Library of Heaven is Path
1324 A Strand of Hair
Completely wrong? Shui Qianrou was stunned for an instant before her face swiftly warped in horror.
It felt like she had received enough shocks for a lifetime that day.
She had already told the young man in advance to mind his words, and the latter had responded positively to her words.
Is this what you mean by being careful with your words?
Her teacher's swordsmanship was number one in the Sanctum of Sages. In fact, even when taking the entire Master Teacher Continent into account, he was definitely ranked amid those who stood at the zenith. In face of such a master, an ordinary man would not even dare breathe loudly, fearing that his actions would incur her teacher's wrath. Yet, this fellow actually said that his swordsmanship was completely wrong!
Are you incapable of speaking properly?
At the same time, Senior Xie's face also turned livid with anger. "What did you say?"
Those words could be taken as a clear insult toward his teacher.
He still had some respect for the young man in view of how he was able to discover and subdue the sword qi at the entrance, but who would have thought that he was just a person with his head in the clouds?
"Let him finish his words." The elder, Jian Qinsheng, waved his hand before turning his gaze to Zhang Xuan. "This sword art was passed down to me from my ancestor, and it was with this sword art that he rose to the very peak of the Master Teacher Continent. It would be an exaggeration to say that he was infallible, but there was hardly anyone who was a match for him then… So, why would you say that this sword art is completely wrong?"
"Well…" Zhang Xuan pondered for a moment, but he soon realized that there were so many flaws that he did not know where he should start from. If he were to start listing all of them, he was afraid that the elder might just lose all confidence in his swordsmanship. Thus, he could only sigh and say, "There are simply too many of them. I don't know how I should put it…"
You don't know how you should put it?
Shui Qianrou's fists were so tightly clenched together that her fingernails were sinking into her flesh.
If you don't know how you should put it, why don't you consider not speaking at all?
Are you really not afraid of death, or are you just tired of living?
Overwhelmed with rage, Senior Xie stepped forward and bellowed, "Arrogant fellow! Do you really think that you will be able to impress my teacher by spouting such nonsense over here?"
On the other hand, Jian Qinsheng frowned upon hearing Zhang Xuan's words.
As one of the most esteemed swordmasters throughout the Master Teacher Continent, there were countless young talents who wished to come under his tutelage. However, due to his severe demands when selecting his disciples, only a rare few were accepted. Perhaps in an attempt to stand out from the others, there were those who would utter arrogant words before him each year in hopes of catching his attention.
It was a pity that their arrogance would be proven empty after a quick test.
However, on top of wielding top-notch swordsmanship, Jian Qinsheng was an 8-star high-tier master teacher as well, possessing a superior eye of discernment.
When the young man before him spoke those words earlier, there were no unnatural fluctuations in his voice, and his aura remained steady throughout. This was a sign of conviction, meaning to say that he had confidence in what he was saying. This was in stark contrast to the hint of anxiety and apprehension he had sensed from the previous students who had dared speak arrogantly before him.
For this, rather than being angered by the young man's words, he was intrigued. He wanted to get to the bottom of the matter.
Senior Xie clasped his fist and said, "Teacher, please permit me to challenge that arrogant fellow to a duel and assess his swordsmanship! If his words prove to be empty, I wish to teach him a lesson so that he will learn some humility!"
How could he stand idly when someone was doubting his own teacher? As a student, it was his obligation to uphold his teacher's reputation and honor!
Instead of replying to Senior Xie's request, Jian Qinsheng turned to Zhang Xuan and asked, "You are a freshman, right?"
"Yes, I am," Zhang Xuan replied with an attitude that appeared neither subservient nor arrogant.
"Un. Among the freshmen, there's a student who possesses exceptional swordsmanship. His name is Zhang Jiuxiao. Could you be him?" Jian Qinsheng asked.
He had watched the entrance examination, and he had seen that Zhang Jiuxiao had achieved the level of Half-Quintessence in swordsmanship despite his young age. There was no doubt that he harnessed boundless potential within him. Could the young man before him possibly be Zhang Jiuxiao?
"Jiuxiao is a friend of mine." At this point, Zhang Xuan bowed slightly before continuing. "I am Zhang Xuan."
"Zhang Xuan?" Jian Qinsheng pondered for a moment before shaking his head.
Throughout the entrance examination, he had only been keeping an eye out for those who possessed exceptional talent in swordsmanship. While Zhang Xuan did cause a huge commotion when he rose to the top fifty in the final moment, to Jian Qinsheng, that was nothing worthy of note at all.
"You said that my sword art is completely wrong, but when I asked you about it, you aren't able to say anything either. Since that's the case, why don't you have a duel with my student? I'll have him suppress his cultivation to your level. Of course, the both of you will compete only in terms of swordsmanship, and it'll be a friendly duel," Jian Qinsheng proposed.
Since the other party was not Zhang Jiuxiao, it was likely that his comprehension of swordsmanship was not too deep either. Thus, he decided to have his student try the other party out so as to see just what gave him the confidence to utter such brazen words.
"Sure, I'm fine with it." Zhang Xuan nodded.
Since he was unable to voice the flaws, it would be good if he could demonstrate it to the other party instead. Perhaps, he might be able to give the other party some insights regarding it.
"Follow me!" Hearing that the young man had agreed to the duel, Senior Xie harrumphed coldly before leading the way forward.
A moment later, they arrived at an empty clearing not too far away from the gazebo. It was around twenty meters in diameter, a decent size to hold a battle.
After taking his position in the clearing, Senior Xie slowly drew his sword.
The instant that his sword left its sheath, the air around him immediately changed. It felt sharp and dangerous, reminiscent of a dagger that would plunge right into one's body at any moment.
Even though he had suppressed his cultivation down to Primordial Spirit realm primary stage, Senior Xie still carried an imposing presence that made him tower over others.
Upper Sword Heart?
With just a look, Zhang Xuan was able to tell that Senior Xie had already achieved the level of Upper Sword Heart, just a step away from achieving a breakthrough.
To be able to achieve such a level of mastery in his swordsmanship at his age, even if he was still slightly lacking compared to Zhang Jiuxiao, he could already be considered an expert.
Channeling his spirit and mind to the peak, Senior Xie gazed at Zhang Xuan coldly. "Where's your sword? Make your move!"
"My sword?" Zhang Xuan shook his head.
Considering that he was dealing with someone of his cultivation realm, and his comprehension of swordsmanship had already reached Sword Quintessence… he would really be bullying the other party if he wielded a sword.
Thus, he quickly took a look at the surroundings before his eyes finally fell upon Shui Qianrou. "If it's not too much trouble, I would like to borrow something from you, Senior Shui!"
"You want to borrow something from me?" Shui Qianrou was bewildered by that abrupt request for a moment before realization struck her. She flicked her wrist and passed her sword over. "Here!"
Given how the young man had examined her sword previously, he must have been thinking of borrowing it from her.
Typically speaking, due to the presence of a spirit within the sword, it would be difficult to borrow the sword of another. However, given that the young man had achieved Sword Quintessence, that should not be a problem.
"That's not what I mean." Instead of taking the sword, Zhang Xuan walked up to Shui Qianrou, and with a light pinch, a strand of hair from the young lady fell into his palm. "I don't need the sword. I'll just borrow a hair."
After saying those words, he infused zhenqi into the strand of hair.
The hair immediately stood up as if a rapier.
Returning to the clearing, Zhang Xuan said with a smile, "Let's begin!"
"You are going to use that against me?" Senior Xie's eyes reddened in rage as his body trembled non-stop.
He was one of the top sword practitioners among the student populace in the Sanctum of Sages, not to mention, the student of Swordmaster Jian Qinsheng. It was already beneath his standing to challenge a mere freshman, and yet, that fellow actually wanted to face him with a single strand of hair.
That was a blatant show of derision toward him!
"Un. I don't have a hobby of bullying others." Zhang Xuan nodded calmly.
"Now you're asking for it!" Rage consumed his rationality as Senior Xie whipped his sword through the air with a piercing shrill.
The difference between a professional and an amateur would clearly show as soon as they made a move.
Even though Senior Xie was clearly in an enraged state, he did not allow it to affect his swordsmanship at all. As soon as he made a move, he had already sealed eight of Zhang Xuan's acupoints with his sword qi, sealing the major zhenqi circulation pathway associated with most sword arts.
That fellow's rage is faked? Zhang Xuan noted with a nod of approval.
There was truly no one mediocre among the students of the Sanctum of Sages.
Despite appearing to be incomparably angry on the surface, appearing as if he would explode at any moment, Zhang Xuan realized that Senior Xie was actually analyzing his posture and movements with absolute calmness, and the maneuvers he had executed were also calculated precisely to seal off his escape routes.
Were the one facing this attack another Upper Sword Heart expert or even Zhang Jiuxiao, they would surely be sent into a fluster, forced to face him head-on.
But if Zhang Xuan were to do that, the hair in his hand would surely be destroyed by the force from the collision. With his weapon destroyed at the very first encounter, that would signal the end of this sword duel.
Forcing others to go on the defensive with a single strike, sword experts really should not be underestimated.
However, it was a pity that the opponent Senior Xie was facing was an expert who had comprehended Sword Quintessence!
With a light smile, Zhang Xuan did not bother to retreat or side step. Instead, with a leisurely diagonal pierce, he aimed for Senior Xie's shoulder.
To most, it would be hard to understand why he would ignore the blade that was swiftly falling upon him and launch an offense on the opponent's shoulder instead. However, upon seeing this sight, a deep frown appeared between Jian Qinsheng's eyebrows, and a look of disbelief surfaced in his eyes.
That was one of the moves he had executed earlier in the gazebo.
Just that, the young man had managed to make it even more ingenious and fluid. The very movement seemed to naturally harmonize with the world, granting it compelling might.
He had only made slight changes in the movement here and there, but the prowess he is able to bring forth is at a whole new level. Jian Qinsheng clenched his fists tightly in agitation.
As a renowned swordmaster on the Master Teacher Continent, his eye for swordsmanship was irrefutable.
The young man's movements appeared to be naively simple, but the crux to it lay in its impeccable timing to overwhelm the enemy's swordsmanship. Through it, even a strand of hair could display might on par with a sword!
"Hmm?" At this moment, Senior Xie's face also warped in astonishment.
As soon as the young man made a move, he immediately felt his zhenqi circulation pathway being severed, and as if his chest had been clawed apart, intense pangs of pain assaulted him.
"Damn it!" With reddened eyes, Senior Xie swiftly retracted his attack and began flitting around the clearing.
He was intending on launching a forceful attack to capitalize on the strength of his sword to sever the young man's hair strand. However, after his initial plan fell apart, he decided to take a more careful approach, flitting around the battlefield in wait for a suitable opportunity to take the young man down in a single move.
It was only a brief encounter, but it had eroded all disdain he had for the young man before him. He realized that the young man's comprehension of swordsmanship was not beneath his.
"This…" On the other hand, the various juniors who had gathered in the area to spectate Senior Xie's duel were confused as to why Senior Xie would take a defensive position right after a single clash, and perplexed murmurs could be heard among them.
Even Shui Qianrou was completely bewildered by the situation as well.
While Jian Qinsheng was able to sense the ingenuity behind Zhang Xuan's move, his disciples were limited by their own understanding of swordsmanship and could not see through it.
As a result, it appeared to them that Senior Xie was intentionally going easy on the young man.
"Senior Xie is simply too kind!"
"Indeed. If it was me, I would have that fellow sliced apart in a heartbeat!"
"Don't worry. Since Senior Xie has proposed the duel, he will definitely make that young man deeply regret his earlier arrogance!"
Such whispers could be vaguely heard in the area.
Zhang Xuan heard those whispers, too, but he shrugged them off with a light chuckle.
He had to admit that Senior Xie was sharper and more flexible than he had thought. The latter seemed to have realized that his shoulder pierce was not as simple as it looked—the timing and trajectory of the motion allowed for countless transformations that would allow him to easily suppress anything that the latter could have thrown at him—so he decisively withdrew his attack, opting to bide his time and wait for an opening.
But how could the Heaven's Path Sword Art be avoided just by moving around the area?
Holding the strand of hair tightly, Zhang Xuan used the very same move to launch another diagonal pierce.
This time, the hair strand was not aimed for Senior Xie's shoulder but his throat.
Once again, it looked like a simple maneuver, but due to its impeccable timing, it allowed for countless transformations. No matter how Senior Xie tried to evade, Zhang Xuan had plenty of ways to drag him back into the center of the attack, as if he was trapped in an inescapable whirlpool. In other words, there was no way to avoid it at all!
The same move, but due to a slight difference in the trajectory of attack and timing, there was a manyfold difference in terms of prowess!
It was difficult to believe that something like this could be possible even when witnessing it with one's own eyes.
There's actually such a transformation to the move as well?
By the side, Jian Qinsheng widened his eyes in shock, not daring to believe what he was seeing.