Library of Heaven is Path
2071 The First Order
"Nearing the end of my life?" Zhang Xuan was completely mystified by Kong shi's abrupt words.
The only threat he was facing at the moment was the Hall of Gods. Why was he nearing the end of his life then?
"Indeed," Kong shi said. He placed his hands behind his back as a glint flashed in his eyes, "If I'm not mistaken, you have a fragment of the heavens in you, right?"
"You..." Zhang Xuan was shocked by what he had just heard.
The Library of Heaven's Path had been his greatest secret all this while, but it felt like it was getting exposed far too easily in recent days. First the chief of the Hall of Gods, and now, it was shown that Kong shi knew about it as well.
He felt as if his secrets were being laid bare to the world, and this left him feeling deeply uncomfortable. A slight frown made its way onto his forehead.
"You are wondering how I knew of the matter, right?"
A little amused by Zhang Xuan's bewildered face, Kong shi chuckled a little before he spoke, "There's no need to be too nervous. The truth is that I'm just like you. I have a fragment of the heavens within me as well."
You also have the library as well?" Zhang Xuan's eyes nearly bulged from his eyes.
When he heard about Kong shi's experiences on the Master Teacher Continent, he had wondered if Kong shi had the Library of Heaven's Path as well. That would have explained why the latter was able to come up with perfect cultivation techniques and advance his cultivation so swiftly.
However, thinking that the chances were incredibly slim, he eventually dropped the idea.
"Library?" Kong shi was slightly taken aback by Zhang Xuan's question. "No, that's not it. What I have acquired is the spacetime jurisdiction of the heavens, otherwise known as the Heavens' Order."
"Just like how the noon sun falls and the full moon wanes, all beings in the world have to obey a certain order. When it comes to order, the very foundation of it lies in that of space and time," Kong shi said.
Space and time were the very fundamental elements required to create order in this intrinsically chaotic world. They served as the very basis of the development of natural cycles, and they were required for life to blossom. Without them, the world would have been nothing but chaos.
As such, space and time were viewed as the most primordial law of the entire world, otherwise known as the First Order.
That would explain why Kong shi was able to come up with the Great Codex of Spring and Autumn, which harnessed both the powers of time and space. Even when placed in the Library of Heaven's Path, it was still able to form its own individual chamber.
It was likely that the Heavens' Order was an ability that wouldn't pale in comparison to the Library of Heaven's Path.
Previously, when he saw Kong Shiyao's 'Word of Law' bloodline ability in person, he was filled with curiosity as to just what the ability Kong shi had comprehended was. After hearing this, everyone immediately clicked together perfectly like puzzle pieces.
It was out of Kong shi's desire to bring order to the world that he created the Master Teacher Pavilion and organized the unique occupations and their heritage. Due to that, mankind enjoyed persistent growth over the past tens of thousands of years, granting them the power to stand against even the innately powerful Otherworldly Demonic Tribe.
"Without order, it's impossible to build anything significant," Kong shi nodded in response. Following that, he looked at Zhang Xuan with confusion in his eyes as he asked, "Could it be that... the fragment of the heavens you have acquired has nothing to do with order? You mentioned a library earlier, right?"
Despite knowing that Zhang Xuan had a fragment of the heavens, he had no way of knowing what was the ability that the young man wielded. The heavens were vast and all-encompassing, such that it was nigh impossible to comprehend their entirety.
"Yes, that's indeed what I mentioned earlier. While I said that it was a library, if I'm not mistaken, I think it should be 'Heavens' Imperfections'!" Zhang Xuan pondered for a moment before replying.
Those were the words that surfaced in his mind when he first awakened the Library of Heaven's Path.
It was due to this ability that the Library of Heaven's Path was able to see through the flaws of all beings and uncover the most correct path forward. He had come a long way together with it.
"Heavens' Order and Heaven's Imperfections..." Kong shi muttered contemplatively before his eyes lit up. "I see!"
"Kong shi, you mentioned earlier that I'm coming to the end of my life... Does that have something to do with my Heavens' Imperfections?" Zhang Xuan asked.
"Indeed," Kong shi nodded. "Receiving a fragment of the heavens is a huge fortuitous encounter. It's something that all cultivators would dream of. However, this power comes at a huge cost. As you use it more and more often, you will slowly be assimilated by the heavens, thus eventually losing your own will."
Zhang Xuan was stunned.
He had never heard of such a thing before.
However, one thing he did notice was that the Library of Heaven's Path was getting stronger and stronger with time.
On top of that, he had also become extremely reliant on it, such that it was difficult for him to proceed on if he didn't have any Heaven's Path Divine Art with him.
Could this be an effect of the 'assimilation of the heavens'?
"The power of heavens always exists as a double-edged blade. When there's gain, there's bound to be loss as well. You are able to cultivate swiftly with the fragment of the heavens, but that doesn't come without a cost. If I'm not mistaken, the technique you cultivate should be a cultivation technique of the heavens, right?" Kong shi asked with a stern look in his eyes.
You have come a long way with it, but have you realized that there's a pitch-black gaseous substance that is lurking in the depths of your body? No matter how you try to purge it, be it through heavenly flames or lightning, it simply wouldn't budge at all."
Those words made Zhang Xuan stunned for a moment before he nodded, "I did notice something like that... Are you referring to the thing hidden in the Innate Fetal Poison? One of your soul fragments mentioned it to me back at the Master Teacher Continent."
Zhang Xuan was initially a little worried about the matter, but as nothing happened all this while, he decided to pay no heed to it, and eventually, he forgot about it even.
It was only when Kong shi mentioned it once more did it finally strike him once more.
Thinking back, Kong shi's soul fragment did warn him about the matter, just that there was no time to go into details back then.
With a grim look on his face, Kong shi said, "Indeed. Take a closer look at it right now. Do you notice anything different about it from the last time you paid notice to it?"
"Different?" Zhang Xuan immediately channeled his consciousness into his body to take a closer look.
A moment later, his body stiffened.
"It seems like... it has gotten much bigger than before! Furthermore, it's no longer pitch-black anymore. Rather, it appears to be a little grayish instead!"
Previously, the gaseous remains were only about a finger's length. As it was simply too small, Zhang Xuan wasn't able to catch a clear glimpse at it, so it looked black to him then. However, with it growing twofold the size of before, it somewhat resembled a tiny snake coiling within his body.
"That's exactly it," Kong shi nodded. "Did you notice any anomalies regarding it previously?"
Zhang Xuan pondered for a moment before shaking his head.
That thing had been in his body for a very long time now, but he had never been able to make sense as to what it really was. Naturally, he didn't notice anything anomalous regarding it.
It didn't hinder his cultivation nor his flow of zhenqi at all, so he didn't think that it was harmful to his body.
Try to use the ability of your Heavens' Imperfections. Make sure to focus your attention on the grayish gaseous substance," Kong shi said.
"I'll give it a try," Zhang Xuan thought as he turned to the formation which Kong shi had just set up and willed 'Flaws!'. Hu!
The Library of Heaven's Path jolted, and a book filled with the details of the formation was materialized.
Zhang Xuan casually scanned through the details, and he had to admit that he was really deeply impressed.
Kong shi's comprehension of formations had reached an incredible level, such that he was able to set up an impeccable formation so casually. This was something that even the current him was unable to pull off.
"How is it? Do you notice any difference?" Kong shi asked.
Zhang Xuan had been paying attention to the gaseous substance all along, and he couldn't help but frown, "There doesn't seem to be any changes at all... No, that's not right. It seems to have grown by a little. It's stronger than before..."
The increment was extremely slight, such that it was imperceptible through one's eyes. Nevertheless, Zhang Xuan was still able to notice a very small difference after he used the Library of Heaven's Path.
"Indeed, it should have grown by a little," Kong shi nodded in response. "Every single time you use the Heavens' Imperfections, the gaseous substance would bulk up by a bit."
Zhang Xuan was slightly taken aback by this bizarre situation, "But why didn't I sense anything before then?"
Those at his cultivation realm were extremely sensitive to the changes in their bodies. Under normal circumstances, no matter how slight the increment was, he should have still been able to notice it.
Kong shi answered the question, "The battle techniques and artifacts on the Master Teacher Continent are relatively weaker, such that even if you use the Heavens' Imperfections on them, the growth of the gaseous substance would be insignificant. However, it's different now that you are on the Azure. As your ability grows, the side effects will become more and more severe. The side effects have been insignificant so far, but they will start showing as you proceed on to Semi-Divinity realm and beyond."
To use an analogy, it would be similar to the difference of pulling an empty cart and pulling a cart filled with all sorts of objects. It went without saying that one would wear out faster pulling a heavier cart.
The items on the Azure were of a much higher tier than that of the Master Teacher Continent, so it was more demanding on his Library of Heaven's Path too. As a result, the grayish gaseous substance was produced in greater amounts as well.
"Is the grayish gaseous substance fatal?" Zhang Xuan shuddered a little as he asked.
"It would be a blessing if it's only fatal," Kong shi said with a bitter smile. "What's even more frightening is that the grayish gaseous substance will only continue building up within you, and there's nothing that can be done to erase it. As time goes by, it will assimilate you into a part of the heavens, making you lose your sense of self!"
Zhang Xuan's body stiffened up.
His gut feeling told him that what Kong shi had told him was very likely to be real.
He had tried many means to remove the gaseous substance in the past but to no avail. Given so, it would only continue to build on in his body, causing him to fuse together as one with the Library of Heaven's Path. Eventually, he might become a being devoid of feelings and consciousness.
If so, how would he be different from being dead?
"Could it be that you are also..."
A thought flashed across Zhang Xuan's mind, and he quickly turned his gaze back to Kong shi once more.
The person standing before him also possessed a fragment of the heavens as well, wielding the ability of Heavens' Order. Furthermore, based on what he had heard from the other party back on the Master Teacher Continent, it would appear that the other party was bothered by grayish gaseous substance as well.
"Indeed, I was in the same plight as you as well. I didn't have the ability to get rid of the grayish gaseous substance, and I nearly lost my sense of self as a result... It's fortunate that I noticed it before it was too late and successfully resolved the problem," Kong shi replied.
"You managed to resolve the issue?" Zhang Xuan widened his eyes in astonishment. He quickly clasped his fist and said, "I beseech you to impart to me the method of overcoming this problem. I'll be deeply grateful to you for it."
He deeply appreciated the ability of the Library of Heaven's Path. It had saved him on many occasions, and it had allowed him to grow at an exponential rate as well. However, it would be all meaningless if he were to lose his life as a result of that. No matter what, he had to cure himself of the gaseous substance!
It seemed like it would be best for him to avoid using the Library of Heaven's Path in the short run.
"The solution is surprisingly simple," Kong shi looked at Zhang Xuan with a deep gaze as he spoke. "It's just a question of whether you are willing to make a sacrifice or not."
"What kind of sacrifice would I have to make?" Zhang Xuan asked.
"The reason behind the accumulation of the gaseous substance in your body is because it's against the laws of nature for a human to wield the might of the heavens," Kong shi explained.
"As long as you are willing to sever your connection with the Library of Heaven's Path, you'll no longer face the threat of being assimilated by the heavens."