Library of Heaven is Path
"Wu Dao Mirror, you said that... I have lost?" Unable to accept what she had just heard, Zhang Ziqing asked once more.
"Indeed. Even though his artwork utilizes the simplest drawing method, it harnesses the very essence of painting. I can tell you that this is a feat which even the average 9-star painter would be incapable of. Your painting is indeed not too bad, but it pales far in comparison to his." Wu Dao Mirror replied.
Artifacts on such a level already possessed their own consciousness and were able to interact with humans.
"But all he did was to swing his sword a few times, and he didn't even leave a single mark on the stone... How could this be something which even 9-star painter would be unable to match up to?" Zhang Ziqing felt like clawing her hair in frenzy.
You can't just spout nonsense like that! All of us are looking over here!
Everyone here can testify that all that fellow did was to pick up a mere stone and swing his sword at it... Not the slightest bit of his sword qi had nicked the stone, and the stone looked the exact same as when he had picked it up. Where was the drawing you spoke of then?
"Come closer and examine it carefully, you will surely be able to notice its ingenuity." Noting Zhang Ziqing incomprehension, the Wu Dao Mirror simply left these words behind before falling silent. Its voice carried a dreamy tone to it, seemingly still deeply immersed in the beauty of the artwork it had just seen.
Zhang Ziqing hesitated for a moment before walking over to the table. She lowered her gaze to examine the stone in closer detail.
There was still some dirt stuck to the surface of the stone, but other than that, there was nothing particular to note about it,
"There's nothing here at all…" Even after a close-up look, Zhang Ziqing was still unable to find any marks that could have been left behind by the earlier burst of sword qi, so she couldn't help but feel even more perplexed.
Thus, she released her Spiritual Perception to take an even closer look at the stone.
What that was not visible to the eye, perhaps, it would be visible to her Spiritual Perception.
As soon as her Spiritual Perception wrapped itself around the stone, Zhang Ziqing's body visibly stiffened, and her body began trembling non-stop, "T-this…"
Her lips quivered ceaselessly, fully displaying her disbelief at what she was seeing.
"What's wrong?" Noticing the peculiarity with Zhang Ziqig, Zhang Wuchen and the others frowned as well.
They extended their Spiritual Perception toward the stone too, and what they saw left them frozen on the spot.
"Indeed. This stone is an artwork which I drew out using my sword. The stone that I picked up earlier has, in fact, been reduced to dust and is currently stored in my storage ring, and the one right before your eyes is a painting…" Seeing that they had managed to notice what was different about his stone, Zhang Xuan chuckled softly.
While it might appear as if he was just wildly releasing a barrage of sword qi earlier, leaving nary a mark on the stone at all, in truth, he was creating an exact replica of the stone that was earlier seen.
Back when he was just a 7-star painter, he had already comprehended Suspended Imagery, allowing him to paint on mid-air. Naturally, now that he was an 8-star painter, his proficiency in it was much higher than before.
Even though the painting was created by sword qi, it would still be difficult even for a 9-star painter to discern its true form without taking a closer look with his Spiritual Perception.
It was to the point where even the two elders of the Zhang Clan, Wuchen and Wuzhen, despite watching the entire process from the start to the end, didn't notice the slightest anomaly with the stone. They couldn't have imagined that the stone that was picked up from the ground had already vanished altogether, and what was right before their eyes was actually a painting!
"To think that we didn't notice that the stone is actually a painting…"
"Ziqing was able to grant life to the bamboo, making it appear real, but he has already transcended that level. Under his deft hand, the distinction between reality and painting has been torn down, confounding everyone with his artwork…" Coming to realize the situation, Zhang Wuchen and Zhang Wuzhen were trembling in disbelief.
Real 9-star painters were indeed capable of producing artwork that seemed so lifelike that it completely fused into the real world, making hard for one to determine what was real and imaginary. Just that... no one thought that the young man would be capable of the same feat too.
Could it be that he was already a 9-star painter?
If that was the case, wasn't it a little too terrifying?
"I... have lost!" Zhang Ziqing reached out to stroke the stone, only to find that its texture was also of no difference from that of a real stone. Without using her Spiritual Perception, there would really be no way for her to discern that it was just a mere drawing.
In that instant, her face flushed completely pale.
All along, she had thought the other party was just messing around, but who could have thought that he had been painting seriously? Furthermore, his artwork was of such a high caliber that no one was able to discern it.
It was no wonder why the Wu Dao Mirror had declared the match to be her loss... She did indeed lose, and it was an utter defeat at that. From the very start, she never stood a chance against him.
"If you are able to create an artwork of such a tier with just your sword... just what kind of paintings would you be able to produce with a brush in hand then?" Unable to take it any longer, she turned her gaze to the young man and said.
Previously, when the other party said that he was going to get serious, she thought that he would really go all out. Yet, contrary to her expectations, he whipped out a sword instead of a brush. If the young man was already able to produce such an artwork far beyond her capabilities with a sword in hand... she really shuddered to imagine just how formidable his painting prowess would be with a brush in hand.
"I wasn't lying to you when I said that I was going to get serious. I did give my everything in this painting, and I wasn't going easy on you by using a sword." Noting the young lady's astounded face, Zhang Xuan explained with a smile. "I must admit that you have a deep understanding of painting. Otherwise, I would have simply painted with just a blade of grass instead of with my sword. Actually, as long as you put your heart into your painting, it doesn't really matter whether you are wielding a brush or a sword."
"Blade of grass?" Hearing that the young man was actually intending to use something like that to compete with her, Zhang Ziqing's face twitched a little. "How were you intending to paint with that?"
"Simple." Zhang Xuan quickly took a look at his surroundings before tapping his finger lightly. In the garden not too far away, a blade of grass flew over and fell into his palm. Following which, he flicked the blade of grass lightly.
The water in a nearby pond immediately rose up and lightly soaked the blade of grass. Following which, he began moving the blade of grass slowly in the air.
The surrounding air grew increasingly viscous along with Zhang Xuan's movements, and in just a short moment, a majestic flowing river appeared before everyone's eyes. It raced rapidly with a ferocious roar, and it felt as if it would overflow and flood the entire square in an instant.
"Using just water, he was able to draw out a river flow using Suspended Imagery?" Zhang Ziqing gulped down a mouthful of saliva.
She would always need to use the most valuable brush and ink in her artworks as she felt that these were necessary tools in order for her to truly bring out the essence of her painting and pieces that she would be satisfied with. However, after watching the other party's creation, she realized that her line of thought might have been too shallow.
Painting didn't necessitate the use of a brush. Look closely, and the entire world would be a brush and a canvas! There was no element which one couldn't incorporate into one's painting!
So, this was a true prodigy's interpretation of painting... as well as the true essence of painting.
"The conception behind this river painting of yours is also of a much higher level than my Bamboo Painting!" Zhang Ziqing shook her head and sighed deeply. As reluctant as she was to admit it, the young man was indeed far ahead of her in the field of painting.
Even this river painting which he had created at a whim was far more profound than the Bamboo Painting which she carefully produced with all her might.
"Ah, you need not get so disheartened. I was able to deepen my understanding of painting significantly while drawing out the stone, and that's the only reason why I'm able to create a decent painting with just a blade of grass now…" Zhang Xuan explained.
He hadn't drawn much after assimilating 8-star painter books, and the earlier drawing of the stone was the first time he had drawn seriously in a long while. This practical experience had granted him a much deeper insight into painting, thus bringing his mastery to a deeper level.
And it was with this experience that he was able to surpass Zhang Ziqing with a work he painted at a whim.
"You managed to deepen your understanding of painting while drawing out the stone?" Zhang Ziqing nearly keeled over.
She had always prided herself on her unparalleled talent in painting, but it seemed like she was really no match against the young man before her. The gap between them was so huge that for the first time in her life, she felt a hint of despair and helplessness, as if she was in a race, facing a rival whom she would never be able to catch up with.
All of a sudden, a young man amidst the crowd shouted out, "Fairy Ziqing, I remember that you once said that if anyone of the younger generation surpasses you in the field of painting, regardless of whom the person is, you would marry him without any hesitation... Does that vow still holds now?"
"This…" Zhang Ziqing was visibly stunned by that remark for a moment.
She couldn't help but turn her gaze to Zhang Xuan, and a frown slowly deepened itself on her forehead.