Chapter 37 Sword In My Heart

Tai Yin swiftly covered her eyes with her free arm. The huge burst of searing red light that Xuanyuan emitted burned the skin on her hands and neck, directly exposed to the light of the Bright Red Light Gu. While the Gu couldn't do anything but give minor burns to those close to the source of the light, Xuanyuan wasn't counting on that singular effect against Tai Yin.

Waving his palm several times in quick succession, Xuanyuan sent out a flurry of dense shadow blades towards Tai Yin. The girl, who had raised her free arm to block the direct burst of light from Xuanyuan felt the hairs on her neck raise, using her Vanishing Wind Gu to dodge to the side. 

However... that didn't stop Xuanyuan from closing the distance, his enormous scorpion stinger raised, enhanced by his Rank 1 Shadow Qi Gu and touched by the small effects of his Rank 2 Bright Red Light Gu.

Tai Yin barely had any time to raise her sword to block the strike before her eyes widened, unconsciously reaching towards her Sword Shadow Gu to send out another barrage of sword shadows.

Tai Yin barely had anytime to react as Xuanyuan's shadow stinger phased perfectly through her sword, and directly towards her shadow. She could almost see in slow motion as Xuanyuan's shadow struck her own, immediately sending a enormous force through her upper body.

To her own credit, Tai Yin didn't lose consciousness or drop her sword, suppressing the air being forced out of her lungs and flicking her free hand towards Xuanyuan.

She could see it in his eyes that he anticipated more sword shadows, the dark spheres in his shadow rippling and pulsating as if it were a living being all on its own. She felt her eyes widen as he extended his hands out, the air rippling slightly as her sword shadows were all brushed aside, some invisible pressure pushing aside her sword shadows.

Her gaze lingered on Xuanyuan's hands before she let out a scream, slashing out towards him.

For a single moment, Xuanyuan felt surprised. He didn't expect Elder Tai to go to such lengths for his daughter. He was quite the prolific and lascivious man, but his position was constantly scrutinized in the face of the other Elders. 

Xuanyuan knew from Elder Luo, that Elder Tai was probably one of the strongest Rank 5 Gu Masters in the entire Ancient Soul Sect.

And with immense strength... often came immense wealth. As the Elder who oversaw the primeval essence springs belonging to the Ancient Soul Sect, the sheer number of primeval essence stones that he had access to was... beyond imagination.

Xuanyuan almost didn't see what happened. He blinked and unconsciously activated his Nine Eyes Shadow Gu and Shadows As Thoughts Gu before his entire upper body bent backwards, as far as it could possibly stretch.

If it wasn't for his Nine Eyes Shadow Gu, Xuanyuan definitely would have missed it.

A large crescent shaped sword qi was released from Tai Yin's Longsword Gu. The sword qi was several meters wide, as as thick as an adult man's thigh. It hummed slightly as it cut through the air, causing the color to drain out of Xuanyuan's face.

The crescent shaped sword qi practically flickered through the air. One moment appearing directly in front of Xuanyuan, and the next, crashing into the other side of the arena, causing all eyes not already on their fight to move towards Tai Yin and Xuanyuan. 

A few of the older Gu Masters felt their mouths drop, seeing a Rank 3 Gu used in this new disciple tournament. A few more observant Gu Masters even noticed that Xuanyuan managed to dodge it in time, avoiding a strike that certainly would have fatal.

'That... that could have...'.

Xuanyuan furrowed his brows, catching himself with his hands and leaping backwards. The expression on his face was cold, unlike the heated and emotional display he showed earlier.

He didn't even so much as hesitate before sprinting at Tai Yin, the girl gritting her teeth and slashing her sword, sending wave after wave of sword shadow towards him.

Xuanyuan brushed whatever got to close away with Push Gu, and suppressed a wince whenever his arms or legs were sliced by her sword shadows. Extending his arm and swinging it forward, Xuanyuan reached into his scorpion stinger and pulled out a sword of his own, causing Tai Yin's, and everyone else in the audience to gasp as the sound of steel colliding against steel echoed out.

Tai Yin didn't expect the sword to be solid, and she unconsciously turned her head, only to be met with an invisible force colliding against her cheek. The girl heard a distinct crack echo throughout her head before her entire world turned black.

She didn't even so much as utter a word, as her body was smashed into the ground, knocked unconscious by Xuanyuan's blow. The referee immediately appeared beside Tai Yin, picking her up before announcing the victor.

"Winner, Xuanyuan!".

The entire arena was silent, watching as Xuanyuan dropped his sword back into his shadow, walking off the stage towards Elder Bing. They all eyed the shadow which rippled beneath his feet, watching, eyeing it, trying to peer beneath the surface.

Xuanyuan sent the audience a glance, causing them to focus back on the other matches. Sitting down in the bed beside Tai Yin's, he let out a small sigh, feeling his emotions calm back down.

'... Crazy woman... Using a Rank 3 Gu as a Rank 2 Gu Master. A Rank 3 offensive and ranged Sword Path Gu. If it wasn't for Shadows As Thoughts Gu, there is a chance that I might not have dodged that in time...'.

Elder Bing should theoretically be able to heal him, and even if she wasn't able, there were three Gu Immortals in the crowd who might be capable, or know someone capable of doing such a thing. Being cut in half wasn't a good thing for a mortal, but for a Gu Master, it didn't necessarily mean death.

Xuanyuan just watched Elder Bing as a soothing white light touched Tai Yin's head. He hit her with enough force to knock her unconscious, so it was very possible that he either fractured her skull, or shook her brain with enough strength to cause brain damage.

This was a World where Gu could transform men into women and humans into Variant Humans. Reversing something like that was relatively easy for those who specialized in healing. 

Xuanyuan felt a shadow enter range of observation, and opened his eyes to see Tai Yang standing at the foot of his sisters bed. Her twin brother had come over the moment the fight had been concluded, and just watched as Elder Bing slowly healed the wound on his sister's head.

The older woman just smiled at him shaking her head.

"She'll be fine young man. Her skull was cracked open but there was no damage to her brain. I imagine she might not be able to fight in the next round, which I suppose means that she will be forced to withdraw from the tournament however".

Tai Yang frowned at that, before glancing over to Xuanyuan. The Fire Path Gu Master glared at the otherworldly demon, while the latter just shrugged, shaking his head.

"If you want to fight, you're going to have to wait your turn... Oh, and make sure that you use your Rank 3 Gu at the beginning of the fight, your sister probably would have won if she hadn't held back".

Tai Yang just smiled, shaking his head from side to side.

"My sister and I value honor above strength. You are a Rank 2 Middle Stage Gu Master, while we are both Rank 2 Peak Stage Gu Masters. With that alone, regardless of our background or our innate talents, she should have bested you. Instead, she was forced to use the Gu that father had given us to push you into a corner... which, failed obviously".

"You are strong... Xuanyuan. Your comprehension and attainment aside, your footwork is excellent and your reaction speed is... did you use a Gu for that? Honestly I couldn't even tell, but it must be at least Rank 2 for you to react to Yin's Rank 3 Crescent Slash Gu. Was it your Vital Gu? I had a theory that you might have refined your Vital Gu to Rank 2 already, perhaps some variant of Shadow Eyes Gu which enhances your sight or increases the effectiveness of your eyes. Also I was wondering about that sword which...".

Xuanyuan held up his hands, and stared blankly, forcing Tai Yang to stop. The young man paused before showing a slightly embarrassed expression.

Clearing his throat, the young man continued.

"My apologies. Usually my sister hits me before I get carried away, but considering her state, I do forget myself sometimes... What was I saying earlier? Ah, the Shadow Path, why, if you do not mind, would you chose to walk such a Path? In the scheme of things it isn't the most developed Path, nor has it produced Gu Immortals whose names have resounded throughout history? Elder Luo is an extremely capable Space Path Gu Master, not to mention Elder Hu and Elder Guo whom both favor you. Either of those three Paths would be much more advantageous, allowing you to quickly close the gap between your attainment and your cultivation".

Xuanyuan blinked a couple times, before letting out a small chuckle. His actions caused Tai Yin to frown, and for him to hold up his hands, shaking his head.

"I mean no disrespect. Only that I expected you to say something about avenging your sister's honor before stamping off back towards the audience. You... are not exactly what I expected, Tai Yang".

The boy in question raised an eyebrow.

"You mean a disrespectful second generation young master? Something more along those lines?".

Xuanyuan nodded, not bothering to hide it.

Tai Yang only straightened his back, rolling his eyes at the insinuation.

"I can assure you, that while the likes of Huo Jin and Fang Kai have such a reputation, myself, my sister and Song Pei do not discriminate between mortal born Gu Masters and those whom are born into wealth. My Mother, or, Yin's and I mother was a mortal born Gu Master, very much like yourself. She has raised us as members of the righteous path, whom consider all humans as equal, regardless of birth or background".

"My sister... has an abrasive personality. While she does value honor above all your fight was... well, you understand my meaning".

Xuanyuan knew that he goaded Tai Yin into letting her guard down, and then used his Bright Red Light Gu to catch her off guard gaining the upper hand. It was true that he was surprised by her Rank 3 Crescent Slash Gu, but Shadows As Thought Gu allowed him to react within moments of it striking him. 

He was quite... callous with his words earlier.

Denying her Path wasn't the most honorable of tactics. Even if Xuanyuan's words were true, considering their age and the fact that most were still developing themselves as Gu Masters, it might be enough to damage their pride or confidence to the point of them changing Paths.

If Tai Yin, someone who had affirmed herself as a Sword Path Gu Master suddenly had a change of heart and decided to walk another Path, then no doubt, Xuanyuan would probably be the reason.

Tai Yang stared at Xuanyuan, forcing the otherworldly demon to return the look with a raised eyebrow.

"Is something the matter?".

Tai Yang opened his mouth but refrained from saying anything, just letting out a small sigh before shaking his head.

"Earlier... when you said that thing about "the sword in my heart"... Do you also walk the Sword Path? You used that sword from earlier as well, so I just assumed that you walked both Paths at once. I'm sure you know that you can only choose one after you become a Gu Immortal... right?".

Xuanyuan looked at Tai Yin before smiling shaking his head.

"My grasp of the Sword Path only extends to what I have grasped from the Legends Of Ren Zu. I am not sure how many times you have read it, but I promise, the Legends Of Ren Zu hold so much knowledge and understanding that most Gu Masters ignore".

Xuanyuan recounted the Legends Of Ren Zu.

"Ren Zu walked throughout Purple Heaven aimlessly, having gotten rid of Shadow Gu in the Lightless Abyss. Ren Zu, without his shadow, without his reflection, was only able to keep his physical body intact through Self Gu, who clutched at the two pieces of himself, keeping them together, keeping them sane".

"He wandered for days on end, questioning whether or not he made the right decision by abandoning his Shadow. By abandoning his son, Black Night Eclipsing Sky".

"What have I done!? I regained my sanity through Memory Gu, but have no lost Memory Gu to the Shadowless Ocean! I wanted to reach the Blue Sea Of Life, but now, I have nothing. Nothing but the two pieces of myself, struggling to remain together!".

"Ren Zu had yet to heal the wound caused from the battle between Self Gu and Shadow Gu. Blood poured out endlessly, nurturing the Perseverance in his heart".

"Eventually, Ren Zu approached a mountain, one whose peak pierced through the clouds, and whose very aura cut and sliced at Ren Zu's flesh and bones. Instinctively, Ren Zu knew this mountain as Dao Mountain, a sword which bridged the Heavens and the Earth. Dao Mountain refined endless Gu, no matter the origin or the rarity of the material. Dao Mountain was a holy land of swords and blades".

""Ren Zu!", Self Gu spoke, "You have managed to find Dao Mountain! A sacred land of swords and blades! If you can obtain the powers of Dao Mountain, you should be able to heal the wounds that Shadow Gu inflicted on us!".

""But how?", Ren Zu replied, "How is it possible for a mountain to heal the loss of my reflection? How can it help me regain my lost shadow?".

"Self Gu spoke to Ren Zu, telling him that if he refined himself using Dao Mountain, he would be able to repair the gap which Shadow Gu left behind. He would break himself, and then forge himself anew amidst the endless sea of swords. Afraid of the pain, Ren Zu initially refused, but eventually met a single Gu whom came down from the mountain peak, speaking to him about the origins of the mountain".

A Gu whose very presence seemed to sever the Sky and Seas, split the earth in front of Ren Zu, embedding itself in the ground before him. 

It's voice boomed, cutting through truth and lies.

"Dao Mountain is not just the birthplace of Swords, that right alone belongs to Tang Heaven! However, Dao Mountain can refine anything in the Immemorial Nine Heavens into a Sword!".

"Human! If you desire the strength then ascend the mountain! If you possess regrets, then ascend the mountain! If you linger in the past, then ascend the mountain! The answers you seek will be revealed to you henceforth!".

This sword spoke to Ren Zu, communicating its intentions and meanings to him. 

"I am Edge Gu! The progenitor of all Swords and Blades! Each day I ascend the Dao Mountain refining myself, refining my body, refining my heart, refining my soul! Human, born of flesh and blood, if you seek to make yourself whole once more, then walk upon my descendants!".

"Let swords and blades slice and cut off everything unnecessary! Let swords and blades remove the excess and refine the essence! Let swords and blades pierce your very being, releasing your true self to the World!".

Xuanyuan smiled, eyeing Tai Yang.

"And as such, Ren Zu climbed Dao Mountain, cutting himself upon steel and iron, slicing off flesh and bone until there was nothing left but...".

Tai Yang furrowed his brows, muttering something under his breath.

"Nothing left but Ren Zu himself...".

The sixteen year old boy just shrugged his shoulders.

"It does not matter if there is a sword in my hand. I will cut away all excess with the sword in my heart. I am Xuanyuan, nothing more, nothing less".