Baffled by their teacher's words, Zhang Xuan's direct disciples were stunned for a moment before realization suddenly struck them, and their faces started twitching.
With a hushed voice, Zhao Ya muttered quietly to the dense Yuan Tao, who still did not seem to understand what was going on, "Our teacher is the Conferred God King of the Nine Skies…"
There was a moment of awkward silence before Zheng Yang started laughing stiffly. "Hahaha, teacher. I wonder what kind of treasure that lotus leaf over there is. I don't understand it at all. Hahaha…"
If they had known that their teacher was the Conferred God King of the Nine Skies, they never would have dared to brag like that!
Ever since they had come under their teacher, every single time they thought that they had finally grown stronger, their teacher would pummel them heavily and put them back in their place.
While they had grown tremendously over the past month, somehow, their instincts were screaming at them that if they went through with the battle, they would be beaten up so badly that they would be wailing at the end of it.
A gentle smile formed on Zhang Xuan's lips as he said, "The lotus leaf over there might be eye-catching, but let's not lose sight of what we are going to do, alright?"
Seeing that his attempt to distract his teacher was futile, Zheng Yang's face collapsed in despair as he cried, "I wouldn't dare to challenge teacher to a battle…"
"There's no need to stand on ceremony. Let's begin right away," Zhang Xuan replied.
Just as Zhang Xuan and his direct disciples were celebrating their long-awaited reunion with a good mix of physical intimacy and screams of joy, the lotus leaf in the air suddenly released a loud explosion sound.
Its leaves had fully matured, and they were radiating a blinding glow.
Great streams of concentrated spiritual energy were flowing out from it. Even just absorbing the bits that leaked out was enough to leave those gathered around feeling revitalized.
Everyone immediately turned toward the lotus leaf.
Unlike before, new inscriptions had appeared on the lotus leaf, giving it an enigmatic yet ancient appearance.
"That is… the geographical terrain and constellation map of the Nine Skies?" Zhang Xuan widened his eyes in astonishment.
He had seen the geographical terrain and constellation map of the Sky of Spirit Origin, Sky of Drifting Specter, and Sky of Linglong, and he could see them depicted clearly through the inscriptions on the massive lotus leaf.
He could tell that the lotus leaf was a natural artifact of the Firmament, yet it had been born with a complete map of the Nine Skies. This was extremely perplexing.
"Not only so, I can also sense the aura of the Nine Skies from it. Just what in the world is that lotus leaf?" Zhang Xuan was bewildered.
Without a doubt, the lotus leaf was a treasure beyond anything he had seen before. If he could assimilate it, it would do his cultivation much good.
Even pushing for a breakthrough to the God Monarch realm on the spot was not completely impossible!
All of a sudden, Conferred God King Liu Yan bellowed before rushing straight for the lotus leaf.
He knew that they would not stand a chance once Zhang Xuan and the others made their move, so he decided to make the first move.
As long as he could successfully grab the lotus leaf, he would immediately rush to the outer perimeter of the Flooding Sea and inform God Monarch Zhuoyang to teleport him out right away. Then, no matter how powerful Zhang Xuan was, there was no way he could snatch the lotus leaf from the hands of the God Monarchs.
The other Conferred God Kings also made their moves. With their powers, they weaved together a massive net that swiftly closed in on the lotus leaf. Through this, they could ensure that no one could get to the lotus leaf before them.
Seeing that someone was trying to beat them to it, Zhao Ya and Zheng Yang's eyebrows shot up in displeasure.
It was one thing to be beaten up by their teacher, but they would not allow a treasure that would benefit their teacher to be taken before their eyes.
"It won't be that easy for them to take the lotus leaf. Let's just wait and see," Zhang Xuan said as he stopped his direct disciple from getting involved.
He could not tell what kind of treasure the lotus leaf was, but just from the inscriptions and the aura of the Nine Skies it was emanating, it was clear that it was not an artifact that a couple of average Conferred God Kings could handle.
As he had guessed, while the massive net was about to wrap itself around the lotus leaf, the lotus leaf swayed a little, and the space in the surroundings immediately shattered.
A spatial shockwave rippled outward.
Peng peng peng!
The Conferred God Kings that had gathered around the lotus leaf were struck on the chest, and a deep laceration appeared on their bodies. They were knocked flying into the distance as blood spewed from their mouths.
"Frightening…" Zheng Yang and the others narrowed their eyes in shock.
Even though their fighting prowess far surpassed these veteran Conferred God Kings, they were not certain that they could have coped with that attack if they had been the ones facing it.
That was how powerful the lotus leaf was.
Realizing this, Zhao Ya looked at her juniors and said, "Let's go together!"
With a determined nod, the eleven direct disciples of Zhang Xuan each took a deep breath before charging toward the lotus leaf together.
Unlike the veteran Conferred God Kings, their teamwork was nearly impeccable. In the blink of an eye, they had already gotten into position to form a collaborative formation.
Their combined might was probably enough to face even a God Monarch for a short period of time.
Unable to withstand their might, the surrounding space began to tear as a massive spatial storm broke out around the lotus leaf.
The lotus leaf seemed to be a little pressured facing such a furious onslaught of attacks. It suddenly began expanding larger and larger, reaching a size comparable to the sky itself. Then, with a twist, it swept itself across the cultivators standing against it.
Zhang Xuan widened his eyes in shock.
He immediately drew the Crimson Heaven Sword and slashed it down on the lotus leaf.
The sword qi carried an unyielding will and bolted toward the lotus leaf. Just as it was about to strike its target, the massive lotus leaf suddenly swayed once again.
In an instant, Zhang Xuan suddenly experienced a bout of weightlessness. The space around him began warping at an insanely fast pace, and he suddenly found himself standing in the midst of a lush field.
It was a boundless grassland that extended to the horizons.
"I have… returned to the Firmament?" Zhang Xuan was stunned.
The land beneath his feet felt different from that of the Flooding Sea, and he could sense the aura of the Nine Skies around him.
He seemed to have returned to the Firmament.
"No, that isn't right. I have entered the Firmament inscribed on the surface of the lotus leaf!"
Zhang Xuan swiftly noticed that something was amiss.
The Firmament was closed off, but it was not isolated. The real Firmament still carried a link to the rest of the myriad worlds, but he could not feel it there.
I he paid close attention to it, there were more differences between the area where he was and the real Firmament.
"Teacher…" A voice echoed not too far away.
Zhang Xuan quickly turned his head, and he saw Zhao Ya and the others flying in his direction.
Fortunately, it did not appear that they were injured. He heaved a sigh of relief inwardly.
Gazing into the sky, he said contemplatively, "There is something really weird about the lotus leaf. To think that it has an expanse of space comparable to the Nine Skies within it. Not to mention, it was able to pull us in here so easily…"
With their strength combined, they were strong enough to even deal with the God Monarchs. Yet, they were far too helpless in the face of the lotus leaf.
Just what kind of artifact was it to possess such unfathomable prowess?
"The flaw probably lies here…"
Zhang Xuan quickly looked around the area, but he was unable to find an exit. So, he lifted the Crimson Heaven Sword in his grasp and hacked it down on the ground beneath him.
If there was no way out in sight, the most plausible way out would be the ground.
While the lotus leaf wielded enigmatic abilities, Zhang Xuan did not think that it would be able to withstand an attack of his full might.
So, he channeled his spirit, soul, and psyche into his sword and struck down with all his strength.
A burst of sword qi inflicted a massive crack in the ground, and spiritual energy immediately poured out from there. Without any hesitation, Zhang Xuan and his direct disciples leaped into the crack, and the next moment, Luo Qiqi's anxious face appeared before their eyes.
"Are you all okay?" Luo Qiqi asked worriedly.
Zhang Xuan nodded before speaking his thoughts aloud. "I don't understand. Just what kind of treasure is that?"
"I'm not sure! However, I think I heard those injured veteran Conferred God Kings calling it… the Nine Skies Lotus Leaf!" Luo Qiqi said.
As she had been outside the whole time, she had overheard the discussion among the other Conferred God Kings.
"Nine Skies Lotus Leaf?"
Zhang Xuan was a little taken aback.
A familiar-sounding name popped up in his head as he muttered, "The Nine Skies Lotus Embryo?"
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