Library of Heaven is Path
1924 Sword Tossing
The third opponent was a young lady dressed in green, but she fell in defeat soon enough.
The fourth opponent was an arrogant young man, but he too did not persevere beyond ten moves.
Seeing how he was staying in control, not scaring away the other challengers from fighting him in a duel, Zhang Xuan nodded in contentment at his self-control.
What he did not know was that, to the others, being able to spar with an expert of such caliber with just five hundred Ethereal Coins was an invaluable opportunity for them, so there was no reason for them to pass on it.
It could be said that they were earning a huge profit just by challenging Zhang Xuan in a duel.
It was not as if they could die in the duel, so they had nothing to lose.
"Senior, what's your opinion on that World's Edge?"
Outside the dueling ring, two figures leaning on a nearby pillar watched the live feed on the screen as they spoke.
The person who was speaking was dressed in green, and he was hugging a sword. Despite his slackened posture, his eyes reflected a sharp Sword Intent that was at odds with his demeanor.
The 'Senior' whom he was speaking too was also holding a sword in his hands, and the Sword Intent that he emanated was even more intense. It was clear that he was a skilled sword practitioner just by his presence.
Both Xuanjiang City and Starlight City were under the jurisdiction of the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion, so there were many sword practitioners among the populace. In fact, even in the dueling ring, many of the challengers chose to wield a sword.
"The fact that he's able to alternate between feint and real attacks, as well as his ability to carry out Infinitesimal Maneuver, shows that the precision of his control over his strength has reached an incredible level, not paling in comparison even to me. There's no doubt that he's an expert!" The senior nodded with a smile. "However, he's still lacking in comparison to the disciples of our Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion!"
"Those two skills are the elementary requirements one has to meet in order to officially become a disciple of our sect. Most menial disciples are capable of pulling that off. It's only in a remote location like this that people make such a huge fuss over this matter!" the junior said.
"Junior Huang Tao, go and sign up for the dueling ring and show that fellow that there's a wider world out there!" the senior instructed.
"Rest assured! If I can't make him admit within three moves, I'll spend the pay on the tab for our alcohol tonight and practice the Transient Swordsmanship from scratch once more!" the junior known as Huang Tao replied with a confident smile.
"Don't drag the battle on for too long. We have yet to choose the new outer disciples and menial disciples, so we are very tight on time. Furthermore, our actions can be viewed as no different from bullying the local populace, and if Elder Lu learns of it, he'll surely reprimand us!"
As geniuses from a major sect, it was inappropriate for them to come to such a remote area and challenge the newbies in the area. This was no different from national players dropping by a local community club to challenge its team. It was beneath them to do something like that, and it would only sully their reputation.
"I understand!" Huang Tao nodded as he walked toward the female attendant.
It did not take long for him to be confirmed as Zhang Xuan's fifth opponent.
"Look at Dire Swordsman's win ratio!"
"He's only lost five matches out of a hundred? Isn't that insanity?"
"What a ridiculous score this is! It seems like World's Edge has really met his match this time!
"Since he's holding a sword, this duel will likely be a sword duel. We've only seen World's Edge's expertise in hand-to-hand combat; we haven't seen his expertise with the sword."
Every single competitor would have their past record in the dueling ring reflected on the screen. Dire Swordsman's feat of losing only five matches out of a hundred swiftly raised a commotion among the crowd.
The crowd initially expected it to be a one-sided battle just like those before, but the opinions were soon divided in now.
Some believed that while World's Edge had displayed exceptional hand-to-hand combat skills, that was no indication that he would be good with a weapon in hand.
Given his opponent's name, Dire Swordsman, and his score to date, he was likely an exceptional sword practitioner.
"Pick up your weapon!"
In the dueling ring, Huang Tao held onto his sword as he gestured to Zhang Xuan.
Without much hesitation, Zhang Xuan flicked his wrist, and a sword from the nearby weapon rack swiftly flew into his hands.
There were no tiers to the swords in the Ethereal Hall. They were only tools used to execute one's swordsmanship, so things such as weapon spirit did not exist within them.
"I'll give you two chances before I draw my sword. If you can't get close to me before then, I'll defeat you within a single strike!" Huang Tao remarked calmly.
As a disciple of the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion, he had his own honor to uphold.
"You aren't going to draw your sword right away?" Zhang Xuan taken aback. With a frown on his forehead, he muttered, "But you might lose your life if so…"
"Audacious!" Huang Tao exclaimed with a darkened face. "Make your move, or else you won't have to a chance to do so very soon!"
"Alright then!" Zhang Xuan sighed helplessly.
He raised the sword in his hand and flicked it around casually, as if he was trying to get used to it. Without taking a single step forward, he flicked his finger all of a sudden.
The sword flew out of his hand.
Before he could even make his first move, he actually lost his grip over his sword!
This was one of the greatest taboos in battle! Once a cultivator lost their weapon in battle, they would have to face their opponent bare-handed, thus putting them in a disadvantageous position!
"That's too reckless!"
"Is that fellow trying to admit defeat?"
The crowd watching the duel were stunned by what they were seeing.
They had never expected to see such carelessness from the seemingly powerful World's Edge.
"Look, World's Edge has turned his body around!"
"You're right! What does he mean by that?"
"Is he trying to admit defeat just like that? Does he not have the slightest shred of sportsmanship in him?"
Amid exclaims of astonishment, the situation grew more and more ridiculous.
On the stage, the young man known as World's Edge turned around and raised his hands after tossing out his sword, as if celebrating something… Was this a mark of surrender? Was he giving up after seeing Dire Swordsman's impressive record?
The problem was, it was one thing for World's Edge to surrender, but why was he raising his hand so triumphantly? Did he view it as an honor or something?
Standing on the opposite end of the stage, Huang Tao was taken aback by the situation as well.
He had no idea what his opponent was up to or what was going on. Even if his opponent wanted to admit defeat, the latter should say so verbally instead of displaying such uncertain gestures!
Just as he was deep in thought, his senior anxiously yelled, "Huang Tao, don't let your guard down! Be careful!"
That remark immediately brought Huang Tao back from his daze, and he quickly gathered his attention once more. However, before he knew it, the sword that his opponent had tossed ever so casually had already slowly made its way to him.
The movements of the sword felt incredibly slow, giving one the feeling that it was floating quietly in the air. When it was just three meters away from him, the sword abruptly accelerated, bolting toward him as if a flash of light.
Alarmed, Huang Tao immediately drew the sword in his embrace to protect himself, but before he could move, there was already a splitting pain in his head.
His body fell uncontrollably to the ground as his consciousness swiftly vanished. The sword had already pierced his head and ended him.
Huang Tao's corpse swiftly dissipated into light particles before vanishing altogether, leaving only the sword that he had been holding earlier on the ground.
Dying in the Ethereal Hall would not cause any harm to one's real body, but the Ethereal Token that one wielded would shatter and lose its function. Similarly, one's avatar and consciousness in the Ethereal Hall would vanish as well.
In other words, dying in the Ethereal Hall was not completely without cost.
There was a deathly silence that lingered in the area.
Everyone stared in shock at the dueling ring before them with slackened jaws.
They had expected to see an intense fight between Dire Swordsman and World's Edge, but as if a farcical play, the latter had tossed his sword out, and the former had gotten his head impaled.
What the heck was that?
After a moment of bizarre silence, roaring cheers filled the surroundings.
While most of the spectators were unable to make sense out of what had happened in the earlier duel, it was as clear as day to them that World's Edge had won the duel.
"Long live World's Edge! I love you more than anything in the world!"
"Dire Swordsman must have underestimated his opponent far too much. He was probably caught off guard by the sudden offense from World's Edge…"
"I thought that Dire Swordsman would be a formidable figure, but who would have guessed that he's nothing but talk? To be impaled by a sword just like this… there's probably no one other than him!"
"And to think that he actually had a win ratio of 95% out of one hundred matches… Did he get such a record by rigging the system, or did he intentionally lose the battle so as to give us a good laugh?"
To all the spectators, the sword toss that Zhang Xuan had performed earlier looked perfectly ordinary, so it was inexplicable to them how Dire Swordsman had ended up getting killed by it. Thus, there was only one possibility in their mind, and that was that Dire Swordsman was simply too weak!
The senior leaning against the pillar hurriedly straightened his posture.
He had noticed that something was amiss as soon as the sword was tossed. He could sense traces of Sword Intent behind the sword toss, which meant that it was a sword technique in itself.
Still, was it really possible to kill Huang Tao so easily with the toss of a sword?
The senior tried to recall the trajectory behind the sword toss, but the harder he tried to think about it, the more sweat that trickled down his forehead.
To his astonishment, he was unable to map out the trajectory of the sword toss at all! It was as if everything had simply happened. His mind could process the start and the end, but everything in between was a blank.
Even with his eye of discernment, he was unable to tell how the young man had managed to win with that single sword toss!
"Do I have to fight him personally in order to tell?" the senior muttered as he clenched his fists tightly together.
Most formidable swordsmanship would require a person to experience it themself in order to know how powerful it truly was. Most likely, this move had also reached such a level.
With that thought in mind, the senior unhesitatingly walked over to the registration counter and signed up for the duel. A moment later, he appeared in the dueling ring.
"Soaring Clouds?" Zhang Xuan read from the screen not too far away.
He could not help but notice that his newest opponent had a sword in his grasp. It was just a moment ago that he had gotten rid of a swordsman when another one appeared before him. Did he accidentally poke a beehive or something?
"I am Soaring Clouds (Yun Feiyang). It's both my nickname and my real name!" Yun Feiyang nodded in response.
Without any hesitation, he drew his sword, and a cold sheen appeared on the surface of the sword. "Pick up your weapon!"
Seeing that his opponent was as narcissistic as his previous opponent, Zhang Xuan picked up the sword that he had used for the previous battle from the weapon rack once more before looking at his opponent.
Yun Feiyang clasped his fist and requested, "Please use the same sword art as before!"
He wanted to experience the same sword art that had killed his junior in an instant earlier so that he could find a way to decipher it. As a sword practitioner, he could not stand the idea of a sword technique existing in the world that he was unable to make sense of.
"The sword art that I used earlier?" Zhang Xuan frowned.
"Well… I guess that's fine!" Zhang Xuan sighed helplessly.
He did not think that the sword toss that he had executed earlier could be considered a sword art at all. It was really just a casual toss of his sword, and there was no particular skill or deep conceptualization behind it.
That being said, it was still a sword toss that harnessed the essence of the Heaven's Path Sword Art, and that was how it had pierced Dire Swordsman's head with impeccable accuracy.
This fellow wanted to give the same menu a try?
Did he think that his head was tough enough to survive the impact?
Regardless of the reason behind his opponent's request, it really did not make much of a difference to him at all.
He swung the sword in his hand a bit to get used to the grip before pointing it toward Soaring Clouds.
With a flick, the sword flew out of his hand.
"It's coming!" Yun Feiyang narrowed his eyes as he swiftly brandished his sword.
In an instant, with the loud roaring of wind and swift afterimages of a blade, his silhouette was completely covered by his sword, preventing even the slightest droplet of water from getting to him.
"What formidable swordsmanship!"
"How can he swing his sword so quickly?"
"I can't even follow the movements of his sword with my eye! How can anyone breach a defense like this?"
The crowd below were astonished by Yun Feiyang's defense.
His swordsmanship was so fast that it felt as if a light sphere of a radius of two meters had formed around him.
Under such tight defense, it would be nigh impossible to harm him.
Under the shocked gazes of the crowd, the tossed sword slowly advanced through the air to a distance of three meters away from Yun Feiyang.
With a loud whoosh of the wind, the sword abruptly vanished from sight. Unbeknownst to the crowd, it had pierced right through the light sphere formed by Yun Feiyang's swift sword.
"What's going on?"
"Did he manage to stop it, or did he fail to stop it?"
The crowd were stunned to see that the sword had vanished but the light sphere was still maintained around Yun Feiyang.
With their eye of discernment, they could not tell what was happening on the stage.
Before the crowd could finish their words, the light sphere abruptly popped, revealing a young man with a sword lodged in his head.
The person in question had already breathed his last breath.
The corpse collapsed to the ground and dissipated.
Gasps of shock echoed through the crowd.