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Before the duo could recover from their shock, Zhang Xuan's saber continued slashing down and struck a corpse lying in the coffin.
As soon as the corpse came into contact with the saber, it was immediately reduced to dust, scattering into all directions.
"The body of a Transcendent 9-dan should be as though tough as diamond, how could it possibly be reduced to dust by a single strike of saber qi?"
When one's cultivation reached Transcendent Mortal 9-dan, not only would one's soul energy increase, one's physical body would also become flawless. As though a diamond, it would become impervious to corrosion and no weapon would be able to leave a mark on it.
Even after death, considering how the corpse had been protected by a Crimson Metal Coffin all along, it shouldn't have been reduced to dust by a single strike of a Transcendent Mortal 1-dan cultivator.
"Could Zhang shi's saber art really be that strong?"
"That's not it. While Zhang shi's saber art and saber qi are strong, he still isn't strong enough to break a Crimson Metal Coffin and reduce the physical body of a Transcendent Mortal 9-dan into dust," Jin Conghai said with a grim expression.
After consuming a pill, he had recovered significantly from his previous injury.
"Then what's going on?"
"Let's continue watching first. Zhang shi will definitely have an explanation for it!"
Jin Conghai shook his head.
Everyone turned their attention to the man in front of them.
Zhang Xuan didn't stop after dissipating the tomb owner's corpse with a single slash. With a flick of his wrist, he whipped out several silver needles and tossed them into the coffin.
As the silver needle shot into the coffin, everyone suddenly heard a piercing scream.
"AH... What are you doing?"
It came from the mysterious voice from before.
At this moment, the arrogance in that fellow's voice had disappeared altogether, replaced by fear and disbelief.
"I'm not doing anything much, just digging you up!"
Chuckling lightly, Zhang Xuan slotted his saber deep into the coffin and flicked his saber up. Hu! A black lotus appeared before everyone.
This lotus was around the size of a palm, and a black aura shrouded its tip. Every single one of its leaves were pierced with silver needles.
The silver needles that Zhang Xuan shot before were aimed exactly at this flower.
To think that such a peculiar lotus would be hiding beneath an indestructible Crimson Metal Coffin in this incredibly deep tomb. Even when seeing it with their own eyes, everyone still took in a deep breath, unable to believe their sight.
In truth, it had only been a few breaths since the tomb owner attacked Zhang Xuan to when the lotus was unearthed. Only at this instant did the Dragon Scale Amulet's glowing barrier finally disappear.
"Could this be..."
Upon seeing the lotus, Luo Zhu contemplated for a moment when something suddenly struck him. His eyes rapidly narrowed and with a quivering voice, he uttered, "Seven Hearts Underworld Lotus?"
"Seven Hearts Underworld Lotus? What is that?" Hall Master Sai asked out of curiosity.
Even though he was knowledgeable, he wasn't omniscient.
Soul oracle was a mysterious occupation even during the ancient times, and very little was detailed about them.
"It is said to be an invaluable treasure for soul oracles. It can be used to forge a new physical body, and on top of that, the forged physical body will possess a unique constitution!" Luo Zhu explained.
"Unique constitution?" Hall Master Sai widened his eyes in shock.
As long as one's unique constitution was activated, one's rate of cultivation would exceed ordinary cultivators by many times.
To be able to forge a physical body that possessed a unique constitution...
That was way too fearsome!
"Indeed. However... something seems amiss!" A moment later, Luo Zhu hesitated.
"The Seven Hearts Underworld Lotus survives by absorbing energy. If I'm not mistaken, the corpse of the tomb owner must have been absorbed clean. Otherwise, it's impossible for a Transcendent Mortal 9-dan corpse to be reduced to dust by Zhang shi's strike!" Luo Zhu said.
"Un!" Hall Master Sai nodded in agreement.
They had been perplexed over how Zhang Xuan managed to reduce a Transcendent Mortal 9-dan corpse into dust with his sword qi. From the looks of it now, this bizarre flower must have sapped the energy remaining within the body dry.
"Since the Transcendent Mortal 9-dan corpse had been used to nourish the lotus, the lotus should have already bloomed and turned into the tomb owner's physical body. Why... would he still be lying in the coffin, trying to possess us?" Luo Zhu finally asked doubtfully.
Hall Master Sai and the others, realizing the bizarreness of the situation, fell into contemplation.
Indeed! If the other party had an invaluable object like the Seven Hearts Underworld Lotus which could serve as his physical body, why would he need to possess others? Not to mention, even going through all of the trouble of having everyone cultivate the Soul Guiding Formula!
Wasn't this a completely pointless action?
"I don't understand it either. However, I think Zhang shi might have the answer. Otherwise, he couldn't have possibly opened the coffin and dug out this lotus!" Luo Zhu said.
"Un!" Everyone immediately turned their eyes over to Zhang Xuan.
At the coffin, that voice was still screaming.
"You... let me go!"
Being dug up, the black lotus screeched in fright.
The tomb owner who had threatened to kill everyone earlier was hiding inside.
It was no wonder that they couldn't find the origin of the voice earlier. Given that the tomb owner was hidden in a lotus beneath the coffin, how could they possibly have found him?
"Let you go? So that you can continue killing us?"
Zhang Xuan rolled his eyes.
"Y-you... As long you as let me go, we can talk things through. As a soul oracle, I have accumulated quite a lot of treasures. I can give them all to you. If you desire, this Seven Hearts Underworld Lotus can be yours as well," that voice said anxiously.
"Give this lotus to me? No thanks..."
Zhang Xuan harrumphed. "Also, you spoke of the treasures you accumulated? Haven't you exchanged all of them into spirit stones to feed this lotus already?"
"How... did you know?"
A frightened voice echoed from within the lotus.
"How did I know? The dust around the lotus all came from crumbled spirit stones, it's not like I'm blind!"
Zhang Xuan shook his head.
In truth, it wasn't that the lotus was buried underground. Rather, it was placed with a huge stack of spirit stones. However, after the spiritual energy from those spirit stones were extracted, they became a layer of dust covering the lotus.
Zhang Xuan had once used a Spirit Gathering Formation to extract spiritual energy from spirit stones and a large quantity of similar waste product had appeared before. Thus, he was able to recognize it at first sight.
Furthermore, this dust was more translucent and paler than the low-tier spirit stones that he used for his training. Most probably, the spirit stones used were at least of middle-tier.
Judging from the size of the pile, that must be at least a mountain of ten thousand middle-tier spirit stones... Even for a 6-star soul oracle, that should be his entire wealth.
Having deduced all of this, how could Zhang Xuan possibly fall for the other party's lies?
The lotus trembled violently as though it had seen a ghost.
It seemed like in all of his clashes with the other party, he hadn't even won once.
The other party seemed to be omniscient, knowing every single thing about him.
"All of you, come over!"
Ignoring the tomb owner's frightened shivering, Zhang Xuan waved his hands and beckoned the rest of the group over.
Only then did the others rush forward.
Unable to stand the intrigue any longer, Zhao Feiwu asked, "Zhang shi... What is going on?"
Everyone also stared at Zhang Xuan with a look of bewilderment.
Everything had happened too abruptly. It was just a moment ago that the tomb owner was laughing gleefully at controlling everyone's life and death when, in the blink of an eye, he was dug out from the ground...
This bizarre turn of events had left everyone completely baffled.
"What's going on? I think you should be the one to explain..."
Zhang Xuan patted the black lotus in front of him.
The black lotus trembled slightly. At this moment, the voice seemed to have turned mute, unable to speak a single word at all.
It seemed like being found and pummeled by a Transcendent Mortal 1-dan weakling had left it so stifled that it didn't feel like talking at all.
"Do you think that you have a choice?"
Seeing that the other party was unwilling to cooperate, Zhang Xuan lifted his hand and a needle appeared between his fingertips. Then, with a swift movement, the needle impaled a leaf of the lotus.
A cry of agony immediately sounded within the lotus, and the voice hurriedly gave in, "You... I'll speak, I'll speak..."
The voice sounded much feebler than before. Clearly, the silver needle had struck its vitals, resulting in a tremendous fall in its strength.
"Let's hurry up and begin then!"
Plucking out the silver needle, Zhang Xuan infused zhenqi into the silver needle once more, causing it to gleam coldly. It seemed that if that fellow were to hesitate for even an instant, the needle would immediately impale the lotus's body.
Terrified by the threat, the lotus trembled and hurriedly spoke, "I am a 6-star soul oracle, and my cultivation has reached Transcendent Mortal 9-dan pinnacle... However, even until the very end, I failed to make the final step. Even though my soul still managed to live on, my physical body reached its limit!"
At Transcendent Mortal realm, one's longevity would be increased by twofold. However, that would only add up to two hundred years. Even those who were blessed with exceptionally long lifespans only managed to reach three hundred at maximum.
As long as one didn't surpass this realm, one's physical body would be restrained by that limit.
This was the way of the world.
Even though soul oracles could sustain themselves by possessing others, naturally, their own body was still the most compatible with their soul.
"It was then that I found this... Seven Hearts Underworld Lotus!"
The voice continued, "This item is the greatest treasure for us soul oracles. As long as it matures, it can be molded into a physical body, not to mention, the body would possess a unique constitution. With this, I might just be able to overcome the last hurdle and surpass the Transcendent Mortal realm! Thus, I began making preparations for my funeral and squandered all my wealth on building a tomb. This is all so that I can focus my efforts on nurturing this lotus."
"Un!" Everyone nodded their heads.
In truth, they had been a little intrigue by the existence of this tomb. Since soul oracles were able to possess the body of other cultivators, why would one waste their fortune and effort on building a tomb beneath a river?
From the looks of it now, it was all so that he could nurture this lotus without any disturbances.
After all, given how rare and valuable the lotus was, it would be disastrous if other soul oracles were to learn of it.
Thus, he chose to fake his death.
Even though soul oracles were able to achieve immortality via their soul, they were impeded by the Five Soul Declines so it wasn't entirely impossible for a soul oracle to die. Thus, the other soul oracles didn't suspect a thing when he buried himself in his tomb.
"But if that is the case, why haven't you succeeded yet?" Zhang Xuan asked.
Soul oracles had already been destroyed for dozens of millenniums already so this tomb surely had a longer history than that. Judging from such, the other party should have been done nurturing the lotus by now already. But if that was the case, why was he still in such a state now?
After all, if he had succeeded, he would have already molded the lotus into a new body for himself already. Why was he still stuck inside the lotus, unable to leave?
Hearing the question, the voice hesitated for a moment before replying, "After the tomb was built, I faked my death and began nurturing this lotus. I thought that, given my strength and experience, I'd be able to succeed swiftly. However... I never thought that... I would actually fail!"
"Fail?" Zhang Xuan was perplexed. "Since you went to the extent of faking your death, you must know the method to nurturing this lotus. How did you fail?"
That fellow had prepared for this matter over such a long time, converting all of his possession into spirit stones and burying himself underground, even going to the extent of finding a celestial designer to build the tomb and a 6-star craftsman to forge the coffin. With such thorough preparations, how did the other party fail?
"That's because... because..."
The tomb owner's voice trembled, as though recalling something fearsome.
"This... This isn't a Seven Hearts Underworld Lotus but a... Nine Hearts Lotus!"