What Elder Chou Huo said was the truth.

He had followed Zhang Xuan in order to ensure the latter's safety, but of the three Heavenly True Immortals, the latter had individually killed one, impaled the second one that he was fighting with, and diced the last one into pieces.

Even the Heavenly High Immortal expert had been crushed to death by the latter's book.

Thinking back, he really was not of much use.

If there was anything that he had done, it was drawing a portion of the mobs' aggro.

It was also due to the lack of his contribution in the battle that he did not dare complain when the latter took all the drops away as well.

He could not help but wonder how the young man was able to advance his cultivation so quickly that he inadvertently shot a glance over... then he found himself shocked once more. Before he knew it, the young man's cultivation had risen from Lesser True Immortal to Heavenly True Immortal!

"I thought that I was still far too weak, so on the way back, I ate a couple of Immortal Pills and pushed for a couple of breakthroughs," Zhang Xuan explained.

If only he had raised his cultivation to Heavenly High Immortal realm prior to the assault, he would have been able to deal with those three fellows easily even if they had ganged up on him.

In view of his safety, he had kept munching on his Superior Immortal Pills while driving his Heaven's Path Divine Art on the way back. With his accumulation from the earlier battle, it did not take long for him to advance his cultivation all the way to the Heavenly True Immortal realm.

He did not reveal it previously out of fear that there might be spies from the Hall of Gods keeping track of his movements. He would not want to let the enemies know that he was in possession of such a formidable cultivation technique.

Now that he was back at the Elder Council though, he felt that he was finally safe once more, so he did not think that there was any need to conceal his cultivation. Who could have thought that he would have ended up frightening Elder Chou Huo?

"Ate a couple of Immortal Pills... and pushed for a couple of breakthroughs?"

Hearing how simple Zhang Xuan made his breakthroughs sound, Han Jianqiu, Elder He Tian, and the others nearly spurted blood on the spot.

Just a few hours ago, they had been slightly displeased by how playful Zhang Xuan was, choosing to sneak out of the sect instead of focusing on advancing his cultivation. Yet, within the four short hours that he had been out, he had successfully advanced his cultivation to the Heavenly True Immortal realm!

If what they had heard from Elder Lu Yun was true, the young man's cultivation should only have been at Dimension Shatterer realm primary stage a day ago!

What left them feeling even more frenzied was how insignificant the young man was making this accomplishment sound.

If the key to achieving breakthroughs was just to devour Immortal Pills, why isn't anything happening to us?


Han Jianqiu suddenly thought of an even more frightening notion, and he hurriedly said, "No, wait a moment. You mentioned that Elder Zhang Xuan fought off the experts of the Hall of Gods using the Tongshang Sword... Are you saying that he has tamed the sword as well?"

The Tongshang Sword was a treasure that he had acquired a couple of years ago, and he knew just how arrogant it was.

Even he would have to put in a great deal of effort if he wanted to tame it, and it was due to how troubling he thought the process would be that he had chosen not to do so. How in the world did Zhang Xuan manage to tame the sword when his cultivation had only been at the Heavenly Pseudo Immortal realm back then?

More importantly... it only took him a few hours to do so!

"Yes. He had already tamed the Tongshang Sword when I saw it earlier," Elder Chou Huo replied with a bitter smile.

It had been less than a day since he met Zhang Xuan, but with each event that happened, he felt like his confidence was swiftly getting shocked out of him.

Sighing deeply, Elder Chou Huo swiftly went through everything that had happened in detail.

When the elders heard how the Heavenly High Immortal expert had been able to subdue Elder Chou Huo with a mere finger, they were all shocked. Then, when they heard that Zhang Xuan had crushed the powerful Heavenly High Immortal expert with a single book, they were all rendered speechless.

"That book is actually a defensive artifact that my teacher left for me. It can only be used once, so I won't be able to rely on it again in the future," Zhang Xuan replied.

He could not possibly talk about the Library of Heaven's Path, so he could only push everything on to his nonexistent teacher.

In any case, the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion had no qualms about their disciples coming under the tutelage of other experts as long as they remained loyal to the sect.

Hearing those words, the crowd nodded in realization.

All along, they had been intrigued by how a mere twenty-year-old young man could possess such powerful cultivation and deep comprehension of swordsmanship. When they heard that he actually had a teacher, it left them feeling greatly relieved.

Only under the tutelage of a formidable expert could anyone possibly possess such formidable capabilities at such a young age.

It challenged their very common sense to think that the young man could possibly get so powerful on his own.

"The Hall of Gods has always acted domineeringly, but usually, they can't even be bothered to make a move on anyone beneath the High Immortal realm. It's truly unheard of for them to dispatch a Heavenly High Immortal and three Heavenly True Immortals just to deal with a Pseudo Immortal. Not to mention, they even brought out a folded space to seal the surroundings..." Han Jianqiu frowned.

"More importantly, it shouldn't be possible for the Hall of Gods to know of your identity and whereabouts. No one left the Elder Council after your departure, so it's impossible for the information to have leaked out. As lofty as the Hall of Gods is, it isn't omniscient!"

The Elder Council discussed the matter for quite a while, but they were unable to find a convincing explanation. As a result, they could only put their doubts aside for the time being.

"If the Hall of Gods dispatches assassins to the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion as well, will the sect be able to defend against them?" Zhang Xuan finally posed the critical question.

This was what he was the most concerned about. If the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion was no match for the Hall of Gods, there would be no point in him seeking their protection. He would be much better off wandering the lands so that the Hall of Gods would not be able to find him easily.

Han Jianqiu pondered silently for a moment before responding grimly. "I don't have an answer to your question, but it's unlikely for what you are thinking of to happen. We are exiles of the Firmament, people who have been cast aside by the gods. We fear the gods, but we won't let them walk all over us.

"It's one thing for the Hall of Gods to attempt to assassinate you in the shadows, but if they make a move on the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion, they will risk turning the entire Forsaken Continent against them. The Hall of Gods might be powerful, but even it would suffer great casualties if it made an enemy out of the entire Forsaken Continent!

"The Hall of Gods might attempt to send assassins into the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion in order to claim your life, but you need not worry about that. Our sect has been reinforced by generations of predecessors, such that even their High Immortals won't be able to breach our defenses!"

Hearing those words, Zhang Xuan heaved a sigh of relief. It was great to hear that he was still in safe hands for the time being.

Thinking back on what had happened, Han Jianqiu's words did make sense. If the Hall of Gods truly did not fear the cultivators of the Forsaken Continent, those black-robed figures would not have bothered pulling him into a folded space before making a move!

"May I know if there are any High Immortal realm cultivation technique manuals in our sect other than those in the elders' library?" Zhang Xuan asked. "I need as many of them as possible. I still have some doubts concerning that realm, so it would be helpful to have as much reference material as possible."

It was still best for him to grasp his own fate in his own hands. He did not feel too comfortable being too reliant on the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion for his own safety, so he knew that he had to become stronger as quickly as possible.

If he could just reach the High Immortal realm, the Hall of Gods could send as many experts as it wished, and it still would not worry him.

Thus, his priority at hand was to raise his cultivation to the High Immortal realm.

"All of the High Immortal realm cultivation technique manuals we have are in the elders' library," Han Jianqiu replied with a shake of his head.

High Immortals were beings who stood at the zenith of the Forsaken Continent. Naturally, there were not that many of them around. Given so, it was inevitable that there were even fewer High Immortal realm cultivation technique manuals lying around.

The entire sect only has ten High Immortal realm cultivation technique manuals?"

"Yes." Han Jianqiu nodded. "Other than the Ascendant Cloud Sword God Formula, which only the sect leader is qualified to cultivate, all of the High Immortal realm cultivation technique manuals are stored in the library."

"The Ascendant Cloud Sword God Formula?" Zhang Xuan's eyes lit up. "Do I have the right to view its manual?"

"As one who has comprehended the Gods' Sword Intent, you are next in line to succeed the sect leader position, so there's no doubt that you are qualified to learn the Ascendant Cloud Sword God Formula. However, the way that this cultivation technique is passed down is a little peculiar. It doesn't have a specific cultivation technique manual to it. You'll have to experience it for yourself in order to learn it. Follow me!" Han Jianqiu said as he rose to his feet and walked out of the Elder Council.

Zhang Xuan quickly followed behind him.

Soon, they were standing before a private chamber. Han Jianqiu took out his Sect Leader Token to release the seal surrounding the chamber before entering.

Within the chamber was a row of statues. With a quick count, there were exactly twelve of them. Each of them was holding a sword, and they were displaying a different sword art.

"Is this the Ascendant Cloud Sword God Formula?" Zhang Xuan frowned.

"Indeed. The cultivation technique is the key to comprehending the Gods' Sword Intent, and the secret behind it lies among the statues," Han Jianqiu replied.

Zhang Xuan slowly assessed the twelve statues one by one. Each of them was standing in a different pose. There was nothing to indicate the flow of zhenqi, making it hard to believe that a cultivation technique was hidden among the statues.

"These twelve statues represent a sword maneuver each. These sword maneuvers are extremely bizarre, defying the very physical constitution of a human. However, if you move in accordance with these sword maneuvers, your zhenqi will flow on its own, forming a cultivation technique... This cultivation technique is what we call the Ascendant Cloud Sword God Formula. It's not only the highest High Immortal realm cultivation technique of our sect, it's also the key to reaching the Semi-Divinity realm," Han Jianqiu explained.

Just as Han Jianqiu had said, the sword maneuvers were extremely bizarre. All twelve statues were bent at unbelievable angles that defied the very physical constitution of a human, such that they felt like they were some sort of abstract art instead of sword maneuvers.

"You should start by practicing this first maneuver. The maneuvers will get progressively harder as you continue. Back then, it took me three whole days before I finally mastered the first maneuver," Han Jianqiu said with a bitter smile.

"Three whole days?" Zhang Xuan asked as he looked at the first statue.

The maneuver required one to bend his back backward, and the sword would pierce right above one's head. It was an extremely awkward pose to look at, let alone trying to imitate it.

Yes, and this is the easiest one." Han Jianqiu nodded. "The second maneuver took me ten days, the third one took me a year... All in all, I took fifteen years to master all twelve maneuvers."

Considering that this was the highest cultivation technique left behind by their founder, it was already an amazing feat that he had been able to master it within fifteen years. He could be considered one of the more talented sect leaders in the entire history of the sect.

On the other hand, Zhang Xuan was only astonished by how long the other party had taken. Fifteen years, that was already three-quarters of his current age!

Noticing the bizarre look on Zhang Xuan's face, Han Jianqiu replied with a dignified harrumph. "You shouldn't underestimate the difficulty of the cultivation technique. In the entire history of our sect, my feat of mastering all twelve maneuvers within fifteen years ranks me within the top ten sect leaders."

Only the most talented sword practitioners could become the sect leader of the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion; the very rules of the sect had already determined that. If he did not possess superior capabilities, he would not have been the one in this seat!

Fifteen years did sound like a long time to spend on a single cultivation technique, but considering that it was the Ascendant Cloud Sword God Formula that they were talking about, it was already a formidable feat.

"Is that so?" Zhang Xuan asked doubtfully as he whipped out the Tongshang Sword.

He bent his back backward till it was parallel to his body before directing his sword upward. In an instant, he had already perfectly imitated the pose of the first statue.

Han Jianqiu's eyebrows shot up.

Just a moment ago, he had said that it had taken him three days to master the first move when the other party copied it perfectly right away. This left him with a horrible premonition.

He cleared his throat as he awkwardly attempted to salvage his dignity. "Well, the first maneuver is the easiest of the twelve maneuvers. As someone who has comprehended the Gods' Sword Intent, it's expected of you to grasp it right away. However, the rest won't be as easy as this..."

"Really? Let me give it a try."

Zhang Xuan's body began bending at an unbelievable angle, and before long, he had already perfectly imitated the second pose as well!

After that, he moved on to the third maneuver, the fourth maneuver, the fifth maneuver...

By the time Han Jianqiu regained his wits, Zhang Xuan was already at the tenth maneuver.

Han Jianqiu was frenzied. He wondered if it was because of people like Zhang Xuan that good cultivators eventually despaired and resorted to unorthodox arts.

He could still argue that Zhang Xuan was able to perform the first maneuver instantly because it was the easiest, but the latter continued and performed the other maneuvers without a hitch as well.

Could it be possible that the young man had practiced the maneuvers before?

But that should have been impossible!

Other than the generations of sect leaders, there was no way anyone else could have entered this private chamber! Huhu!

While Han Jianqiu was still trying to make sense out of this irrational situation, the young man went on to perform the two remaining maneuvers impeccably. As if he was unable to wrap his head around how anyone could spend so long to master these basic maneuvers, the young man turned to him and asked, "Did you really spend fifteen years on this?"

What could Han Jianqiu say in a situation like that?

It was just a moment ago that he had boasted about how he had only spent fifteen years mastering those twelve moves, and he had even gleefully bragged that he was amid the top ten. Yet, the young man in front of him had crushed this achievement of his in just fifteen short breaths.

He suddenly understood why there were recluses in the world. At this very instant, he felt like holing himself up as well!

Just as he was still wondering how he could flee from the current situation before him, the young man's voice suddenly sounded once more. "Speaking of which, if you have practiced this cultivation technique for fifteen years, haven't you realized that the sequencing of the maneuvers is actually wrong?"

"Wrong?" Han Jianqiu was stunned.

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