Library of Heaven is Path
1944 Arriving at the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion
Others might not know Zhang Xuan's identity, but Cao Chengli had seen Dan Xiaotian addressing him as 'teacher' with his own eyes.
To be able to make a trashy Saint 6-dan who could not even cultivate advance to Ancient Sage 1-dan consummation within a single day… Even though he had seen it happen with his own eyes, he still found it hard to believe.
If he were to follow such a person, there was no doubt that he would be able to soar through the ranks!
Furthermore, nearly all of his subordinates had been killed, and he was currently in the middle of the city himself. At this rate, it was likely that he would be lynched and killed by the furious mobs before he could even leave the city.
After all, he had done quite a number of evil deeds over the years since he dominated the mountain range. There were plenty of people who would be more than happy to skin him alive.
"You want to become my subordinate?" Zhang Xuan frowned. "Do you think that I'll accept you as my subordinate? I suggest that you drop that ludicrous idea!"
The only reason he had spared Cao Chengli for so long was so that the latter could reveal Xue Chen's ploy. Now that everything was over, why should he bother wasting his energy to save a bandit who had committed so much evil in his life?
Do I look like some kind of holy saint to you?
"Master, I'll kneel here till you are finally willing to accept me!" Cao Chengli insisted resolutely.
"Kneel here till the day you die then." Zhang Xuan waved his hand coldly.
"Master!" Cao Chengli did not think that the other party would reject him so flatly. With a sorrowful look on his face, he cried out, "It's not as if I wanted to become a bandit. I had no choice but to turn to this! I used to be a kind businessman, but there was one time I drank myself silly, and my wife ended up not allowing me to return to the house.
"So, I had to sleep in the carriage outside, but it was so freezing that I was forced to get a room at the nearby brothel instead. In the end, due to my intoxication, I ended up calling for seven women at once, and it was a night that I would never forget. But after that…"
"Enough! Stop trying to win us over with your sob story. My teacher is an upright person who abhors evildoers like you. Accepting you as his subordinate would only sully his reputation. Scram! Otherwise, I'll sever your head right now!" Dan Xiaotian yelled furiously.
Just who does Cao Chengli take my teacher to be?
My teacher might be greedy, but he is still a dragon in the sky, a figure in the clouds who towers over the world! My teacher's reputation would only be tarnished if he accepted a bandit like you as his subordinate.
Even if my teacher agrees to it, I'll never agree!
Besides, are you sure that you are telling a sob story?
Why does it seem like you are boasting instead?
Seeing that Dan Xiaotian was ready to make a move on him at any moment, Cao Chengli's face paled. However, he knew that he would not be able to live if he did not become Zhang Xuan's subordinate, so he gritted his teeth and presented his trump card.
"Master, the others will surely tear me apart if you don't accept me as my subordinate. Since I'm going to die anyway, I'd rather give everything that I have to you instead. Over the years, I have chosen to plunder only from the wealthier businessmen, but I have still managed to save quite a bit of wealth myself. There are ten Basic Immortal Pills in this storage ring, and they are my entire fortune. I am willing to present all of them to you, Master…"
"Don't think that you can bribe my teacher with this. He won't fall for such shallow tricks!" Dan Xiaotian spat coldly.
But just as he was about to push Cao Chengli away, his pale-faced teacher suddenly shook free from his support and stood upright. Like some kind of magic trick, the storage ring suddenly vanished from Cao Chengli's hand and appeared in his teacher's.
Zhang Xuan hurriedly wiped away the Soul Imprint on the storage ring and took a look at the contents within. A moment later, he nodded in satisfaction and said, "Fine, I'll accept you as my subordinate. Come with me!"
With each single Basic Immortal Pill costing 100,000 Ethereal Coins, ten of them would be worth 1,000,000 Ethereal Coins. Furthermore, they were all stored in a storage ring that was priced at a hefty sum of 500,000 Ethereal Coins at the very least. Who would have thought that this bandit actually had such wealth with him?
With so much money, he could make an exception just this once and take in Cao Chengli as his subordinate.
"Teacher!" Dan Xiaotian was stunned.
Is this man really my teacher?
If so, why do I find him so embarrassing at this very moment?
A person who could make him advance two cultivation realms within an hour and possessed exceptional skills in both medicine and swordsmanship… He should have been a transcendental being who cared not for material possessions at all! How could he be taken in by just a couple of pills?
Where is his bottom line?
Where is his dignity as an expert?
Dan Xiaotian did not have too many things that he wanted to take with him, so after taking one last look at the place in which he had grown up, he returned to the City Lord Manor with Elder Yi, Zhang Xuan, and Cao Chengli.
Initially, the horse and carriage had insisted on coming along as well. They threatened to kill themselves if they were left behind. But seeing that their threats were simply shrugged off as if they were nothing at all, they eventually gave up and headed into the wilderness to live together.
Considering that Zhang Xuan and the others were going to take an aerial beast to the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion, it would indeed be inconvenient for them to take a horse and a carriage with them.
As for Xue Qin, it went without saying that her slot as a menial disciple had been canceled after everything was exposed. It was fortunate that she had not done too many bad things in the past, so no punishment had come upon her. However, with her father's death, she would lose the protection of the City Lord Manor. Her life probably would not be too easy from now on.
Seeing this, Dan Xiaotian also lost his interest in settling the score with Xue Qin. He was more interested in the life ahead of him instead of pursuing whatever that had happened in the past.
With all preparations ready, the massive aerial beast flapped its wings and carried Zhang Xuan and the others away from Xuanjiang City. Before long, they were already well on their way to the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion.
"It'll take roughly ten days of flight to reach our sect!" Elder Lu Yun told them.
The aerial beast that they were riding on was at Ancient Sage 4-dan Dimension Shatterer realm. With its strength, it could easily cover several hundred thousand li despite the heavier space in the Azure. Yet, for them to still require ten days before reaching their destination… It seemed like the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion was really far away!
From the looks of it, it was likely that the Forsaken Continent was even larger in scale compared to the Master Teacher Continent.
Due to Dan Xiaotian's esteemed position as an inner disciple, he was allocated a private room on the flight. Naturally, he shared it with Zhang Xuan and the others.
During the flight, Zhang Xuan swallowed two of the Basic Immortal Pills that he had received from Cao Chengli and managed to return to his full strength. He also made sure to reinforce his cultivation again and again with the mercury-like spiritual energy, to the point that he was ready to make a breakthrough at any moment.
However, as he still did not have any suitable cultivation techniques on hand, he could only hold himself back for the time being.
After several days of careful inspection, while he had already sensed it previously, he was finally able to confirm that the time flow in the Azure was indeed different from that on the Master Teacher Continent. To put it in a ratio, it was 1:10.
In other words, a day in the Azure would be equivalent to the passing of ten days in the Master Teacher Continent.
So, tens of thousands of years on the Master Teacher Continent equated to just several thousand years in the Azure. That corresponded to the time when the Ethereal Hall was first founded too.
As a result of the pressures of time and space in the Azure, the lifespan of the cultivators there was significantly reduced as well.
Saint cultivators could live for up to a thousand years on the Master Teacher Continent, but a hundred years was the limit for them here. Similarly, Ancient Sage cultivators only had a lifespan of slightly more than a hundred years here.
As for Pseudo Immortals like Elder Lu Yun, his lifespan was also only three hundred years.
That might be the reason that so many of them desired to descend to the Master Teacher Continent despite the severe damage that they would sustain as a result.
Over the next few days, other than focusing on his own cultivation, Zhang Xuan also spent some time offering pointers to Dan Xiaotian and Cao Chengli. As for Elder Yi, due to his advanced age and huge deficiencies that he had suffered over the years, he needed some time to recuperate. Thus, it was not suitable for him to cultivate for the time being.
Just like that, ten days passed in a flash.
As the morning sun rose from the horizon, the crowd saw a massive mountain gate towering in front of them.
It was almost ten thousand meters tall and several thousand meters wide. Due to its hulking size, the top of the gate was concealed amid the clouds. This reminded Zhang Xuan of the Southern Gate of Heaven.
At the very center of the gate was a massive sword made out of concrete piercing into the earth.
Even before coming close, they could already feel an incredible Sword Intent coming from it. It seemed to wield the strength to shatter even space itself, and the pressure it exerted could easily render any cultivator immobile.
"How formidable!" Zhang Xuan was astonished.
As expected of one of the Six Sects of the Azure. There was just no way this massive gate and sword could have been created on the Master Teacher Continent.
A formidable Sword Intent that was even more powerful than any of the Sword Quintessence he had practiced previously pulsated from the massive sword. If he were to meet an expert who practiced the swordsmanship carrying this Sword Intent, even he would be defeated easily.
It seemed like the Six Sects were indeed terrifying powers!
Out of curiosity, Zhang Xuan activated his Eye of Insight and took a closer look at the massive sword. He could vaguely see an illusory sword hidden in the depths of the massive concrete sword.
That was probably the physical manifestation of the tremendous amount of Sword Intent gathered within the massive concrete sword.
To his surprise, the conceptualization behind the Sword Intent was rather similar to the Heaven's Path Sword Art, but it was clearly something of an even higher level. It felt profound and transcendental even by Zhang Xuan's standards.
Just by looking and perceiving it, Zhang Xuan was able to gain a deeper understanding of the crux of swordsmanship.
While it was impossible for him to truly understand the Sword Intent with just a glance, due to the similar conceptualization, he was confident that, as long as he had sufficient time, he would be able to infuse this Sword Intent into his Heaven's Path Sword Art, thus raising his swordsmanship to another level.
"The Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion is just right ahead. This sword was left behind by our founder. It harnesses his understanding of swordsmanship and the Sword Intent he comprehended. Even to this day, his accomplishments continue to awe generations of sword practitioners!" Elder Lu Yun said as he looked at the massive gate and sword with admiration in his eyes.
Dan Xiaotian's body also stiffened a little as his eyes reddened.
Even in the days when he was practicing his swordsmanship alone, from time to time, he would dream of visiting the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion one day to practice the best swordsmanship in the world. This was a dream come true for him.
There was still some time before the aerial beast flew through the gate, so Elder Lu Yun turned to Dan Xiaotian, Zhang Xuan, and the others and said, "Before we enter the sect, I would first like to inform you of the rules of our sect.
"The disciples of the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion can mainly be divided into four tiers, namely menial disciples, outer disciples, inner disciples, and core disciples. While inner disciples are already highly respected within the sect, the standing of the core disciples exceeds that!"
"Core disciples?" Dan Xiaotian's eyes glowed with anticipation.
"That's right. To be honest, there isn't much you have to do as an inner disciple of the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion. You can freely allocate your time to practicing your swordsmanship or cultivating. If you require any resources to study, you can browse through the books in the inner disciples' library. Otherwise, you can also approach any of your seniors or elders and request their help. Of course, most of the resources don't come free. You'll have to pay with Sword Pavilion Coins!" Elder Lu Yun said.
"Sword Pavilion Coins?" Zhang Xuan repeated quietly with a hint of exasperation in his voice.
He had not expected there to be another currency used within the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion, and he had a feeling that he would have to spend quite a bit of effort to earn it in the near future. It really felt like he would never be free from monetary problems at this rate.
"The Sword Pavilion Coin is a virtual currency used only within the Ascendant Could Sword Pavilion. It can be used to buy whatever you need, be it pills, weapons, cultivation techniques, or even lessons from elders. However, earning them can be quite troublesome. You have to either participate in the dueling ring, complete missions, answer the questions of others, or guide others on their cultivation. In any case, the most important thing you have to know is that everything within the sect requires Sword Pavilion Coins. Without them, you'll face obstacles in whatever you do. On the other hand, if you are able to earn sufficient Sword Pavilion Coins, you'll be able to claim an endless supply of cultivation resources. Naturally, you'll also be able to advance your cultivation faster than anyone!" Elder Lu Yun explained.
Dan Xiaotian was a little surprised as well.
Things were a little different from what he had envisioned it out to be. He had imagined the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion to be a transcendental sect where material needs would be of secondary concern. Everyone would be fully immersed in exploring the profoundness of cultivation and swordsmanship. Contrary to his expectations, there seemed to be quite a capitalistic economy in there?
"Wait a moment, Elder Lu. You mentioned earlier that Sword Pavilion Coins is a virtual currency… Does that mean that the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion has its own Ethereal Hall?" Zhang Xuan asked.
"You can think of it that way. We have our own private Ethereal Hall that the disciples can access. Similar to the other Ethereal Halls out there, it's a place where our disciples spar and trade with one another. The only difference would be that our Ethereal Hall is controlled internally by our own people, and it has its own currency and system. It's independent of the other Ethereal Halls out there!" Elder Lu Yun replied.
Zhang Xuan nodded in realization.
To use an analogy from his previous world, the Ethereal Hall within the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion was like a local area network in a PC cafe. Only those on devices belonging to the PC cafe could access this isolated network.
"Oh right, the standard level of cultivation in our own Ethereal Hall is different, too. Our Ethereal Hall can only be accessed by inner disciples and above, so the standard level of cultivation inside the Ethereal Hall is not Saint 1-dan but Ancient Sage 1-dan," Elder Lu Yun said.
For those who entered the Ethereal Hall in Starlight City, no matter how powerful they were outside, their cultivation realm would be reduced to Saint 1-dan. However, it was different here. No matter how powerful or weak a person was, their cultivation would be set at Ancient Sage 1-dan within the Ethereal Hall.
This made sense since a lot of the more formidable swordsmanship could not be executed if one's strength was capped at only Saint 1-dan. That would also render the dueling ring meaningless.
"Other than that, everything else is pretty much the same. You are able to hide your identity and change your appearance, too, such that others will be unable to tell who you are and vice versa… However, this also means that the person whom you are talking to could be an elder or even the sect leader himself. Thus, you must make sure not to act audaciously within the Ethereal Hall. While our elders and sect leader aren't vindictive people, you can still get into a fair bit of trouble if you overstep your bounds!" Elder Lu Yun warned gravely.
"Elder? Sect leader?"
Hearing that explanation, not only was Zhang Xuan not nervous in the least, his eyes even lit up in excitement. He could not help but wonder, If I beat up an elder or the sect leader… will it be more exhilarating than beating up ordinary cultivators?It's said that there are four gateways into the heavens, and the Southern Gate of Heaven is the gateway between the mortal world and the heavens. It has appeared in many classic Chinese works like Journey to the West, Eight Immortals, Legend of the White Snake, and so on.