As they spoke, Sage Chen handed the Grand Thunderflare Sword to Li Tianming. When he grasped the sword, wind and thunder howled around him, with the blade itself emitting rumbling sounds.
“This sword used the blood of the seven-star wildbeast, the Thunder Flare Lizard, and therefore contains its bloodline. Obviously, it approves of its new master.” Sage Chen smiled.
“Thank you, Uncle Chen!” Li Tianming fondled his new sword admiringly. Weapons were a way to use power more effectively, and Li Tianming was the kind of person who really loved weapons. Hence, he was very thankful to Sage Chen for this gift.
“Tianming, don’t you go 'out with the old, in with the new' and forget the Blazing Dragon Chainblade,” Mu Yang said.
Sage Chen laughed. “Hah, he’ll just embarrass himself with that puny grade five gift of yours.”
“Just you wait. I’ll give you a new grade six weapon in a few days.”
“No need to be polite, uncles. I’ll gladly accept!” Li Tianming said. He finally felt how it was like to have backers. Lacking them was why he had lost three years ago.
“Don’t be complacent. Now’s the hard part of training your sword arts. The one I’ll be teaching you isn’t easy,” Mu Yang said.
Li Tianming himself was curious how hard that sword art would be.
“You're still Spiritsource. Hence, you won’t be able to use unity-ranked battle arts, as they require a unity field. Unity fields are the result of symbiotic cultivation between beastmaster and lifebound beast when they breakthrough to Unity. Hence, your limit now is supreme source-ranked battle arts," said Mu Yang. "However, my sword art is a heavenly-ranked battle art for Heavenly Will stage cultivators, surpassing unity-ranked battle arts. They’re not something you can comprehend. However, I’ve simplified, compressed and picked out the bits a Spiritsource beastmaster can understand for you.”
“This sword art is thus equivalent to a supreme source-ranked battle art, but if you can master it well and use it to make deductions and inferences, you can unleash the power of a heavenly-ranked battle art. You could even infuse weak heavenly will into your attacks and give it an incredible killing potential. Simply put, the limit of the sword art is your own talent.” Mu Yang looked at Li Tianming evenly. “So, are you confident?”
“We’ll see.” Li Tianming said, hefting his new sword. He knew Mu Yang was seriously guiding him, so that he could defeat Lin Xiaoting and his inner demons, thereby achieving a meteoric success from there.
That was why he had worked together with Sage Chen to prepare a new weapon and battle art for him. The effort these seniors had put in were as clear as day to Li Tianming.
“You should have a chance to face Lin Xiaoting, and this sword art is the one thing I didn’t teach him. After Heaven’s Elysium looked at him favourably, this rebel didn’t even show me any more respect. Tianming, this is all I can help you with. From here on out, it’s all up to you.” Mu Yang picked up a wooden sword and he stood in front of Li Tianming.
Even though it was a wooden sword, simply picking it up had made Mu Yang’s aura become sharper. Li Tianming could immediately feel the sword's keen edge. It could be described as straightforward, unyielding even in the face of death and overflowing with sword intent. It was the most orthodox of paths!
As the vice-potentate, Mu Yang was naturally extraordinary.
“This sword art is known as ‘Demise of Man-Earth-Heaven!’! It has a total of seven stances.”
“Demise of Man, first stance, Spectral-Dance, second stance, Soul-Extinction!”
“Demise of Earth! The first stance is Earth-Quaker, the second Hell-Shaker!
“Demise of Heaven gathers a heavenly sword will. Its first stance is Divine-Fury, its second Heavenly-Judgement and its third stance is Apocalyptic-Will!”
“I’ve simplified all seven stances to their basics. How much you can understand depends on yourself.”
While Li Tianming didn’t say anything, he was listening carefully to all of Mu Yang’s words. Were heavenly-ranked battle arts really that incredible?
Mu Yang began to brandish his sword in front of the Flameyellow Mirrors.
Demise of Man, Spectral-Dance! The stance was both unpredictable and invisible, a result obviously from the integration of movement arts into the sword stance. It even had some hallucinatory effects added in. That was the only way for it to be worthy of its name.
As the wooden sword struck out, a screech that should only arise from metal scraping against metal pierced Li Tianming's eardrums.
Li Tianming’s eyes widened. “So this is heavenly will! Even simplified, it’s still so majestic!”
Li Tianming was aware that the Heavenly Will stage was where beastmasters finally exceeded the spiritsource abilities of lifebound beasts and came into their own.
Even the little chick and the black cat found themselves enraptured by the display, watching the gorgeous display in silence.
However, that was only the start.
Demise of Man, Soul-Extinction!
This following stance lost those hallucinatory effects, but it more than made up for it with its increased fierceness and savagery.
Mu Yang didn’t stop.
Demise of Earth, Earth-Quaker!
This stance was an even clearer amalgamation of a sword art and movement art. Every step Mu Yang took was accompanied by the pagoda and even the very earth shaking under his feet. If they were on land, this move would cause earthquakes.
Demise of Earth, Hell-Shaker!
This sword stance was an eruption of power that could shake even hell in its wake!
The Flameyellow Pagoda shook violently once again.
Mu Yang suddenly sheathed his wooden sword, his sharpness vanishing as the blade slid into the sheath. “Train these four stances first. I’ll teach you Demise of Heaven when you master these. It’s not good to aim too high. I’ll be with you for the next few days to answer any questions you have.”
“Understood!” Mu Yang’s performance had broadened Li Tianming’s horizons regarding the martial dao as well as the Heavenly Will stage.
Spiritsources abilities belonged to lifebound beasts, while beastmasters were meant to pursue an even more profound power!
Li Tianming shut his eyes as he recollected the Spectral-Dance from just now, and the little chick also followed suit. As for Meow Meow, it was sleeping already...
Within moments, Li Tianming was already completely immersed in his own world.
“Open your eyes and look straight ahead at your reflection in the mirror. Enlightenment found yourself is the truest enlightenment. Only when you find the truth amongst this chaos that we live in, can you unleash your potential to the fullest in battle.” Mu Yang reminded.
Li Tianming looked at the countless reflections of himself, each of them mimicking his every action and magnifying their flaws. "This is great."
It was only by examining yourself you could improve beyond it.
“First, start with one thousand repetitions of Spectral-Dance. We’ll see if there’s one time in there where you can grasp the essence of the stance,” Mu Yang instructed.
One thousand times? Li Tianming looked at his reflection, before beginning. Strike followed strike, but...
Li Tianming was having trouble, but since this sword art exceeded the level of Spiritsource, it was to be expected. He replayed the repetitions in his head over and over, immersing himself in his practice. He didn’t need Mu Yang to perform the art again, as that could result in an entirely different sensation.
What was important was the sensation, not blindly copying the form. How can I exhibit that kind of intent?
Li Tianming’s sword flickered again and again, while he watched all of his reflections in his quest, in order to find the essence of the sword art.
Demise of Man, Spectral Dance. The sword was to be invisible and unpredictable, capable of catching the opponent unawares.
The eighth hundred iteration still fell short.
“Steady your heart. Every try, begin from the very start,” Mu Yang reminded.
“Yes…” Honestly, this was the first time Li Tianming was ever struggling in his cultivation.
Another strike came out from him, but something unrelated to his practice abruptly occurred. Li Tianming's black-grey hair had ditched the word 'black' entirely, halfway through his swings. Now, it was a dark grey, a shade that bore some similarity to Wei Jing’s light grey hair.
“What’s going on?” Li Tianming looked down. “Dammit!”
A second ring had appeared on his right arm, intersecting with the first! Li Tianming clearly remembered there was only one yesterday, and his scalp tingled once more. The Lifesbane had yet to end...
Right now, he had two rings, which were still less than Wei Jing. While there weren't any problems now, who knew if there would be further changes a few days down the road.
“Why did you stop?” Mu Yang asked.
Li Tianming explained to him about his Lifesbane.
“Is your body affected?”
“I feel like my mind is clearer. In fact, this ring is even helping me absorb the spiritual energy around me."
“We’ll examine it tomorrow. Continue,” Mu Yang said.
Li Tianming nodded. He picked up the little chick to give it a check, and found two dots below its wing. It was an odd change, and he wondered if a new ring would pop up tomorrow. Whether it was a blessing or a curse he didn't know, but he had the premonition it was a result of the heaven-defying changes to his bloodline.
He would have to see what further developments there were tomorrow.