The move that Zhang Xuan had executed earlier consisted of eighteen different types of transformations, but there were none that were an attack from this angle!
A simple pierce it might have been, but it was indubitably a masterful stroke, cornering the opponent in a single move!
Jian Qinsheng could not believe his eyes. But to do this, one must have an absolute grasp over the timing of the battle and the maneuvers of the opponent. Even I would require a lengthy period of contemplation before I could think of something like that, and to do so during a tense battle, where life and death hinge on the slightest millimeter of difference…
Even he would struggle to execute such a movement in battle.
While Jian Qinsheng was stunned by the situation, Senior Xie felt an extremely stifling sensation that threatened to blow his chest up.
Even though he could not comprehend the profundity of the pierce, he could feel his flow of zhenqi and momentum being completely thrown off when the hair strand pierced toward him. Given his current movement, if he could not find a solution fast, he would crash right into the hair!
Although it was just a strand of hair, with zhenqi infused into it, its sharpness was on par with any sword. It was definitely more than capable of piercing through his throat or even decapitating his head!
Knowing that he would only incur severe injuries if he pushed on ahead, he gritted his teeth and thrust his palm forward.
A sonic boom sounded in the air, and Senior Xie made use of the reaction force from the palm thrust to retreat.
Due to the abrupt reversal in his energy flow, Senior Xie lost control of the raging zhenqi in his body, and it rampaged throughout his body like a heavy hammer tossed around the area. His face swiftly reddened, and fresh blood began trickling down from the corners of his mouth.
So far, they had traded two moves, but without even touching one another, he was already injured.
Most likely, no one would believe him if he told them.
"What is going on?"
"I have no idea either. What is Senior Xie up to?"
With their eye of discernment, they were unable to see through the prowess of Zhang Xuan's sword art. All they saw was that Senior Xie had the upper hand when he abruptly retreated, resulting in a backlash in his energy flow.
This bewildering situation left all of them dumbstruck.
"Could it be that… our Senior Xie is actually a masochist?"
"Now that you mention it, that could very well be the case. I remember that Senior Xie once pursued our Senior Shui before, but the very next day, his entire face was swollen."
"I heard about that, too. After that, he didn't dare take even a second glance at Senior Shui, right? Just that, what does that have to do with being masochist?"
"It has everything to do with being masochist! Every single person in the academy knows that that person likes Senior Shui, and he still dared to court her. Isn't that just asking for a beating?"
The various juniors gossiped by the side.
On the other hand, seeing the bizarre expressions that his juniors were shooting him by the side, Senior Xie could roughly guess what they were thinking of, and his face turned completely livid.
He had planned to teach that arrogant fellow a lesson in his teacher's stead, but despite wielding a Saint intermediate-tier sword to deal with a fellow who was holding nothing but a strand of hair, he ended up inducing an energy backlash himself and spurted blood.
"If you can withstand this move, I'll admit defeat!"
Taking a step back, Senior Xie took a deep breath before his eyes abruptly narrowed dangerously.
A powerful surge of Sword Intent immediately burst forth from it, rising straight up into the sky.
"It's Senior Xie's trump card, Sorrowless Sword!"
"This is the sword art created by our teacher, right? A sword to sever all frustrations, distancing oneself from worry and sorrow. Within the same cultivation realm, there is none who can withstand this sword art!"
"Our teacher is able to create 99 surges of sword qi instantaneously when executing this move. Of us, Senior Xie has shown the greatest aptitude toward this sword art, and even though he cannot compare to our teacher, he's already able to produce 32 surges of sword qi in a breath!"
"With 32 surges of sword qi sealing his acupoints, the young man won't even be able to find the strength within him to counterattack…"
A commotion broke out in the surroundings, and worry surfaced in Shui Qianrou's eyes.
She was the one who had brought Zhang Xuan here, so she would feel deeply guilty if he was injured in the duel against her senior.
But with his strength, this shouldn't pose a problem at all…
However, recalling how the young man was able to clear even the Yi Corridor, it was unlikely that Senior Xie would be a match for him.
Driving his aura to its very peak, Senior Xie rose into the sky, and entering the state of Sword-Man Union, he pushed his sword forth.
"Not bad!" Zhang Xuan nodded in approval.
This sword art required the sword practitioner to devote their spirit, mind, and soul into their swordsmanship in order to heighten its prowess. Without exceptional aptitude toward swordsmanship, it would be difficult to achieve this feat.
With a single pierce, he was able to seal off 32 of the opponent's acupoints, thus placing the opponent in a disadvantageous position. A truly incredible technique it was.
Eye of Insight!
In an instant, the various flaws in Senior Xie's movements appeared in clarity right before Zhang Xuan.
The might is decent, but it has too many openings.
With just a glance, Zhang Xuan could already see more than a dozen openings. Instead of stepping back, he chose one of the openings and charged forth.
"What is that fellow doing?"
"Does he intend to clash directly with Senior Xie's sword with that strand of hair?"
"I can't even bring myself to watch any longer. That's suicide!"
A huge uproar rippled through the crowd upon seeing Zhang Xuan's actions.
In their view, the logical course of action to make before Senior Xie's ferocious offense was to evade. Yet, that young man actually dashed right up instead. He was really courting death!
Even Jian Qinsheng could not help but feel deeply perplexed by the sight before him.
He was the one who had created the Sorrowless Sword, and he knew very well what frightening offensive power it wielded. Even sword practitioners who wielded sword arts of the same tier would not dare clash with it directly, and yet, the young man actually wanted to face it with just a strand of hair. Not only was it likely that he would be injured in the encounter, there was even a chance that he might be killed in the clash!
Before many bewildered gazes, the sword finally came into contact with the hair.
Just as everyone thought that the hair strand would be sliced into countless shreds by the rampaging sword qi, the taut hair strand suddenly slackened, and it moved in an unexpected trajectory to strike the back of Senior Xie's sword.
It was a resounding metallic clang, and following right after was a series of crisp sounds.
Taken aback, everyone quickly took a closer look, and they saw cracks swiftly creeping across the sword. In just the blink of an eye, it had already shattered into countless fragments, scattering all over the ground.
With his sword shattered, Senior Xie once again suffered a backlash of his zhenqi. His face reddened, and blood spurted from his mouth. With a jolt, his body collapsed to the ground.
The Sorrowless Sword was indubitably a powerful sword art, but it required an extreme level of concentration into one's sword. The shattering of the sword would inevitably result in the abrupt severing of one's mind, spirit, and soul, dealing immense damage to the sword practitioner.
"This…" The surroundings fell unnervingly silent. Everyone stared at the young man, aghast.
Swallowing a pill, Senior Xie struggled to his feet as he muttered despondently beneath his breath, "I've lost…"
No matter how unwilling he was to accept it, he had no choice but to admit his defeat.
For a sword practitioner like him to lose to a strand of hair while wielding a Saint intermediate-tier sword…
Everything was so unbelievable that it felt unreal to him, as if he was in the midst of a dream.
"There's no need to feel discouraged by your loss," Jian Qinsheng told Senior Xie. After which, he turned his gaze to Zhang Xuan with a heated look in his eyes, as if he had found a gem. "This young brother over here has achieved a level of swordsmanship far above yours!"
"I understand…" Senior Xie nodded in embarrassment.
Noting the slight air of awkwardness, Zhang Xuan quickly spoke up. "It's just a friendly duel to learn from one another. I'm also in awe of Senior Xie's extraordinary swordsmanship."
"To be able to use a strand of hair to shatter his sword, your grasp over the sword has really reached the apex of the continent." Jian Qinsheng did not hold back on his compliments at all. "If I didn't see wrongly, your strand of hair should also be severed too, right?"
"That's right." Zhang Xuan nodded as he released his zhenqi.
With the slight tug of a light breeze, the taut hair immediately dissipated on the spot.
The crowd was astonished once more.
It wasn't too difficult to infuse one's zhenqi into an intact strand of hair to pull it taut, but the strand of hair that the young man wielded had already dissipated into countless fragments. To be able to circulate one's zhenqi through it to maintain its form and even shatter Senior Xie's sword… just how frightening was the young man's control over his zhenqi?
After confirming his guess, Jian Qinsheng consoled his disciple with a smile. "Actually, you don't have to be too disheartened. Your sword wasn't shattered by the strand of hair in his hand."
Hearing those words, a look of incomprehension surfaced on Senior Xie's face. The other disciples were equally confused as well.
The shattering of the sword had only begun after the hair struck the sword. If it was not the hair that had caused the shattering of the sword, what else could it be?
"When you execute the Sorrowless Sword, due to your piercing action, you focus all your might at the tip of the sword, hoping to concentrate your strength to defeat your opponent.
"As a result of that, the blade of your sword was left completely unguarded. Furthermore, the spot that the hair strand struck was where the exertion of might intersected, thus causing the zhenqi you have infused into the sword to run amok.
"To put it in more direct terms, it's your own strength that caused the shattering of the sword. All your opponent did was find the ideal position and timing to strike!" Jian Qinsheng explained earnestly, fearing that his disciple would lose all confidence in his swordsmanship as a result of this encounter.
After which, he turned to Zhang Xuan and asked, "May I know if what I have said is true?"
"Elder Jian is indeed keen-eyed!" Zhang Xuan nodded.
Jian Qinsheng was right. No matter how he concentrated his zhenqi into the strand of hair he wielded, it was impossible for it to be able to shatter a Saint intermediate-tier weapon. The reason he had been able to produce such an effect was because he had tapped into Senior Xie's strength as well.
When the intersection of might within the sword was struck by his strand of hair, the gathered zhenqi ran amok, resulting in the swift destruction of the blade.
Due to the backlash from the strike, the feeble strand of hair also ended up being reduced into countless shreds. If not for Zhang Xuan's pure zhenqi, it would have long disappeared along with the wind.
"To be able to see through flaws in the swordsmanship of another and launch a precise counterattack, if I'm not mistaken…" With a hint of agitation and disbelief in his eyes, Jian Qinsheng stared at Zhang Xuan intently as he asked, "Has your comprehension of swordsmanship already achieved the level of Sword Quintessence?"
Only those who had achieved the level of Sword Quintessence could possess such sensitivity to swordsmanship, clearly perceiving the movement of sword qi in the area to launch an effective counterattack, thus easily subduing Senior Xie even while he was executing the Sorrowless Sword.
"That's right!" Zhang Xuan nodded in response.
He might still have been able to conceal it if he had not made a move, but if Jian Qinsheng could not tell this much after the previous display, the many years he had spent practicing swordsmanship really would have been in vain.
"To comprehend Sword Quintessence despite being only in your twenties… Are you from the Zhang Clan?" Even after hearing the affirmative response from Zhang Xuan, Jian Qinsheng still found it difficult to believe what he was hearing.
Just how much aptitude must the young man possess in swordsmanship in order to climb this far at an age as young as his? One must know that he had also been reputed to be a peerless genius back in his time, but still, he had to devote many years of effort into his swordsmanship before he was able to achieve the level of Sword Quintessence.
"Zhang Clan? I'm not from the Zhang Clan," Zhang Xuan replied with a bitter smile.
Why would everyone assume that he was from the Zhang Clan after hearing his name?
Were the offspring of Zhang Clan the only Zhangs who were talented?
It was as if they were saying that it was impossible for normal cultivators to achieve this level through their own hard work!
"You aren't from the Zhang Clan?" Jian Qinsheng was taken aback for a moment before breaking into a heart laughter. "That's truly great, hahaha!"
"This…" Seeing how excited Jian Qinsheng had suddenly become, Zhang Xuan could not help but fall into a daze.
To get so excited after hearing that he was not from the Zhang Clan, could it be that Jian Qinsheng had some kind of grudge with the Zhang Clan?