Chapter 2104 Such is the Firmamen
A seemingly eternal existence which had been around since time immemorial. There were a few ancient gods who had stood at the very peak of the Firmament since anyone could remember, and their positions had been immovable.
A blood crimson setting sun accompanied with dagger-like winds that blew ferociously, a figure was walking slowly amidst a remote barren valley.
All of a sudden, he halted his footsteps for a brief moment before swiftly bolting behind a nearby boulder. Barely after he hid, a gray silhouette hopped out from not too far away.
It was a gray hare.
Licking his parched lips, the figure picked up a wooden stick from the ground and swung it downward. A sharp arc of energy shot forth from the end of the wooden stick before it diverging into a net of sword qi.
But just as it was a meter away from the hare, the net of sword qi abruptly dissipated into the air.
Seeing that his sword qi wasn’t strong enough to take down the hare, the figure unhesitatingly tossed the wooden stick toward the wild hare, as though a released arrow.
However, the hare was guarded this time around. With a powerful hop, it leaped six meters away in an instant, leaving the wooden stick impaled on the ground where it was standing a moment ago.
It turned around to look at the figure who had assaulted it with a mocking smile on its lips. Then, with a few hops, it disappeared from view.
What a pity…
The figure shook his head bitterly.
He was no other than Zhang Xuan.
As the World’s Teacher of the Master Teacher Continent and the most powerful man on the Azure, he was actually unable to catch even a single hare after arriving at the Firmament. Not only so, he was even mocked by the other party!
If others were to learn of this matter, he would really die of embarrassment!
As the situation would have it, this was indeed the current plight he was in.
It seems like we have no choice but to eat wild grass today as well…
Knowing that it would be hard for him to find another prey, Zhang Xuan shook his head helplessly. It had been half a month since he had arrived at the Firmament.
After passing through the spatial turbulence, he found himself standing in the valley. Unlike the last time when he ascended to the Azure, he didn’t lose consciousness this time around.
Nevertheless, it didn’t change the fact that he had taken massive damage from the journey. He had protected himself with the sword net formed via ‘A Heart of Intertwined Threads’, but the spatial turbulence was so powerful that he was still nearly torn to shreds.
If not for Luo Ruoxin’s crimson pendant activating at the critical moment to protect him, he really might have lost his life.
That being said, after he brought himself to a safe zone, he still lost consciousness for a short while due to the sheer severity of his injuries.
The valley could be said to be filled with the ill will of nature. A strong wind kept blowing on and on without stop, and every so often, a downpour so heavy that it could smash even Semi-Divinity realm cultivators to death would occur without warning.
And the worst of all? There was nearly no spiritual energy in the valley!
As a result, it took half a month of recuperation for Zhang Xuan to suppress his injuries, and it was still a long time off before he could make a full recovery.
Another thing that he noticed was that the Immortal Pills and the other treasures he had brought from the Azure weren’t too useful here, and even Little Chick’s bathwater wasn’t as effective anymore. This probably had something to do with the different atmosphere of the Firmament.
In any case, his heavy wounds prevented him from hunting, so he could only feed on wild grass. Fortunately, while the plants were awful to eat, they still harnessed a fixed amount of spiritual energy within them, supplying him with sufficient energy to fulfill his daily needs.
While he termed them as ‘wild grasses’ as they were indeed wild grasses and he couldn’t think of any term more appropriate to call them, if these wild grasses were to be brought back to the Azure, they would definitely be a cultivation resource that equaled top-notch medicinal herbs and Premier Immortal Pills in terms of value.
The difference between the two worlds was simply too massive. Just the hundredfold difference in the flow of time and stability in space was enough to highlight the differences between the two worlds.
Despite being the strongest man in the Azure, it was likely that he was no different from an ordinary human in the Firmament.
Such was the Firmament!
Not only am I unable to fly, I would get tired from walking too. In fact, I have started to feel hunger once more too!
Just recalling his experiences over the past half a month filled Zhang Xuan with fatigue.
Given the difficulties he had gone through to become a god, he thought that he would at least be on the level of a powerhouse here. Yet, in the blink of an eye, it felt like he had returned back to the starting point as an ordinary human…
Walking for too long exhausted him, failing to eat starved him, running too quickly made him breathless, and staying up for too long made him drowsy…
He hadn’t felt so weak before even when he was a trashy teacher back at Hongtian Academy!
It was then that it dawned upon him that it was likely that he was at the lowest cultivation realm in the Firmament. To put it bluntly, he might not even be a match for a rabbit in terms of raw strength!
Take that wild rabbit he met yesterday as an example, after they brawled for a long time, not only did that darned rabbit scratch his hand, it even managed to get away in the end!
It was the same for the rabbit he encountered earlier too.
All of a sudden, Zhang Xuan felt his stomach rumbling. It seemed like he had spent too much energy thinking that it made him even hungrier.
Forget it, I should continue looking around. Who knows, some fool of a rabbit might just run right into a tree and die. If so, I’ll be able to have a feast of a dinner!
Zhang Xuan licked his lips as he endured his fatigue and continued to trudged onward.
After circling around a hill, he caught sight of something that made his eyes light up.
“A fruit tree!”
There was a fruit tree growing diagonally out of a crack in the hill. There were eight greenish fruits sprouting from it.
They were roughly the size of a baby’s palm, and it didn’t seem like they were ripe yet. Nevertheless, for someone who had been feeding on wild grass all this while, it was like encountering an oasis in the middle of a desert.
Excited, he quickly plucked out of the fruits and smelled it.
It had a refreshingly sour scent. He felt the pores of his body opening in delight.
He quickly plucked out all of the fruits before bringing one to his mouth. However, before he could bite down on it, he changed his mind and placed the fruit down. Then, he gathered all of them together and wrapped them in a bag before making his way back.
Forget it, their cultivation realms are lower than mine, so it must be even harder for them.
He had already reached the level of the gods, but he still felt hungry swiftly after exerting himself a little. It felt like he was pushing the limits of his body every day.
If that was the case for him, it was indubitably worse for Zhao Ya and the others, who were only at Semi-Divinity realm.
Having only eaten grass over the past few days, they were becoming as skinny as beansprouts. It wasn’t easy for him to find fruits filled with spiritual energy, so naturally, he had to reserve them for them.
Furious winds and sparse spiritual energy, I feel like I might have entered the wrong world…
Zhang Xuan shook his head as he made his way back.
He thought that the Firmament would be a place suffused with the Aura of Divinity, such that anyone could absorb it freely and make breakthroughs swiftly. He thought that he and his disciples would be able to swiftly rise to the top and become indomitable existences.
But reality came smacking down hard on him.
Even survival was an issue for him right now. It felt like they would all die from starvation before they could even become indomitable existences.
It was on the seventh day after reaching the Firmament did he manage to heal up his injured body sufficiently to get Little Chick to let the others out.
Barely after everyone was released, the folded space they were in previously finally caved in and collapsed under the pressure of the world. At the same time, all of the items they had stored within were reduced to dust.
Seven consecutive days of starvation would have not been anything much for them on the Azure, but here on the Firmament, it was enough to push them to the brink of death.
They had to gobble down quite a few bowls of vegetable salad without the dressing before they were able to recover.
As for Little Chick, it was hard to tell whether it hadn’t fully recovered from its injuries or it simply hadn’t adapted to the Firmament’s environment yet, but it continued to lie asleep in his dantian, showing no signs of waking up to date.
Zhang Xuan was initially hoping to use Little Chick as a bait to lure some wild beasts over so that he could hunt them down and fulfill his meat cravings, but from the looks of it, it didn’t seem like he could count on it anymore.
While pondering upon such miscellaneous matters, Zhang Xuan soon arrived back to the cavern which he had used as their temporary living quarters.
Teacher!” Zhao Ya swiftly walked up and greeted him. “Quick, come and take a rest. You are still injured so you should take care of yourself better.”
As she spoke, she helped carry some of the supplies Zhang Xuan had brought back and placed them down neatly by one corner.
You should allow us to head out and gather food with you. We aren’t injured, and we can share some of your burdens…”
They had been hiding inside Little Chick’s stomach while Zhang Xuan was pushing his way through the spatial turbulence, so they didn’t sustain any injuries.
The incredible pressure from the Firmament left them feeling as weak as little children, but foraging for fruits and grass or finding a way to lynch a weak beast should still be within their means.
“That won’t do,” Zhang Xuan shook his head vehemently. “The valley out there is filled with divine beasts. Even the slightest mistake can easily cost your life! You should stay put for the time being and find a way to reach the same level as me first!”
“But…” Zhao Ya protested anxiously.
They didn’t think that it would end up like this.
They had followed their teacher to the Firmament in hopes that they would be able to share his burdens, but they ended up becoming his baggage instead.
“Are you not going to listen to me anymore?” Zhang Xuan frowned in displeasure.
“I dare not to…” Zhao Ya replied with a lowered head.
“Alright, let’s not talk about this matter anymore. Take a look at what I have brought you this time around,” Zhang Xuan smiled as he took out the fruits he was carrying close to him all this while.
In an instant, the refreshing fragrance of fruits filled the cavern.
“Are those… fruits?” Yuan Tao and Sun Qiang’s eyes lit up as saliva dripped from the edges of their lips.
They had been eating wild grass over the last few days that they had already long gotten sick of it. As such, the appearance of these fruits was like a rain after a drought.
“Dig in!” Zhang Xuan said with a chuckle. “However, there aren’t too many of them so make sure to share them. I’ll be heading out later on to see if there are more around. Sun Qiang, I’ll be leaving you to distribute the fruits. Make sure everyone gets a share.”
“Yes, Young Master!” Sun Qiang replied as he walked forward to grab the fruits.
Aside from Zhang Xuan, there were fourteen people present in the room at the moment—his eleven direct disciples, Sun Qiang, and the Xingmeng Sword Saints.
“There are eight fruits in total. Young Master, you’ll take one while the rest of us will get half each,” Sun Qiang swiftly worked out the math and said.
“I just ate one outside, so you can share the rest amongst yourselves,” Zhang Xuan said with a wave of his hand. “Right, make sure to leave a portion for Little Chick too. Even though it’s sleeping at the moment, it’ll definitely complain if we didn’t reserve a portion for it once it wakes up.”
Sun Qiang swiftly distributed the fruits accordingly.
While the fruits tasted unripened, the spiritual energy they harnessed was far more than that in the wild grasses. As soon as they bit into it, they felt the fatigue they had accumulated over the day vanishing in an instant. It was as if someone had injected their bodies with energy and vitality.
Zhang Xuan looked at the smiles on everyone’s faces from the entrance of the cavern and nodded in relief.
At this moment, Wang Ying suddenly walked over and said, “Teacher, you can my half instead…”
“There’s no need for that, I had one earlier myself. Eat it and raise your cultivation as quickly as possible. You’ll be able to help me once you reach the level of the gods too…” Zhang Xuan said with a wave of his hand.
Halfway through his words, his eyebrows suddenly shot up. With a grim expression on his face, he told Wang Ying, “Tell everyone to stay here quietly. Unless I call for you, don’t come out no matter what happens!”
Right after saying those words, he immediately dashed out of the cavern, disappearing amidst the valley in a few moments.
After Zhang Xuan departed, Wang Ying quickly adjusted the vines hanging outside the cavern so as to conceal it from view. Then, she turned around and looked at the crowd within the cavern with her eyes slightly reddened.
Noticing that something was amiss, Zhao Ya quickly walked over and asked worriedly, “What’s wrong?”
“It’s nothing,” Wang Ying quickly lowered her head and replied. “Teacher told us to be careful and don’t head out no matter what happens. I think he went out to find food again.”
Staring at the half a fruit in her hands, Wang Ying found her eyes tearing up uncontrollably. So, with her head still lowered, she quickly walked over to a corner of the cavern.
Others might not have noticed anything at all, but through her keen observation, she could tell that her teacher hadn’t taken a single bite of these fruits.
Due to the peculiar environment of the Firmament, her teacher often returned back to the cavern exhausted by the end of the day, but even so, he always reserved the most delicious food for them. Despite being the one who worked the hardest, he was also the one who starved more than any of them.
Just thinking about left her heart aching deeply.
There was no decision she had made better in her life than to walk into the classroom back then and acknowledge Zhang Xuan as her teacher!
Even with tears flowing down her cheeks, she felt that life in the Firmament wasn’t that bitter after all, It was tinged with a little bit of sweetness too.