"Legend has it that back then, while Founder Wu Dao was observing the swallows in the air, he noted how their claws sunk deeply into the snow-laden earth, and inspired by that, he created the Snowearth Painting Technique. Paintings that are produced using this painting technique tend to have deeper conceptualization, and even before the final artwork is completed, just the painting process itself is enough to grip the hearts of the viewers!"
"This painting technique has been passed down through the years, but only a small handful of incredibly talented painters are able to learn it. Who could have thought that not only would Ziqing be able to learn it, she's even able to execute it so smoothly? Without a doubt, this duel is going to end in our victory!"
"From the looks of it, unless that fellow is able to produce a painting of the ninth level, or else there's no way he would be able to achieve victory…"
A commotion broke out in the surroundings.
The instant that the young genius of the Zhang Clan made her move, the crowd was immediately captured. Be it her brush, paper, ink, painting technique, or even state of mind, there was simply no flaw that one could pick with her painting. It was so impeccable that even naysayers could only sigh in awe at that sight.
Not bad. Zhang Xuan also nodded in approval.
As an 8-star painter himself, his eye of discernment far exceeded that of the crowd. Naturally, he was able to tell that the young lady before him would not be an easy opponent to deal with.
In fact, her skills were even above that of the Inceptive Sage of the Painter Guild, whom he had faced back at the Sanctum of Sages.
Even though there were plenty of incredible geniuses all over the Master Teacher Continent gathered in the Sanctum of Sages, the Inceptive Sages there did not necessarily represent the pinnacle of their corresponding occupation.
For example, even though Zhang Feng was the Inceptive Sage of the Spirit Awakener Guild, wielding incredible spirit enchantment abilities, if he competed with the genius who had just entered the Spirit Awakener Guild headquarters, Wang Ying, he would still pale slightly in comparison. Otherwise, the elders of the Spirit Awakener Guild would not have had to lower themselves to seek Zhang Xuan's help.
The same applied here.
Even though the Inceptive Sage of the Painter Guild in the Sanctum of Sages was a rare genius in painting, it was still rather clear that he paled in comparison to Zhang Ziqing.
Zhang Ziqing's brush seemed to dance nimbly in the air, creating a sight that pleased one's eyes. Despite her relaxed movements, every single movement that she made was pinpoint accurate, impeccably controlled without the slightest deviation. Every single brush stroke that materialized on the piece of paper seemed to emanate an intoxicating radiance, drawing one deeper and deeper into the world that Zhang Ziqing was creating under her hand.
"Zhang shi… She has already drawn so much! You should get started, too, or else you might really lose the challenge!" While Zhang Xuan was still leisurely observing Zhang Ziqing, an anxious voice suddenly sounded next to him.
Turning his head, he saw Jian Qinsheng clasping his forehead helplessly.
"There's no need to panic." Zhang Xuan took a glance at the incense stick and saw that there was still plenty of time for him to work, so he waved his hand leisurely, paying no heed at all to Jian Qinsheng's concern.
He was an efficient painter, capable of finishing a painting within just ten to twenty breaths. There was no need for him to rush at all.
On the other hand, Jian Qinsheng suddenly recalled that the young man before him had defeated the Inceptive Sage of the Painter Guild in the Tower of Master Teachers, so he decided not to say too much about the matter. "It's good that you're confident. Cough cough, Zhang shi, is it fine if I discuss something with you meanwhile?"
"Junior, feel free to speak your mind!" Zhang Xuan said.
Jian Qinsheng pondered for a moment to sort out his words before speaking carefully. "It's like this. You're currently a representative of the swordsmanship of our Sanctum of Sages, so if possible, can you not dabble too much in the other supporting occupations?"
To be honest, he was starting to regret bringing that fellow here!
They should have been there to challenge the Zhang Clan's swordsmanship, but before they could face any of the Zhang Clan's sword practitioners, the young man had already torn down the other party's formation and enchanted all of their sculptures. And now, he was even challenging one of the Zhang Clan's geniuses in painting.
Formations, enchantment, painting, and appraising… at this rate, will anyone still remember that you are a sword practitioner?
So, I'm begging you, can you pay some heed to your identity before doing anything else?
You are currently my senior! Is it really fine for you to be showing off in the other occupations as well?
"This… I guess I have been acting a little carelessly ever since arriving in the Zhang Clan." Hearing those words, Zhang Xuan scratched his head in embarrassment. "Pardon me, it seems like I have been lacking thought in my actions."
He had been so focused on trying to put down the Zhang Clan that he almost forgot the primary reason he was at the Zhang Clan. He was supposed to challenge the top sword practitioners of the Zhang Clan so as to cleanse Jian Qinsheng's humiliation, and it was indeed inappropriate of him to allow his attention to wander to other stuff. Others would think that he was just a jack of all trades, specializing in nothing at all.
Seeing that Zhang Xuan had caught his drift, Jian Qinsheng nodded in relief. "It's fine. It'll do as long as you remember our primary purpose here."
While he did feel a little uncomfortable at seeing the young man dabbling in other occupations and provoking the Zhang Clan at every turn, by no means was he mad at the young man. Rather, his feelings were still more sided toward gratitude. After all, if not for the young man, there was a good chance that he never would have found an opportunity to get back at the Xing Sword Saint.
"I understand. I'll keep that in mind." Zhang Xuan nodded.
At this moment, a resounding round of applause suddenly broke out around them.
"Amazing! She's already going to finish her work soon!"
"What marvelous artwork! Fairy Ziqing, would you consider selling your painting to me?"
"To be able to finish such a beautiful piece within a short period of time, as expected of the top genius of the Painter Guild!"
Impassioned discussion could be heard from the surroundings. Zhang Xuan glanced over and saw that Zhang Ziqing had already put down her brush, and a completed painting showed its form to the world.
It was a bamboo painting.
There was no other greenery or plant to complement the beauty of the bamboo, but what was particularly striking about it was how each of the towering, emerald bamboo culms seemed to rise out of the surface of the painting. They shuddered in response to the light breeze whisking across the square.
It felt like each of the dozen or so bamboo culms had their own life and emotions, their own unique form and soul. As such, despite the lack of any other complementing details in the painting to act as contrast with the bamboos, the painting did not feel monotonous at all. If anything, each individual bamboo seemed to contrast with one another.
To be able to bestow your painting life… Not too bad! Zhang Xuan nodded in approval.
He had thought that he would be able to win with just a casual drawing, but from the looks of it, things would not be as easy as he thought.
The young lady's caliber was much higher than he had expected.
Painting did not necessarily have to be complicated. Just because a painting was more colorful and intricate did not mean that it would be of a higher level. Just like how the greatest sound was soundless and the greatest form was formless, most masterpieces tended to be exceptionally simple as well.
In a sense, this was similar to how it was easier to gauge a chef's ability through having them prepare the simplest of dishes.
In fact, the simpler the painting was, the more it would reflect the painter's capability.
If one were to just take a brief glance at her artwork, its simplicity would make it appear to be just at the level of Reality Depiction. But in truth, if one examined it closely, one would realize that every single one of these bamboo culms was so detailed that it was almost as if they were all alive. Rather than calling it a work of art, it would be more accurate to say that new lives had been created.
If not for Zhang Ziqing's young age and the limitations of her cultivation, she would have already been able to produce pinnacle artwork and take the final step forward to become a real 9-star master teacher.
It's no wonder others said that it would be difficult to triumph over her without a painting of the ninth level, Zhang Xuan thought.
Given the quality of Zhang Ziqing's artwork, it would really require a true ninth level painting in order to outdo her.
"What? Does Zhang shi intend to admit defeat?"
While Zhang Xuan was deep in thought, a young lady's voice sounded.
Turning his head over, he saw Zhang Ziqing looking at him with a cold sneer on her lips.
She finally understood why the young man chose to gamble with just a pinnacle spirit stone instead of with her painting. Considering how valuable her painting was, the young man might not necessarily have been able to come up with something of equivalent value to it once he lost!
In the end, he was just preparing an escape route should things not go in his favor.
"Admit defeat? Why would I do that?" Zhang Xuan shook his head. "I do acknowledge that your painting is not too bad, and out of respect for you as a painter, I'll be getting serious."
As he said those words, Zhang Xuan flicked his wrist and whipped out a sword. He test-swung it in the air before shaking his head and stowing it back into his storage ring. After which, he took out another sword and swung it, but he also shook his head and placed it back into his storage ring.
He repeated the same action another three times before he finally seemed to have found a sword to his liking. He swiftly scanned his surroundings before stomping his feet lightly on the ground.
A stone next to his leg flew up, catching everyone's attention in an instant.
"I'm going to start now," Zhang Xuan said casually as he drove his sword toward the stone.
"You aren't going to use a brush or the Legacy Paper to compete with me… but a mere sword and stone?" Zhang Ziqing widened her eyes in disbelief.
In an instant, she felt as if the other party was intentionally trying to humiliate her, and a burst of rage surge through her veins.