Library of Heaven is Path
1946 Zhang Xuan Takes the Examination
Coming to realize what was going on, Dan Xiaotian sighed deeply in lamentation.
It seems like I have only managed to learn my teacher's sword art, but I haven't grasped the fundamental Sword Intent and the like yet…
He had thought that with his ten years of hard work, it would not be too difficult for him to become a menial disciple in the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion. However, it seemed like he had overestimated his own capabilities.
He was a long way off from reaching the mark!
It was no wonder Xue Qin, despite not lacking resources and being under the guidance of Xue Chen, had barely made it as a menial disciple. Considering how he had practiced swordsmanship alone and could not even use zhenqi back then…
Most likely, the 0.33 meters was also the result of his training ever since he came under his teacher. If it had been before then, it was likely that he would not have scored anything at all.
I have only learned the movements behind teacher's sword art, not the theories behind it, but I'm already able to bring the Sword Intent this far. If I understand the full conceptualization behind it, I wonder how powerful I'll be able to become, Dan Xiaotian thought.
The current Dan Xiaotian was reminiscent of a child who had learned how to solve mathematical problems through rote learning. He could derive the answer, but when asked why he had used a specific model or the details behind his solution… well, his face would turn completely blank.
A person could be well-versed with Ode to Gallantry, reciting it so soulfully that it evoked the emotions of others. However, that did not necessarily mean that they had become a poet like Li Bai, capable of coming up with verses that transcended time.
Despite being in such a position, Dan Xiaotian's Sword Intent was able to reach 499 meters. If he had mastered the true wisdom of his teacher, he had no doubt that he would have been able to achieve way more than that.
Speaking of which, did this not mean that his teacher had already far surpassed the five hundred meters mark, reaching a level that far exceeded those from the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion?
I should quickly swap with my teacher so that he can give it a try too! Dan Xiaotian thought in agitation as he rushed out of the room.
Even the swordsmanship that he had learned for a day or two was so formidable. He had no doubt that his teacher would be able to set a new record!
Upon seeing Dan Xiaotian, Elder Lu Yun anxiously asked, "How is it? Did you exceed thirty meters?"
While he was confident that Dan Xiaotian would meet the prerequisite, his heart could not help but tremble in trepidation till he finally received the answer.
"I did…" Dan Xiaotian nodded with a reddened face.
In truth, his own comprehension of swordsmanship only produced a manifestation of 0.33 meters, but if he admitted that, he would be driven out immediately. Thus, after much contemplation, he had decided to go along with it for the time being.
He would just have to work a lot harder to make up for his weakness in the future!
Elder Lu first heaved a sigh of relief after hearing that Dan Xiaotian had cleared the examination before enquiring for further details. "How long was the manifestation of your Sword Intent?"
He had witnessed Dan Xiaotian's swordsmanship the other day. It was an incredible work of art, such that even the First Senior of the outer disciples, Huo Jianghe, was no match for it!
That in itself should be enough to put Dan Xiaotian among the top few inner disciples.
"Well… This is my result!" Dan Xiaotian replied as he passed a jade token over.
He had recorded the results reflected on the wall when they appeared earlier.
Seeing that Dan Xiaotian was so embarrassed as to present him with the jade token instead of saying out loud, Elder Lu Yun instinctively assumed that Dan Xiaotian's results would be horrible. "You need not be too concerned about your current results. You are still young, and as long as you are able to join the ranks of the inner disciples, there's no doubt that you'll be able to improve swiftly in the future…"
But before he could finish his words, he caught sight of what was written on the jade token, and his eyes nearly bulged out. "4-499 meters?"
"Un!" Dan Xiaotian nodded with a crimson face. It sure was embarrassing to lie so blatantly.
Elder Lu Yun alternated between Dan Xiaotian's embarrassed expression and the jade token in his hand, and he clutched his hair in frenzy.
Is there something wrong with you?
Your embarrassed look made me think that you have barely reached thirty meters or so… but the hell, your score is actually 499 meters!
Do you know how many freaking core disciples would love to achieve the same result as you but are unable to do so?
You are already on the verge of becoming a Sword God, do you know that?
Despite being so powerful, your face still reddened in embarrassment at your score… What am I then? A walking manifestation of humiliation?
Elder Lu Yun felt as if his dignity had been hung upside down and hammered back and forth.
He had seen plenty of disciples who were upset by their poor results, but this was the very first time that he had seen someone with such a good result putting on such an expression.
The scenario was felt just like how, on the day the examination results were released, you spotted a student who started bawling nonstop, so you went over to console him. After much consolation, the student finally revealed the true reason behind his sadness.
In an examination of a hundred marks, he has only scored ninety-nine.
But you, who went over to console him, only scored nine.
Elder Lu Yun had never desired to simply vanish from the spot as much as he did at that instant.
He took two huge breaths before asking, "Are you feeling… embarrassed by your results?"
"Yes… It's simply too awkward…" Dan Xiaotian covered his face shyly.
Elder Lu Yun's heart began thumping so wildly from rage that he had to strike his chest heavily again and again in order to calm himself down. Not wanting to talk to this fellow anymore, he took another deep breath before turning to Zhang Xuan and asking, "Do you want to head in to give it a try as well?"
He was afraid that he would start getting violent if he continued talking to Dan Xiaotian.
"This… Alright then!" Zhang Xuan nodded as he made his way in.
Along the way, he could not help but think, While this student of mine hasn't learned much of my swordsmanship, he did learn my humility and low-profile attitude well. Not bad.
It seemed like he was a talent that could be molded.
Closing the doors, Zhang Xuan walked up to the Sword God Pedestal.
"Hm? Why is there no sword here?"
Zhang Xuan took a look around, but the room was utterly empty. There was no sword to be seen at all. According to what Elder Lu Yun had said, there should have been a sword there.
Could it be that the swordsmanship evaluation did not require a sword? That did not sound quite right. Then again, Dan Xiaotian had been there earlier, which meant that it should be possible to do it without a sword.
"But still, to be able to produce a manifestation of 499 meters without a sword, I might have been underestimating Dan Xiaotian's talent…"
Perhaps the Sword God Pedestal did not provide swords to use. Thinking back, most of the disciples whom he had seen outside were carrying swords on their backs. Without a doubt, it would be a huge handicap without a sword in hand…
To achieve a result of nearly a li despite that, his student really did not let him down.
Since his student was able to do it without a sword, as his teacher, he should at least be able to do the same!
Thus, Zhang Xuan took a deep breath before releasing all of his Sword Intent at once.
The Sword Quintessences that he had learned back on the Master Teacher Continent revolved in his mind as he raised his finger slightly.
A cluster of incredibly condensed sword qi began gathering on his fingertip.
Along with the accumulation of his sword qi, a white mist burst forth from the pedestal and swiftly gathering around Zhang Xuan. But instead of shooting forth, the white mist fused together with Zhang Xuan's sword qi.
It was as if the white mist had submitted to Zhang Xuan's Sword Intent and dared not take a step further without his instructions.
Seeing this sight, Zhang Xuan's lips twitched.
What the heck was going on?
If this was the case, did it not mean that his manifestation of Sword Intent was not even a single meter long?
Surely he was not inferior to his own direct disciple, right?
If that was really the case, it would really be a huge embarrassment.
"This is unacceptable. I need to gather more Sword Intent and surpass my limits!"
Zhang Xuan recounted the swordsmanship that he had learned back at the Sword Lagoon, the Zhang Clan, and the conceptualization that he had felt when he first entered the clan earlier…
Those Sword Quintessences revolved around his mind, and an indomitable aura burst forth from his body. In an instant, it felt like he had become a massive sword that could hack the world in two.
As his Sword Intent heightened to its limits, the amount of white mist gathering in the room was growing at a terrifying rate. In the blink of an eye, it was as if the room had become the scene of a disastrous fire. With the sheer concentration of Sword Intent there, the thick white mist was starting to condense into fluid.
"Is it still less than one meter? Impossible!"
Zhang Xuan had already gone to such an extent, but when he looked in front, the manifestation of his Sword Intent was still less than one meter!
How was that possible?
His lips twitched, and he nearly fainted on the spot.
It could not be that despite his formidable swordsmanship, he was still not on par with a menial disciple, right?
But if that was the case, how could Dan Xiaotian reach 499 meters with that third-tier swordsmanship of his?
"I don't believe it! Sword Intent of the world, come under my command!" Zhang Xuan roared deeply as his zhenqi and soul morphed into the form of a sword. He absorbed the lingering Sword Intent in the air and focused them on the accumulation of sword qi on his fingertip.
If his disciple could achieve so much without a sword in hand, he would be embarrassed to death if he could not even do the same!
No matter what, he could not lose!
This was for his reputation and dignity as Dan Xiaotian's teacher!
A young man was standing amid the crowd in the Sword God Hall with a sword on his back.
As soon as he stepped into the lobby, there was not a single person who dared approach him. It was as if he had a natural disposition that pushed the crowd away from him.
Crisp laughter echoed in the air, and the crowd dispersed once more, opening up a path for another young man to walk through.
"Junior Ye Lian, are you here to evaluate your swordsmanship again? Are you interested in competing with me?"
This young man had a powerful-looking silhouette. Due to his height that towered over the others in the room, he stood like a crane standing in the midst of a pack of chickens.
"Senior He Yan, if you wish to compete with me, I'm more than happy to accompany you," the young man known as Ye Lian replied calmly.
"Please!" He Yan gestured toward the rooms with a bright smile before taking the first step forward.
Ye Lian gracefully followed him and entered the room adjacent to He Yan's.
There was a partition between the rooms, but as there was no wall at the front, they were still able to see the manifestation of Sword Intent of those in the nearby rooms, allowing them to make comparisons.
Seeing the disposition of the two, a newly-arrived inner disciple asked those around him, "Are they the famed Senior Ye and Senior He of the core disciples?"
"Yes, that's them. I heard that they have been trying to achieve the level of Sword God, and they have been competing with one another for the past five years to see who can reach that level first!" one of the more knowledgeable disciples in the area replied with a nod.
Ye Lian and He Yan were a few of the more well-known core disciples due to their unique dispositions and formidable swordsmanship. Due to their similar proficiency in swordsmanship, the two of them had been competing with one another for many years, especially in recent years when they were only a few steps away from reaching Sword God.
That had brought them into the focus of all of the disciples in the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion. Everyone was interested to see who would reach that illustrious height first.
"Senior He, why don't you go first?" Ye Lian said quietly as he stepped onto the pedestal and drew the sword.
One had to use the sword on the Sword God Pedestal for the test in order for the results to be reflected. The reason most disciples chose to carry their swords on their back was to better channel their Sword Intent through the use of a familiar medium and achieve a higher level of Sword-Man Union.
"Let's begin together!"
From the adjacent room, He Yan chuckled heartily as he grabbed the sword from the pedestal and channeled his Sword Intent into it.
An endless stream of Sword Intent gushed out from his acupoints and flowed through the sword in his hand.
The manifestation of his Sword Intent shot out of the room, covering dozens of meters in an instant.
Seeing He Yan's manifestation of Sword Intent, Ye Lian also began the test, and his manifestation of Sword Intent swiftly shot forth and caught up with He Yan's. From afar, it looked like two divine beings were racing alongside one another.
Seeing that Ye Lian was on the verge of catching up with him, He Yan chuckled softly. "Your speed isn't too bad, Junior! You've clearly been working hard these past six months!"
"Senior, you clearly haven't been slacking either. The speed of manifestation is much faster than before," Ye Lian remarked calmly.
"I guess we are about equal then. Fine, let's see who will reach five hundred meters and become a Sword God first!"
With a roar, He Yan released all of his Sword Intent at once, causing his manifestation to charge forth with incredible momentum. However, before it could get far, the manifestation of his Sword Intent suddenly halted. It shuddered intensely as if it was standing before a superior being, similar to how a serpent would grovel before a divine dragon.
No matter how He Yan exerted himself, the manifestation of his Sword Intent simply would not go any further.
Narrowing his eyes, he glanced He Yan's way and saw that the same situation was happening to He Yan. His Sword Intent manifestation was shuddering nonstop, and it would not inch forward at all.
"What's going on here?" He Yan was taken aback.
But at that moment, the manifestations of their Sword Intent suddenly shattered with a resounding buzz.
Fresh blood spurted from their mouths as they collapsed to the ground.Ode to Gallantry is a famous poem by Li Bai.