Library of Heaven is Path
1275 Chaotic Palace Beguilement Formation
Ma Minghai's bones creaked under the immense pressure, threatening to shatter at any moment. His body also swiftly approached its limit as redness consumed his skin.
If the other party hadn't made a move on him, Zhang Xuan wouldn't have bothered to make a move either. However, since the other party had chosen to provoke him, he saw no need to go easy on the other party either.
"Let go of me... I'll give you my jade token!" Sensing that he wouldn't be able to survive long in this state, Ma Minghai gathered all of his strength in order to yell out those words.
"Very well." Zhang Xuan retracted his hands and placed them behind his back.
Finally released from the stone wall, Ma Minghai had to take several deep breaths before he was able to calm himself down.
A hint of savagery flashed across his eyes and he discreetly whipped out two swords. With a powerful fling of his hands, he threw them right toward Zhang Xuan.
Astonishingly, these two swords were at Saint intermediate-tier as well. Further enhanced by his Half-Quintessence Sword Intent, they surged forward at an astounding speed.
According to the rules of the secondary selection, the candidates were forbidden from using their artifacts against one another in the secondary selection. Ma Minghai knew the rules, but he also understood very well that he wouldn't be a match for Zhang Xuan without using his sword, and he was already at the brink of being eliminated as well. Given so, he could only take a gamble and pray that Zhao Xingmo wouldn't find out about the matter.
The two powerful blades tore across the air, and before one could even see them, they were already right before Zhang Xuan.
Just as Ma Minghai thought that he would be able to slay that fellow, the latter's exasperated voice suddenly sounded in the air.
"Hai, it seems like I really am too good-natured. Had it been anyone else, you would have already been killed several times over for what you have done!"
Before Ma Minghai could process what had just happened, his body was suddenly flung backward, crashing heavily back into the stone wall. Under the overwhelming impact of the collision, his bones finally gave in and shattered. At the same time, the severe internal injuries he had sustained caused fresh blood to spurt out of his mouth.
"If you won't hold to the end of your promise, I guess I'll just have to take your jade token myself!" Following which, Ma Minghai suddenly felt a tearing pain on his finger.
His storage ring had been forcefully taken away, and it flew straight into Zhang Xuan's palm.
"You…" Ma Minghai's face reddened in anxiety.
However, it was already too late for him to do or say anything. With a tap of his finger, Zhang Xuan took out the jade token from the storage ring and flicked it lightly.
The jade token shattered into powdery remains.
"It seems like Qianchong Empire does value you quite a bit, there's plenty of treasures in your storage ring. Good. I'll be taking them as your compensation then…"
Zhang Xuan had intended to let Ma Minghai off with just crushing his jade token, but since the other party was so shameless as to attempt a surprise assault after being defeated, he was no longer willing to let the other party off without making him pay some price for his actions.
On the other hand, watching as Zhang Xuan placed his storage ring into his pocket, another mouthful of fresh blood spurted from Ma Minghai's mouth.
He had to go through a lot of effort in order to procure all those valuable resources in his storage ring, and to have them snatched away just like that...
In his moment of despair, Ma Minghai heard the other party continuing on, "These swords of yours seem to be Saint intermediate-tier artifacts as well. Not bad, not bad. I'll be taking them as interest payment!"
"I have nurtured my swords with my blood essence over a long period of time, so the spirits within them are completely loyal to me. Even if you take them, there's no way you will be able to make them submit to you…" Seeing that his swords were about to be taken away, Ma Minghai spat through gritted teeth.
He had spent a hefty sum to nurture those two swords of his, so he was certain of their loyalty toward him. As long as he was alive, there was no way they would betray him...
But before Ma Minghai could finish his words, he suddenly saw Zhang Xuan tapping his swords at various points, and all of a sudden, his swords joyfully rushed forward to the latter and bowed respectfully.
Another spurt of blood escaped from Ma Minghai's mouth, and the despair on his face deepened.
He thought that with his newfound strength, he should be able to overwhelm Zhang Xuan easily and exact his vengeance. Yet, who could have thought that the opponent he had pitted himself against would actually be a monster in disguise!
"Alright, I'm done."
After taking Ma Minghai's items, Zhang Xuan couldn't be bothered to waste his time on the other party anymore. Thus, he released his grip on the other party, and the other party fell from the stone wall.
Shortly after Ma MInghai was released, a voice sounded across the entire island, "Ma Minghai's jade token has been shattered. The second candidate has been eliminated. Remaining candidates: 30!
Not long after those words were spoken, an aerial saint beast descended from the sky to fetch Ma Minghai before flying off into the distance.
Zhang Jiuxiao should have been taken away as well then… Zhang Xuan nodded in realization.
That explained why he wasn't able to find Zhang Jiuxiao despite following the latter's track. It seemed like he had already been brought out of the island.
I understand how Zhao Xingmo is able to sense the elimination of a candidate through the dissipation of the Sword Intent within the jade token, but... how does he manage to locate individual candidates, sending an aerial saint beast over to fetch them so swiftly? Could Zhao Xingmo really have the ability to perceive everything that has happened on the island? Zhang Xuan frowned in incomprehension.
Based on his estimates, the island had to be at least two to three thousand li in diameter, and it would be impossible for anyone to cover this entire area with their Spiritual Perception. Since that was the case, how could Zhao Xingmo possibly keep track of everything that was happening here at all times?
He must be using some kind of artifact or medium to uphold an intelligence network over the entire island… Zhang Xuan analyzed.
With this thought in mind, he activated the Eye of Insight and focused his sight on the aerial saint beast which had just flown away.
This look unveiled the mystery behind Zhao Xingmo's seeming omniscience over the island.
"o think that it would just be Myriad Ants… Zhang Xuan couldn't help but burst into laughter.
Perhaps the simpler the truth was, the easier it was to be blindsided by it.
After all the time he had spent wondering what kind of means Zhao Xingmo could have used to watch over the entire island, it turned out to just be Myriad Ants!
Due to the small stature of Myriad Ants, they were able to conceal themselves easily amidst trees and bushes, making it nigh impossible for even keen-eyed master teachers to notice their presence. Zhang Xuan had used the exact same method to scout the Cloudmist Ridge back then too.
He really didn't think that Zhao Xingmo would use such a method to look over the secondary selection.
Since he was using Myriad Ants as his scout, there should also be a Myriad Anthive Queen under the other party's command too.
"Anthive Queen, is there any way you can drive away the Myriad Ants observing me?" Zhang Xuan communicated with the Myriad Anthive Queen telepathically.
He understood that Zhao Xingmo had to keep a tight watch over the entire field as the invigilator, but he still felt a little uncomfortable at the thought of being constantly spied on.
"While these Myriad Ants aren't my children, I still do have the ability to drive them away. However, I only fear that Zhao shi would notice an anomaly if I were to drive them away…" the Myriad Anthive Queen replied.
"That's true…" Zhang Xuan rubbed his glabella in frustration.
Zhao Xingmo had to maintain his watch over the secondary selection so as to keep up to date with the circumstances of each and every candidate. If Zhang Xuan's 'presence' were to suddenly disappear from his sight, there was a good chance that Zhao Xingmo might personally head over to check on the situation.
"Alternatively, I think that I might be able to tame some of the Myriad Ants and have them obey my commands…" After a moment of silence, the Myriad Anthive Queen proposed.
"You are able to tame the Myriad Ants? That would be perfect!" Zhang Xuan's eyes lit up.
Naturally, it would be better to tame the Myriad Ants than to chase them away. This way, he would be able to control the information that the Myriad Ants were reporting to Zhao Xingmo about, thus allowing him to fake his position without incurring the latter's suspicion.
"I'll leave that to you then." Zhang Xuan said as he released the Myriad Anthive Queen in the area with a flick of his hand. After which, he turned his attention back to the stone wall before him.
Having witnessed how easily Ma Minghai was defeated, the sword practitioners gathered around the stone wall had all retreated a distance away from Zhang Xuan, fearing that they would accidentally offend him.
Zhang Xuan couldn't be bothered to waste his time on them either. Just as he was about to return back to cultivating his Heaven's Path Sword Art, the Dusk Cloud Sword suddenly flew over and said, "Master... Since you are that powerful, do you want to try challenging the Sword Lagoon? I think that there is a good chance you might be able to acquire the heritage!"
"Challenge the Sword Lagoon? Aren't we at the Sword Lagoon at the moment?" Zhang Xuan asked in bewilderment.
Considering the sheer amount of sword qi and Sword Intent that were drifting in the area, where else could currently be at if not the Sword Lagoon?
"We are currently only at the outer perimeters of the Sword Lagoon. The true Sword lagoon lies behind the stone wall... The heritage of the Old Sword Maestro lies within there as well!" the Dusk Cloud Sword said.
"Oh?" Zhang Xuan's eyebrows shot up. "Are the hundred Saint intermediate-tier swords you have mentioned earlier located beyond the stone wall as well?"
"That's right!" the Dusk Cloud Sword replied.
"Bring me over to take a look!"
Having a compiled Heaven's Path Sword Art sitting in the Library of Heaven's Path, the heritage of the Old Sword Maestro held little attraction to Zhang Xuan. However, if he could acquire a hundred Saint intermediate-tier swords out of this, that would really be a huge gain.
Even a hundred Saint low-tier sabers were sufficient to crush the Boss of the underground black market. If he could acquire a hundred Saint intermediate-tier swords, he would be able to destroy Pavilion Master Yue easily with them even without resorting to his puppets!
In fact... he might even be able to rival Zhao Xingmo in a battle!
The Dusk Cloud Sword delightfully led Zhang Xuan around the massive stone wall, and very soon, they arrived at the boundary of a land shrouded with mist.
The mist seemed to have been the result of some kind of formidable formation, completely blocking the sight of whatever that lay ahead.
Realizing that he didn't recognize the formation, Zhang Xuan frowned.
A book materialized in the Library of Heaven's Path.
As the formation was currently in operation, the Library of Heaven's Path was able to compile a book on it.
Chaotic Palace Beguilement Formation, a grade-8 formation? Reading the content on the book, Zhang Xuan was startled.
It was no wonder why no one had obtained the heritage this far. It was actually guarded by a grade-8 formation!
A grade-8 formation could only be set up or deciphered by a Grand Dominion realm expert, and there was no one in Qianchong Empire who possessed the strength to do so.
In no hurry to step into the formation, Zhang Xuan turned to the Dusk Cloud Sword and asked, "Have you entered the Sword Lagoon before?"
"I haven't entered it before, but I heard that the Old Sword Maestro's personal sword and heritage lie in there!" the Dusk Cloud Sword replied.
"The Old Sword Maestro's personal sword?" Zhang Xuan's eyebrows shot up.
"Un. According to the rumors I have heard, the Old Sword Maestro's personal sword is a Saint high-tier artifact, and even the emperor of Qianchong Empire is dying to lay his hands on it. However, it's a pity that no one has been able to bypass the formation, let alone find the sword!" the Dusk Cloud Sword said.
"A Saint high-tier artifact?" Zhang Xuan tightened his fist in agitation.
Even at the very minimum, a Saint high-tier artifact would possess strength equivalent to a Saint 6-dan Grand Dominion realm cultivator!
There was actually such a formidable weapon in the Sword Lagoon?
"That's right. To be honest with you, most of the sword qi lingering in the area was emanated by the Old Sword Maestro's personal sword. While those sword practitioners are attempting to decipher it in order to raise their mastery of swordsmanship, more than that, they wanted to acquire the Old Sword Maestro's heritage and obtain his personal sword through it!" the Dusk Cloud Sword explained.
It had been on this island for quite a long while now, so he was well aware of the affairs that happened here.
"Since there's such a weapon here, I really should take a good look in the Sword Lagoon then!" Zhang Xuan thought in excitement.
Unless in large quantities, otherwise even Saint intermediate-tier artifacts weren't of much use to him anymore. However, this was different for Saint high-tier artifacts.
With a Saint high-tier sword in hand, he was confident of defeating Zhao Xingmo even!
With such a weapon at hand, he would be in a far better position to challenge the Zhang Clan for Luo Ruoxin's hand in marriage.
"You should wait outside for the time being!" Zhang Xuan instructed.
"Yes!" the Dusk Cloud Sword nodded before standing completely still on the spot.
After which, Zhang Xuan unhesitatingly turned around and ventured into the mist.
The flaws of the formation was recorded in its corresponding book compiled in the Library of Heaven's Path, so this grade-8 formation no longer posed any secret to him. After advancing ahead for some time, the area before Zhang Xuan abruptly opened up. The mist had vanished, revealing a stream and a wooden hut instead.
Oh? To think that there would a piece of tranquil land in the middle of the Sword Lagoon! Surprised, Zhang Xuan slowly made his way over to the wooden hut.
Just as he was about to open the door to the wooden hut, his body suddenly stiffened. With a swift maneuver, his silhouette vanished on the spot, appearing at a distance of a hundred meters away.
A burst of sword qi sliced through the area where he was previously standing on, leaving behind a dark gorge in its wake.