Library of Heaven is Path
1465 A Challenge from Zhang Xuan
Oblivious to the huge commotion that his disappearance had caused to the upper echelons of the Zhang Clan, Zhang Xuan reverted to his original appearance and returned to his accommodation.
He had not been out for too long, just from the previous night till the morning, but out of fear that Zhang Jiuxiao would err in his cultivation, he had been watching over the latter very intently. As a result, he was feeling rather spent at the moment.
"Zhang shi, one of the genius sword practitioners of the Zhang Clan has come to visit, and he has been waiting for you for quite a while now!"
As soon as Zhang Xuan walked into the main hall, Jian Qinsheng immediately walked over to inform him.
"A challenger has come knocking? Got it." Zhang Xuan nodded in response.
With Zhang Jiuxiao's abrupt breakthrough to the Dimension Sundering realm, there was no longer any meaning in continuing with the tournament—its goal had already been met. Given so, it was indeed about time to move on to the next activity.
Zhang Xuan followed Jian Qinsheng into a room and saw three young men standing within it. Their taut backs and sharp auras made it feel as if they were three swords towering on the spot, biding their time for the correct moment to reveal their sharp edges.
As soon as Zhang Xuan walked in, the three young men immediately turned their heads over, and one of them stepped forward. "Are you Zhang Xuan? I heard that you are here to challenge our Zhang Clan's swordsmanship."
This young man had a thin frame, slightly resembling a sickly young man. There was a red mole at the side of his lips that gave his face a rather incongruous feeling on the whole.
"Indeed," Zhang Xuan said as he leisurely walked to the main seat and sat down. He glanced at the trio before him casually as he discreetly drove his zhenqi to recover his strength.
"I am Zhang Xu, and these two beside me are Zhang Hen and Zhang Qin. We have spent several years studying swordsmanship together, and we would like to challenge you to a fair duel!" the red mole young man, Zhang Xu, said.
"Fine by me!" Zhang Xuan nodded. "Are you all intending to come at me one at a time, or do you want to save some time and come at once?"
When Zhang Xuan agreed to follow Jian Qinsheng to the Zhang Clan, other than to cause the Zhang Clan some trouble so as to get back at them for making light of Luo Ruoxin, he had also been interested to see just what level their swordsmanship had reached and just what was so special about the Speed Sword Quintessence.
"Arrogant!" Zhang Xu spat coldly.
It was one thing for the young man to ignore them when he came in, walking straight to the main seat as if they did not exist at all, but now, he was even claiming that he could deal with all three of them at once! This was a huge blow to their pride, and displeased looks appeared on the faces of the trio.
"Considering how you are Yang shi's direct disciple and the successor of the Flowing Water Swordsmanship, your swordsmanship shouldn't be too bad. Allow me, Zhang Qin, to challenge you first!"
Unable to take on any longer, Zhang Qin took a step forward and flicked his sword, which produced a metallic reverberation in the air.
"Before we fight, do you dare accept my bet?"
"Bet? What do you want to bet on?" Zhang Xuan asked.
"I do know some things regarding you. From the moment you came to the Zhang Clan, you have been causing great damage here and there," Zhang Qin said. "The Defense Formation that protects the entrance of the Zhang Clan and the guest area has been completely ruined by you.
"While the First Elder and the other seniors are magnanimous enough to let those matters pass, I'm not so kind as to simply let someone who wreaked havoc in the Zhang Clan get away scot-free.
"Thus, what I propose is very simple. We'll have a duel on our swordsmanship, and if our Zhang Clan's swordsmanship proves to be superior to yours, you'll have to vow to devote your life to the Zhang Clan, never to betray it. On the other hand, if you emerge victorious, our lives will be yours to deal with. At the same time, we'll also forget about the damage that you have caused the Zhang Clan so far!"
"You want me to vow to devote my life to the Zhang Clan?" Zhang Xuan nearly burst into laughter.
From those words, it was apparent that the duel was merely a cover. In truth, the Zhang Clan was just using it as an excuse to force him to swear loyalty to them.
Otherwise, how could those three of the younger generation possibly be qualified to make a call on such an important matter?
"Do you accept the bet or not?" Zhang Qin sneered.
"I'm fine with it, but I'm afraid that your lives mean nothing at all to me. So, I want you to fulfill two of my demands if I win instead," Zhang Xuan said nonchalantly.
Zhang Qin immediately shot a glance at Zhang Xu to seek his opinion on the matter, and the latter raised his hand and said with a frown, "Speak."
Clearly, Zhang Xu was the de facto leader of the trio.
"Firstly, I wish to browse through the manuals of your Zhang Clan's swordsmanship!" Zhang Xuan said.
"Our Zhang Clan's swordsmanship was created by our founder, and those who doesn't possess the Zhang Clan bloodline won't be able to practice it. If you wish to see it, I can show you the manuals. However, how much you manage to comprehend will be up to your own aptitude," Zhang Xu said with a nod.
It would be nigh impossible to practice the Zhang Clan's swordsmanship if one did not possess the bloodline required for it. Even if they showed it all to the young man, it was unlikely that the young man would be able to make sense of it. As such, there were no qualms about showing the young man the Zhang Clan's swordsmanship's manuals.
"Good!" Zhang Xuan nodded. "As for the second point, I want to challenge your clan head, the Xing Sword Saint, to a sword duel with his cultivation suppressed to my level!"
Even if he could not challenge the young prodigy, the least he could do was challenge the Xing Sword Saint and help Jian Qinsheng vent his frustrations.
Even though he was not too sure how proficient the Xing Sword Saint was in swordsmanship, he did not think that the latter would still be a match for him after he browsed through the Zhang Clan's swordsmanship manuals and comprehended three different types of Sword Quintessence.
"You wish to challenge our clan head?"
The second request placed the trio on a spot as they glanced at one another with uncertainty.
They were only members of the Zhang Clan; they could not possibly make a decision on behalf of their clan head.
"If you need to, go ahead and contact the person who sent you here to see if that can be done. If you are able to accept my second demand, I'll take you up on your bet. Otherwise, I don't think that there's any reason I should waste my time here with you all!" Zhang Xuan waved his hand casually.
Those words made the trio gnash their teeth together in anger. Zhang Xu suppressed his rage and spat out, "Very well, wait here a moment."
Zhang Xu walked out of the room, and as soon as he was outside, he immediately took out his Communication Jade Token to send a message over.
"Zhang shi, you mustn't agree to their duel!" During this period of silence, Jian Qinsheng anxiously sent a telepathic message over.
"Didn't you invite me here to compete against their swordsmanship?" Zhang Xuan replied with a smile.
"There's a trap with their words. They said 'if our Zhang Clan's swordsmanship proves to be superior to yours' rather than that if they were to defeat you. If they dispatch the First Elder against you and defeat you using the Zhang Clan's swordsmanship, won't that still count as their victory?" Jian Qinsheng remarked anxiously.
While Zhang Qin might have appeared a little reckless, his words had been carefully crafted to corner Zhang Xuan.
Based on what he had said, it meant that Zhang Xuan would only be victorious if no one was able to defeat him using the Zhang Clan's swordsmanship. Their defeat would only represent their individual loss, and they could bring in more proficient sword practitioners to challenge him. As long as one of their members defeated him eventually, it would mean that it was their victory!
Clearly, those were terms that were deeply unfair to Zhang Xuan!
"It's fine. I only worry that they dare not challenge me," Zhang Xuan replied nonchalantly.
How could he possibly miss such an obvious verbal trap himself? The reason he had gone along with it was because he wanted to see just how formidable the Zhang Clan's swordsmanship was!
Besides, if he was going to make a move, he might as well go all the way and grind fear deep into their minds!
While he was exchanging messages with Jian Qinsheng, Zhang Wuchen seemed to have received a reply on his end too.
"Competing with the clan head? Does he really think that he will be able to defeat Zhang Xu and the others?" Zhang Wuchen shook his head.
"Regardless of who wins, this matter concerns the clan head, and it would be inappropriate for us to speak on his behalf. I'll send a message to the clan head and have him decide on the matter," the First Elder said.
He might have been the First Elder of the Zhang Clan, but he would be overstepping his boundaries if he made a promise on behalf of the clan head. No matter what, he still had to consult the clan head on this matter
"That's a good decision. Given that it has been less than two days since our clan head left, he shouldn't be too far away. If we send a message over right now, he should be able to receive it easily," Zhang Wuchen said with a nod of his head.
In the skies countless li away from the Zhang Clan, an aerial saint beast was surging ahead. Two figures could be seen standing on its back, a middle-aged man and a middle-aged lady. The middle-aged man seemed to have sensed something and took out a jade token.
The beautiful middle-aged lady standing beside him turned her gaze over and asked, "What's wrong?"
"It's nothing much. The Third Elder sent a message to me, saying that Jian Qinsheng has brought a talented sword practitioner this time around, and that fellow demanded to challenge me if he manages to emerge victorious over Zhang Xu and the others." The middle-aged man shook his head with a light chuckle.
"Zhang Xu has received both our impartation, so there are very few sword practitioners of the same cultivation level who will be a match for him," the middle-aged lady remarked. "It's already questionable whether he's able to defeat Zhang Xu, but he still dares challenge you. It seems like the person whom Jian Qinsheng has brought over this time around is quite a haughty individual!"
"Hahaha, it's good for youngsters to have such gusto!" The middle-aged man chuckled heartily, not offended by the fact that a junior had brazenly challenged him to a duel.
"That being said, Jian Qinsheng isn't a reckless individual. Since the sword practitioner whom he brought over dared to issue such a challenge, that person might just possess the skills to back those words. Ask him what the name of the sword practitioner is. The both of us know most of the outstanding sword practitioners of the younger generation, so I'm really quite curious about just who is so confident as to challenge you to a battle," the middle-aged lady said.
"Let me ask!"
The middle-aged man sent a message back, and a moment later, his jade token trembled. A name surfaced on the jade token, and upon seeing it, the middle-aged man's body froze on the spot.
"What's wrong?" the middle-aged lady asked, bewildered by her companion's response.
With a hoarse voice, the middle-aged man replied, "The Third Elder said that the person who seeks to challenge me… goes by the name of Zhang Xuan!"