored Beast replied coldly.

It went without saying that it understood all of that as well, but it still had not been able to find a solution to it even after so many years.

If it had been able to free itself from the restraints of the Zizhen Fruit, it would have long done so!

"All things in the world are complementary to one another. Where a venomous snake roams, an antidote can often be found within seven steps. There's bound to be something that can nullify the side effects of the Zizhen Fruit, and the key for you to become a Celestial God lies in that 'something'. Over the years, your meridians have lost their flexibility due to the toxins in the Zizhen Fruit, resulting in your inability to channel your divine energy properly," Zhang Xuan said.

"How did you..." The Phosphor Armored Beast was going to ask how the young man knew about it, but thinking about it, it seemed like a meaningless question. All its secrets seemed to have lost their veil of secrecy before the young man's penetrating gaze. So, it sighed deeply and nodded. "Yes, you're right."

Many years of consuming the Zizhen Fruit had resulted in the loss of flexibility of its meridians, resulting in its inability to expand and contract freely. As a result, it was much harder for the Phosphor Armored Beast to control the flow of its zhenqi.

In the pursuit of perfection, it was inevitable that one would have to give up something. For the Phosphor Armored Beast, it was its control over its divine energy.

While the Zizhen Fruit toughened its scales and made it impenetrable, it had also induced the hardening of its meridians.

"If you were able to control your divine energy as finely as you did before, do you think that you'd be able to become a Celestial God?" Zhang Xuan asked.

"Of course!" the Phosphor Armored Beast replied in agitation.

The foundation that it had built up over the years was already more than enough for it to make a breakthrough. The only issue was that the inflexibility of its meridians made it impossible for it to channel its divine energy fast enough to overcome its bottleneck.

"I can solve that problem for you," Zhang Xuan replied calmly.

Then, he snapped his fingers lightly.

Tzzz!

The poison that had sealed off its divine energy and inflicted excruciating pain suddenly turned into a tonic that nourished its meridians.

Swiftly, its hardened meridians began to loosen up, regaining the flexibility it used to have. At the same time, the various blockages within its body also cleared up.

"This..." The Phosphor Armored Beast widened its eyes in disbelief.

The young man was actually able to turn the lethal poison in its body into tonic with just a single thought, and it actually achieved something it had not been able to do so despite decades of effort. This was unbelievable!

Feeling the regained flexibility of its meridians, the Phosphor Armored Beast quivered in excitement. Everything that it had wanted was within its grasp. As long as it drove its divine energy, it would be able to reach the level it had been dreaming of!

Yet, just as it was about to do so, its flow of divine energy suddenly ground to a halt.

Hula!

Its meridians became stiff once more, and the bottleneck in its cultivation suddenly reappeared. What was within its grasp moments ago suddenly grew distant once again.

It had just felt as if it had the world in its hands, but in the next moment, the world came crashing down. The vast contrast between the two feelings left it feeling so frustrated that it could have exploded on the spot.

Seeing this, Zhang Xuan chuckled softly and said, "The energy I have planted in your body is too weak. It can only sustain you for a short period of time. However, I have already proved to you that I am not making empty promises.

The choice is in your hands."

The Heaven's Path zhenqi could indeed loosen its stiffened meridians, allowing it to regain its flexibility. However, such a change was temporary. Besides, there was no way Zhang Xuan would allow the Phosphor Armored Beast to make a breakthrough before it had made its choice.

"I..."

The Phosphor Armored Beast fell silent.

All the doubts it had harbored regarding the credibility of the young man's words had been shattered when its meridians regained their flexibility. It knew that the young man would be able to resolve the problems caused by years of consumption of the Zizhen Fruit and help it become a Celestial God.

Given so, it was obvious which of the three choices it should choose.

"I'll pledge my loyalty and my life to you."

The Phosphor Armored Beast bowed down and offered a droplet of its blood essence to Zhang Xuan.

"Excellent decision. You won't regret your choice."

With a smile on his lips, Zhang Xuan drew the blood essence infused with the Phosphor Armored Beast's Soul Imprint into his glabella, creating a Soul Contract with it.

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