Even though Orange Star Emissary swore to the gods and claimed that she would not reveal Zhang Ruochen’s identity, Zhang Ruochen understood that letting her return to the Black Market would be risky.
Of course, Zhang Ruochen had his own ideas.
The worst case scenario was Orange Star Emissary spreading the news that Zhang Ruochen, the Time and Space Descendant, was not dead. But if he did not show himself, how many people would trust her unsubstantiated words?
People were more willing to believe Wan Zhaoyi than a siren from the Black Market. After all, Wan Zhaoyi did witness the Nine Serenity Sword Saint killing Zhang Ruochen.
Was Wan Zhaoyi more credible or Orange Star Emissary?
Therefore, even the worst case would not be much of a loss to Zhang Ruochen.
On the other hand, Zhang Ruochen could use this opportunity to test Orange Star Emissary’s loyalty. If she really was loyal, Zhang Ruochen would have little to worry about the next time he come into contact with the Murong family.
If she divulged Zhang Ruochen’s identity, he would know how to deal with her. He would make her behave herself.
Finally, Orange Star Emissary left by herself. After nearly half a day, Blackie and Greedy Rabbit carried a charred body back.
“BAM!” Greedy Rabbit threw the body on the ground.
Although the corpse was mangled, Zhang Ruochen could still make out an indistinct face. He could tell it was Lin Yue, the Yin and Yang Sect disciple.
Zhang Ruochen searched the body and soon found an oval token made of white jade.
One side was engraved, “Yin and Yang Sect.”
The reverse was engraved, “Lin Yue.”
It was the token of an inner disciple from the Yin and Yang Sect.
Although Blackie had already guessed Zhang Ruochen’s intention, he wanted confirmation. So, he asked, “Zhang Ruochen, what do you want with this corpse you made us bring back?”
Zhang Ruochen grasped the token and his lips curved into a smile. “When my cultivation reaches the Fourth Change in the Fish-Dragon Realm, I will let you know. Guoguo, take the body, find a burial ground with good fengshui, and bury it. After all, his death has something to do with me.”
Greedy Rabbit lifted Lin Yue’s body and dashed away. He dug a huge hole and buried the body.
Zhang Ruochen stared at Blackie and said, “I’ve already cultivated to the Peak of the Third Change in the Fish-Dragon Realm. Now, I’m aiming to break into the Fourth Change. I need to cultivate my first Holy Meridian, the Yinyu Holy Meridian. Blackie, your cultivation within the Yin Yang Wooden Graph is very high, since your power isn’t sealed there, right? Can you act as my guide and help me cultivate the Meridian?”
If he borrowed the power of the Dragon Pearl, Zhang Ruochen could cultivate the first Holy Meridian himself. But great risks were involved. He could easily endanger his life if he was not careful.
Besides, if someone wanted to cultivate the First Meridian himself, he needed to spend much time fortifying his body, practicing Genuine Qi, and consolidating his power. This would take even more time.
Since a master like Blackie was around, why not use him?
Blackie’s eyes instantly widened, and he took two steps back. He looked a little embarrassed and coughed twice drily. “Actually… actually… my cultivation… is of course very strong. But my cultivation is integrated with the Scroll World. Within the Scroll World, I can mobilize the power of its entire world. But my personal power… hasn’t reached that of a Half-Saint yet.”
Dark furrows appeared on Zhang Ruochen’s forehead. “What do you mean?”
“My present cultivation is the same level as yours. I can’t help you,” replied Blackie.
The black furrows on Zhang Ruochen’s forehead became more distinct. “So you’ve just been bragging the whole time. You call yourself the King of Slaughter. What a joke.”
“Zhang Ruochen, let me warn you not to talk nonsense. I am indeed verypowerful within the Scroll World. I can mobilize its power easily. One thought of mine can overturn oceans, and a stamp of my foot can crumble the earth. And I used to be so powerful. If it weren’t for that old bald Buddhist monk… hey, hear me out before you go!” Blackie was ranting.
Zhang Ruochen immediately turned and went away. He could not be bothered with Blackie, and he smiled to himself. “You need to depend on yourself to practice, after all.”
When Blackie heard Zhang Ruochen’s words, he went mad with rage. He clenched his teeth, rolled on the ground, bit the grass, kicked the stones, and kept meowing furiously.
Zhang Ruochen finally realized that Blackie was merely the Vessel Spirit of the Yin Yang Wooden Graph.
When a Vessel Spirit was within a Holy Weapon, it had absolute power. But once it left the vessel, its power depended entirely on the owner of the vessel.
The stronger the owner of the vessel, the stronger the Vessel Spirit.
If its owner was weak, the Spirit would be weak as well.
Since Blackie was a Vessel Spirit, he could not help Zhang Ruochen cultivate his first Holy Meridian. Zhang Ruochen could only start accumulating his power until he broke into the Fourth Change in the Fish-Dragon Realm by himself.
“I’m afraid I need to retreat and practice for a long time.”
Zhang Ruochen came to the Sacred Prime Tree and sat under it, his legs tucked beneath him. He ran Genuine Qi around his body according to the training exercises recorded in the Scripture of Emperor Ming’s Empyrean.
Since he had already reached the Peak of the Third Change in the Fish-Dragon Realm, Zhang Ruochen did not need to practice anymore. On the hand, he needed to consolidate his cultivation, refine his Genuine Qi, and merge it with his flesh, blood, skeleton, and internal organs.
Zhang Ruochen spent six hours each day consolidating his cultivation and fortifying his Genuine Qi.
He spent the rest of his time on the Tao of the sword, trying to unravel the mysteries of “Sword One” while practicing Swift Swordsmanship.
Time flew. Three months passed.
Zhang Ruochen had successfully mastered all 900 moves of Swift Swordsmanship and reached its Completion. At the same time, his understanding of the Tao of the sword had reached a whole new level.
Zhang Ruochen took out the “Sword One” manual that Sword Saint Xuanji had given him and placed it level on the ground. He continued trying to comprehend it.
“Sword One” was not a real sword manual. It merely recorded the interpretations of Sword Saint Xuanji.
In a word, a practitioner of the Tao of the Sword could never put it into words. Everyone must perceive its mysteries on their own.
Without a sword manual, everything began as a blank slate. That was why most swordsmen could never become sword practitioners. They could never successfully master Sword One.
Compared with other swordsmen, Zhang Ruochen had many advantages. His realm in the Tao of the Sword had already reached the Intermediate Stage of the Heart Integrated into Sword. Furthermore, he had also practiced Time Swordsmanship to the profound level.
Therefore, it was easier for him to comprehend Sword One.
According to the records, Sword One represented oneself.
A warrior must completely understand the connection with the Tao of the Sword. Only then could he cross the threshold and master Sword One.
For the last three months, Zhang Ruochen had been not only practicing Swift Swordsmanship, but also reading the “Sword One” manual. Sometimes, he seemed to grasp an idea, but he always seemed to have only one foot across the threshold. Something was missing. He could not unravel the final mysteries of the first level.
Zhang Ruochen finally mastered Swift Swordsmanship, and his Sword Comprehension reached its Peak. So, he started trying to unravel “Sword One,” using this opportunity to cross the threshold and become a sword practitioner.
Zhang Ruochen sat with his legs tucked beneath his body. Unmoving, he appeared to have completely fossilized. His entire consciousness was focused.
All around, the wind moaned, and the only other sound was the rustling of the pages.
Another 12 days passed. Finally, there were some subtle changes. Once again, Zhang Ruochen seemed to have unraveled some mysteries of the Tao of the Sword.
The surrounding wind was getting colder and colder.
The powerful wind seemed to turn into indistinct sword shadows, which twirled around Zhang Ruochen’s body.
The sword shadows penetrated Zhang Ruochen’s body, then emerged and soared far away. Despite this, Zhang Ruochen was not hurt at all. His body seemed to have merged with the sword Qi.
“Concentrate on Spirit and Mind.”
All of a sudden, Zhang Ruochen felt weightless. He got up lightly and his hand grabbed the air, catching a stream of sword Qi.
With the Qi as his sword, he started to practice Sword One.
His sword moves had no regular pattern. He was striking his sword entirely at his own free will–lunging, slashing, lifting the blade, or parrying a strike.
The sword moves appeared disorganized, but they were actually extremely powerful.
He felt as if anyone approaching him would be killed by his sword.
“Sword One” had no fixed moves. It was a Tao of the sword realm which treated all opponents in a single, immovable way. It completely broke through the shackles of sword movements, and it was entirely uninhibited.
After four hours, Zhang Ruochen was drenched in sweat. The Genuine Qi within his body was almost depleted, and he finally stopped training.
The sword formed by the Qi in his palm dissipated at once.
“I have finally crossed the threshold of Sword One. I can now be considered a sword practitioner.”
Zhang Ruochen’s face lit up, and his heart started to beat more frantically.
Sword One had a total of 10 levels.
Mastering Sword One required comprehending all 10 levels. In the past 1,000 years, only 34 people within Kunlun’s Field had managed to master Sword One. They reached the Completion when they were in the Fish-Dragon Realm.
Zhang Ruochen had just reached the first level of Sword One.
To a certain extent, Sword One surpassed all sword movements and was a realm of the Tao. Therefore, only Half-Saints with deep affinity with the heavens and the earth could comprehend it.
And only very few Half-Saints could cross the threshold of Sword One and become sword practitioners.
Zhang Ruochen had crossed the threshold of Sword One when he was only in the Third Change in the Fish-Dragon Realm. He was naturally very pleased to have reached the first level. It meant that practicing the Tao of the sword suited him. He would be regarded as a sword practitioner now.
For swordsmen, it was a great honor to be considered a sword practitioner.
But for Zhang Ruochen, it was just the beginning.