As for the divine ability upon completion of the last three layers of the sword art, it was the “Swordshadow Phantasm Technique"; the prerequisite to cultivating it was the possession of a flying sword magic treasure. Of course, flying sabers were also acceptable.
After completely cultivating it, when using this divine ability to deal with enemies, one could borrow the sword light from the flying sword to create an illusion of a sword shadow completely identical to the flying sword. This could interfere with the enemy’s line of sight and attack the enemy along with the original sword. Although the sword shadow’s initial formation had only ten percent of the strength of the original sword, as one increased the sword art’s layer, its strength could increase. When it reached the ninth layer, it would have reached one-third of the original sword’s strength.
In addition, when cultivating the sword shadow, one could produce not just one illusion; from the seventh layer onwards, every additional layer one reached would allow one to produce an additional sword shadow. In this way, once one reached the pinnacle of the Azure Essence Sword Art, one could have three shadows that appeared to be identical to the original sword, yet only had one-third of its strength.
As such, it seemed that the divine ability, the Swordshadow Phantasm Technique, was worth cultivating.
But Han Li already knew that there definitely must be something fishy about this! Even though Yellow Maple Valley had so many Foundation Establishment cultivators, nobody had taken the time to deeply cultivate this technique. Thus, he deeply regretted not listening clearly back then to reason behind the sword art’s lack of popularity, only believing that he definitely would not cultivate this Azure Essence Sword Art. Thus, he had casually and carelessly passed over it.
Now, although Han Li clearly knew that this magic technique had a great problem, he couldn’t help but to summon his courage and cultivate it at least once; he could only hope that this technique would not have any kind of consequence that would cause him to become obsessed.
However, after thinking closely about it, although other people had not deeply cultivated it, they still succeeded with two or three layers. In this way, it seemed like there shouldn’t be a big problem with cultivating it a little bit.
Holding onto these self-assuring thoughts Han Li helplessly took in the medicinal strength about to flare up within his body according to the method of the Azure Essence Sword Art.
Han Li had only rotated his cultivation technique once before feeling a sudden rumble. The feeling that he got when his absorption of the medicinal power caused his magic strength to rise greatly almost made him cry out in happiness!
Immersed in this kind of marvelous feeling, Han Li couldn’t help but allow the magic technique to rotate one time after another, as his consciousness slowly slunk off to a faraway place.
After sitting there for an unknown length of time and having cleaned out the last bits of medicinal strength in his body, Han Li finally regained consciousness from his wonderful experience.
The now-sober Han Li stared somewhat sluggishly for a moment, but immediately afterwards he stood up without saying anything. Then, he squinted his eyes and tilted his head, thinking for a moment. He suddenly raised his arm and gestured in front of his body, and an azure, misty sword streak a few feet long instantly shot out of his finger. Its chilly aura was incredibly threatening, and it appeared to be incomparably sharp.
Seeing this cold light, Han Li actually did not feel happy; instead, he began to laugh bitterly! Then, with a sudden shake of his hand, the azure light actually expanded ferociously, in an instant becoming roughly ten feet long, almost piercing the rock wall on the other side.
“Dammit! I didn’t expect that the remaining medicinal power would be so strong; I actually cultivated to the fourth layer of the sword art in an instant! Who knows if there will be any big side effects!” Han Li whispered to himself with a cloudy and uncertain expression on his face.
“No matter, at most I just won’t cultivate this sword art in the future anymore!” Han Li muttered, then let his arm fall. The azure-colored sword streak completely disappeared.
However, Han Li’s curiosity had been greatly piqued, and he still picked up the “Azure Essence Sword Art” manual, and flipped through the sections related to using the sword as a shield to protect the body, committing them to memory.
Then, Han Li lowered his head and contemplated in silence, closing his eyes. Immediately afterwards, he abruptly opened his eyes, and a strange shield appeared around his body.
This azure-colored shield was very similar in size to other defensive items, but its outer appearance was not the usual smooth shape; instead, it appeared to be like a porcupine, with sharp streaks protruding from it. In addition, it seemed to be emitting faint traces of some kind of evil spirit.
“This is the protective sword shield?” Han Li carefully inspected the spiked shield in front of him with a certain amount of astonishment.
“The sword manual says this shield can autonomously send out sword streaks and counterattack opponents. What a pity that I have no way to test it out right now!” Han Li thought regretfully.
Next, Han Li moved his hands and feet, then closely inspected the true essence inside of his body; after discovering that there truly did not seem to be anything wrong, he relaxed and carefully put away his possessions, leaving the Earth Fire room. Then, he just so happened to directly run into the ugly man!
When he thought of the ugly man’s shocked expression towards him, Han Li couldn’t help but laugh in his heart in midair.
At this time, the sky was growing lighter, and Han Li returned to the Hundred Medicine Garden; he didn’t run into a single person the entire time.
Back then, when he had used the excuse of finding a location to undergo closed-door Foundation Establishment cultivation, the medicine garden naturally returned to the hands of the little old man. This caused him to feel extremely unhappy, and he had spent much time blowing his beard and staring.
When Han Li entered the garden, the little old man was absorbing the Spiritual Qi from his surroundings with his eyes closed in front of his cottage. Although he did not open his eyes, he still accurately yelled out Han Li’s name. This was unsurprising, considering that due to the restrictions on the Hundred Medicine Garden, apart from the little old man, only Han Li could enter or leave as he pleased.
However, right when this Senior Martial Uncle Ma had called out Han Li’s name, he suddenly felt something and abruptly opened his eyes, staring at Han Li in disbelief.
“You actually successfully reached the Foundation Establishment stage?”
“Senior Martial Uncle Ma, this disciple truly luckily entered the Foundation Establishment stage!” Han Li bowed in greeting courteously and said with a gentle laugh.
Although the little old man stared blankly with shock for some time, he slowly returned to normal. However, he still muttered to himself:
“This is too unbelievable! He actually entered the Foundation Establishment stage!”
After he murmured these two sentences, he suddenly corrected his expression and said with respect:
“Since we are both Foundation Establishment cultivators right now, you don’t need to bring up the three words ‘Senior Martial Uncle’ anymore; from today onwards, we should refer to each other as Martial Brothers! Since I am somewhat older, if Junior Martial Brother does not despise it, you can just call me Senior Martial Brother Ma!”
Upon hearing this, Han Li nodded with a smile and did not oppose it. This kind of determining seniority based upon one’s realm was a tradition of the cultivating world; this was nothing to be modest about!
Following, the little old man, who was also Han Li’s Senior Martial Brother Ma, entered the room together with Han Li. Then, they each sat down at a table and began to steep a pot of good tea.
They had not been sitting for long when the little old man impatiently asked about how Han Li had reached the Foundation Establishment stage.
Han Li naturally would not tell the other person the real circumstances; however, he did not hide that he achieved Foundation Establishment in the Earth Fire room, obediently revealing it to the other person. This was because if the other person investigated even a little, he would be able to easily discover this matter.
He only said that he had rented an Earth Fire room from Yue Lu Hall, then swallowed the Foundation Establishment Pill that the sect had given him and cultivated behind closed doors for near a year; he did not know how, but somehow he luckily succeeded.
As he listened raptly to what Han Li said, the little old man clicked his tongue “zeze” incessantly, calling the situation strange.
When he had heard the story that Han Li had told him, he blinked his eyes and said to him:
“Junior Martial Brother Han! From what you said, your experience of reaching the Foundation Establishment stage is not too different from other people! Even you could reach Foundation Establishment with this kind of a natural ability; all I can say is that Junior Martial Brother was extremely lucky. Even a success rate of one percent is enough for you!” In the past few years, the little old man had become very familiar with Han Li, so when he spoke he was very direct and did not conceal his envy towards Han Li. In fact, even a jealous expression was emerging from his face.
“Hehe! This can only mean that I, Junior Martial Brother, am extremely lucky; I also did not expect that I could enter the Foundation Establishment Stage so easily!” Han Li laughed and said with a grin.
“However, since Junior Martial Brother Han has successfully reached the Foundation Establishment stage, you have to let the sect head know so that Sect Master Zhong can record your name down on the books! In this way, Junior Martial Brother will be treated according to how high-level disciples are treated, and the amount of spirit stones one receives after reaching Foundation Establishment is not trivial!” said the little old man in a joking manner.
“Much thanks to Senior Martial Brother’s pointers!” When Han Li heard this, his expression changed, and he said this sincerely.
“This can’t count for much! No matter how you see it, we have known each other for so many years; the things that I should remind you of, I will do my best to tell you,” said the little old man casually, waving his hand.
“In reality, after reaching the Foundation Establishment stage, the best benefit that the sect gives is still allowing Foundation Establishment disciples to pick at will a location in the Tai Yue Mountain Range. There, one can create their own cave and undergo isolated cultivation! Furthermore...”
Following, the little old man explained to Han Li in detail many things that one should pay attention to upon entering the Foundation Establishment stage, causing Han Li to nod his head continuously as he listened.
But when the other person had finished explaining these things and was leisurely conversing with Han Li, Han Li couldn’t help but ask him about the “Azure Essence Sword Art”.
“Azure Essence Sword Art!” A surprised expression flashed across the little old man’s face!
But after he had deeply glanced at Han Li, he didn’t question him further. He thought for a while and then opened his mouth:
“This Azure Essence Sword Art, I truly have heard others talk about it, and a few have actually cultivated it to the third layer. This sword art is not actually a technique from our Yellow Maple Valley; instead, it is a technique from a sect that we had extinguished many years ago called the Profound Sword Sect. In addition, it originally was not nine layers, but rather thirteen. Reportedly, when the Profound Sword Sect’s Sect Master saw that his sect was about to be extinguished, he wanted to destroy the sword art right then and there, but a few of the Martial Ancestors from our sect were not slow in making a movement, forcefully seizing half of the technique. The remaining half was destroyed and lost forever. Thus, the version of the “Azure Essence Sword Art” being circulated is only a fraction of the whole! At most, one can cultivate it to the Core Formation stage before there is simply no way to continue cultivating it. From hearsay, the complete sword art could be cultivated even up to Deity Transformation stage, but who knows if that is true or not?”
The little old man spoke up to here while waggling his head, then reached his hand out and picked up the teacup in front of him to take a drink. Then, he continued to say:
“Although the Azure Essence Sword Art, missing its later stages, is somewhat inferior when compared to other first-rate cultivation techniques, its strength is truly still not bad! The instantaneous characteristics of the sword streak and protective sword shield are even more sought after by a significant number of Foundation Establishment cultivators. Thus, if it was so easy to cultivate it, a significant number of people all over the sect would be willing to cultivate it as their main technique! After all, the techniques of the Nascent Soul stage are too far away from us, and we would have no way of using them.”