Library of Heaven is Path
1321 Unless You Are the Sanctum Head!
"You…" Struggling up from the ground, Senior Shui's lips were twitching crazily. The gaze she directed at the young man before her had changed altogether. "Your comprehension of swordsmanship… has already reached the level of Sword Quintessence?"
As a genius in swordsmanship, she was well aware of the various levels in swordsmanship. Her sword had dropped to the ground in fear before it could even nick the young man at all, trembling non-stop; she had only encountered such a situation with her teacher before! In other words, the young man who appeared to be in his early twenties already possessed an understanding of swordsmanship that was on par with her teacher!
But how in the world could that be?
To achieve Sword Quintessence required not only an extremely deep understanding of swordsmanship. More than that, one also had to accumulate sufficient experience and insight before one would be able to achieve the conceptualization necessary for the realm. The reason her teacher was able to achieve that realm was because he had once traveled a distance of ten thousand li on foot, experiencing the suffering and agony that ordinary mortals underwent, and that was what became the foundation for his breakthrough.
Even if the young man were to start cultivating from his mother's womb, that would only be a short twenty years. To achieve Sword Quintessence within this limited period of time… was truly inconceivable!
Zhang Xuan did not deny the matter. Instead, with a flick of his wrist, the sword that was bowing to him was released from its pressure.
It flew into the air and landed in his hands.
He flicked it lightly, and a crisp metallic reverberation echoed from it.
"This sword is not bad. It's compatible with you," Zhang Xuan remarked before tossing the sword back.
The sword was light and flexible, which was well-suited for a water attribute cultivator like Senior Shui.
"My teacher picked it out for me," Senior Shui replied as she stored her sword. Following which, she turned to look at Zhang Xuan and asked, "You said that you wish to browse through books relating to swordsmanship?"
Since the young man had comprehended Sword Quintessence, there was no point in challenging him in a duel anymore.
The disparity between them was simply too big, so she would only be humiliated in the end.
"My teacher has quite a vast collection of books relating to swordsmanship, and I can bring you over," Senior Shui said hesitantly.
Hearing those words, Zhang Xuan's eyes lit up. "Ah, then I'll be troubling you to lead the way then."
"However," Senior Shui said, "I should warn you first. You have already comprehended Sword Quintessence, which means that you have already found your own way, so it would be best for you not to harbor too much hope regarding the matter. I think that there's a good chance that you may be kicked out before you can see any books."
"Kicked out? Why?" Zhang Xuan frowned in confusion.
To achieve the level of Sword Quintessence at his age, he could already be considered an outstanding genius. Most sword practitioners would welcome him with opened arms, wanting to trade insights with him, so why would he be kicked out instead?
"This… As you may know, my teacher is the number one sword expert in the Sanctum of Sages, Jian Qinsheng. He possesses exceptionally powerful cultivation, and he's an extremely respectable man as well…"
At this point, Senior Shui paused for a moment before continuing with a suppressed voice. "Just that… he tends to be a little too rigid and inflexible when it comes to rules."
"Inflexible when it comes to rules?" Zhang Xuan frowned.
As Jian Qinsheng's student, Senior Shui was not in a good position to criticize her teacher, but basically, what her words meant was that Jian Qinsheng was an austere person, possessing the attitude reminiscent of an old academic.
Such people tended to be extremely forthright in their words and actions. If they harbored goodwill for you, they would treat you with the utmost sincerity and offer their assistance magnanimously. However, if they found that they could not get along with you, then no matter how high a standing you had, how illustrious a background you had, nothing would be able to change their view of you.
"Yes. He used to be an elder of the Hall of Propriety, so he regards rules and formalities very highly. If you want to browse through his collection of books and receive his guidance, you will have to clear his test and receive his acknowledgement.
"The Zhang Clan has a genius sword practitioner known as Zhang Xu, and he's a renowned figure even in the Inner Sanctum. In terms of swordsmanship, he's reputed to be the indisputable number one, having achieved the level of Sword Quintessence. Yet, when he paid my teacher a visit in hopes of browsing through his collection of books, he was still mercilessly kicked out. So, I thought that it would be good to give you a heads up so that you won't be shocked later on," Senior Shui said hesitantly.
"Even a Sword Quintessence expert was kicked out? Why?" Zhang Xuan was perplexed.
As someone who had comprehended Sword Quintessence, Zhang Xu could already be considered one of the top figures of the Sanctum of Sages, even though his cultivation was lacking compared to the elders. In a sense, he could even be considered a fellow peer of Jian Qinsheng's in terms of swordsmanship.
It simply did not seem rational for Jian Qinsheng to kick Zhang Xu away on a whim!
"Like I have said before, my teacher is someone who regards formalities and the sort very highly. The person that he respects the most is the Third Sanctum Head.
"The Third Sanctum Head was one of the rare few who trod the path of cultivation through his sword, standing unchallenged in the world through his profound comprehension of swordsmanship. Those of the Sage Clans had to defer to him, and even the elders of the Master Teacher Pavilion headquarters dared not face him head on! In his generation, the prestige and strength of the Sanctum of Sages were pushed to the very peak.
"However, despite the overwhelming prowess of the Third Sanctum Head, it is a pity that he was slightly lacking when it came to his ability to impart knowledge. As a result, he was unable to pass down his full heritage, and it was then that the swordsmanship in the Sanctum of Sages began declining!
"My teacher is a descendant of the Third Sanctum Head, and over the years, he has been guarding the hint of Sword Intent left behind by the Third Sanctum Head. In order to become my teacher's student or learn anything from him, you have to gain the acknowledgement of the Sword Intent first.
"To be honest, I think the reason I was able to emerge among dozens of genius sword practitioners and become my teacher's student is mainly because of my water attribute. As you know, the water attribute's nature is to encompass everything. On the other hand, Zhang Xu has already comprehended a path of swordsmanship belonging to himself, and it's at odds with the Sword Intent. As a result… my teacher kicked him out."
"I see!" Zhang Xuan nodded in realization.
Once one's comprehension of swordsmanship reached the level of Sword Quintessence, the Sword Intent one exerted would be able to gain some degree of consciousness. Given so, it was indeed possible for a Sword Intent to have the ability to choose a suitable successor to inherit its way.
A different conceptualization of Sword Intent could result in a clash of ideology.
Senior Shui cultivated a water attribute cultivation technique, and due to its gentle and flexible nature, it was easier for her to receive the recognition of the Sword Intent. On the other hand, those who had a deeper comprehension of swordsmanship were likely to already have their own conceptualization of what swordsmanship should be like, and that meant it was highly likely that there would be a conflict of ideology with the Sword Intent, thus making it even more difficult for them to receive its recognition.
A thought surfaced in Zhang Xuan's mind. Does this mean that the books that Jian Qinsheng has collected were all left behind by the Third Sanctum Head?
In a sense, receiving the Sword Intent's recognition could also be interpreted as 'walking on a similar path of swordsmanship'.
Only those who walked a similar path would be able to browse through his books and receive his guidance. To put it plainly, Jian Qinsheng was simply looking to cultivate his own lineage of sword experts.
Zhang Xuan shook his head. Every single person has a unique comprehension of swordsmanship, so I wonder what conceptualization Jian Qinsheng has comprehended. Chances are that it's different from the Old Sword Maestro's!
His current comprehension of swordsmanship mostly originated from the Old Sword Maestro.
So far, he had never heard of anything between the Old Sword Maestro and the Third Sanctum Head, so it was likely that the two of them were from different schools.
In other words, if he headed over, there was a good chance that just like Zhang Xu, he would be rejected by the Sword Intent and kicked out.
After a moment of dilemma, Zhang Xuan could not help but ask, "What if I just take a look at the books from afar, not copying or scanning them with my Spiritual Perception?"
The way he read books was different from the others. As long as it was within his range of sight, he would be able to take anything into his Library of Heaven's Path.
He did not need Jian Qinsheng's guidance, notes from the books, or even access to see the content within at all. All he wanted was a look at them from afar…
This should be fine, right?
"Take a look at the books from afar?" Senior Shui shook her head with a bitter smile. "My teacher treasures every single one of those books dearly, and he created a room that only those who have his token in hand will be able to enter. So… unless you are the sanctum head of the Sanctum of Sages, there's no way you will be able to get in!"
Surprised by that, Zhang Xuan asked, "The sanctum head will be able to get in?"
It seemed like he was the only candidate for the position of the sanctum head at the moment.
Well, he was not the sanctum head, but it would not take too long before he inherited the position.
"Of course! The sanctum head is the highest leader of the Sanctum of Sages! No matter who my teacher dares offend, he would never turn down a request from the sanctum head," Senior Shui replied matter-of-factly.
A moment later, she shook her head and sighed. "However, it has been more than three hundred years since the Sanctum of Sages had a sanctum head. Currently, all affairs are taken care of by the deputy sanctum head.
"Alright, there's no point discussing about such matters too much. We aren't in a position to talk much about someone as esteemed as the sanctum head. So, after all I have said, are you still interested in heading over to take a look? If that's the case, let's set off now."
"I still want to give it a try. Let's go!" Zhang Xuan replied with a smile.