It took a very long time before Elder Mo finally managed to eliminate the cactus fully from his head. The two 9-star spirit awakeners stared at the many sculptures not too far away, and apprehension and fear inconspicuously flickered across their eyes.
They had complete confidence in their spirit enchantment ability, but they had never met with something as bizarre as this before. There were many different spirit enchantment techniques in the world, so there were significant variations to the spirits that each spirit awakeners could create. Each of these variations had their own strengths and flaws, but when it came to the spirits in the sculptures before them… it was hard for even them to believe it, but it seemed like the spirits were completely flawless!
No matter what kind of means they used against the spirit, the spirit would be able to put up its guard against it and even retaliate!
It was to the point where they almost felt utterly helpless before it.
“Is there any other way to resolve this issue?” After waiting for almost an hour but having none of the spirits of the sculptures destroyed, Zhang Wuchen couldn’t sit still anymore.
“This…” Hearing those words, Elder Wu’s face immediately flushed red in embarrassment. He awkwardly turned to Zhang Wuchen and clasped his fist, “Third Elder, I’m afraid that the both of us aren’t skilled enough to resolve this situation. Pardon me if I may ask, but in which master spirit awakener’s hands were these sculptures enchanted?”
“They were enchanted by… a sword practitioner from the Sanctum of Sages, Zhang Xuan!” Zhang Wuchen replied awkwardly.
“Zhang Xuan?” Elder Wu and Elder Mo traded glances, and they could see the confusion in each other’s eyes.
They did know a thing or two about the few extraordinarily talented spirit awakeners in the world, but never had they heard of this name before!
Furthermore… a sword practitioner? What the heck was that?
“His spirit enchantment differs vastly from the style that we have learned, so I’m afraid that there’s very little that we can do to help. If I may suggest, Third Elder, why don’t you look for the person in question? Most likely, he’s the only one who will be able to stop all of these sculptures.” Elder Wu hesitated for a moment before saying.
Considering how even 9-star spirit awakeners like them were helpless before these sculptures, most likely, only the person in question would have the capability to stop the sculptures.
Hearing those words, the Third Elder couldn’t help but rub his glabella.
To think that the lofty Zhang Clan would be unable to resolve the problem bought about by a young lad! If it were to be made known to outsiders that they had to plead with the other party to resolve the situation, it would surely impair the Zhang Clan’s reputation.
But from the current look of things, they would only be in a worse position if they were to allow the sculptures to continue messing around.
“Wuzhen, lead the way…” Sighing deeply in resignation, Zhang Wuchen waved his hand and said.
Knowing how serious the mater was, Elder Wu hurriedly led the way forward.
The Third Elder quickly followed too, and after a moment of hesitation, Elder Wu and Elder Mo decided to follow too.
They were interested to see the man who was able to enchant a spirit so powerful that even was able to render them completely helpless against it.
“Zhang shi and Jian Qinsheng have come here to challenge the Zhang Clan’s swordsmanship, so they are staying in the competitors’ residences.” Elder Wuzhen explained while making his way over.
There were countless visitors who would come to the Zhang Clan every single day. Some came to challenge the Zhang Clan whereas others came to pay a visit… In order to better differentiate between the types of visitors, the locations of their accommodations were divided by the intentions behind their visit.
Considering how Jian Qinsheng had a private grudge with their clan head, it went without saying that the place he resided in was the challengers’ accommodation.
There were also many other experts living in those accommodations, and their field of specialties ranged from swordsmanship, spearmanship, and saber arts to fist arts, palm arts, so on and so forth… You name it, there they would be.
Of course, there were also plenty of occupational experts too.
“Quick, let’s go over and take a look. Someone is challenging Zhang Ziqing!”
“Zhang Ziqing? You mean the talented young lady who’s renowned as the number one genius painter in the Zhang Clan?”
“Indeed! She started learning painting when she was just three; by seven, she has reached Infused Intentions, Breathtaking Verisimilitude by nine, Spirit Wisdom by twelve, Suspended Imagery by fifteen, and while she’s only eighteen this year, and she’s already capable of painting at the level of Evocative Vividness! Even the head of the Painting Guild is filled with praises for her! He views her as the number one genius in painting in the past several thousand years… Not only so, there are hardly any peers who could compete with her in zither and chess either. Just who could be so blind as to challenge her?”
“I’m not too sure either, but it seems to be a guest named… Zhang Xuan. From what I heard, that fellow saw that there were several people vying for her paintings, so he walked up to take a closer look. It seemed like he said some awful sounding words that caused Zhang Ziqing’s rage to flurry, thus eventually leading to the challenge!”
“Awful sounding words?”
“I’m not too sure about it either, but that fellow seemed to have said that her foundations in painting were pathetic, and he even offered to teach her. Given that Zhang Ziqing is the number one genius of the Painter Guild, one of the famed prodigies of the Zhang Clan, it’s only natural that she would be enraged by those words…”
As Zhang Wuchen headed forward, he could hear the surrounding crowd discussing heatedly.
“Let’s head over to take a look…”
They had come here to find Zhang Xuan, but who could have thought that the young man would get himself embroiled in another mess before the matter regarding the sculptures could even be settled yet?
Following the footsteps of the crowd, they soon found Zhang Xuan standing in the midst of a square. Jian Qinsheng was standing by the side with his hand on his forehead, revealing a look of distress. The other star of the show, Zhang Ziqing, was glaring at Zhang Xuan with a face reddened in fury, and her body was trembling non-stop.
“You wish to compete with me in the field of drawing?” Zhang Xuan’s eyebrows shot up nonchalantly as he asked. “What are the stakes? If there are no stakes, I have no interest in wasting my time with a nameless nobody.”
He had heard that there were many people vying for the work for this young lady, so he came here in hopes of seeing a work that could astound him. However, after taking a closer look, he couldn’t help but shake his head in disappointment.
It was indeed amazing that the young lady of her age was able to draw out a Evocative Vividness painting, but at the same time, it was precisely due to her young age and lack of experience that caused her conceptualization to be extremely immature, resulting in her expression of emotions being rather forced and awkward even.
In a way, this was similar to how most beautiful poems from his previous world that were able to last through the ages were those that were crafted from the poet’s own experiences and emotions. Only through personal experience would one really be able to create a work so vivid that others would be able to image and conceptualize, granting it great meaning and thus longevity through the ages. On the other hand, those who drew solely through imagination would risk their feelings and imagery being underdeveloped, and as a result, it was inevitable that their conceptualization would be slightly lacking,
Had it been anyone else, given Zhang Xuan’s low profile personality, he wouldn’t even have bothered to waste his words. It was in view that the other party was a genius of the Zhang Clan that he couldn’t resist giving a few feedbacks.
But who could have thought that the other party would suddenly rage at him like that?
“You…” Zhang Ziqing stared at Zhang Xuan so intensely that it almost felt like her eyes could kill.
The young man before her was simply too maddening. It was one thing for him to say that her painting was a complete nonsense, but to claim that she was a nameless nobody on top of that… Know that I, Zhang Ziqing, am a famous figure even in the Painter Guild! I’m a person whom no one in the upper society didn’t know of… Just who do you think you Zhang Xuan are?
To declare that you wouldn’t compete with me without anything on the stake… Are you even qualified to be saying such words?
“Fine, I’ll place a stake! This picture is known as the “Winter Snow Treading Portrait”. This is a masterpiece I have drawn last year in winter. As long as you can triumph over me, I can give it to you for free!” As angry as Zhang Ziqing was, she could tell that the young man might really walk away if she were to refuse to make a bet.
Thus, she flicked her wrist, and a scroll appeared in her hands.
Unrolling it freely, a world of drifting snow and utmost coldness materialized before her eyes. It felt as if one would sink into that endless world of chill with just a single look.
Seeing her taking out that painting, the crowd released shock exclamations before looks of envy appeared of their faces.
“For Ziqing to be provoked into taking out that painting, it seems like she’s really angry this time around!” Zhang Wuchen remarked while stroking his beard.
“Indeed. That is the single painting that Ziqing fancies the most, and she has always regarded it as her prized possession. There was once a master of the Painter Guild offered fifty pinnacle spirit stones for it, but even so, she still refused to sell it!” Elder Wuzhen nodded.
The painting was the work Zhang Ziqing produced under her best state, and it was unknown when she would be able to create a masterpiece of this caliber once more. As such, she treasured this painting as if it was her child, and even the elders of the Zhang Clan didn’t get too many chances to see it. Yet, to think that she would take it out as a stake for this challenge… It seemed like she was really provoked this time around.
“You sure as a stingy fellow!” On the other hand, Zhang Xuan was still wondering what Zhang Ziqing would put on the line when he saw that it was only a painting, and he couldn’t help but shake his head in disappointment. “Don’t you think it’s embarrassing for a genius of the Zhang Clan like you to try to hoodwink me with such an inferior painting? Let’s just do this instead. If you were to lose to you, you have to give me one pinnacle spirit stone!”
“One pinnacle spirit stone?” Those words made Zhang Ziqing subconsciously clench her fists tightly together. Spitting through gritted teeth, she asked, “Are you certain?”
“Un.” Zhang Xuan nodded nonchalantly.
To him, the possession of the greatest value was spirit stones. As for a mere painting… he could always draw it out himself whenever he wanted it, so it held little value to him.