Library of Heaven is Path
1923 My Name Is World's Edge
There was nothing that induced one's improvement faster than practical battle, and this was the same wherever one went.
However, practical battles came at a risk. There was a chance that one might get injured or even die, but these problems were not an issue in the Ethereal Hall. It was for this reason that the dueling ring was a popular location in the Ethereal Hall for cultivators to head to.
As Zhang Xuan was nearing his destination, he saw a lot of people gathered together before a crystal-like screen with agitated looks on their faces.
On the screen, there were two figures clashing intensely with one another.
Their cultivation might only have been at Saint 1-dan, but their battle was still exciting to veteran fighters. Their maneuvers were sharp and well-calculated, and the sheer precision of their movements was amazing. There were hardly any wasted movements at all, and the battle techniques that they executed often achieved unexpected effects in influencing the flow of the battle.
"Windherder has already won five rounds so far. He really is amazing!"
"Amazing is an understatement, alright! His grasp of his battle techniques is terrifying! Every single move he executed is measured to an extremely precise degree, such that it reveals no openings for his opponent to exploit at all!"
"I would be content if I could just reach his level of proficiency!"
"Watching his battles are a huge enjoyment in itself. Not only so, I am also able to learn quite a few combat techniques from him and enhance my own fighting style!"
Such discussions could be heard from the crowd.
It was not without reason that the Ethereal Token was so highly sought after by the cultivators in the Azure. It served not only as an online market but a perfect underground ring too. Not only did the fighters not need to fear getting injured, even the spectators could learn much from watching the battles.
To be careful, Zhang Xuan did not rush into registering for the duels but instead chose to spectate the duels of other cultivators for the time being so as to gauge the average strength of the cultivators there.
Due to the cultivation cap of Saint 1-dan, the battle techniques that the cultivators were able to execute were severely limited. Thus, what really determined the battle was their grasp of timing and precision of the execution of battle techniques. More often than not, it was the cultivator who was more decisive and had sharper moves who emerged victorious.
Having a deeper understanding of the dueling ring, Zhang Xuan walked over to the registration counter and passed his Ethereal Card over.
"What name do you wish to go by? It's fine to use a nickname too!" the person at the counter, a young lady in her twenties, asked.
"Nickname?" Zhang Xuan pondered for a moment.
Such dueling ring would require one to take on a nickname so that it would be easier to refer to them.
Since I am able to preserve my anonymity in here, I shouldn't use my real name, Zhang Xuan thought.
Doing so would be just like the fools who used their real names on the internet in his previous life.
Let me see. Yang Xuan, Sun Qiang, Xuan Zhang, Luo Tianya… The identities Zhang Xuan had assumed in the past flashed through his head in an instant, and the next moment, he said, "Call me… World's Edge!"
"World's Edge?" The young lady nodded as she jotted the name down on a book before her.
It did not take long for his match to be arranged.
"Next round, World's Edge vs. Shadow Lurker!"
Amid roaring cheers, Zhang Xuan walked into the dueling ring.
The dueling ring was circular in shape, and the surroundings were sealed by a crystalline barrier. Through the screens around the dueling ring, spectators were able to see the details of the duel from outside.
The opponent that he was facing was a slim, middle-aged man. Even though their cultivation was both Saint 1-dan, he commanded an aura that pressurized his opponents.
"I've heard of Shadow Lurker before! Even though this is his first duel, he's actually quite a formidable expert!"
"Indeed! I chatted with him earlier, and we even exchanged a few blows. His reflexes and movement speed are truly top-notch. At the very least, I gauge that his cultivation must be equivalent to Dimension Shatterer realm intermediate stage!"
"He's actually so powerful? The Ethereal Hall really is filled with many experts!"
"It seems like that there will be something interesting to look out for in this match then! Just that… I wonder if World's Edge will be able to put up a worthy fight!"
"Eyyy, his name sounds so childish. I doubt that he's a formidable expert!"
"Indeed, what World's Edge? It makes me cringe just by listening to it!"
It was impossible to determine a person's true identity through the Ethereal Token, but nevertheless, through casual conversation and exchanging blows, it was still possible to roughly gauge a person's true strength and standing as long as the person was not intentionally hiding it.
Those who had interacted with Shadow Lurker before knew that he was a fairly powerful cultivator.
As such, they did not think too well of the fellow he was going to face.
"Let's begin!" Shadow Lurker gazed at the young man before him coldly and taunted, "I won't be going easy on you!"
He was planning to make use of this opportunity to forge a name for himself in the Ethereal Hall.
Just like those experts who had made their fame there by achieving achieved consecutive victories, he would do the same and make the name 'Shadow Lurker' resound across the entire Ethereal Hall!
On the other hand, Zhang Xuan lifted his hand and beckoned him. "Let's start then!"
With light footsteps, Shadow Lurker flitted toward Zhang Xuan with bizarre footwork that caused his silhouette to appear a little illusory.
Seeing the other party's moves, Zhang Xuan nodded slightly.
While the occupations in the Azure were not as developed as the Master Teacher Continent, their grasp of battle techniques and combat skills were clearly superior.
Any single one of them would be more than a match for the master teachers of the Master Teacher Pavilion!
Of course, this might be due to their possession of the Ethereal Token too. After all, not even combat masters could keep fighting on and on without getting injured.
I can't win right away, or else it'll be hard for me to get matched with my next opponent, Zhang Xuan thought.
As profound as Shadow Lurker's moves appeared to be, Zhang Xuan was still able to see at least eight flaws in them without relying on the Library of Heaven's Path. It would be a walk in the park for him to achieve victory.
But this was an open duel. If he won in a single move, it would be difficult to find his next opponent. Without an opponent, how could he make his fortune?
And if he did not earn sufficient money that day, the tenth direct disciple that he had just taken in could very well breathe his last breath tonight!
Coming to realize all of this, Zhang Xuan swiftly charged forward to trade blows with his opponent.
Peng peng peng!
In the blink of an eye, he had already started clashing with Shadow Lurker.
"Oh? It seems like World's Edge isn't too weak!"
"The move that Shadow Lurker executed earlier is the Spacebreaking Footwork, right? Is it really possible for a Saint 1-dan to execute such a powerful battle technique?"
"Is that… the Drifting Palm? Has it always been so powerful?"
"Those two moves are incredibly ingenious, and yet, World's Edge managed to dodge them so easily… Is it just luck, or does he actually have something in him?"
When the battle first started, everyone thought that it would be completely one-sided. However, when the situation did not go as expected, everyone slowly widened their eyes in incredulity.
Just as they had previously guessed, Shadow Lurker was indeed a powerful cultivator. His every single maneuver carried exceptional might. Despite that, even though World's Edge's moves were ordinary and a little flustered even, he was still able to dodge every one of Shadow Lurker's attacks and even find windows of opportunity to retaliate!
This really cast doubt over the matter.
If it was just luck, World's Edge could not have dodged Shadow Lurker's attacks by just a millimeter each and every time. But if World's Edge was truly doing it intentionally, just how powerful must he be to pull off such a dangerous feat each and every time?
"Look, World's Edge is going to counterattack!" someone suddenly shouted.
In the first ten blows or so, Shadow Lurker had been the one on the offensive, and World's Edge could only defend against his blows. But right now, the tables had turned.
As Shadow Lurker found that his offense was not reaching his enemy at all, he slowly lost his patience, and World's Edge made use of this opportunity to control the flow of the battle.
At that moment, Zhang Xuan wobbled unstably on the spot for a moment before abruptly thrusting his right palm forward.
On the other hand, Shadow Lurker seemed to have expected this abrupt attack and was not caught off guard. Without any hesitation, he thrust his left palm forward to meet the other party's attack.
Just as the two palms were about to meet, World's Edge suddenly pulled his right palm back and redirected the momentum of his strike to his left palm instead. Before anyone could even react, World's Edge had managed to strike Shadow Lurker squarely in the chest.
To think that the previous right palm thrust was another feint!
"To be able to switch between feints and real attacks so freely… not even the lord of Starlight City is capable of such a feat, right?"
"You are underestimating the lord of Starlight City too much. I have watched some of the city lord's open duels over the past few years, and he has used similar moves before. What appeared to be a feint would suddenly turn into a real strike if one failed to guard against it, and vice-versa… This is a move that requires perfect control over your body, otherwise it would be impossible to exert and retract strength so freely. Countless cultivators desire to learn this technique, but very few of them are able to get to the point where they can execute it in a real battle. I have practiced this technique for more than three years, but even I'm not completely confident in pulling it off safely. Yet, World's Edge actually managed to do it so easily."
"Frightening! Allow me to take back my earlier words, World's Edge is definitely a true expert!"
"Could he possibly be the lord of Starlight City in disguise?"
"How can that be? I know the nickname used by the city lord in his open duels, and it definitely isn't this… Someone who has won countless duels like the city lord wouldn't have any reason to pass himself off as a minor figure who hasn't even won a single match, right?"
The ability to switch freely between feints and real attacks might not seem too difficult, but throughout Starlight City, there were no more than a handful of cultivators who were able to pull it off. Thus, it was inevitable that the crowd would be shocked to see such a high-level feat being executed by an unknown figure.
The Shadow Lurker staggered backward several steps as fresh blood dripped from his lips.
While it was impossible for cultivators to die for real in the Ethereal Hall, they would still experience pain and vomit blood after incurring injuries. This was to ensure an accurate simulation of reality.
"I have lost…" Knowing that he would only lose more tragically if the battle continued, Shadow Lurker willingly admitted his defeat.
He had intended to make use of this opportunity to make his name, but who could have known that he would be defeated in his very first battle?
Right after, a young lady's voice sounded from the outside. "Do you wish to proceed on to the next duel or leave the dueling ring?"
After clearing the first battle, one had the choice to continue battling or give up.
"I'll proceed on to the second round," Zhang Xuan replied without hesitation.
While he did exert himself a little in the last battle, he still had plenty of strength left. Besides, he had not raked in the money that he needed to buy the Bluesun Pill yet, so how could he leave?
Very soon, he had been paired up with an opponent. This time, his opponent was no longer a newbie but a veteran who had already fought several battles.
His opponent seemed to have realized that he would not be easy to deal with, so as soon as the battle began, he immediately dashed forward and launched a barrage of relentless attacks, hoping to suppress him right from the start.
This left Zhang Xuan with no choice but to dodge again and again. After all, he had to drag the battle on for a bit so as to not scare his next opponent away.
"That's Infinitesimal Maneuver!"
The crowd exclaimed in astonishment.
"Infinitesimal Maneuver refers to the feat of dodging an opponent's attack by a hair's breadth each and every time. This allows one to conserve as much energy as possible, and it puts one in a better position to launch a counterattack. Of course, it is a double-edged sword as the slightest carelessness could spell the end. To think that World's Edge would actually be able to utilize such a high-level skill…"
"That must have taken him decades of tough training, right?"
"Hah, it would already be an incredible feat if one could achieve it within decades of training!"
"I have a cousin who is determined to master Infinitesimal Maneuver. He has trained for thirty years in order to pull it off, but nevertheless, he still doesn't dare execute it in a real battle. This maneuver doesn't just test the precision of one's control; more importantly, it's a test of one's state of mind. Without absolute confidence in one's abilities, there is no way one would dare use this combat skill!"
Many cultivators among the crowd were already rendered speechless.
In the Ethereal Hall, it was no exaggeration to say that those two combat skills were the marks of a true expert.
Oblivious to the shock outside of the dueling ring, Zhang Xuan dragged the match on for roughly ten blows before defeating this opponent with a swift strike.
While waiting for his third opponent, Zhang Xuan could not help but nod in satisfaction at his own performance.
It was tough, but I think I should have disguised my strength quite well. It is really stifling to have to exert only a twentieth of my true strength like this, but it is all so that I'll have enough opponents to last me to the eighth round…
Sighing deeply, Zhang Xuan raised his head to face his third opponent.This is the English translation of Tianya.