Upon opening those doors, the four were greeted by a small arena surrounded by rows and rows of weapons. Along the walls were statues made in the image of a different warrior, swords, sabers, clubs, there were countless of weapons, some of which were shaped strangely. She was captivated by the variety and the odd shapes that presented themselves.
The atmosphere was full of fierceness, a type of pressure that emulated having a sword pointed at you. Ming Yue felt restless, the hand that held onto Drifting Sky tightened.
"Hey! Elder Xiang, where are you?" Bai Ying stepped forward and looked around.
"What?" Elder Xiang emerged from one of the rows of blades, looking over at Bai Ying before spotting Ming Yue.
"Oh, you're awake", he said.
He stood up and walked towards the group, standing in front of them. In terms of appearance, he was not as old as Elder Shen but was comparable to that of Elder Hua. His ruggedness came from his facial features. His expression was indifferent but showed a wealth of experience. His skin was somewhat rough, akin to leather. He was like an old sword that hasn't been used in ages but even after all this time, he still had his sharpness.
Elder Xiang looked at Ming Yue before suddenly releasing his power.
The Blade Hall was his domain and as such, every weapon began to tremble as the atmosphere had coalesced into one. So much so that it took on a physical form, the form of a sword.
Under such pressure, only Bai Ying seemed unaffected.
Hei Yue bared his fangs at the Elder.
Xiao Yin brought her wings together to defend herself.
Hei Yue immediately took out her sword and went into her stance. The single edge blade faced towards the ground.
Elder Xiang did not move under all this, he merely looked at them. But, those eyes of his revealed a fierceness that could only be sharpened from constant battle. It was a dreadful feeling, almost suffocating.
He smiled at Ming Yue's actions and the pressure had disappeared. The sword that had been created suddenly dispersed as he turned back. Everyone slowly calmed down although, they were still a bit vigilant towards the Elder.
"Good", said Elder Xiang, "It seems that you are better than I thought. You have talent for the Sword Sage Path."
"Sword Sage Path?" she said questioningly.
"Yes, Elder Hua told me that you did not have a proper teacher when it comes to your techniques and knowledge. After seeing you run wild while you were unconscious, I felt that there was it would be worth guiding you on some things."
Ming Yue felt slightly embarrassed at Elder Xiang's last comment.
"Now, the Sword Sage Path or Path of the Sword Sage, however you want to call it, is the formal and original path to mastering the sword. As you begin to learn more and more, you will naturally create your own path. Like the sword, the Sword Sage Path is flexible and varied in many styles. Of course you may choose to stay rigid and persevere on the sword only."
Ming Yue thought about what the Elder said, believing that it would be better for her to focus on more than just the sword. Solely working towards the sword is a dangerous path, one where she could easily get lost in. At its worst, she could stagnate and never be able to reach a new height.
"All right then, take this manual here and read it. Don't come back until you're stronger", the Blade Elder suddenly tossed a rather thick manual to Ming Yue before disappearing into the sea of weapons.
Ming Yue was rather surprised that their meeting ended like that.
"Ah, that's how Elder Xiang is. Quite the eccentric, he won't teach someone until they've reached a level where he feels like they are worth teaching", said Bai Ying.
"But he just said I was worth guiding?" Ming Yue found this a bit strange.
"There's a difference between teaching and guiding. Now then do you still want to explore the city? Its getting dark so the night markets are opening up."
Ming Yue declined and instead returned to Elder Shen's hall. As she did not have her own home yet, she stayed with Elder Shen. Albeit, when the illusion of the peaceful island revealed a spacious but very cluttered workshop, she was quite surprised to say the least.
Her declining resulted in the three animals going off on their own, most likely to feast on the many delicacies that the night market offered.
Ming Yue did not mind, feeling very excited in reading the manual that Elder Xiang gave her. The manuals she had were either of little use or were strange and too difficult for her to comprehend. Outside of these books, she had only herself and some minor teaching from various experts to go off of. But with this, she had a clear path to improving her skill with the sword.
She opened the book upon reaching the little house and started reading.
"Path of the Sword."
"Throughout the ages, many swordsman sought the ultimate path of swordsmanship. With determination, they paved the way, finding common ground among each other which led to a culmination of several millennia of knowledge an experience. What was born from this is now known as the Sword Sage Path."
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"This path is split into seven stages: Mortal Sword, Blade of the World, Sharpness of One's Soul, Return to Simplicity, Realm of a Hundred Swords, The Sage's Sword. Each stage is more difficult than the last. Of these seven, many are blocked by "Return to Simplicity" do to it's incredibly confusing nature..."
Ming Yue read the manual late into the night. Even if she could not comprehend much, it was all interesting to read. Still, she did manage to understand a few mysteries regarding sword techniques.
The next day, she woke up quite early and felt excited.
Next to her, Hei Yue and Xiao Yin rested next to her with expressions of satisfaction after a night of eating.
Upon reading the sword manual, she quickly realized that she had long mastered the stage of the Mortal Sword and stood at the beginning of Blade of the World.
After all, the mortal sword focused on the physical control of one's blade. This was something she had more or less perfected through battle. Her next step was to improve her control of energy, something that Blade of the World focused on.
She left Elder Shen's hall and walked outside to one of the training fields. As the sun had barely come out, there were few that trained as early as her.
"Blade of the World, a stage that requires one to feel the movement of the world's force. But what is the energy of the world? It is everything within it, the wind, the rumbling of the ground, every small movement is part of the world. To reach this stage requires one to connect their blade and themselves to the energy around them. Split the wind before you even cut through it, break stone before you even touch it, this stage does not focus on brute strength but through the control of energy."
Ming Yue felt that this stage was within reach. In fact, based on the introduction given, she thought of her first technique. One strike, where she infused her energy into her blade, where her focus was at its greatest, this technique was what allowed her to end battles quickly. It was something of a sure-kill move. She never gave it a proper name but she remembered the sensation. It was a feeling of being able to cut everything in her path, whether it was steel or stone.
It wasn't brute strength or explosiveness but rather an insane amount of control. Presently, she had good control of her own energy but in regards to the energy of her surroundings, this was harder.
Ming Yue was merely guessing but she believed that if she could achieve that state once more, she would be that much closer to achieving Blade of the World. She stood still with her sword drawn and closed her eyes, trying to feel the power in the air.
From a distance away, Elder Xiang watched her.
"Interesting..." he thought.
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