Library of Heaven is Path
1272 Sword Lagoon
While Zhang Jiuxiao's strength was far from on par with his, among the candidates, he could definitely be considered to be above average. On top of that, with the various means he wielded, Zhang Xuan figured that it should not have been too difficult for him to last till the very end. Yet, to be eliminated barely ten minutes after arriving on the island…
Just who was the one who had made the move?
Not to mention, to succeed so quickly…
I should check out where he was eliminated. Perhaps, I will be able to find some clues…
Tapping his finger, a droplet of blood appeared before Zhang Xuan's eyes.
It was the blood essence that Zhang Jiuxiao had given him previously for him to test his bloodline.
Zhang Xuan formed several hand seals on the blood droplet, and the next moment, the compass in his hand began spinning before eventually pointing in a certain direction.
While remote communication artifacts were not allowed on the isolated island, there was no explicit rule preventing him from using blood essence to track the whereabouts of another candidate.
The fact that Zhang Jiuxiao had been eliminated shortly after arriving on the island was rather bewildering. He felt that there was something more to the matter, so the matter needed to be investigated immediately.
After having a way pointed out, Zhang Xuan swiftly flitted forward.
Seeing the man who was just about to kill it leaving, the Tigerbone Beast heaved a quick sigh of relief. It leaped into the depths of the forest and concealed itself, not daring to prowl arrogantly and pounce on others anymore.
After flitting for several minutes, covering a distance of almost two hundred li, Zhang Xuan suddenly came to a halt.
Zhang Xuan frowned. Why does it feel like I have been moving in circles?
No matter how big the island was, after traveling for so long, the terrain around him should have at least changed.
Yet, for some reason, the sight before him looked extremely familiar, as if the road he had been flitting on was a round track.
Taking a few steps forward, the truth soon dawned upon Zhang Xuan.
It's a formation…
To his astonishment, there was a massive formation on the island. As the sheer area that it covered was too big, even Zhang Xuan had not noticed its presence at first.
To actually be able to avert my detection and trap me… at the very least, this formation must be of grade-8!
Currently, Zhang Xuan's comprehension of formations had already reached 7-star pinnacle. Due to the exceptional prowess of the Heaven's Path Formation Art, he would be able to easily set up some of the easier grade-8 primary formations.
With his proficiency, he should have been able to notice any formation beneath grade-8 with a single glance. Yet, to be able to trap him for such a long period of time before he became aware of its presence… without a doubt, the formation cast over the island had to be grade-8.
Eye of Insight!
Regardless of the grade, as long as it was a formation, he would not have any problems with it. Lines of insight flickered in his eyes as he began assessing his surroundings.
Very soon, he found narrow threads of spiritual energy drifting in the area.
This should be… quasi grade-8 formation, Riverbank Beguilement Formation! Furthermore, it seems to cover a distance of at least several thousand li! To have such a massive formation set up over this area… just where could this place be?
The Riverbank Beguilement Formation was known for its scalability, and it would usually be used to conceal manors or even entire cities, such as the Jingyuan Empire Poison Hall back then.
For there to be such a formation here, not to mention, covering several thousand li at that…
Just why would there be something like that here?
Without several hundred years of effort, it would be impossible to set up a formation of this size. Even Zhang Xuan would require at least a month of hard work for it.
He had initially thought that it was only an ordinary island, but at this point, it was clear that there was something much more to it.
However, without much understanding of the Qianchong Empire's history and heritage, it would be difficult for Zhang Xuan to figure anything out. Shaking his head, he decided to put this matter aside for the moment.
Now that I know that it's a formation, the rest will be easy.
The Riverbank Beguilement Formation would confuse one's sense of direction, leading one to unwittingly return to the same place over and over again. However, since Zhang Xuan knew of the existence of the formation, he would not allow himself to be beguiled anymore. He swiftly scanned his surroundings and determined a direction. Then, he moved forward twenty li before side stepping roughly fourteen to fifteen li. After which, he changed direction another dozen times before he finally took a step forward.
In that instant, it was as if he had leaped out of some seal. His surroundings were still the same lush forest, but the nature of the spiritual energy around him had changed. It had become a little heavier, carrying a hint of authority and killing intent to them.
"Sword qi!" Zhang Xuan's gaze turned grim.
He was very familiar with this aura. It was induced by lingering sword qi in an area.
Tracing the origin of the aura, Zhang Xuan swiftly saw that an area of trees collapsed on the ground not too far away. Judging from the clean severing between the tree trunk and the tree stump, it was likely to be have been done all in a single sword slash. At the center of the clearing, there were several droplets of fresh blood imprinted on a boulder, and the fact that they had yet to dry up indicated that the battle had occurred recently.
Zhang Xuan frowned. It's Zhang Jiuxiao's blood…
He had examined Zhang Jiuxiao's blood before, allowing him to recognize it at a single glance. Given that his blood was splattered there, and there were marks of battle in the area, was that where he had been eliminated by others?
Wasn't the usage of weapons and artifacts disallowed?
What was with the sword qi and the clean cuts on the trees in the area?
Furthermore, it would be tough for even Zhang Xuan to sever so many trees within a single sword slash, so when did such a formidable figure appear among the candidates?
Eye of Insight!
Lines of insight emerged in Zhang Xuan's eyes once more as he swiftly scanned his surroundings.
Considering that it had not been long since Zhang Jiuxiao was eliminated, the culprit should not have gotten far yet. He should still be able to track down the culprit by the tracks they had left behind.
As he had expected, it did not take long for another surge of sword qi to appear not too far away, directed into the distance.
Upon seeing that, Zhang Xuan immediately dashed over in that direction.
However, barely after taking two steps, he heard a voice in his ear once more. "Chi Yurui's jade token has been shattered. The second candidate has been eliminated. Remaining candidates: 31!"
He has been eliminated, too?
Zhang Xuan had some recollection of that fellow. A Primordial Spirit realm pinnacle expert from the Qianyun Empire, Chi Yurui possessed decent fighting prowess and superior. Who would have thought that barely ten minutes after Zhang Jiuxiao had been eliminated, Chi Yurui would actually be knocked out as well? This was really too fast!
Proceeding further, another plot of land filled with cleanly severed trees appeared before Zhang Xuan's eyes. This time, the sword qi lingering the area was even more devastating. Just by standing there, one would feel as if the air was slicing into one's skin.
Perplexed, Zhang Xuan was just about to continue moving forward to investigate the scene when he suddenly felt something. He immediately took a powerful step backward, and in an instant, he was already a hundred meters away.
The sharp sword qi abruptly burst forth from where he had been standing. It flew all the way into the heavens, slicing the air in its path.
Highly alert, Zhang Xuan saw a sword surging up from the ground. There was a slight aura of disappointment around it, as if unhappy that its surprise assault had failed.
Zhang Xuan was taken aback. It's a Primordial Spirit realm pinnacle sword? Why would it be here?
Upon sensing the assault, his first instinct was that a master teacher had been camping in wait underground, waiting for him to approach to launch a decisive attack. Yet, he never could have imagined that the one springing the assault was actually a Saint intermediate-tier sword!
Just like the Golden Origin Cauldron, the sword also possessed a spirit. Most likely, it had sensed that someone was tracking it, so it had decided to hide itself and launch a preemptive strike.
It was fortunate that Zhang Xuan possessed keen instincts toward danger, allowing him to notice that something was amiss in an instant. Otherwise, if that burst of sword qi had landed on him, even if he had not been injured by it, it would have left him in an unkempt state.
"Humph!" With a displeased look on his face, Zhang Xuan raised his hand, and a burst of force shot toward the sword.
Sensing that the young man before it was going to fight back, the sword unhesitatingly dived back down, intending to return to the safety of the underground world.
"Trying to flee after attempting to assault me? How can I allow you to get off that easily?" Zhang Xuan sneered.
The next moment, the air in the surroundings suddenly became incredibly viscous. As if it had fallen into a pool of mercury, the horrified sword found itself unable to move at all.
"Come over here!"
A powerful suction force tugged at the sword. The sword attempted to struggle against the suction force, but severely overpowered, it succumbed after an instant and rapidly flew toward Zhang Xuan.
Catching hold of the sword, Zhang Xuan swiftly tapped the sword at various points.
With a light buzz, the agitated sword turned gentle in a matter of seconds.
Zhang Xuan had successfully tamed the sword!
"Were you the one who assaulted Zhang Jiuxiao and Chu Yurui?" Zhang Xuan asked.
"It wasn't not me; the Dawn Rain Sword did it!" the sword replied resoundingly.
"Dawn Rain Sword? What's your name?" Zhang Xuan was taken aback to hear that there was another sword in the area.
Could it be that… other than this sword, there were other Saint intermediate-tier swords in the area as well?
"I am known as the Dusk Cloud Sword!" the sword replied.
"Dawn Rain, Dusk Cloud…" Just from the names, Zhang Xuan could tell that they were likely a pair of treasured swords. Frowning deeply, he asked, "Why are you both here? What is this place?"
Not only was there a powerful formation shrouding the entire island, there were even Saint intermediate-tier swords lying in wait, prepared to assault anyone who crossed them.
"We have been here since a very long time ago. We are currently at the perimeter of the Sword Lagoon of the Qianchong Empire!" the Dusk Cloud Sword replied.
"Sword Lagoon?" Zhang Xuan was stunned.
Back then, Hall Master Xing had tasked him to train the candidates of the Qingyuan Empire Combat Master Hall in preparation for a friendly spar with three other Combat Master Halls, and the prize for the winners in each cultivation tier seemed to be an opportunity to cultivate at the Qianchong Empire Sword Lagoon.
Who would have thought that the location for the secondary selection would turn out to be here?
"Yes. The Sword Lagoon is filled with swords and the Sword Intent left by countless experts. The truth is that your companions and you carry something that really attracts us a lot, so we can't help but want to attack you all to obtain that item," the Dusk Cloud Sword explained.
"Something that attracts you a lot?" A thought suddenly came to Zhang Xuan's mind. He flicked his wrist and took out the jade token. "Are you referring to this?"
"That's right, it's that item! That item contains a surge of Sword Intent that is highly beneficial to the growth of our spirit once devoured!" the Dusk Cloud Sword exclaimed excitedly.
"Sword Intent?" Hearing those words, Zhang Xuan extended his Spiritual Perception into the jade token.
Just as the Dusk Cloud Sword had said, even though it was extremely faint, the jade token harnessed a Grand Dominion realm expert's comprehension of swordsmanship, and this lingering trace of Sword Intent posed an irresistible allure to sword spirits.
"I see…" Zhang Xuan came to a realization.
On the surface, Zhao Xingmo seemed to be pitting the candidates against one another, but in truth, the secondary selection was more complex than that. On top of guarding against their opponents, the candidates also had to defend against the relentless assault of the swords.
This was probably the penalty for those who resorted to hiding their token instead of protecting it with their own strength.
Zhang Jiuxiao had probably encountered the Dawn Rain Sword, and in a moment of carelessness, he had his jade token destroyed, resulting in his elimination.
Coming to realize what was going on, Zhang Xuan continued his question. "Where's the Sword Lagoon located? How many swords of your tier are there here?"
Having acknowledged Zhang Xuan as its master, the Dusk Cloud Sword told him everything that it knew. "The Sword Lagoon is roughly two hundred li away from here, and there should probably be at least a hundred other swords like me there!"
"A hundred other swords like you… as in Primordial Spirit realm pinnacle swords?" Zhang Xuan widened his eyes in shock.
Primordial Spirit realm pinnacle swords were Saint intermediate-tier artifacts. Even throughout the entire Qianchong Empire, there would not be too many weapons of such a tier. Yet, for there to be a hundred of them there… If he could tame them all, his fighting prowess would soar immensely.
"The Qianchong Empire Sword Lagoon was left behind by the old Sword Maestro many years ago. This place contains his heritage and countless Sword Formations. Every year, countless sword practitioners visit this place, searching for an impetus to further their craft, but so far, no one has succeeded in claiming his heritage.
"This place is filled with all kinds of sword qi. If one stays here for a prolonged period of time, the influx of different Sword Intent and sword arts could result in a clash of one's conception of swordsmanship, and for a sword practitioner, that is extremely dangerous. Furthermore, considering how there are people from all walks of life here, it's inevitable that there will be conflicts time to time. As a result, there are many sword practitioners who have ended up losing their lives here."
At this point, the voice of the Dusk Cloud Sword sank.
"That is also how the master of the Dawn Rain Sword and me died here."200 li = 100km