Library of Heaven is Path
1281 Sword Quintessence
"Five minutes?" The sword on the stone platform froze.
Sword Quintessence was the highest level of comprehension toward swordsmanship, so naturally, it was no easy feat to achieve that realm. Without several centuries of experience and accumulation, it was nigh impossible to make the breakthrough.
Even the Old Sword Maestro, famed to be one of the greatest geniuses in swordsmanship in his era, had to work ceaselessly for more than a hundred years before he managed to achieve that realm!
On the other hand, the young man before him appeared to only be in his early twenties, and yet, he actually claimed that he would be able to achieve a breakthrough within five minutes...
How could that be possible?
"Elder, that is clearly nonsense! He's obviously trying to stall for time. If we don't kill him right now, there's no saying that he would do within those five minutes!" Seeing that the situation was developing in a direction beyond his control, Ji Lingzhen exclaimed anxiously.
I didn't summon you out to chat with the enemy... As a weapon, can you at least show some professionalism?
"Shut up!" the sword bellowed furiously.
Before Ji Lingzhen could even react, a powerful surge of sword qi was already darting his way. Horrified, he quickly channeled his zhenqi to defend himself.
However, the sword qi still overcame his defense and struck his chest squarely. His face reddened, and a spurt of fresh blood escaped from his mouth. At the same time, a glaring horizontal cut appeared across his chest.
All along, while Ji Lingzhen knew the sword to be a Saint high-tier artifact, he had no idea what its exact tier was. However, when he felt the sword qi emanated by the sword, he immediately realized that the true strength wielded by the sword was far beyond his imagination.
Just a simple sword qi was enough to render him completely helpless. If the sword were to attempt to claim his life, there would have been nothing he could have done about it!
"Try uttering another word, and I'll kill you this instant!" the sword harrumphed coldly.
It was also no wonder why it would be angry.
Prior to the Old Sword Maestro's death, he had sealed the sword here as an inheritance for his successor. There were two conditions that the successor had to meet in order to unseal it.
Firstly, he must fully comprehend the conceptualization behind the '剑 (Sword)' character outside. Secondly, his comprehension of swordsmanship must achieve the level of Sword Quintessence.
Only when these two factors were met would the sword finally be freed from the stone platform. Over the years, many geniuses had found its way to it, but it was a pity that none of them had been able to meet the two conditions simultaneously.
Ji Lingzhen could be said to be the one who had come the closest to unsealing it in the past several thousand years, but it was a pity that despite several centuries of hard work, he was still unable to take the final step to achieving Sword Quintessence...
If Zhang Xuan was really able to achieve Sword Quintessence, he would be able to free it from its restraints. Naturally, how could it allow others to interfere with this hard-to-come-by opportunity?
"Elder…" Not expecting that several centuries of companionship would actually mean nothing as compared to a couple of words uttered by Zhang Xuan, Ji Lingzhen trembled in fury. Clenching his fists tightly, he exclaimed, "That fellow over there has used the Impartation of Heaven's Will and demonic tunes in order to sway you. It's clear that he's up to no good!"
"That's right, elder. There's no sword practitioner who doesn't know how difficult it is to achieve Sword Quintessence. Even the Old Sword Maestro had to take many years of hard work before managing to achieve that realm!" Ji Lingzhen spoke with a worried tone.
"He's only at Upper Sword Heart, not even reaching the level of Half-Quintessence. How could he possibly achieve a breakthrough to Sword Quintessence within just mere minutes? That's obviously an attempt to stall for time. He's probably intending on using some kind of lowly method to tame you…"
"This…" Hearing those words, the sword hesitated.
There was some sense to what Ji Lingzhen had said. If it was that easy to achieve Sword Quintessence, it wouldn't have been known as the threshold to the pinnacle of swordsmanship!
Back in those years, countless sword experts of the Empire Alliance had come to challenge the Old Sword Maestro, and there was no lack of 8-star master teachers amongst them. However, all of them ended up being defeated by his superior comprehension of swordsmanship.
From this, it could be seen how difficult it was to achieve the level of Sword Quintessence.
From such a perspective, it was indeed doubtful whether a young man in the early twenties would be able to achieve this breakthrough or not.
"That fellow is a despicable and scheming fellow. Without a doubt, he's up to his underhanded tricks once more. Elder, I suggest that you kill him right this instant just to be safe…" Noticing that the sword was starting to sway in his favor, Ji Lingzhen immediately pressed on with an anxious tone.
But halfway through his words, his body suddenly stiffened instinctively. Following which, an unbelievably grand and pure Sword Intent burst into the sky.
It was as if huge waves had been raised in the Sword Lagoon. In the blink of an eye, countless sword qi began gathering toward them, forming a frightening hurricane around them.
Ji Lingzhen clearly felt the Sword Intent within his body being suppressed entirely, preventing him from even moving a single step. An ominous premonition loomed over his mind, and his face paled. He slowly turned his stiffened neck over in the direction where the Sword Intent was coming from.
The young man who was just talking a moment earlier came into his sight. His eyes were still completely shut, but in this moment, it felt as if he had transformed into a sharp blade which could challenge even the deities even.
Weng weng weng weng!
Countless blades flew in from outside the formation, and they swiftly took a kneeling stance before the young man, as if paying respects to their new emperor.
"Servility of the Myriad Swords... This is Sword Quintessence?" Ji Lingzhen widened his eyes in fright before slowly shaking his head in disbelief.
It was just a moment after he said that it was impossible for the young man to achieve a breakthrough to Sword Quintessence and he was just stalling for time when such a situation occurred. At this moment, he couldn't help but feel as if the world had directed its full malicious intentions toward him.
Seven hundred years ago, he reached Half-Quintessence. Ever since then, he had been trying to further his mastery of swordsmanship to take the final step forward, and for this, he had resorted to all sorts of means and studied all kinds of books. Yet, no matter what he tried, he was still unable to grasp the realm above Half-Quintessence. On the other hand, the young man had only closed his eyes for a few minutes, and he had already reached the level that was beyond his reach...
The stark contrast between both of their plights left him on a mental breakdown.
Had it not been for his firm mind, the final string of rationality in his mind might have just snap there and then, leaving him falling endlessly down the abyss of lunacy.
He has really comprehended Sword Quintessence? This is really bad…
On the other hand, Ji Lingfeng's eyes were narrowed in horror.
He thought that as long as they were to engage the help of the Old Sword Maestro's personal sword, they should be able to get rid of Zhang Xuan without any trouble. In fact, that was one of the contributing factors why they chose to make their move here, so that they would at least have a trump card to fall back on if things went awry. Yet, who could have thought that the both of them would end up hooking up together, and Zhang Xuan even managed to achieve a breakthrough to Sword Quintessence...
At this rate, the sword might even acknowledge Zhang Xuan as its master!
To put it in concise terms, they were in deep shit.
Run! Realizing this, Ji Lingfeng suppressed the pain that was resonating throughout his body with every move and fled as fast as he could out of the mist.
Even though he had only managed to get through the Chaotic Palace Beguilement Formation thanks to Ji Lingzhen's directions back then, he had memorized the passageway from the previous experience. Furthermore, the formation had been mostly destroyed by the burst of Sword Intent from the awakening of the sword, thus making it easier from him to escape from the area.
Barely after taking two steps out, before he could even get far, he suddenly felt a chill running through his body. Before he could do anything, he suddenly felt the upper half of his body tumbling forward uncontrollably.
Turning his head over, he saw Ji Lingzhen retracting his finger coldly, and the nonchalant look on the latter's face was as if saying the deed he had just committed was nothing worthy of note.
He watched as Ji Lingzhen turned around to the stone platform and clasped his fist respectfully, saying, "Elder, I only made a move on Zhang shi under the deception of my foolish younger brother. As you know, it has been many years since I left the Sword Lagoon, so I was unaware of the happenings outside…"
Ji Lingfeng's upper body fell onto the ground, and blood spurted wildly from the severed halves of his body. Even up to the moment of his death, his eyes were widened in disbelief, as if not daring to believe that his elder brother would actually kill him with his own hands.
Used to seeing bloodshed, the sword didn't flinch at the slightest by the gore before its eyes. Instead, it bellowed coldly in response to Ji Lingzhen's words, "Silence! Don't interrupt that lad's breakthrough!"
"Yes!" Ji Lingzhen hurriedly fell silent and stood obediently on the spot.
Since even a newcomer like Ji Lingfeng was able to see through the attitude of the sword, how could Ji Lingzhen, who had accompanied the sword for hundreds of years, possibly be oblivious to it?
The requirement to taming the sword was to comprehend Sword Quintessence. Since Zhang Xuan had successfully reached Sword Quintessence, and he had also displayed a thorough understanding of the conceptualization behind the character the Old Sword Maestro had left behind, it was only a matter of time before he successfully tamed the sword.
Once that were to happen, Ji Lingzhen would be a goner. Thus, he decisively chose to slay Ji Lingfeng and pin all the blame on the latter.
In the face of life and death, so long as he could survive, he wouldn't hesitate to sacrifice the life of his kin!
On the other hand, Zhang Xuan paid no heed to the mess that was happening at the moment. Under the protection of his clone, he immersed himself in the profound knowledge contained in the new Heaven's Path Sword Art which he had compiled earlier.
This sword art could be said to have contained the wisdom of the strongest sword practitioners in not just the Conferred Empires but even the Empire Alliance as well! As Zhang Xuan's comprehension of swordsmanship deepened, his Primordial Spirit also began morphing in the shape of a sword, and he felt like he could call forth devastating might with just a wave of his hand.
When his Primordial Spirit finally completed the metamorphosis into a sword form, he found that he seemed to command a natural authority over swords that were weaker than him. With just mere thoughts, he was able to drive them into action.
But of course, this was just the most elementary form of control. If he wished to wield absolute control over the sword, he would still have to gain the acknowledgement of the sword and tame it.
Nevertheless, this was already an extremely frightening ability
This effectively meant that no sword practitioner of the same cultivation realm as him could rival him anymore!
"With the deepening of my comprehension toward swords, I can now infuse Sword Intent even to the simplest of movements. Also, when I'm wielding a sword, the fighting prowess I can exert is around twofold as compared to when I'm fighting with fist art or palm art!" Assessing the Sword Intent flowing within his body, Zhang Xuan began to make a primary gauge of his current strength.
As expected of Sword Quintessence, it's indeed formidable... Now that I have achieved this level of strength, I wonder if I'll be able to defeat my clone… A thought suddenly came into Zhang Xuan's mind.
However, he soon shook his head, Forget it, I don't have masochistic tendencies!
He and his clone might have originated from the same soul, but through the superior capabilities of the Nine Hearts Lotus, his clone wielded a fighting prowess far beyond his. Every time Zhang Xuan thought that he had made substantial improvement and wanted to exact vengeance for his previous humiliation, he would find that his clone had grown even stronger...
It should probably be the same this time around.
Both their souls were connected, allowing them to share everything telepathically. As soon as their minds connected with one another, his clone would also be able to grasp Sword Quintessence as well. Given so, whatever advantage he had over his clone would be undone as well.
If he were to really dare make a move, there was little doubt that the one who would be lying miserably on the ground afterward would be him.
With this lingering thought in mind, Zhang Xuan slowly opened his eyes.
The first thing that came into his sight was a hundred or so Saint intermediate-tier swords bowing right in front of him, every single of them trembling in fear.
I see. So that's the reason why the Dusk Cloud Sword was so fearful of Ma Minghai back then… Zhang Xuan thought.
He found that he had the strength to easily wipe away the spirit of any of the swords with just a thought. Given so, how could the sword spirits not know fear?
"Zhang shi, congratulations on your breakthrough! Please pardon me for my previous disrespect. It's due to the deception of the despicable Ji Lingfeng that I made an erroneous judgement. I beg for your forgiveness!" Following which, Zhang Xuan swiftly heard an exclamation,
Turning over, he saw Ji Lingzhen kneeling on the ground not too far away. Even though the latter was trying to keep himself composed, the slight trembling of his body still betrayed his innate fear.
Ji Lingzhen was already no match for Zhang Xuan previously, and the situation had only just worsened. The sword on the stone tablet was clearly biased against him, and the young man had already had more than a hundred Saint intermediate-tier swords under his command at the moment as well. If the young man really wanted to kill him, all it would take would be a mere thought.
"You are asking for my forgiveness?" Zhang Xuan scoffed.
Conducting a swift scan of his surroundings, he suddenly noticed that Ji Lingfeng had already been killed. Then, he traded glances with his clone, and through a telepathic interaction, he swiftly understood what was going on, and a deep frown emerged on his forehead.
To be willing to kill even his own brother, Ji Lingzhen was really the worst of scums. Morals and principles clearly meant nothing to him at all.
Thus, Zhang Xuan communicated telepathically with his clone for a moment before turning his gaze back to the stone platform.
"Zhang shi!" the sword exclaimed in agitation.
It had been sealed here ever since the death of the Old Sword Maestro, and it had been nearly ten thousand years since then. Even though it had spent most of its time in hibernation, it still direly craved for freedom. If there was a chance for it to leave this damned place, it would grasp it without any hesitation.
"Zhang shi, I have the heritage of the Old Sword Maestro on me. You have to pull me out from the stone platform for it to show…" the sword informed Zhang Xuan telepathically.
"Pull you out?" Zhang Xuan asked before coming to a realization.
He hadn't really thought of it in such a manner previously due to the astounding power displayed by the sword, but the words that the sword had just spoken made him realize that the reason why the sword hadn't moved all this while was because there was some kind of seal trapping it in the stone platform.
For even something as strong as the sword to be unable to free itself, the seal was bound to be exceptionally powerful.
Thus, Zhang Xuan couldn't help asking, "If even you are unable to struggle free of the seal, how can I possibly be able to free you?"