The wind blew strong as Tianming stood atop the Aircloud Crane's head, wielding Onyx Dragon. He looked to the distance and saw an endless sea of clouds. Through the gaps between the clouds, he could see mountains with all kinds of creatures living within. It was as if he had a full view of the mortal realm, a stunning view indeed.
"Do you feel it? The feeling of being the only one in existence to behold all this," Ye Shaoqing asked.
"Strike your sword toward everything you see before you. Try to grasp how it feels to be the one and only among a myriad things."
Ye Shaoqing had created the perfect place for Tianming to try mastering Myriad's Only. That was why the crane had to fly slower. Their journey to Heaven's Elysium would take four days instead. Even given the slower speed, it was still difficult to stand atop the head of a flying crane straight, let alone while practicing swordplay.
"Tianming, this is all I can do for your cultivation. The rest will have to depend on you. I believe you can do it. Yours is an exceptional spirit and mind. It's no doubt enough for you to break the cosmos and transcend life and death."
After he said all that, Ye Shaoqing returned to the back of the crane and watched Tianming train with the other fourteen elders.
"Shaoqing, do you think he can do it?" Zhao Zhiyuan asked.
"That's a pointless question to ask. There's nothing else we can do besides watch."
"I see," Zhao Zhiyuan said with a chuckle.
He saw his grandson, Zhao Lingzhou, pout as he was thinking about unnecessary things.
"Fool! You should train whenever you can like the junior sect master!" he snapped.
"It's a waste of effort," his grandson replied.
"You think I won't toss you off right now?"
"It's better than going to the Realm Wars just to be humiliated."
Zhao Zhiyuan felt that it would be more embarrassing if he taught his grandson a lesson. Instead, he focused his attention on the youth with devilish white hair, like the others. He was the one who would really be going against his fate.
Tianming opened his eyes to take in as much of the view as he could while he contemplated the intricacies of Myriad's Only.
"Only?" Countless changes manifested in his mind. Ye Shaoqing had comprehended the essence of the move in such an environment.
"Countercurrent, Starfall, Cosmic Break, and Myriad's Only...." Any sword could be used with these four moves, with special emphasis put on the sword intent: the intent to go against the current, the stars, the cosmos, and to eventually be the only thing to go against everything.
"So, it's a replacement for Cosmic Break." He started having an inkling of insight, but that wasn't enough. Facing the strong winds, he struck out with his sword time and again, despite the strong air resistance that prevented him from achieving a perfect strike.
"There’s many obstacles in the world. Nothing is truly smooth sailing. Only by training amidst such strong winds can one know the true meaning of cultivation."
"Makes sense," the little chick said as it tried to learn the technique for itself. As Tianming tried comprehending Myriad's Only, it was trying to learn Cosmic Break, and knowing a thing or two about Myriad's Only would definitely help it learn Cosmic Break. Now that it had the Goldflame Featherblade, it would have even more potential if it could use both abilities and battle arts.
Tianming sank into his own world. His strikes numbered in the hundreds, thousands, then myriads as they got faster and faster.
"Myriad's Only, huh? Guess that means I have to train a myriad of times each day."
While the number didn't look that impressive, the elders saw his hardworking spirit. They knew how determined he was, based on his nonstop attempts to traverse the perilous road ahead of him. Tianming didn't want to disappoint anyone. As the wind blew, the clouds rolled, and the stars in the night sky shone, the sword in his hand transformed nonstop, each time approaching the true form of Myriad's Only.
Then one day, Ying Huo finally cracked Cosmic Break and parted the clouds with it. The elders watched with their eyes wide, already incredibly impressed at how a lifebound beast at the Unity stage could use a saint-ranked battle art, crude as the attempt was. They wouldn't have believed it unless they had witnessed it themselves.
"As expected of a lifebound beast of a pentabane."
However, they felt that the more terrifying one was no doubt Tianming, as Ying Huo's will was no doubt a reflection of his own, given that he was the main unit of their symbiotic cultivation. Ying Huo had definitely taken part of Tianming's passion, endurance, crude personality, and sense of responsibility and amplified it to the max, not to mention his strong desire to protect his loved ones.
On the fourth day, they saw Tianming swing his forty-thousandth strike. He had finally understood the true essence of the move high up in the skies.
"Breaking the cosmos and scaling the skies, turning into the sun and moon itself and ruling supreme over heaven and earth," he mumbled, his eyes closed as he struck.
His ten thousand strikes each day condensed into a single strike, instantly causing thousands of holes to be pierced through the clouds. With but a single strike, it was as if ten thousand swords had struck, cleaving countless clouds in half.
Tianming kept his sword away and turned back with a smile, as if all of that had been nothing out of the ordinary for him. The elders watched him in awe, then applauded. They had never seen someone like Tianming throughout their entire lives.
"It's one thing if he's far more talented than others, yet he’s far more hardworking, too. Easily ten times as much."
"If he doesn't dominate, nobody can."
All of them applauded wholeheartedly for Tianming, despite the Realm Wars looming over them. They resolved themselves to protect him even more.
Tianming knew that more training would not only increase the options he had, but also the elders' willingness to protect him. Cultivation was a journey of life and death. He didn't want to be the second coming of Li Wudi, so he had to make sure to get the powerful ones on his side until he could one day stand on his own.
He shot a glance at Zhao Lingzhou, who hung his head in embarrassment. He felt really inferior when he compared himself to Tianming.
I’ve never admitted defeat before, yet how could I do just that before the Realm Wars have even begun? How embarrassing! he thought. He had finally decided to change. If someone like Tianming was struggling to the very end to fight for the glory of the sect, why was he, someone who had sworn to live and die as a member of the sect, sighing in defeat? No matter how this turns out, I’ll fight to the end without embarrassing my sect!
He knew that they would arrive at Heaven's Elysium soon. He could already smell the arrogance that place exuded.
Huangfu Fengyun was giving them a briefing on the proceedings before they arrived.
"The Realm Wars will take place at Heaven's Elysium, but according to the rules, only seven people from the four great sects can participate because they only have seven elysian children. As far as I'm aware, there’s fifteen participants from the four great sects in total, meaning eight of you will be eliminated at the Throughpath."
Heaven's Elysium was located on the highlands and stretched endlessly outward. The only way to reach it was known as the Throughpath, which countless geniuses across the realm dreamed to cross.
"Before the Realm Wars, all fifteen of you will have to step onto the Throughpath, where Heaven's Elysium has placed lots of wildbeasts and some heavenly pattern barriers to block your way. What you need to do is cross the path and become the first seven to reach Heaven's Elysium. You won't be meeting the elysian children on the path, but you'll be faced with the top disciples of the other sects, namely the southsky disciples, onyx disciples, and cloudmist disciples.
"They’re the equivalent of prime disciples and elysian children. There will be five onyx disciples, four southsky disciples, and three cloudmist disciples. Some among them are geniuses at the Heavenly Will stage—at least more than one, in fact. The three of you will have to try your best to cross the Throughpath, or you won't even have a chance to be humiliated by the elysian children.
"This generation has a lot of top-ranked disciples. In the last four generations, the number of participants never numbered more than the elysian children, so the Throughpath wasn't necessary. Since Heaven's Elysium won't let us fly straight to them, we’ll have to rest at Heaven City and wait for them to receive us."
It seemed that Heaven's Elysium was enjoying throwing their weight around lately. Heaven City was located below Heaven's Elysium. Anyone who dreamed of entering the sect would rest there.
"Let's rest at Heaven Inn. We'll be meeting for a dinner banquet with our friends from the Southsky Sect later. This time around, their sect master will also be here."
Heaven Inn was the largest inn in the city. In fact, it was the largest in all of the Grand-Orient Realm, as well as the most luxurious and high-class. The interior decoration looked even grander than that found in palaces. Even Vermillion Bird's Xing Mansion couldn't compare to it.
The third-ranked Southsky Sect had arrived two days before. Having stemmed from the same source as the Grand-Orient Sect, many members of the Southsky Sect had ties with the Grand-Orient Sect. The banquet was not unlike a gathering of old friends.
Tianming rested in the inn and even got some time to train.
"The Throughpath will open tomorrow. We'll have to cross it before thinking of the Realm Wars."
The trials there would be nothing more than wildbeasts, heavenly pattern barriers, and challengers from other sects. There weren't any rules beyond charging up the path to reach the end.
During the evening, Ye Shaoqing called out to have Tianming join the banquet. The elders were preparing to welcome those from the Southsky Sect. When Tianming arrived, the elders were also present. Being a junior, he was seated with Shangguan Yunfeng and Zhao Lingzhou.
As they would be fighting tomorrow, the other two seemed a little nervous. Right as they sat down, they could hear their guests arrive at the entrance. As the Southsky Sect ranked third, they were probably a little stronger than the Grand-Orient Sect.Previous Chapter Next Chapter