The Archaion Sect had a history of more than two hundred thousand years, with various high and low points throughout. The countless Astral Wills gathered on the Old Deepstar Path was a representation of their aeons-old history. These samsaran seniors had long left the world, but their wills, experience, insight, and lives remained to inspire those that came after. In a way, they had been immortalized.
Tianming's Imperial Will had come from the Grand-Orient Sword as a legacy of the Primordial God-Emperor. Not to mention, whenever he went to the Old Deepstar Path, the stars would circle around him. He looked through them, seeing not only the cultivation insights but also the lives of those people.
"Seniors, you know how I feel too. You don't want your home to be plundered by invaders and your descendants to be suppressed, right?" he said softly.
The stars didn't respond to him; they were long dead. However, they preserved their sentiment. The seniors were all united in intent. During the last few days, quite a number of Heaven Branch disciples had managed to break through under the huge pressure placed on them.
Tianming's current level put him in the last phase of the Empyrean Saint stage. Normally, it would be really hard for his heavenly will to continue to grow at this stage, but the countless stars and the Grand-Orient Sword in his sea of consciousness continued growing.
Three days later, another tribulation pattern appeared on Archfiend. Now it was a tribulation artifact with two tribulation patterns. The aura of blood and dread that seeped out of it was really strong, while the many eyes on the chain were even more intimidating than they used to be. Most people would probably have a hard time looking directly at it.
"If this goes on, I should be able to use it in combat again!" He tested the chain out with the Nine Astral Art and was shocked to see how effective it was. "The Nine Astral Art is an empyrean battle art and can't really reach the tribulation level, though, so it’s probably better suited for Three-Thousand Starfield. I should go to the sect master of the Earth Branch to ask for a battle art. Ling'er did say I could ask for anything I needed."
So he left for Xuanyuan Lake. The sect seemed a little dilapidated right before the grand battle. However, Heaven Divine Hall was rather busy. There was a lot of chatter and many beasts roaming about. It seemed that the geniuses from all over the other eight divine realms were having a great time.
"I heard that half of them are already here. Only four other divine realms' participants are still absent. They really are throwing their weight around, for them to make us wait for them to start."
The disciples of the Archaion Sect were nowhere to be seen. They were still cultivating hard up until the last moment, in stark contrast to the carefree geniuses at Heaven Divine Hall. As for the disciples from the Earth and Human Branches, they didn't even dare to show up lest they accidentally offended the visitors and suffer for it. As Taiji Peak Lake used to be the Biritual Demon Sect's base, their disciples would no doubt be itching to cause trouble after they arrived.
Tianming crossed the snowy landscape and arrived at Xuanyuan Lake. He first went to the Sword Insight Rock to ruminate on Hexapath Samsara Sword a little more.
"I wonder if the Hexapath Swordfiend, Feng Qingyu, is trying to obtain the sword art...." Tianming continued pondering the Mortal Dao Sword in front of the figure of the old man.
"You're close," the Hexapath Sword God said.
“Yeah, you can go now," said the old man.
Right after he left the passageway under the lake, he saw Xuanyuan Dao waiting for him with a heavy heart.
"Sect Master," Tianming greeted.
"I heard you were looking for me."
Tianming had asked the seniors at the entrance to see him when he came.
"Yes. Is the situation not looking good?"
"That is so."
They hadn’t had much success trying to get on good standing with the other sects. Apart from having irreconcilable grudges with the Biritual Demon Sect and Hexapath Sword Sect, it was hard to say how the other sects regarded the Archaion Sect. Even if they appeared amicable on the surface, they could be planning to backstab them for all they knew.
"Sect Master, I want to procure a whip art," Tianming said straightforwardly. Since he had no say in the matter of the divine realms, he didn't ask too much about it.
"Alright. I’ll take you to our house's Hidden Dragon Pavilion." That was where they stored battle arts exclusive to members of the Archaic House of Xuanyuan, normally forbidden to outsiders without exception. The battle arts held there were the crystallizations of the Xuanyuan seniors from antiquity to now, making them among the most prized treasures of theirs.
"Thank you, Sect Master!"
"No need. Her Eminence is going to make you her disciple soon, so you’re one of us now. We must stand together," Xuanyuan Dao said.
"Yes. I’ll remember to do so." Even though he felt a little estranged from the Xuanyuan House due to Xuanyuan Yuheng, he would fight together with them for Feiling's sake.
Tianming soon arrived at the Hidden Dragon Pavilion with Xuanyuan Yuheng. It was a large, beautiful building under the surface of the lake, looking like a gold dragon that perched at the lake's bottom. When he entered the mouth of the dragon, he was greeted with a winding path ahead. He went straight in until he reached the tail portion of the draconic building.
"Pick any that you like. They’re all samsara ranked arts, split into four sections. The first are normal samsara ranked arts suitable for disciples up to the third level of that stage. The second are first-origin samsara battle arts suitable for samsarans from the fourth life phase up to the sixth death phase. Few Heaven Branch disciples truly reach this level, but since you have great comprehension abilities, I suggest you choose from them."
"Sect Master, is the third section where the second-origin samsara battle arts are kept? And the last section has third-origin samsara battle arts?"
"That's right, but second-origin samsara battle arts are only for the seventh life phase and above, while third-origin ones are for those at the tenth life phase and beyond. Even if you pick them, you won't be able to fully channel the power those techniques require. After all, your phase and level play an important role in combat among samsarans. Though, it's already really impressive that you can defeat second-level samsarans before even reaching the Samsara stage yourself."
"Understood." In other words, samsara-rank battle arts were split into normal, first-origin, second-origin, and third-origin. The Ninenether Fiendgod Claw he had trained in before was but a normal samsara-rank battle art suitable for first to third-level samsarans. Only those with tribulation rings could use them effectively.
As for fourth to sixth-level samsarans, they mostly used first-origin samsara battle arts. The ranking of battle arts basically corresponded to the normal, first-origin, second-origin, and third-origin tribulation elders. Ouyang Jianwang was a third-origin tribulation elder and at least at the tenth level of the Samsara stage, making him among the strongest people on the entire continent. As for sect masters like Xuanyuan Dao, they were probably even more powerful than the third-origin tribulation elders.
All of them used to be super geniuses themselves who became third or fourth level samsarans around their thirties. Now, they were hundreds of years old. Having cultivated for literal centuries but only being at the tenth level or so showed how truly insurmountable the Samsara stage really was.
Either they lived long lives of mediocrity, or risked dying in a bright blast of power. There were far more people who chose to remain at the life phase rather than move onto the death phase. Even though the latter offered them more power, their lifespan would be ten times shorter, which only grew worse above the tenth level. At that point, they would be really close to ascending to godhood, but most people wouldn't make the cut. The biggest bottlenecks were what separated the first to third, fourth to sixth, seventh to ninth and tenth and above levels from each other. If someone was able to become a fourth-level samsaran during their growth spurts, they would no doubt be hailed as geniuses. For instance, Fang Xingque, Xuanyuan Muxue, and Xuanyuan Yuheng used to be three people who stood a chance to become the most talented disciples to have ever existed in the sect's history, but none of them had a chance any longer.
"I’ll go in first, Sect Master."
"Alright. Tell me when you've picked one out." Xuanyuan Dao proceeded to ponder the upcoming Number One Summit and no longer paid attention to Tianming.
Tianming bent down as he walked through the corridor, slowly taking in the view around him and the martial tomes that were beautifully encased in heavenly pattern formations. No normal person would be able to leave with anything there, but it was all too easy for Tianming and his hand.
He went straight to the section with the first-origin battle arts. "The Archaic House of Xuanyuan really isn't messing around...." Nobody else could possibly compare to their sheer catalogue of battle arts. Tianming wanted to give all of them a scan during this rare opportunity. Soon, he found thirty-seven whip arts in that section, impressive for an unpopular weapon like that.
"I wonder if I should try out the second-origin section. Those battle arts can only be utilized to their full extent at the seventh level of the Samsara stage, huh.... That's on the level of sect masters... The many divine mentors in the sect and second-origin tribulation elders must mostly be using these battle arts."
Though he had only planned to take a casual walk, he didn't think something that suited him to a tee would pop out of nowhere.
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