Just like what Elder Lu Yun had said, with his comprehension of swordsmanship, it shouldn't be too difficult for him to become an inner disciple of the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion. In fact, he would probably be able to join any of the Six Sects easily, and he was confident that he could rise through the ranks easily. However, there was no such thing as a free lunch in the world.
Joining a sect meant that he would have to adhere to the rules and regulations of the sect.
If it was just a few trivial rules here and there, it still wouldn't be too much of a problem. However, if one of the rules somehow prevented him from looking for Luo Ruoxin, or that the sect was hostile toward the Spirit God Palace… he would really be shooting himself in the foot then.
Wait… What if Dan Xiaotian joins the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion, and I follow him as his servant? That should work as well, right? Zhang Xuan's eyes lit up in excitement.
It was said that there would be a selection in Xuanjiang City two days later for cultivators to join the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion as menial disciples… If Dan Xiaotian were to display sufficient talent, he should be able to get in as an outer disciple. Most outer disciples were assigned with servants to take care of their necessities. So, as long as Dan Xiaotian succeeded, he should be able to get into the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion as well.
Once he was in, he could adapt accordingly to the situation to acquire what he needed. At the same time, he could supervise his disciple's learning and ensure that he didn't stray down the wrong path. Not to mention, as a servant of an outer disciple, he was a character so minor that he wouldn't be officially recognized by the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion, which also meant that he wouldn't be bound by its rules too.
That was three birds with a stone!
"It's settled then!"
Zhang Xuan gave the matter some more thought and confirmed that there were no major problems with this course of action. Heaving a huge sigh of relief, he left the Ethereal Hall.
While Zhang Xuan had made up his mind, Elder Lu Yun and the others in the private room had come to a decision as well.
"We have to head to Xuanjiang City right now! Let me see… It's a little past midnight now, and with the fastest aerial beast we have, we should be able to arrive in the afternoon. Since that's the case, let's not delay it any further and conduct the selection in Xuanjiang City today then! Jianghe, I want you to send down the announcement to those in Xuanjiang City that we'll be conducting the selection today as soon as dawn breaks. There's no need to wait for us, understood? Nothing must go wrong with this. We have to find World's Edge by hook or by crook!" Elder Lu Yun instructed sternly.
"Yes!" Huo Jianghe replied with a nod.
Bringing back such a talented genius was far more significant than taking in a hundred above-average outer disciples. If he were to allow World's Edge to slip past his fingers, and World's Edge ended up joining some other sect instead, he would surely be severely punished for his lapse in responsibility!
"As for the rest of you, pack up your things right now. We'll be setting off in five minutes, got it?"
All of them vanished from the Ethereal Hall swiftly.
Returning back to his room, Zhang Xuan quickly activated the Ethereal Token to claim the storage ring and Basic Immortal Pill he had just purchased.
The Basic Immortal Pill had a slightly silvery color, and it was densely packed with the pure mercury-like spiritual energy. Just taking a whiff of it was enough to leave one's meridians trembling in agitation, as if encountering an oasis in a desert.
Knowing that it was of utmost importance to him in recovering his strength, Zhang Xuan swallowed the pill without any hesitation.
As soon as he ingested the Basic Immortal Pill, he felt a warm flow of energy gushing into his limbs. The pure mercury-like energy was swiftly being converted into concentrated zhenqi.
In the midst of his cultivation, Zhang Xuan couldn't help but realize that the zhenqi he had formed from the mercury-like spiritual energy was much more powerful. Due to its greater density, the techniques he executed with it were much mightier.
While the capacity of his dantian hadn't changed, the quality of the zhenqi he was taking in was much greater. This meant that he was capable of bringing out much greater prowess in a battle than before!
It was no wonder why the experts in the Azure were so extraordinarily powerful, such that he could only barely scrape a victory after using all of the means at his disposal. Not only was the mercury-like spiritual energy able to enhance one's constitution, it also played an important role in tempering one's zhenqi.
After cultivating for some time, the energy harnessed in the Basic Immortal Pill was finally all used up. Exhaling deeply, Zhang Xuan slowly opened his eyes.
While the Basic Immortal Pill was rich in energy, it was still insufficient for him to make a full recovery.
"From the looks of it, I reckon that I would need another one in order to fully recover…" Zhang Xuan murmured.
If he needed two Basic Immortal Pills just to recover his strength, just how many of it would he freaking require in order to make a breakthrough?
Cultivating was really a money-sucking abyss. No matter how rich one was, it would never be enough!
Zhang Xuan glanced at the windows and found that it was already dawn. As soon as he walked out of the room, he saw that Dan Xiaotian was still carefully practicing his swordsmanship.
Despite having not rested for a night, Dan Xiaotian's movements did not reflect any exhaustion. If anything, his movements were much more stable, and he was able to drive his zhenqi much more smoothly now.
"Not bad. I see that you have worked hard!" With just a glance, Zhang Xuan could tell that Dan Xiaotian had followed his instructions strictly, not slacking off in the least.
In truth, he didn't ask Dan Xiaotian to practice his swordsmanship just to punish him. He had just achieved a breakthrough of six realms in the span of a day, and this abrupt breakthrough inevitably meant that his mind and reflexes would be unable to keep up with his newfound power. As such, he needed sufficient practice in order to fully adapt to the changes in his body.
While practicing the same move again and again for thousands of times was extremely monotonous and grinding on one's patience, it was an essential step for Dan Xiaotian to precisely discern the flow of zhenqi in his body. This would allow him to sharpen his control over his strength, thus gradually breaking him into his newfound powers.
And clearly, his aim had been achieved.
In a night of practice, Dan Xiaotian had already fully adapted himself to his current Great Sage 3-dan cultivation.
Hearing the opening of the door, Dan Xiaotian quickly walked over, kneeled down, and greeted Zhang Xuan.
He was no fool either. He could clearly sense the changes in his body, so how would he not understand his teacher's intention?
Alarmed by this huge reaction, Zhang Xuan quickly reached out to help Dan Xiaotian up. But at this moment, there was a sudden jolt in his head.
A golden page appeared in the Library of Heaven's Path.
It seemed like it was only at this moment that he had truly won Dan Xiaotian over as his disciple.
This means that I'm able to acquire golden pages in the Azure too. This is good news! Zhang Xuan thought in delight.
He thought that the differences in the environment might hinder some of the functions of the Library of Heaven's Path, but fortunately, that didn't seem to be the case.
The golden page represented a crucial trump card. As long as he had it in his grasp, he would have nothing to fear for now.
"How far have you gone with the sword art I have imparted to you? Show it to me!" Zhang Xuan said with a smile after helping Dan Xiaotian up.
He had taught Dan Xiaotain the 'sword toss' technique he had created yesterday in the Ethereal Hall, and he was curious to see how far his disciple had come with this technique over the night.
Dan Xiaotian took a few steps back before flicking his wrist lightly.
His sword flew across the air.
While the speed of his toss wasn't on par with Zhang Xuan's, it was still fast enough to produce numerous afterimages in his path. In the blink of an eye, the sword pierced into the trunk of a nearby tree, and all of a sudden, the huge tree exploded, creating a huge crater in where it previously stood.
"Not bad. You have already reached the level of an Initiate. If you wish to further your mastery in the art, you should try practicing it in battle. Observe your opponent's flaws carefully before making your move. If you could reach the level where you are able to discern multiple openings in your opponent's move with a single glance, you will have reached Major Accomplishment in this technique. By then, none of your peers would be a match for you anymore!" Zhang Xuan said.
This sword toss appeared to be a simple move, but it harnessed the crux of the Heaven's Path Sword Art within it. As long as he was able to find a flaw in the movements of his opponent, no one would be able to block it.
It was precisely for this reason that Huo Jianghe and Xue Gan were completely helpless before it.
"Yes, teacher!" Dan Xiaotian nodded in agitation.
After a night of practice, he had also come to realize just how powerful and profound this single sword toss was. Everything he had learned before was really nothing in comparison. He felt almost as if he had been living in a pineapple under the ocean all this while!
"Alright, I'll impart to you some other sword arts too. Learning more sword arts would be beneficial in widening your perspective, thus granting you a deeper insight into your swordsmanship. This is crucial in your advancement as a sword practitioner," Zhang Xuan said.
Just as he was about to impart some elementary sword arts to Dan Xiaotian, a flurry of footsteps suddenly sounded outside.
The entrance was knocked open, and ten armored soldiers rushed into the courtyard and swiftly surrounded Zhang Xuan and Dan Xiaotian.
"Who is the owner of this residence?" the commander standing at the forefront asked coldly.
He was a young man in his thirties, but despite his young age, his cultivation had already reached Ancient Sage 1-dan Blood Continuation realm.
"I am the owner of this residence!" Noting that the group that had barged in were guards from the City Lord Manor, Dan Xiaotian walked forward with a frown.
"Men, capture him!" the commander ordered.
Two guards immediately rushed out from behind with drawn swords in their hands. Their faces reflected belligerence that indicated that they wouldn't hesitate to hurt Dan Xiaotian.
"I advise you not to retaliate. We do have the discretion to kill criminals who attempt to resist arrest!" one of the two guards sneered coldly as he approached Dan Xiaotian with chains in hand.
"What crime did I commit?" Dan Xiaotian was taken aback by the situation before him.
"Yesterday night, the sentries of the City Lord Manor found the bandit Cao Chengli sneaking into the city with his band. It was clear that he was up to no good, so the City Lord Manor immediately dispatched a group of fifty elites to eliminate them. However, those fifty never returned. After investigating the matter the entire morning, we found that the footsteps of those fifty elites led straight to your residence. Thus, I have obtained an arrest warrant from the City Lord Manor to arrest you on the ground of colluding with bandits to kill our men!" the commander sneered coldly.
Dan Xiaotian widened his eyes in shock for a moment before exclaiming furiously, "Colluding with bandits? That's nonsense! I would never do something like that!"
Yesterday night, if not for his teacher, he might have been killed by those bandits. Yet, these guards actually claimed that he was colluding with them?
You must be joking with me!
In his view, even the chances of the City Lord Manor colluding with the bandits were greater than his!
"It's fine, I don't expect you to admit to it either. Men, bring the evidence over!" the commander bellowed with a wave of his hand.
Several guards immediately marched forward and tossed the items in their hands over.
It was a bunch of bloodied and soiled weapons and armor.
"We found these around your residence. There are the weapons of the bandits and the armor our guards. It's apparent that they have clashed with one another here, and someone has intentionally concealed the evidence… What else do you have to say for yourself?" the commander harrumphed.
"This… How could this be?" Dan Xiaotian was stunned.
His teacher had already gotten rid of everything yesterday, so how could there still be such stuff lying around?
"Those weapons and clothes are indeed from the bandits living in the mountains outside. It was robbed by them several times while making shipping my goods, so there's no way I would mistake it!"
"Those armors are definitely from the City Lord Manor too. They patrol around my place every day, so how could I possibly get it wrong?"
"How could he stoop so low to colluding with bandits? Despicable!"
"We have to punish such behavior severely! Right, we should also force them to confess their ploy as well. If the bandits had really succeeded in achieving whatever they set out to do, who knows how many casualties there would be in our city…"
"The Dan Clan sure has fallen from its former glory. I was still feeling sympathetic to their plight, especially given that their final remaining member isn't able to cultivate at all, but it turns out to those who are pitiful have a reason for being in the plight they are in. Colluding with bandits? It serves them right to be destroyed like that!"
Before Dan Xiaotian could explain, a bunch of notable figures in the city suddenly sprouted forth from behind the soldiers.
Merchants, tavern owners, medicinal herb peddlers, teahouse owners… These were the people who propped up the lifeline of Xuanjiang City's economy.
They had been harassed by bandits many times in the course of conducting their businesses, so they had the greatest say in the matter too.
"What else do you have to say for yourself?" the commander sneered. Turning to his guards, he commanded, "Grab him and bring him to the City Lord Manor! Make sure to interrogate him properly!"
The guard holding on the chain began advancing toward Dan Xiaotian once more.
"All of you are shameless! The upright City Lord Manor actually wants to…" Dan Xiaotian was just about to lash out furiously when he suddenly halted his words. There was a moment of silence before he nodded, "Fine, I'll follow you to the City Lord Manor. I hope that you can redress my grievances. I trust that you will uncover the truth and punish those who are truly guilty of this!"
"Hmph, let's go!" The commander appeared to be a little disappointed to see Dan Xiaotian complying with him so easily. He shot a glance at the crowd before saying, "The act of colluding with the bandits threatens the peace of our city. Given how severe the implications are, as well as the fact that you have been harmed by Cao Chengli before, I would like to invite all of you to follow me to the City Lord Manor to testify in the court… At the same time, this is to ensure that the proceedings are fair and impartial, and we would not side with Dan Xiaotian just because he's engaged to the Second Young Mistress!"
The crowd nodded in agreement