Library of Heaven is Path
1280 Five Minutes
"Charge forward and subdue him?" Brother Hu and the other young men fell into deep contemplation.
"With our strength, as long as we collaborate with one another, it shouldn't be too difficult for us to seal his cultivation before he can release his artifacts! Once we succeed, we won't have to worry about him anymore. By then, we can just fight it out amongst ourselves to determine the allocation of the treasure. What do you say about that?" Brother Sun analyzed the situation for the crowd.
"Zhang Xuan will indeed be a huge trouble to deal with if we don't strike him down promptly. As long as he remains in the race, there's no way any one of us will be able to acquire the treasure. I approve of your idea!" Brother Hu nodded.
The others also quickly expressed their agreement to the temporary collaboration as well.
"Alright. Since we are all agreeable to the matter, let's make a Master Teacher Vow. Anyone who violates our agreement shall have his reputation torn to shreds!" Brother Sun said.
"Very well!" The others nodded in agreement.
Very soon, everyone made their vows, and the group began making their way in the direction where the treasure had appeared.
As powerful as the massive formation cast over the island was, as top-notch geniuses, it didn't take long for the group to overcome it and make their way over the stone wall.
Circumventing the stone wall, they soon found themselves standing at the boundary of a land shrouded in mist.
There, they found that all of the remaining twenty or so candidates were gathered in the area as well.
"Shall we make an agreement? Let's first obtain the treasure before fighting it out amongst us?" Brother Sun swiftly raised his previous suggestion to the larger crowd.
The crowd knew that a temporary teamwork with the others would boost their chances of acquiring the treasure, so they swiftly agreed to Brother Sun's idea.
"Regardless of which one is real and which one is fake, just kill the both of them to be safe!" Lying on the ground, Ji Lingfeng exclaimed anxiously.
"Indeed, elder. Please kill both of them for me…" Ji Lingzhen clasped his fist to the sword and requested.
Dealing with one Zhang Xuan had nearly cost him his life. Now that another had popped up, he wouldn't stand a chance at all without the help of the sword.
"Kill the both of them? Well, I guess that I can help you. However, don't you think that you should show some sincerity in exchange? For example, another sword of the same caliber of the Sword of Faint Warble…"
"This…" Ji Lingzhen's face twitched.
Finding an ordinary Saint intermediate-tier artifact in Qianchong Empire was no difficult feat, but those of the Sword of Faint Warble's caliber only numbered a few, and they were extremely difficult to find and obtain.
Otherwise, he wouldn't have put himself at risk and agree to help Ji Lingfeng over his sword.
"Elder, you also know that swords of that caliber are extremely hard to find. If you could just give me some time, I promise you that I'll find one for you. However, that young man over there must be killed as soon as possible, or else there'll be great trouble…" Ji Lingzhen hesitated for a brief moment before replying anxiously.
But before he could finish his words, the young man not too far away had already interjected with a voice filled with disdain, "In the end, you are just unwilling to offer my sword to the elder!"
Following that, one of the Zhang Xuans stepped forward, and with deep indignation reflected in his eyes, he cried, "Elder, do you know why the both of them are so determined to kill me? That's because they have stolen a top-notch Saint intermediate-tier sword which has been passed down through my clan over many generations from me! It's out of fear that I would alert the elders in my clan of the matter that he lured me here, intending to silence me!"
"You are saying that we stole your sword?"
"Who in the world stole your sword? You are the one who stole my spirit stones and the Annal of Bedstead Disquisition from me, you bastard!"
Not expecting those two Zhang Xuans to interject at this crucial moment, Ji Lingzhen and Ji Lingfeng were stunned for a moment before they lashed out furiously.
Can you get any more shameless than that?
When have we stolen your sword? Don't you dare hurl false accusations at us!
On the other hand, after hearing the words from the two Zhang Xuan, the sword on the stone platform shook its blade and sealed Ji Lingzhen and Ji Lingfeng's mouths with its sword qi. After which, it asked, "Lad, you said that Ji Lingzhen stole your sword? What tier is it?"
"Elder, my sword is at Half-Grand Dominion realm. Even though it hasn't reached Saint high-tier yet, it isn't too far from that... An elder in my clan has bestowed it to me in case I encounter any danger in my journey, and he has reminded me time and time again not to lose it!" One of the Zhang Xuans replied anxiously.
"A Half-Grand Dominion realm sword?" The sword in the platform harrumphed coldly, and a burst of Sword Intent suddenly emanated from it, as if reflecting the overwhelming rage it was in.
"Elder, don't listen to his nonsense! I have never taken his sword! Besides, he's just an ordinary cultivator, so how could he possibly have such a powerful sword in his possession?" Ji Lingzhen desperately explained.
The spirits within weapons tended to be innocent and candid in nature.
For some reason, the personal sword of the Old Sword Maestro had an interest in collecting other high-tier swords. Thus, Ji Lingzhen brought the Sword of Faint Whisper and Sword of Faint Warble over, hoping to win the sword's goodwill through offering them.
He thought that after several centuries of companionship, they would already be considered as friends with one another. Yet, the sword actually chose to trust the words of that young man over his!
"Who are you saying is an ordinary cultivator? I am a genius of a Sage Clan, the Zhang Clan at that! Elder, if you don't believe my words, you can check my blood…" As he said those words, Zhang Xuan flicked a droplet of blood toward the sword lodged in the stone platform.
"Offspring of Sage Clans possess the strength of old Sages in their bloodline. Through using a unique method, it's possible to draw out the Sage Aura in it…" the sword on the stone platform mumbled as it shook its blade.
Numerous surges of sword qi landed on the droplet of blood, and a slight, divine aura rippled out from it.
"It's very thin, to the point that it's almost negligible, but without a doubt, you do possess the bloodline of a Sage Clan…" the sword said.
"This…" Ji Lingzhen body stiffened.
In the information which Ji Lingfeng had provided him, Zhang Xuan should have just been an insignificant figure from Qingyuan Empire. When in the world did he become an offspring of a Sage Clan, not to mention, the powerful Zhang Clan at that?
If he had known that Zhang Xuan was related to the Zhang Clan, he would have never dared to make a move on him!
"Elder, please don't listen to the nonsense that fellow is uttering! One must possess a very high comprehension over swordsmanship before one can possibly earn the recognition of a Half-Grand Dominion realm sword. However, that fellow is a saber practitioner. Even if he knows a little of swordsmanship as well, there's no way his minor understanding in the Way of Sword would be sufficient for him to tame such a sword…" Seeing that the sword was beginning to waver, Ji Lingfeng quickly spoke up.
Since neither Ji Lingzhen nor he was a match for Zhang Xuan, they only had the personal sword of the Old Sword Maestro to fall back on. Their fates were dependent on the decision made by the sword. If the sword were to be beguiled by Zhang Xuan, they would be the ones who would die here today!
Recalling their encounter with Zhang Xuan so far, he had shown superior proficiency in saber art, fist art, palm art, and movement art, but as for sword art... it didn't seem like he knew much about it.
Swords were light and agile whereas sabers were heavy and powerful. While both weapons may appear similar, they were very different in nature. Those who were proficient in the saber were not necessarily proficient in the sword too!
As long as they were to bite relentlessly on this point, they should be able to convince the sword that it was impossible for Zhang Xuan to have a Half-Grand Dominion realm sword in his possession, and that Zhang Xuan had been lying all this while!
As expected, as soon as it heard those words from Ji Lingfeng, the sword on the stone platform immediately spoke with a displeased voice, "Lad, you specialize in saber art?"
For many years, sabers and swords had been in a rivaling relationship, both vying for supremacy. Naturally, the sword would be displeased to hear that Zhang Xuan specialized in the saber instead.
"Elder, please don't listen to the lies he is spouting! I am a sword practitioner, so the weapon I specialize in is naturally the sword! My comprehension of swordsmanship has already reached the level of Upper Sword Heart, so how can I possibly be a saber practitioner?" Zhang Xuan exclaimed indignantly as he tapped his finger forward.
A surge of sword qi flew across the air, causing a cold, sharp glint to reflect onto the surroundings.
From the pure Sword Intent, it could be deduced that Zhang Xuan had long reached the level of Upper Sword Heart, just a step away from Half-Quintessence.
Arriving at the same conclusion as well, Ji Lingzhen and Ji Lingfeng were stunned.
It was just a moment ago they had seen that fellow controlling over a hundred Saint low-tier sabers to deal with Ji Lingfeng's formation plate, so they assumed that he specialized in the saber... Yet, how in the world did his field of specialty turn into the sword all of a sudden?
Furthermore, they realized that his Sword Intent was so pure that even theirs paled in comparison to it!
"A pure and firm Sword Intent! Those who don't carry true passion toward swordsmanship will never be able to comprehend such a realm!" the sword on the stone platform complimented earnestly.
"H-how can this be…"
Ji Lingzhen and Ji Lingfeng's bodies stiffened.
It was apparent from the sword's tone that it was full of approval for Zhang Xuan... If so, things were really bad for them. It would be nigh impossible for them to convince the sword to kill the young man.
"In order to become closer with the Old Sword Maestro's personal sword, I spent the last five hundred years offering treasures and artifacts to it. The wealth I have spent on it can easily number up to several ten thousand concentrated high-tier spirit stones... On top of that, my comprehension of swordsmanship has reached Half-Quintessence as well. Yet, after so many years, not once have I ever received its recognition... How could that fellow receive the sword's compliment despite only being at Upper Sword Heart?" Ji Lingzhen couldn't accept the situation.
Taming a high-tier sword was somewhat similar to taming a beast. Continuous and steady effort was required for the high-tier sword to accept one.
In order to get close the Old Sword Maestro's personal sword, he had gone to great lengths, but never once did he receive the other party's compliment. On the other hand, Zhang Xuan had only spoken a few words, but the sword was already full for compliments for him... When did the sword become so understanding?
If the sword had been so understanding from the start, he wouldn't have failed to make any progress despite centuries of effort!
"Wait a moment... That fellow is using demonic tunes and Impartation of Heaven's Will!" Ji Lingfeng hurriedly sent a telepathic message over to Ji Lingzhen.
He could tell that there was a unique quality to the other party's voice that seemed to put one in a trance. If not for that, the sword would have never believed Zhang Xuan so easily!
"That bastard!" Ji Lingzhen also swiftly realized the same after Ji Lingfeng had pointed it out, and his gaze swiftly turned cold.
"Elder, please don't fall for his deception…" Ji Lingzhen anxiously stepped forward and persuaded.
However, Zhang Xuan swiftly shot him a piercing glance and bellowed, "Silence!"
After which, he turned his sight back to the sword and explained, "Elder, the main reason why those two men want to kill me is because... I have fully grasped the conception behind the Old Sword Maestro's '剑 (Sword)' character, and my comprehension of swordsmanship is also about to reach Sword Quintessence. They feared that I would overtake them, that's why they have been wanting to suppress me for a long time now…"
"You have fully grasped the '剑 (Sword)' character?" the sword on the stone platform trembled intensely upon hearing those words, and it hurriedly asked on.
"Of course!" Zhang Xuan nodded proudly. "All in all, the character harnesses a total of 107 sword arts. On the surface, the sword arts appear to be individual of one another, and some of them were conflicting even, but... this is also where the wisdom of the Old Sword Maestro lies. He has managed to combine all 107 sword arts together to create a new sword art. Elder, may I know if my analysis is right?"
The sword on the platform shook in agitation as it gestured on, "Continue!"
"While the sword art doesn't manifest itself in the '剑 (Sword)' character, I am still able to deduce a part of it. Most likely, it would have a grand air so as to allow it to harness and control any sword art within it... If I'm not mistaken, the final sword art that the Old Sword Maestro has formed out of the 107 sword arts should be a type of Sword Formation, and in order to activate it, we would need your strength, elder!" Zhang Xuan said.
The scribblings on the stone tablet outside contained the knowledge of experts over many generations. While their interpretation was erroneous on a whole, there were bits and pieces of truth in each of them, and through the Library of Heaven's Path, he was able to derive out the most accurate cultivation method to the sword arts.
After which, with his deep understanding of swordsmanship, it wasn't too hard for him to deduce a little ahead!
"You're right…" the sword on the stone tablet replied as it assessed the young man before it once more. The more it looked at the young man, the more satisfying he became to it.
To be able to deduce this much from just the '剑 (Sword)' character itself, the young man's talent was really frighteningly high.
If Ji Lingzhen could comprehend so much back then, it might have already submitted to him and became his weapon.
"You said that you were about to reach Sword Quintessence... May I know how long will it take? Ten years? Fifty years? Or a hundred years?" the sword asked in agitation.
The young man already managed to achieve a complete grasp of the character which the Old Sword Maestro had left behind. As long as he achieved Sword Quintessence, he would be able to meet the requirements for the Old Sword Maestro's heritage.
"I don't need that much time…"
At which, Zhang Xuan closed his eyes before continuing, "Just give me a moment... Five minutes would do!"The formation refers to the huge formation that causes one to walk in loops. Zhang Xuan faced it while he was attempting to find Zhang Jiuxiao.