Library of Heaven is Path
1322 Hierarchy Among Sage Clans
While Zhang Xuan knew that Jian Qinsheng's conceptualization of swordsmanship was bound to be different from his, he still felt compelled to head there to take a look. If, by some chance, he really managed to acquire the sword art manuals required to perfect the Three Swords of Lingxu, he would be able to clear the Jia Corridor and finally form his Leaving Aperture realm Heaven's Path Divine Art.
Besides, every single cultivator had a unique interpretation of cultivation, forged by their individual experiences and insights. Only through interaction with others would one be able to broaden one's horizons and raise the ceiling for further improvement.
"Let's go." Seeing that the young man was still insistent on heading over, Senior Shui nodded. She bade farewell to Qing Yu, and the both of them made their way out of the Hall of Solidarity.
While advancing forward, Senior Shui sent a telepathic message to Zhang Xuan. "Later on, if you fail to gain the acknowledgement of the Sword Intent and my teacher asks you to leave, I advise you to just turn around and walk away. Don't expect to be able to sway him with words; on the contrary, you will only be making things difficult on yourself."
"Those who live for their swordsmanship usually have a temperament similar to a sword: sharp and straightforward. Don't worry, I understand," Zhang Xuan replied with a nod.
Those who were able to raise their comprehension of swordsmanship to the level of Sword Quintessence would have devoted their life, mind, soul, and spirit all to the sword, so naturally, their personality would also gradually morph into something resembling their swordsmanship as well.
For this reason, sword practitioners tended to be true to their feelings, and they hated it when others beat around the bush.
Taking the Old Sword Maestro for example, he was extremely decisive in his actions. Even when he dissipated, he did it with absolute gusto, not showing the slightest hesitation!
"It's good that you understand." Senior Shui heaved a sigh of relief.
Considering how the young man was able to wield such great strength and achieve such astounding accomplishment in swordsmanship at a young age, there was little doubt that he came from an extraordinary background. She did not wish for her goodwill to end up causing dissension on both sides!
Thinking up to this point, Senior Shui could not help but turn to Zhang Xuan and ask curiously, "Your name is Zhang Xuan, right? Are you from the Zhang Clan? Why haven't I heard of you before?"
Seeing that someone was misunderstanding his identity yet again, Zhang Xuan shook his head. "I'm not from the Zhang Clan."
"You aren't?" Senior Shui could hardly believe what she was hearing.
If he was not from the Zhang Clan… did he manage to obtain such astounding strength at his age without relying on the power of a Sage Clan's bloodline? How could that be possible?
"I am from the Qingyuan Empire, and I guess the reason I possess decent strength would be because I am extremely hardworking," Zhang Xuan explained earnestly.
"This…" Recalling how the young man had just cleared eight corridors in succession within thirty minutes and yet still chose to follow her to learn swordsmanship instead of taking a break, Senior Shui could not help but nod in agreement. "To be able to wield such strength at your age despite being an unaffiliated cultivator, you do have some tenacity in you."
"Senior Shui, if I recall correctly, you tapped into the power of your bloodline earlier, right? Are you from a Sage Clan as well?" Zhang Xuan asked curiously.
"You… don't know me?" Senior Shui nearly choked on her saliva.
Her cultivation might only have been at Leaving Aperture realm pinnacle, but due to her background and physical appearance, she could be said to be a celebrity in the Outer Sanctum, a person who would catch the eyes of others no matter where she went. And yet, this fellow actually did not know her background?
Are you for real?
"Well, this is the first time I have seen you. Am I supposed to know who you are?" Zhang Xuan asked with a perplexed frown.
"First time you are seeing me?" Realization struck Senior Shui as she widened her eyes in astonishment. "You can't be a freshman who has just enrolled into the Sanctum of Sages today, can you?"
"I am." Zhang Xuan nodded.
"Right after you cleared the entrance examination, you ran straight to the Hall of Solidarity and cleared eight corridors in succession?" Senior Shui gulped as her cheeks began quivering non-stop.
Is it just me, or are the freshmen nowadays a little too formidable?
Even after an entire month of preparation, she was still having trouble clearing the Bing Corridor, but barely after arriving in the Sanctum of Sages, that fellow had already cleared eight of the corridors?
"Ah. After the entrance examination ended in the afternoon, I took a trip to the Hall of Erudition to take the 8-star formation master examination and successfully cleared it by setting up a grade-8 formation. After which, I chatted with someone for two hours before returning to my residence. Then, I took a bath before going over to the Hall of Solidarity," Zhang Xuan said.
"…" Senior Shui's body petrified on the spot.
It was, by no means, easy to clear the 8-star formation master examination. Even the elder brother of the little princess of the Luo Clan had challenged it twice, only to fail both times around. So, why was the young man talking about it with a light tone that seemed as if he had just taken a walk around the park?
More importantly… most 7-star pinnacle formation masters would require at least a few months of hard work before they were able to set up a grade-8 formation. Considering that the entrance examination had ended in the afternoon, and at this very moment, the sky had not darkened yet…
Are you a monster?
Unable to hold herself back any longer, Senior Shui asked, "If I may ask… how long did you take to clear the 8-star formation master examination?"
"This…" Zhang Xuan frowned as he tried to recall the entire course of events. "If we exclude the strength assessment… roughly around five to six minutes? Well, if that Elder Su hadn't dawdled, I should have been able to clear it faster!"
"Five to six minutes…" Senior Shui's body began trembling wildly from frenzy. At this moment, she felt so traumatized that she did not know if she would ever recover from this blow.
She had been wanting to take the 8-star formation master examination for a long time, too, but it was a pity that her cultivation was too low, so she was unable to receive the qualifications for it. Yet, even though the young man possessed cultivation beneath hers, he still managed to clear the examination in a few minutes.
The more she thought about the matter, the more suffocated she felt on the inside, to the point where she could not catch her breath anymore.
Seeing how the young lady's face was turning red at a moment and white in the other, clutching her chest at one moment and tearing at her hair in the other… she really looked mentally deranged. Knowing that it would be disrespectful to point that out, Zhang Xuan very conscientiously changed the topic. "Right, you still haven't answered my question yet. Are you from a Sage Clan?"
Suppressing all of those overwhelming emotions inside her, Senior Shui Qianrou replied, "My name is Shui Qianrou, and I come from a Sage Clan, the Shui Clan!"
"Shui Clan?" Zhang Xuan suddenly thought of something, and he lowered his head contemplatively for a moment before asking in bewilderment, "I have a friend who is from the Mu Clan, and he practices wood attribute cultivation techniques. Water and wood… Could it be that there are clans relating to the Five Elements among the Sage Clans?"
Mu Yuan, whom he had met in the Hongyuan Empire, was a member of the Mu Clan. For a Shui Clan to appear here… could there really be some kind of Five Elements Clans among the Sage Clans?
Otherwise, would it not be really coincidental for the Shui Clan to practice water attribute cultivation techniques and the Mu Clan to practice wood attribute cultivation techniques?
"The clans relating to the Five Elements are Tier-1 Sage Clans… You don't know this?" Shui Qianrou was really rendered speechless this time around.
On top of being Tier-1 Sage Clans, the Five Elements Clans had a history of being deeply united with one another, such that even the Zhang Clan and the Luo Clan had to think twice before getting on bad terms with them. As someone who had managed to get into the Sanctum of Sages, how could the young man have never heard of them?
Do you live beneath a rock?
But thinking about the matter once more, it was not like the matter was completely impossible.
Despite being a Conferred Empire, the Qingyuan Empire was located extremely far away from the center of the Master Teacher Continent. Considering that, it was not too surprising that they were not well-informed on the power structure of the Sage Clans.
The summer worm would never come to know of ice, and the frog in the well would never understand the vastness of the sea!
At this, Shui Qianrou shook her head and began explaining. "Sage Clans are divided into various tiers… You should have at least heard of that, right?"
"Un." Zhang Xuan nodded.
There were Sage Clans in the Eight Conferred Empires too, such as the clan that Xue Ning had come from. However, they were mostly Tier-3.
"Sage Clans can be basically divided into four tiers. Standing at the top of the pyramid are the Premier Clans. While their standing pale in comparison to the Master Teacher Pavilion headquarters, their standing surpasses that of the Apothecary Guild headquarters, Blacksmith Guild headquarters, and such. They wield immense authority and an exalted position in the Master Teacher Continent. All in all, there are three Premier Clans, namely the Zhang Clan, the Luo Clan, and the Jiang Clan," Shui Qianrou explained.
"Beneath them are Tier-1 Sage Clans. The Five Elements Clans such as the Shui Clan and the Mu Clan are listed in this category. Some of the stronger organizations in the Master Teacher Continent, despite not being Sage Clans, may also be placed in this category for comparison sake, such as the Glacier Plain Court, Apothecary Guild, so on and so forth."
Hearing those words, Zhang Xuan widened his eyes in astonishment.
All along, he had heard much about the strength of the Zhang Clan and the Luo Clan, and he knew that they were behemoths as well. However, he did not think that they would actually wield that much influence and power in the Master Teacher Continent, possessing a position that surpassed even that of the Apothecary Guild headquarters.
It was no wonder Wu shi and the others had been so worried when they learned that the person he liked was the little princess of the Luo Clan!
"After that are the Tier-2 Clans. These clans wield a position on par with the Empire Alliance, and overall, they number around a hundred. Last but not least, there are the Tier-3 Clans, who wield influence equivalent to Conferred Empires. There are many of them spread across the entire Master Teacher Continent, such that I can't even give you a rough estimate as to how many of them there are."
Shui Qianrou briefly went through the four different tiers of Sage Clans while Zhang Xuan nodded along. The young lady had pretty much laid out everything clearly for him, albeit in a rather simplified way.
It seemed like the Sage Clans obeyed a very strict hierarchy as well.
At this point, Zhang Xuan suddenly thought about Yuan Tao, and he could not help but ask, "I have a stu—friend who is from the Yuan Clan. May I know which tier the Yuan Clan is in?"
Considering that the Glacier Plain Court was on par with Tier-1 Sage Clans, if the Yuan Clan were to be beneath that… Well, perhaps he should consider finding Yuan Tao and bringing him back.
Seeing that Zhang Xuan really did not know anything at all, Shui Qianrou shook her head helplessly and said, "For the Five Elements Clan, the Mu Clan, Shui Clan, and Jin Clan have names that correspond directly to the element that they represent. On the other hand, the clan that represent fire has the surname Chi, and the clan that represents earth has the surname Yuan. As far as I know, there should be no other Yuan Clan among the Sage Clans, so the friend that you spoke of should be a member of the Five Elements Clans' Yuan Clan!"
"The Yuan Clan represents earth of the Five Elements Clans? So, it's a Tier-1 Clan?" Zhang Xuan was slightly startled.
To be honest, he really did not think that the Yuan Clan would be so formidable.
"Indeed. Not only so, the Yuan Clan is also known as the strongest of the Five Elements Clans. They boast fearsome might and invincible defense, making them infallible berserkers of the battlefield!" Shui Qianrou explained.
The cultivation technique and bloodline ability passed down in the Shui Clan had the ability to encompass everything, using flexibility and technique to curb overwhelming force with ease, but the problem with that was that their offensive prowess was too weak!
Of the Five Elements Clans, the clan that boasted the greatest offensive power was the Jin Clan. However, if other factors were taken into account as well, the Yuan Clan was the unquestionable number one.
"I see. That's a relief…" Hearing that the Yuan Clan was not too weak, Zhang Xuan heaved a sigh of relief.
Since the Yuan Clan had such a powerful heritage, he would not need to worry about Yuan Tao for the time being. A clan as powerful as that should have plenty of means to raise Yuan Tao's cultivation and fighting prowess swiftly. In fact, there was a chance that his cultivation might even be on par with Zhao Ya's.
At this moment, Shui Qianrou suddenly sent a telepathic message over. "Our teacher's residence is just ahead. Later on, try not to speak unless necessary…"
Raising his head, Zhang Xuan realized that they had arrived before a rather stately-looking residence. Even before entering its premises, he could feel a powerful Sword Intent emanating from within, leaving him feeling as if he had returned to the Sword Lagoon.
"Is this where Elder Jian Qinsheng lives? Truly extraordinary!" Zhang Xuan remarked.
As expected of the number one sword practitioner in the Sanctum of Sages. Despite comprehending Sword Quintessence, he still felt his Sword Intent being suppressed by the aura emanating from the residence, leaving him feeling slightly stifled on the inside.
"There's a surge of sword qi in the entrance that serves to keep ordinary students at bay. Give me a moment, I'll report your presence to my teacher so as to open up the path for you…"
Taking a deep breath, Shui Qianrou walked up to the residence, and just as she was about to enter, she suddenly noticed a sword qi thrashing around between the fingers of the young man beside her. The sword qi was struggling with all its might to escape, but as if clamped tightly between two steel bars, it was unable to free itself.
"Sword qi? Do you mean this?" Zhang Xuan was asked in bewilderment.Shui is the Chinese word for water, and Mu is the Chinese word for wood.Xue Ning is the guy who challenged Zhang Xuan back in the Qianchong Empire with his Golden Silk Thread, only to spin too much and vomit from vertigo.Mu → Wood, Shui → Water, Jin → Metal