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As soon as the sword appeared in Zhang Xuan's grasp, his aura immediately changed. All emotions vanished from his eyes, leaving behind just the sheer intensity of his concentration.

Ming Laixiang took out a whip, and with a powerful flick of her wrist, the whip shot in Zhang Xuan's direction.

Hula!

What Qi Ling-er was worried about turned out to be true. Even though Ming Laixiang was a low-tier Celestial God, her fighting prowess was exceptional. She possessed the strength to stand her ground even against middle-tier Celestial Gods.

Furthermore, her skill with the whip was also remarkable. She was able to control it to an extremely fine degree.

Having no intentions of facing the whip directly, Zhang Xuan took a step back and tilted his body backward to dodge her attack before stabbing his sword forward.

The length and flexibility of the whip was both its greatest advantage and disadvantage. It allowed for a wide range of maneuvers, but at the same time, it also made it extremely difficult to control. As a result, there were very few cultivators who chose to specialize in it.

This was also Zhang Xuan's first time facing such a weapon. He quickly looked through all the books he had collected relating to whips in order to understand the principles behind his opponent's moves.

Hualala!

Ming Laixiang leaped backward to create some distance before cracking her whip several more times in Zhang Xuan's direction, but each and every time, Zhang Xuan was able to dodge it by a hair's breadth.

Seeing that her attacks were not connecting at all, her complexion turned grim. Without any hesitation, she switched her tactics and launched a barrage of whips instead.

In the face of a ferocious flurry of whips, Zhang Xuan calmly deflected them one after another with his sword. Even though he was handling Ming Laixiang's offense fairly well, it did not seem like he was interested in counterattacking at all.

"Is he... practicing his swordsmanship?" Qi Ling-er could not help but frown.

It was apparent that Ming Laixiang had the advantage in terms of strength and speed, but by somehow predicting Ming Laixiang's attacks in advance, Zhang Xuan was always able to deal with her. The bizarre attack trajectory of the whips did little to throw him off at all.

The fact that Zhang Xuan could accomplish this meant that he had a fairly good chance at victory. However, each and every time Zhang Xuan attempted an attack, he would eventually back away at the last moment instead of pressing on. It was almost as if he was afraid of hurting Ming Laixiang.

More importantly, his fighting style was changing throughout the battle.

There was no reason for someone to keep changing their fighting style in the midst of the battle unless they were practicing their swordsmanship!

To actually think of practicing your swordsmanship while facing an enemy that is a cultivation realm stronger than you...


Are you serious about this?

Zhang Jia's eyes also widened in astonishment at that sight.

It had no idea whether its master was doing it intentionally or not, but it was starting to wonder if its master had some sort of attention-seeking disease. No matter where its master was, he simply had to do things that would leave the mouths of others agape.

Or could it be that the humans had a very different notion of what 'low profile' meant compared to divine beasts?

"Humph!" Ming Laixiang swiftly noticed Zhang Xuan's intentions as well, and her face turned incredibly livid.

As the strongest contender for the city lord position, she had never been underestimated by another person in such a way before, not to mention that the other party was weaker than her.

You seem to look down on me quite a bit, huh? Very well, I'll give a taste of my strongest move. The reason Lin Xie and Wu Yang don't dare fight me is because they can't deal with this move. If you wish to defeat me, you'll have to withstand it somehow!"

With a cold harrumph, the whip in Ming Laixiang's hands suddenly shot forth like a piercing sword right toward Zhang Xuan's neck. It accelerated so quickly that it seemed to appear before the latter in the blink of an eye.

Seeing how the speed of Ming Laixiang's whip was actually faster than his swordsmanship, Zhang Xuan's eyes lit up.

Just as the others had thought, he was indeed practicing his swordsmanship on Ming Laixiang.

He had been working on a new sword art for some time, but he had not been able to find anything that was suited to him. It was then that he realized that he needed to fight a real battle in order to spark some inspiration.

For that reason, he did not bother looking into Ming Laixiang's flaws. He intended to use this as an opportunity to try things out.

It had not been long since the battle began, but he had already made significant gains. He could somewhat visualize the sword art that he wanted to create.

Judging from the swiftness of Ming Laixiang's whip, it was apparent that she had put her all into this attack. So, Zhang Xuan flicked his sword upward and released a burst of sword qi against the whip.

Weng!

A sword qi swiftly unfurled to form a fish net-like shape to trap whatever stood in its way.

A Heart of Intertwined Threads!

Ming Laixiang was not an easy opponent for the current him, so he could not afford to hold back against her strongest move. Otherwise, he would really be courting his own doom.

"Heh!"

However, Ming Laixiang did not appear to be taken aback by Zhang Xuan's move. Instead, a light chuckle escaped her lips.

Hu!

With a slight flick of her wrist, the whip that was heading straight toward Zhang Xuan's neck suddenly bent slightly downward to strike his abdomen.

The change in the trajectory of her attack was swift, vicious, and completely out of expectations. Even though it was not striking his neck anymore, he would still be severely injured if it landed a clean blow on his abdomen.

"This was her goal from the very start..." Zhang Xuan quickly came to realization.

The change happened too quickly, and Zhang Xuan was completely unguarded against it. It was already too late for him to do anything.

Pah!

Qi Ling-er widened her eyes in horror as she quickly turned over to examine Zhang Xuan's condition, but what had really happened was the opposite of what she had expected.

Not only was Zhang Xuan completely uninjured, there was a slight smile on his face.

Looking at his opponent, Ming Laixiang was clutching her chest, and fresh blood was seeping from the edges of her lips. She was sweating profusely.

"What happened?"

The earlier clash had ended in a flash. Qi Ling-er did not manage to clearly see what had happened.

"Young Master comprehended a new sword art at the very last moment. With it, he managed deflected Ming Laixiang's whip back to her, causing her to sustain severe injuries," Zhang Jia explained.

With its sharp eyes as a low-tier Celestial God, although everything had happened very quickly, it had still managed to see the happenings clearly.

Zhang Xuan was literally a split second away from sustaining severe injuries when he suddenly released a powerful outburst of sword qi. Not only did the powerful outburst of sword qi stop the whip in place, it even knocked it back to Ming Laixiang, causing her to suffer a rebound.

Qi Ling-er was absolutely stunned.

This was not just bravery anymore; it was as if he did not value his life!

What if he had not comprehended the sword art in the end? What if the sword art he comprehended did not work?

He could have become a cripple from that blow!

The abdomen was where one's dantian was. If it had suffered a severe impact, he might have lost his cultivation for good!

"So, that's how it works!"

While the onlookers were shocked by just how reckless Zhang Xuan was, the person in question was currently laughing heartily.

He had been stuck all this while, but the earlier clash seemed to have parted the shadows veiling his eyes. All his confusion and doubts vanished in an instant.

"Camaraderie of Brothers... It turns out that the sword art was in my cultivation technique all along!" Zhang Xuan exclaimed excitedly.

Camaraderie of Brothers was the sentiment and cultivation technique he had comprehended when he saw the little yellow chick getting killed right before his eyes.

Humans were always searching the world for someone who understood them, but how many of them were able to find someone whom they could entrust their all to? The sorrow of losing such a person was no different from having one's heart torn to shreds.

When Ming Laixiang's whip was about to approach his abdomen, everything had suddenly made sense to him.

He had allowed those emotions to guide his sword art, and not only did it deflect Ming Laixiang's attack, it was even able to injure her.

"I admit defeat..." Ming Laixiang surrendered.

She had no choice but to admit defeat.

She had been certain that she was going to win the battle when the sword art appeared completely out of nowhere, catching her off guard. What made it worse was that she could not even tell how it had all happened.

If she was at her peak, she could have still tested the other party out a little to see if she could decipher the sword art. Unfortunately, the earlier retaliation had left her severely wounded, leaving her no choice but to surrender.

Seeing that he had won the battle, Zhang Xuan glanced at Qi Ling-er and said, "Let's head to Lin Xie's residence."

He still had two opponents left to defeat. Since he had already dealt with the most troublesome one of them all, he shouldn't have too much trouble with the other two.

"Wait a moment."

Seeing that Zhang Xuan was going to leave, Ming Laixiang quickly got to her feet and said, "With your strength, I reckon that Lin Xie and Wu Yang won't be a match for you either. However, the real reason none of us have become the city lord yet isn't because none of us were able to claim a decisive advantage. Rather, it's due to our inability to assimilate the City Lord Monument, which is an insignia of one's identity as the city lord. As long as you are able to assimilate it, they will surrender of their own accord."

"City Lord Monument?" Zhang Xuan repeated.

"The previous city lord of Dusklight City was a middle-tier Celestial God, and he died fighting in the Flood of Spiritual Energy. After his death, his soul fused together with a stone monument. In order to become the next city lord, one must receive his recognition, and none of the three of us have been able to do so," Ming Laixiang explained.

"Where is the monument?" Zhang Xuan asked.

It would be more convenient if he could get the other two to surrender just by assimilating the City Lord Monument. He would be spared the trouble of traveling here and there.

"I'll take you there. However, I'll just tell you in advance that it's no easy feat to obtain its approval," Ming Laixiang warned.

The young man standing before her possessed unnaturally great talent and fighting prowess. His ability to defeat her despite only being a high-tier God said as much. That being said, she still did not think that he stood a good chance.

This was because the crux to assimilating the City Lord Monument had nothing to do with one's cultivation or talent but whether one could catch the eye of the previous city lord.

In the ten years since the previous city lord died, many experts had tried to assimilate it, only to fail in the end. No one was able to figure out what the previous city lord wanted.

She felt like the young man before her would be no exception.

They quickly left the courtyard and proceeded ahead. It did not take them long to arrive at the heart of the city.

It was a massive square, and erected at the center of it was a humongous stone monument. The laws and commandments of Dusklight City were inscribed on it.

The stone monument was over ten meters tall, and a shimmer seemed to swim ceaselessly across its lustrous black surface. Even at first sight, one could tell that the monument was made out of no ordinary materials.

"That over there is the City Lord Monument!" Ming Laixiang introduced it to Zhang Xuan.

Nodding quietly, Zhang Xuan walked up to the City Lord Monument and lightly placed his hand on it.

A book materialized in the Library of Heaven's Path.

"City Lord Monument, made of Dark Jadeite. Seals the fortune of Dusklight City. Harnesses a sliver of Celestial God Yeyu's will. Flaws:..."

There were detailed descriptions on the structure, history, and flaws of the City Lord Monument, but there was nothing that told him how he could assimilate it.

"We have strictly obeyed and enforced the rules inscribed on the City Lord Monument, and we have also made sure to pay the utmost respect to the previous city lord's soul. But for some reason, the previous city lord refuses to acknowledge anyone," Ming Laixiang said in frustration.

"I see." Zhang Xuan nodded in response.

He activated the Eye of Insight and began examining the City Lord Monument carefully.

Vaguely, he could sense an indignant will sealed within the City Lord Monument struggling and roaring furiously. This made Zhang Xuan frown a little.

He slit his finger and flicked a droplet of blood harnessing his will toward the monument.

Hula!

As soon as the sliver of his will came into contact with the monument, he sensed a powerful force gushing in his direction, seemingly wanting to devour his soul.

"There's indeed something weird about this..." Zhang Xuan was taken aback.

Typically speaking, if a cultivator failed to assimilate an artifact, the blood essence containing their will would be rejected.

Even though the monument refused to be assimilated, it had still devoured his blood essence. This was different from what he had seen before.

But again, it was not as if it made much of a difference to him anyway.

With a light chuckle, Zhang Xuan was just about to use his Heaven's Path zhenqi to destroy the will within and reenchant the monument when he suddenly noticed something and frowned.

As if noticing his intentions, the spirit in the monument swiftly diffused itself all over the monument. If he attempted to destroy the spirit in its current state, the monument could very well sustain severe damage as well.

If he was caught destroying the City Lord Monument, he would surely become the public enemy of the entire Dusklight City. By then, there was no way anyone would accept him as the city lord.

It seemed like the forceful approach would not work. However, he did not know what the will within the monument really wanted.

This was a huge dilemma.

Zhang Xuan's complexion turned grave.


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