"Not bad!" Zhang Xuan nodded in satisfaction.

Just like Lu Chong, this direct disciple of his had a resolute heart.

Putting everything aside, anyone else who had faced such hardships would have likely already given up on themselves and despaired at life. On the other hand, even though Dan Xiaotian knew that he wasn't making any progress at all, he still persevered on and absorbed spiritual energy every single day.

It was due to such willpower that allowed for his current accomplishment!

Only those who had put in the effort would receive returns. There was no such thing as a free lunch in the world.

"Teacher!"

The tremendous strength coursing through his body and the sensations he was finally feeling in his left leg made Dan Xiaotian's eyes glisten with tears. Unable to hold himself back anymore, he kneeled down and cried.

Despite his exceptional willpower, he was still a teenage child.

He thought that he would die in humiliation after being rejected by his fiancee, but his teacher actually changed the trajectory of his entire life.

"Kindness begets kindness. You were the one who reached out a helping hand to me, and you deserve everything that you are receiving right now…" Zhang Xuan replied with a smile. "Since your cultivation has reached Intuitive Impulse realm, allow me to impart you with some protective battle techniques!"

It was futile if Dan Xiaotian had powerful cultivation but no corresponding battle technique to go along with it.

Take Xu Zhu for example, he had two hundred years of inner energy but he was unable to use it at all, which brought him much trouble later on.

"I noticed that you have been practicing your swordsmanship, and it happens that I have created a sword art recently. I want you to give it a try and see if you are able to learn it."

Ever since he was ten, Dan Xiaotian devoted his time equally to his cultivation and practicing his swordsmanship. While his mastery of swordsmanship was so-so, he had long gotten used to the weapon, so there was no need for him to intentionally switch to another weapon anymore. Besides, he felt that Dan Xiaotian would be a good fit for the sword art which he had come up with earlier in the Ethereal Hall.

It didn't take long for Dan Xiaotian to go through the sword art manual.

There was only one move in the sword art manual, and that was tossing his sword. However, this move was much more complicated than it seemed. It required one to have precise control over one's strength in order to exploit the enemy's opening to bypass the enemy's defenses.

Dan Xiaotian instinctively knew that the path to mastering this technique was fraught with difficulties.

First and foremost, he needed to have a deep understanding of his enemy's strength and moves in order to launch a pre-emptive strike. Secondly, speed was also of key importance in this move.


Huhuhu!

As difficult as the technique was, Dan Xiaotian was a person with great willpower. He put his all into every single practice throw he made, fearing that he would displease his teacher.

"Good!" Zhang Xuan nodded in satisfaction.

The direct disciple he had just accepted didn't come anywhere close to Zhao Ya, Yuan Tao, and the others in terms of his talents, but he surpassed them in his positive attitude and diligence.

After practicing for two hours, Zhang Xuan noted that Dan Xiaotian had achieved a primary understanding of the technique before indicating that it was time for them to return back to their residence.

"Continue feigning to be crippled," Zhang Xuan sent a telepathic message over to Dan Xiaotian to remind him.

Dan Xiaotian, who was walking normally a moment ago, immediately began limping once more, just like how he had been for the past ten years.

With the breakthrough in his cultivation, not only was his leg fixed, his height had also increased by a fair bit. While he still wasn't as tall as Zhang Xuan yet, he was already around the same height as his peers. Nevertheless, knowing the rationale behind his teacher's instructions, he intentionally slouched his body so as to appear shorter than he was. Those who weren't familiar with him wouldn't have noticed the difference in his condition from before.

By now, the day had already darkened. When Elder Yi rushed over with a horse carriage, the first thing he noticed was the difference in Dan Xiaotian, and he froze in astonishment.

He was just about to say something when he saw the Third Young Master shaking his head.

Knowing the meaning behind the latter's gesture, Elder Yi swiftly concealed his astonishment and joy. Nevertheless, he still quietly kneeled to the ground and kowtowed to Zhang Xuan several times before standing up once more and gesturing for the two to get onto the carriage.

He was still thinking that the Third Young Master was too kind to help another person despite the plight their clan was in, but who could have thought that it would be the latter's kindness who actually changed their lives?

"Old Master, the Third Young Master is finally well again…" Elder Yi muttered quietly to himself as his eyes reddened.

Wiping away the tears of joy brimming in his eyes, Elder Yi walloped the horse to quickly return back to the Dan Clan.

Shortly after they left, several shadows appeared by the corners of the street. They flitted through the darkness to track the movement of the carriage.

… 

Starlight City.

"Have you heard? A formidable expert has appeared in the Ethereal Hall today! He achieved eight consecutive victories in the dueling ring, and eventually, he had no choice but to leave because there was no one who was willing to fight him!"

"He won eight rounds straight? Holey heavens! It must have been several hundred years since such a formidable expert appeared amongst us. Thinking about it, the cultivators of the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion are currently recruiting outer disciples in our city, aren't they? Could they be the ones behind it?"

"I doubt so. The cultivators of the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion challenged that expert too, but they were utterly destroyed in a single move!"

"Are you for real? How do you know?"

"Of the four cultivators from the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion, there's one called Yun Feiyang, right? There was a character named Soaring Clouds in the Ethereal Hall, and his appearance is identical to that of Yun Feiyang. Furthermore, the move that he executed clearly belongs to the Sword Pavilion… but even so, his head was impaled within a single move, and he died on the spot…"

"That expert is that powerful? What's his name?"

"His name? Let me think… I think he's called World's Edge!"

"What an excellent name! Vast and unfathomable; just listening to the name is enough to send shudders down my spine!"

"..."

… 

News spread swiftly. In less than two hours since Zhang Xuan left the Ethereal Hall, nearly all of the experts of Starlight City had already heard of his feat there.

In an instant, the Ethereal Hall was filled with huge crowds of sword practitioners. They waited before the dueling ring, hoping for the expert known as World's Edge to appear once more so that they could witness his transcendental swordsmanship.

Starlight City, City Lord Residence.

This was where the esteemed guests from the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion were assigned to stay at.

In a vast courtyard, an old man was currently practicing his swordsmanship.

His movements were extremely slow, seemingly devoid of strength. Yet, every single time he moved his sword, it felt as if the fabrics of the world were being strained. The air currents in the courtyard were stirred up under his movements, and they circled together to form a massive tornado.

They were plenty of flowers and grass growing in the courtyard. As the air currents brushed by, there was surprisingly no damage to them at all. Yet, the dew that was above them seemed to vanish from sight.

To get rid of the water dew without hurting the flowers and grass, this was truly an unbelievable level of control over one's strength.

Hu!

The elder finally halted his swordsmanship and exhaled a mouthful of white smoke. The white smoke rose for over thirty meters before vanishing in the midst of the dark night.

"Come in!" the elder called out as he washed his hands clean with the bucket of water by the side of the courtyard.

He had already noticed some visitors standing at his doorway a long time ago, and he knew that they were the juniors whom he had brought out together with him. However, as he was in the midst of his swordsmanship practice, he kept them waiting for a while.

Jiya!

Yun Feiyang, Huang Tao, Bamboo, and Square-faced walked in, and they hurriedly bowed down and greeted, "Paying respects to Elder Lu!"

The old man standing before them was no other than Elder Lu Yun, the man in charge of handling the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion's recruitment.

"Un!" Elder Lu Yun walked up to the stone table in the courtyard and sat down. "Speak, what's your reason for visiting me so late in the night?"

This group of young men behaved as if a bunch of canaries being released from their cages as soon as they left the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion. They were more eager than ever to avoid him usually, fearing that he would limit their freedom. Yet, on this very day, all of them were gathered together outside his courtyard… Something had to be up.

"Elder Lu, just earlier on, Yun Feiyang and Huang Tao went to… the Starlight City's Ethereal Hall, and they fought with someone on the dueling ring…" Square-faced stepped forward and reported.

Elder Lu's face immediately darkened in disapproval, "I can understand your feelings. Have learned so many new techniques, it's inevitable that you would want to boast about it. However, as disciples of the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion, you have to get your priorities straight. The reason why you are learning swordsmanship is to temper yourself and uncover the secrets of swordsmanship. Your diligence is the key for you to becoming an inner disciple and eventually bringing glory to the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion.

"Today, you might be proud of being a disciple of the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion, but tomorrow, the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion could be proud of having a disciple like you… Let me tell you this straight, you are wasting your precious time on futile pursuits!"

If a professional gamer were to come to an ordinary internet cafe, it would be inevitable that he would like to show a hand or two to win some respect from the other gamers… but while such actions were thrilling, they didn't value add at all. One learned absolutely nothing out of those experiences.

Hearing those words, Yun Feiyang and Huang Tao's faces reddened in shame.

"I'll let you off the hook this time around, but this must never happen again, understood?" Elder Lu Yun instructed with an authoritative wave of his hand. At this moment, his eyebrows suddenly shot up as he realized something, "In the past, when I brought other disciples out, such matters did happen too. While I don't approve of such actions, it isn't at odds with the rules of our sect… Did the four of you get into some sort of trouble?"

Yun Feiyang fidgeted a little in embarrassment as he replied, "Elder Lu… when I went onto the dueling ring in the Ethereal Hall earlier, I executed the Boundless Flowing Water against my opponent!"

"You executed the Boundless Flowing Water? You would need such a move to defeat the cultivators of Starlight City? It appears that you have met an expert!" Elder Lu Yun was slightly stunned for a moment before he picked up a teapot and filled his teacup.

"I created this move unintentionally while I was observing a flowing river back in my younger years. While its conceptualization is simple, it harnesses a fragment of the laws of nature, making it extremely difficult to cultivate. It's impressive that you are able to execute it… Of course, the opponent who is able to force you into making this move must be quite skilled too. Since you have executed this move, I trust that you have cornered your opponent and forced him to admit defeat?" Elder Lu Yun said with a smile before sipping on his tea.

He was extremely confident of the sword art he had created. The cultivators of Starlight City were bound to be scared into submission upon encountering this move of his.

Seeing that Elder Lu Yun had gone on another one of his narcissistic streaks, Yun Feiyang's awkwardness intensified. With hesitation in his voice, he said, "When I executed the move, the opponent… he impaled my head with a throw of his sword…"

"Pu!"

Elder Lu spat a mouthful of tea at the face of Square-faced, causing his face to appear larger than ever. With widened eyes, Elder Lu Yun asked anxiously, "What did you just say?"

"I… At the very start of the duel, I executed the Boundless Flowing Water, but that fellow tossed his sword toward me, and the sword passed through the defense of the Boundless Flowing Water and pierced my head, causing me to die on the spot!" Yun Feiyang explained once more.

"T-t-t-t-this… How is this possible?" Elder Lu Yun was on the verge of going crazy.

Such a powerful defensive sword art was actually unraveled by the single toss of a sword… Was this for real?

"Does that person specialize in offense?" Seeing that Yun Feiyang didn't seem to be lying, Elder Lu Yun questioned on.

"Un, it seems so. His offensive prowess is quite formidable!" Huang Tao replied with an affirmative nod.

Till now, he was still a little traumatized at how easily he was killed. If he were to meet that person in real life… 

"If that's the case, it might be because you have used the wrong move to counter him. While Boundless Flowing Water is a defensive sword art, blindly attempting to defend against a determined assault is not a wise move. You would eventually reveal an opening for the enemy to exploit!" Hearing that they had only lost in the face of exceptional offensive prowess, Elder Lu Yun slowly regained his calm. 

"Against such an opponent, you have to grasp the initiative and make the first move so as to corner the enemy with your overwhelming momentum. If you had used the Meteor Steps in parallel with my Bamboo Shattering Swordsmanship, you should have been able to turn the tables around and defeat him easily!"

"Regarding that… Elder Lu, I have crossed hands with that person too, and I executed the Meteor Steps together with the Bamboo Shattering Swordsmanship right from the start…" Bamboo said with a reddened face.

These were the two moves he executed against World's Edge as soon as the duel started.

And of course, it went without saying that those two moves were created by Elder Lu Yun too.

"How is it? Did you overwhelm him with absolute might and defeat him in an instant?" Elder Lu Yun asked as he took another sip of water.

Bamboo scratched his head and replied, "Well… before I could even get to him, he had already head shotted me…"

Pu!

This time, Square-faced's clothes were drenched too. His resentful expression made his face look larger than ever.

"Regardless of whether you went on the offensive or defensive, you were still defeated by the other party in a single move?" Elder Lu Yun dropped his teacup as he rose to his feet in astonishment.Xu Zhu is a character in Jin Yong's Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils. He was a monk from Shaolin Temple, but by sheer coincidence and luck, he deciphered a Go formation and inherited the strength of a legendary expert. However, as he had never really practiced martial arts before, he was unable to tap into his strength properly.

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