"Let me say it again; you're not good enough."
Nan Qü looked like a little child at the moment, and he looked especially amicable as he said this while shaking his finger side to side. But his pale face coupled with the eerie smile looked a bit forbidding. "However," he added, "you're the strongest swordsman in Chaotian, so I'll give you the chance to challenge me."
"Let me say it again: You're going to die."
Liu Ci went on with a faint smile, "I'm the Sect Master of Green Mountain; it's only natural that I have no equal in the world."
Nan Qü laughed before he said, "Which is something your grandmaster and master failed to achieve. How will you kill me?"
"I'll kill you with a sword, of course," said Liu Ci.
Looking at Liu Ci, Nan Qü said in a tone of pity, "But you don't even have a sword."
Upon hearing this, an uproar broke out among the Cultivation practitioners of various sects.
The Cultivation practitioners in Chaotian didn't know this until today.
There was a saying "Swords hail from Green Mountain"; but the Immortal Liu Ci didn't have his own sword?!
It was true that the most helpless thing about Liu Ci was that he didn't have a sword.
Back when he returned to Green Mountain from the Center Sect, he had to stand on the sword cloud drifting slowly back home for that very reason.
"This forthcoming duel is not going to be a real fight; instead, it's going to be a lesson for you."
Looking at Liu Ci, Nan Qü continued with a warm expression in his eyes, "How can you reach the Dao without a sword? I'm the only one in the world who can solve this quandary. If you agree to become a personal disciple of mine, I'll spare your life."
To teach the sect master of Green Mountain sword work would be the perfect achievement before his death, because Nan Qü was determined to surpass the Green Mountain Sect within his lifetime.
Nan Qü was fully aware that Liu Ci wouldn't accept his request, so he intended to teach Liu Ci a lesson the other way.
In the meantime, he would let all of Cultivation practitioners in the world know who was the number one in sword work.
Liu Ci had come out from the Sword Formation of Six Stars, and arrived in the sky.
The figure of Nan Qü had suddenly disappeared, and arrived in front of Liu Ci along with innumerable sword glows.
Yet, Nan Qü didn't wield his sword; it was because the child of the sword ghost was a sword himself.
Liu Ci didn't wield his sword, and that was because he didn't have a sword. He reached out his broad palm, bringing out countless sword wills of heaven and earth to form a combative diagram; then he sent it forward.
Hundreds of flying swords of Green Mountain that hovered in the sky like raindrops started quivering; and those real raindrops turned into powders instantly and vanished without a trace.
Nan Qü was gliding lightly in the sky. It was hard to tell the true figure from the false one since he looked like a ghost as well as a fairy man.
A water spray suddenly appeared on the surface of the ocean; Liu Ci leapt up by stepping on the sword cloud, heading toward the sky again.
His clothing was soaking wet, and ruptures could be seen all over his robe; blood stains could also be spotted through those ruptures.
The sect master of Green Mountain was considered the strongest swordsman in Chaotian; but he ended up in such a wretched condition after being struck by a single swing of Nan Qü's sword.
Seeing this, all the Cultivation practitioners were stunned speechless. Many of them thought in the beginning that Nan Qü would be unable to defeat the Immortal Liu Ci even though his method of sword ghost was quite formidable; but they realized by now that the Great Grandmaster of the Foggy Island was indeed unparalleled!
Looking at Liu Ci coming back from the surface of the ocean, the expression on Nan Qü's face was complicated; it was unclear if it expressed the contentment of fulfilling his wish or the feeling of emptiness now that he was matchless.
"Daoyuan was unwilling to take me on as his personal disciple because he thought I had a murderous temperament. I was unconvinced. I happened to find a manor cave left by the fairy man of the previous generation, and developed the new method of my own based on the findings; eventually I had surpassed Daoyuan in sword work…He thought that he could halt my sword work by damaging my Dao Tree with the Sword Formation of Green Mountain and snatching my First Child Sword; but is it possible?"
Nan Qü continued sentimentally, "I've cultivated for hundreds of years on the Foggy Island and finally developed a perfect sword work. I've turned the sword ghost into a human being and the human being into a sword, to become matchless in the whole wild world!"
Liu Ci wiped the bloody water off his beard with his sleeve, saying, "Sneak-attacking and surpassing are two different concepts."
Upon hearing this, Nan Qü became furious. He said sternly, "No matter what, I won! I have proven in the end that my sword work is far superior to your Green Mountain's!"
A thousand years ago, a young man of the south wished to become the personal disciple of the sect master of Green Mountain, the Immortal Daoyuan, but his request was refused. From then on, the only feat he wanted to achieve in the ensuing long lifetime was to wipe out the Green Mountain Sect and prove to everybody else, including the late Immortal Daoyuan, that he could cultivate an outstanding sword work without the help from Green Mountain, and that he could even surpass Green Mountain!
It was for this reason that Xiwang Sun took on Liu Shisui as his personal disciple; and what the Godly Swordsman of West Ocean had been doing over the years was for the same goal.
In the end, the swordsman who had been so young man had accomplished the goal.
"You have lost to me today. From now on, the Green Mountain Sect will keep on losing until its demise. I have already seen the coming of that day."
Staring at Liu Ci, Nan Qü's eyes displayed a gloomy but enthusiastic glow. "The decline of Green Mountain has started from this very moment," he declared.
Bu Qiuxiao had said that a single Cultivation practitioner was insignificant in the wars of the Cultivation world, unless that person was a figure in the Heavenly Arrival State.
Nan Qü was such a figure.
The Godly Swordsman of West Ocean stood like a statue behind Nan Qü in the sky.
The combined prowess possessed by this pair of master and disciple could probably be only matched by the brothers of the Immortal Jing Yang and the Immortal Taiping.
If one of them, Liu Ci or Yuan Qijing, had died at the West Ocean, the Green Mountain Sect would have to seal off the mountains like what the No-Mercy Sect had done.
For the security of the Green Mountain Sect, it would be better if Liu Ci could return to the inside of the Sword Formation of Six Stars, waiting for the Sword Formation of Green Mountain to arrive and kill Nan Qü.
However, doing so would be tantamount to admitting that the sword work of Green Mountain was inferior to that of the Foggy Island.
Admitting defeat had never been an option for the Green Mountain Sect, not to mention that their opponent was the Foggy Island that day.
Liu Ci said to Nan Qü, "You haven't proven it yet."
This meant he would keep on fighting.
By now nobody thought Liu Ci could win this duel, including those allies of Green Mountain like the Great Marsh and the Hanging-Bell Sect.
The Immortal Liu Ci had been considered the strongest swordsman in Chaotian; but the Great Grandmaster of the Foggy Island was simply too powerful.
One needed time to improve their Cultivation state. Nan Qü had a very high generation and exceedingly profound Cultivation state; and he was the strongest swordsman centuries ago.
Now he had developed a brand new method of sword ghost; he was nearly a fairy man!
The most formidable part was that Nan Qü came here to seek his death this time.
When a swordsman of the fairy state decided to fight at the expense of his own life and then change into a real ghost, nobody in this world could defeat him.
When he wanted to sacrifice his own life in exchange for the defeat of the Green Mountain Sect, no one could stop him from doing so.
If Liu Ci was defeated by Nan Qü, what would happen to the Green Mountain Sect?
Zhao Layue mused that she probably had to stay behind closed doors for a hundred years after fleeing back to Green Mountain.
Liu Shisui thought that he probably had to stay at the One-Cottage House and study hard in order to go back to Green Mountain and revive the sect after breaking through the Heavenly Arrival State.
Zhuo Rusui swore in his mind: "Go to hell, the West Ocean."
As Liu Ci fought Nan Qü above the ocean, Jing Jiu attempted to kill him in the ruins of the temple on the barren mountain.
Jing Jiu clasped Nan Qü's hand tightly. As he squeezed his hand slightly, more sword lights came out from the two clasped hands, crushing the rubbles into tinier pieces.
The ground at the foot of the barren mountain cracked open, producing many deep ruptures. An underground spring could be vaguely seen from above.
The sky had opened up as well. The Sword of the Universe dove straightly downward at Nan Qü's head.
Nan Qü reached out his left hand and clutched the tip of the Sword of the Universe.
The Sword of the Universe was as clean as something devoid of any dust; but it acted like a living being at the moment, shaking violently in an effort to slice Nan Qü's hand.
"It's an excellent sword!" Nan Qü praised.
No sooner had he uttered these words than the sharp paw of the white cat had already reached his right eye.
Nan Qü shut his eye, and his eyelid blocked the strike.
A dead willow tree several miles away outside the mountain had been broken in half.
A powerful force came out from the skinny body of this old man, lifting up Jing Jiu and throwing him at Nan Wang who was approaching.
Nan Wang flew backwards and flung into the wild mountain a few miles away, bringing up countless sand grains and pebbles. A stony hole could be vaguely seen amid the smoke and dust.
Nan Qü couldn't get away from Jing Jiu's clasping hand; but he used Jing Jiu's body as a weapon to knock Nan Wang into the deep part of a stony cliff!
The white cat uttered an eerie and dreadful shriek as he jumped off Jing Jiu's shoulder. The cat grabbed Nan Qü's head and scratched it with all his might.
If Nan Qü were scratched by a regular family cat, a fine red line would remain on his face at the very most; but the cat was the Principal Guard of Green Mountain, the Master White Ghost, and every scratch from his paw would be equal to a swing of the sword in the Heavenly Arrival State!
The bright glows and dreadful sword wills were everywhere in the wild mountain, with the cliffs collapsing and the smoke and dust rising.
The angry voice of Nan Wang's could be heard outside the smoke and dust: "Damn all of your ancestors!"
She leapt in the air while holding the Zither Sword with both of her hands, and hacked the sword at Nan Qü's head.
Nan Qü's countenance was imperturbable as he swung Jing Jiu at the Zither Sword.
Nan Wang was knocked backward again; and she couldn't get up this time after knocking down a half of the stony mountain.
The white cat was still attacking wildly amid the smoke and dust, his strike looking like a flash of formidable lightning. He meowed in an appalling tone, as if he was calling for a coupling partner.
Nan Qü grunted once, and then threw Jing Jiu at the cat. He threw Jing Jiu so frequently that Jing Jiu's body struck down like a rainstorm; in fact, he had thrown Jing Jiu at the cat hundreds of times within a space of a few seconds.
The cat meowed painfully after being hit by Jing Jiu's body, and landed in the wild grass.
"I didn't expect you, an old devil man, to have achieved the Dao in the end. Is it possible that the sword work will eventually lead to the unification of sword and human?"
The voice of Liu Ci broke out in the sky again.
One couldn't sense the fear in this voice, nor could one sense the lethal intent in this voice before the duel; what one could sense from this voice was the calmness and subsequent confidence.
He said to Nan Qü in a commiserating tone, "It's a pity that you're not the first one to achieve this."
Developing a new sword method was the same as discovering the laws of heaven and earth, in which the first person who had achieved it was more important than others.
The Cultivation practitioners of various sects were startled when they heard of this; but they didn't believe what he said, thinking that the Immortal Liu Ci only intended to disturb the mind of the Great Grandmaster of the Foggy Island.
Though they couldn't understand Nan Qü's method of sword ghost, they were fully aware that this extremely formidable sword method was definitely not a secret method of a sect. Only an extraordinary talent like Nan Qü could develop it over hundreds of years after his Dao Tree had been destroyed, his First Child Sword had been snatched, and he had been trapped on the Foggy Island himself all these years.
It was impossible to find another person who had the similar experiences in all of Chaotian, let alone at the Green Mountain Sect.
Hearing what Liu Ci said, Nan Qü felt somewhat astonished, though he soon calmed down and said, "It's impossible. I'm the only one who can develop such an extraordinary sword method."
After his Dao Tree was destroyed by the Immortal Daoyuan using the sword work of Green Mountain and his First Child Sword was taken away from him, his Cultivation state stagnated. He had no choice but to take the risks of tempering his own body into a sword. He permeated his whole body with the sword pills and changed the entirety of his spiritual soul into a sword ghost. Nan Qü had developed this miraculous sword method only after turning the primary and secondary elements upside down.
"Your sword method is indeed unique. You employed the magic of gathering souls of the southern barbaric tribes to temper the sword ghost first, and then tempered your body into a sword by using the dark fire of the Foggy Island; they had compensated and helped each other. It's a truly wonderful method…"
Hearing what Liu Ci was saying, the expression on Nan Qü's face grew unsightly; it was because Nan Qü realized that his opponent knew quite a bit about his sword method.
"…But, Green Mountain had this method a long time ago."
It was quiet at the West Ocean, except for Liu Ci's voice and the sounds of breathing.
"I need to have one fact clarified."
Liu Ci continued, "As a matter of fact, I have a sword."
The sheath of the Inherited Heaven Sword appeared in front of him.
Nan Qü narrowed his eyes as he said, "This is only a sheath."
Everybody could tell that that's what it was.
"The sheath is only needed by its sword. This is a very simple notion."
Having said that, Liu Ci uttered the word: "Please!"
Liu Ci stared at Nan Qü.
But, this invitation was meant for somebody else.
He held the sheath of the Inherited Heaven Sword with his left hand, as his right hand grabbed at a spot in the air, pulling out slowly.
No sword came from nothingness, though.
However, all of heaven and earth had heard the sword sound.
The barren mountain had collapsed, and the ruined temple was destroyed. The wild grass was covered with frost, and the dust settled.
Countless fine and white lines appeared on Nan Qü's face and neck, making for a horrible appearance, and yet, he wasn't severely wounded.
In the wild grass, the white cat was licking his blood-soaked paw; it was unclear how many of the nails on his paw had been broken.
Jing Jiu was in the worst condition right now. His face was ashen, with fresh blood seeping out from each and every pore on his body, looking like a man of blood. His sword source had been exhausted a great deal.
One of the white cat's teeth was broken in half, the blood dripping down from the corner of his mouth. He didn't resume scratching Nan Qü, but instead, the cat looked at Jing Jiu with a complicated expression in his eyes.
Though the cat didn't say anything, anyone would be able to tell that his eyes displayed a pleading look; it seemed that the cat wished to beg Jing Jiu to agree to something.
It was unclear what he wanted Jing Jiu to agree to in such a critical moment. Would the agreement be able to change the situation?
Unexpectedly, Jing Jiu didn't pay any attention to him. Instead, Jing Jiu raised a few serious questions to Nan Qü.
"The red lantern has been destroyed, so the sword ghost can't return to this body. Which one of you was the true you then?"
"If I killed you, would the remaining you still be you?"
"Would that you still be yourself?"
Under the circumstances of life and death, Jing Jiu suddenly discussed these issues, and it sounded a bit eerie.
Yet, Nan Qü had given him the answers after some serious thoughts, "The remaining me will be me."
Jing Jiu said after a pause, "It makes sense."
He heard a sword sound in the distance.
It was an invitation: "Please come back home."
If it were on any other occasion, Jing Jiu wouldn't accept this invitation, regardless of how many people had and would die in front of him.
But, he changed his mind that day; it was because he wanted to compete with Nan Qü to find out who was the strongest in the sword work.
Was it Green Mountain or the Foggy Island?
Is it you or me?
As such, Jing Jiu had accepted Liu Ci's invitation.
He drifted up in the air.
Please go to https://www.readlightnovel.cc/The-Path-Toward-Heaven/
to read the latest chapters for free