Library of Heaven is Path
1294 A Royal Harem of 3000
The entire world shook intensely before Zhang Xuan's eyes. As Teleportation Formations worked by warping spatial laws, he knew that if he could decipher the structure of the Teleportation Formation, it would help him greatly in further comprehending the Heavenly Art of Dimension Unravel. Thus, as soon as he entered the Teleportation Formation, he immediately activated his Eye of Insight, hoping to get a rough understanding of how it worked.
A myriad of colors shimmered in the surroundings, creating a beautiful artwork. Many lines seemed to stream past him, creating a feeling as if he was flying at an extremely fast speed.
It's a little similar to the deciphers of the Saint Ascension Decipher… Zhang Xuan thought.
Under the discerning gaze of his Eye of Insight, he actually found that the Teleportation Formation had a structure that was deeply reminiscent of the Saint Ascension Decipher. On the fundamental level, it contained of lines, ranging from one to nine of them, tightly knitted to form a unit, creating what one would perceive as length, breadth, and height, or in other words, space.
An abrupt jolt left Zhang Xuan staggering, and the gleaming lights before him vanished. When he finally scanned his surroundings once more, he realized that he was already standing in the midst of a relatively small mountain valley.
Dense trees filled the area, and a small stream trickled down from the heights of a mountain. It knocked on the various rocks that stood in its path, creating a crisp yet tranquil melody.
Taking a look at his sides, Zhang Xuan found that he was completely surrounded by lush trees. It was a little similar to the sight he saw when he first took off his blindfold in the Sword Lagoon. However, the swiftly rising altitude of the land around him, as well as the mountain on the horizon, were clear indications that he was in the midst of a valley.
I should start with hunting down saint beasts to earn some points first. Knowing that time was precious in the examination, Zhang Xuan didn't hesitate to flit up the valley.
He wasn't too sure how the score calculation for other aspects worked, but at the very least, it was definite that he would earn points from hunting down saint beasts. Since that was the case, it would be best for him to hunt down as many of them as possible first just to be safe.
This kind of reminded him of the entrance examination of Hongyuan Master Teacher Academy as well. Back then, he tamed over several hundred spirit beasts and obtained a score far exceeding that of other candidates.
But again, in terms of beast taming and dealing with saint beasts... while he did have confidence in his skills, it was hard to fathom what those geniuses from the Beast Tamer Guild were capable of. After all, they had devoted their life to studying beast taming, so they were bound to be good at what they did. It would be hard for him to compete against them, especially since he had barely spent a few days learning beast taming in total.
Flitting swiftly ahead, many plants flashed across Zhang Xuan's peripheral vision.
Perhaps it was due to the superior concentration of spiritual energy in the area, there was a large variety of plants in the area. Even Zhang Xuan found that he couldn't name most of them.
On the journey to the Sanctum of Sages, other than cultivating, Zhang Xuan had spent most of his time studying in the Library of Heaven's Path, and he had managed to go through most of the books he had collected.
In terms of scope of knowledge, it was possible that even 9-star master teachers were no match against him. From such a perspective, it was indeed peculiar that there were actually so many plants that he was unable to name. Perhaps, it might be because most of them were native to the folded space, so they weren't recorded in any books.
Hm? Something is not right…
As Zhang Xuan continued examining the area around him as he flitted forward, a realization suddenly dawned on him, and a deep crease appeared on his forehead.
Judging from the area of his Spiritual Perception and his length of the flight, even if saint beasts were really rare in the folded space, he should have at least encountered a couple of ordinary lifeforms by now. But up to this point, other than plants, there was nothing around him at all. This was really baffling.
Could I have been teleported into some kind of formation? Zhang Xuan immediately halted his flight and examined his surroundings closely with his Eye of Insight.
It took a moment of concentration, but he eventually noticed that something was indeed amiss.
It's an Illusory Formation. Zhang Xuan noted.
He quickly advanced toward a certain point and stomped his feet lightly.
The huge congregation of plants all around him withered immediately. The melodious sound of flowing water knocking on rocks continued sounding in his ears, but the world before Zhang Xuan changed greatly.
He found that he was no longer in a mountain valley but before a straw house located in the midst of a lush mountain. There was a feeling of serenity drifting in the air, soothing one's tense nerves.
However, knowing that he was still in the midst of the Mountain Gate examination, Zhang Xuan didn't allow such an atmosphere to affect him. Keeping his guard up, he swiftly assessed his surroundings before walking warily toward the straw cottage.
Tz la, tz la!
Before he could reach the straw cottage, a slightly screechy, metallic sound suddenly echoed in the air. Circumventing the straw cottage, he saw an old man squatting by a stream, grinding a certain object in his hand relentlessly.
Taking a closer look, Zhang Xuan realized that it was a thick and long metal bar.
Perhaps under the relentless effort of the old man, the top portion of the bar had been ground thin, and the tip was as fine as a needle.
Whittling a metal bar into a needle? Taken aback by the sight before him, Zhang Xuan asked with a slight hint of bewilderment in his voice.
He wouldn't be surprised if he were to meet with an assault from a pack of saint beasts, trapped within a formidable formation, encountering an army of soldiers, or anything else. But to see someone whittling a metal bar into a needle in the Mountain Gate examination... what was this supposed to mean?
"Do you know what I'm doing?" At this moment, a faint but clear voice sounded in the air.
The old man seemed to have noticed Zhang Xuan's presence, and without stopping his action, he asked with a questioning edge in his tone.
"Are you whittling a needle?" Zhang Xuan replied.
"Oh?" The old man seemed to be a little surprised by how Zhang Xuan was able to get it at the first try. "You can tell that I'm whittling a needle?"
Considering how thick and long the metal bar was, most cultivators would probably guess that he was attempting to whittle out some kind of weapon. That would be the logical answer, after all.
"You are trying to use this as an analogy to tell me that as long as one has perseverance and is willing to put in hard work, there's nothing in the world that's too difficult to accomplish. As the saying goes, 'With diligence and perseverance, a metal bar can be whittled down to a needle.'" Zhang Xuan replied.
"This…" The old man blinked his eyes.
He was born with unimpressive talents, and in his earlier years, he thought that he would never be able to catch up with the others. But one day, while he was out, he saw his teacher grinding down a metal bar bit by bit. When he asked what his teacher was doing, the latter said that he was trying to whittle out an embroidery needle and quoted those exact same words.
It was as if a ray of light had parted the darkness he had been in, showing him a clear path forward. It was with that very mindset that he charged forward fearlessly, eventually reaching his current height.
The reason why he was enacting the same action was in hope that the later generations could gain the same enlightenment that he did... But this fellow actually saw through his motive with a single look, causing all of those words of wisdom that he had scripted before to clutter up in his chest, suffocating him.
"Whittling a metal bar down to a needle…" Suppressing the stifling sensation in his heart, the old man was just about to speak when he saw the young man before him shake his head, sighing deeply, "The intentions behind the saying may be good, but in my view, it's simply wasted effort!"
"Why would you say so?" Frowning, the old man looked at Zhang Xuan and asked.
These were the very same words which had inspired him back then. Why would they be wasted effort?
"Simple. If I'm not mistaken, you are not a real person but a Soul Imprint. The metal bar which you are whittling down is Starspirit Metal, which is even more valuable than Black Goldcrystal Ores due to the incredible resilience it boasts. On the other hand, the chisel you are using to grind it down is made of ordinary Risegreen Rock, which can be easily picked right off the streets... Due to the overwhelming difference in the tier of the tool you are using and the metal bar you are trying to whittle down, what you are doing is really not any different from using a cotton swab to grind down a metal bar. Given so, do you think that you will succeed?" Zhang Xuan asked.
Through his Eye of Insight, he could tell that the old man wasn't a real person but a Soul Imprint.
The metal bar in his hand was the extremely rare Starspirit Metal, boasting incomparable hardness. It would be difficult for even an 8-star blacksmith to melt it down. Yet, to use an ordinary stone chisel to whittle it down to a needle... Surely this was a joke?
"Even if perseverance and diligence don't fail those who embrace them, at this rate, whatever returns you will receive from your efforts will only be minimal... Furthermore, as a Soul Imprint, your time is severely limited as well. If my memory fails me not, Soul Imprints can only survive for a limited time in the external world." Zhang Xuan continued.
He had met quite a few Soul Imprints so far, and he had some understanding of how they worked as well. In a dormant state, they would still be able to survive for a long period of time. However, once they gain consciousness, they wouldn't be able to sustain themselves for too long.
Ancient Sage Qiu Wu and the Old Sword Maestro were such examples. Despite the incredible strength they wielded while they were still alive, the Soul Imprint that they left behind still didn't last for too long before dissipating.
"This…" Hearing Zhang Xuan's logical analysis, the old man sighed helplessly before putting down the metal bar in his hand. "You really are a sharp-witted and discerning person. I didn't think that you would be able to see through so much within such a short period of time."
While part of the reason why the old man was whittling the metal bar here was to motivate the later generations, more than that, it also served as an assessment to them as well.
For the young man to see through his motive with a single look and even tell that he was just a Soul Imprint, the young man was truly a keen person.
In response to the praise, Zhang Xuan shook his head and said, "It really isn't too difficult to see through this much."
Even though he wasn't an academic in his previous life, he had at least heard of the story of whittling a metal bar down to a needle. Perhaps to those who had never heard of the story before, this could be a huge source of inspiration and enlightenment, but as someone who could recite the story even from the back, it couldn't even leave the slightest ripple in his mind.
"Actually, if you really wish to whittle the Starspirit Metal down to a needle, there's a way to go around doing it. The Risegreen Rock chisel won't be sufficient, but with some Black Goldcrystal Ore and Woodvine Essence, it can definitely be done!" Zhang Xuan suddenly said with a smile.
"Oh? You're saying that a combination of Black Goldcrystal Ore and Woodvine Essence would allow me to whittle this bar of Starspirit Metal down to a needle?" the old man asked in interest.
"That's right!" Zhang Xuan replied confidently. "The process isn't too complicated either. The Woodvine Essence possesses corrosive property, and through complementing it with several other medicinal herbs, it can be used to wear down the Starspirit Metal. In fact, as long as we calculate the size and quality of the metal bar in your hand precisely, with sufficient medicinal essence, we will be able to corrode the entire bar down to the size of a needle within minutes. There would be no need to whittle it down at all!"
"You are saying that it can be done within minutes?"
"It happens that I do have the required ingredients with me at the moment. Why don't you give it a try?" Flicking his wrist, Zhang Xuan took out a pile of medicinal herbs.
These medicinal herbs had come from the storage ring which he had retrieved from Ji Lingfeng back at the Sword Lagoon. Even though those medicinal herbs were valuable, as the Boss of the Qianchong Empire Black Market, Ji Lingfeng still had a substantial number of them with him.
Zhang Xuan quickly mixed the various medicinal herbs together to concoct a unique medicinal essence.
Retrieving a piece of Black Goldcrystal Ore, Zhang Xuan poured the medicinal essence on it equally throughout. Then, he took the metal bar from the old man's hands and placed it on top of the Black Goldcrystal Ore.
A white stream of smoke rose into the air, and the Starspirit Metal swiftly contracted. Just like what Zhang Xuan had said, it really became a thin needle within a few minutes' time.
The medicinal essence and Black Goldcrystal Ore also happened to be depleted at this moment, as if everything had been precisely calculated prior to the act.
With a flick of his finger, Zhang Xuan casually tossed the needle over to the old man. "Here, I have already done it for you, so you don't have to waste your time whittling the metal bar anymore. Honestly speaking, don't you find it tiring? Not only is it tough, more importantly, you aren't making much progress either…"
The old man's lips twitched.
It was only an analogy he used to test the candidates! And yet... the young man before him really turned his metal bar down into a needle...
More importantly, that lecturing tone that he took after that was as if he was a senior speaking words of wisdom to a junior...
Do you know who I am to be talking to me like this?
Shaking his head, the old man swiftly shook away the frustrations in his mind and said, "With just a look at the metal bar, you were able to precisely calculate the quantity of medicinal essence you would require to corrode it down to the size of a needle... It seems like your Eye of Insight has already reached the realm of 'Infinitesimal Keenness'!"
"You know that I possess the Eye of Insight?" Zhang Xuan was taken aback.
After the fourth acknowledgement of Celestial Master Teacher, he had already gained the ability to conceal his Eye of Insight completely. As long as he willed it so, not even an 8-star pinnacle master teacher would be able to notice his Eye of Insight.
Yet, the old man was actually able to see it with a single look... Just how powerful could he be at his peak?
Could he possibly... be a 9-star master teacher? A thought came to Zhang Xuan's mind, and he couldn't help but tighten his fists in agitation.
So far, the most formidable master teacher he had seen was Elder Liu, who had briefed them on the rules of the Mountain Gate examination earlier. He hadn't met a real 9-star master teacher before, and he didn't even know the name of any single one of them either.
If the old man before him was really a 9-star master teacher, it was indeed possible for him to tell that he possessed the Eye of Insight.This is based off Chinese saying, "With diligence and perseverance, even a metal bar can be chiseled down to a needle."There are many variations to the story, but it's basically just a person encountering another person attempting to wear down a metal bar to a needle and being touched by the effort and perseverance they had put into it.