Deshi Jiu was initially caught a bit off guard by Yin Long's sudden question, from the sword hanging at his waist it was easy to see that Yin Long focused more on the standard sword than he did the more specialized versions. But he had no reason to reject him, if a fellow clansman wanted to learn more about his weapon then Deshi Jiu was more than willing to teach them.
Deshi Jiu started teaching Yin Long the more essential tricks to using a weapon like a rapier, walking a few extra feets away from the rest of the group so that they didn't accidentally harm them while showing or testing the moves. The entire group of people from the Deshi clan had reached the 7th Mortal Door so Lan Yun, who had reached the 8th Mortal Door, took over his spot in the defensive formation that guarded the 10 villagers who were lugging the earth-filled jars.
She frequently turned her gaze towards Yin Long, who was fully focused on Desji Jiu's movements and words, occasionally stabbing out with his sword and getting a scolding if he did something wrong. The 10 villagers remained silent and focused on carrying the jars, but the three other members of the Deshi clan, two girls and one boy, were more than happy to engage Lan Yun in conversation to pass the time as they walked.
All the elders in the clan were rather competitive and had some rivalries with each other, but only their direct disciples would take part in that rivalry, the other disciples didn't really have to pay attention to it. The Deshi clan disciples could speak freely thanks to this, the two girls even giving Lan Yun advice on how to handle Yin Long.
"You don't need to worry too much about it, he's doomed to be yours eventually. You're tall, you're beautiful, you're dignified, and you're stronger than him, you're practically a shining star, it's impossible for him to not notice you for too long, just push a bit more and he'll fall right into your clutches."
"That is one option, but if you ask me you should focus on increasing your standing in the clan. Stop pursuing him so much and focus on your cultivation, make a few connections and rise in status, one day you'll be like a distant star that he can only look at. And at that time, he'll undoubtedly be so dazzled that he'll run into your lap like a good dog, you'll have all the control in the relationship."
The two girls very enthusiastically gave their opinions on what Lan Yun's best course of action was but she could only respond politely while feigning interest. If either of those options really worked, then Yin Long would have long ago ended up at her side, but here they were, a bit of distance still open between them.
When the group was only half a day's march away from Bloodgrass Village, a low growling sound interrupted the conversation taking place between Lan Yun and the other Deshi clan members. Lan Yun's brows furrowed slightly while her expression turned a touch more solemn, her gaze drifting towards Yin Long, who waved his hand to stop the training with Deshi Jiu. Jin Wang was standing a short distance away and was growling at the tall grass to their right, the fur on his back standing up straight.
Yin Long turned his head slightly and warned Deshi Jiu, turning his gaze back into the direction that Jin Wang was facing when he was done. Deshi Jiu's expression sank straight away and he quickly hurried over to the others, keeping his rapier at the ready while spitting out orders.
"Brother Lao says that his companion has detected an approaching beast that's stronger than us. You villagers move to the back and focus on getting to the city, we'll take up defensive formation C behind you and focus as much as possible on defence, Brother Lao will serve as the final bastion right behind us. Sister Rongrong, can I please ask you to serve as the main attacker while we focus on defence and support? If the beast really is stronger than us, I'm afraid there is not much we can do even if we work together."
Demonic beasts were powerful, they were blessed with strong bodies and more often than not had tremendously powerful abilities, the elemental aligned once could even control their respective elements right after birth. Even the beasts that were a result of an uncontrollable Qi mutation were usually a bit stronger than human cultivators of the same rank, that was why it was so important for cities and villages to be surrounded by large walls if they were close to places where Demonic beasts gathered.
If such an area didn't have a strong Demonic beast that ruled over the others, the beasts could easily just rampage mindlessly around the city. The beasts would be ganged up on and killed, but there was no telling how many people would die before that happened so most cities and villages hoped that there would be a strong beast serving as a ruler within the areas where Demonic beasts roamed, at least these strong beasts could be reasoned with more often than not.
Lan Yun nodded her words at Deshi Jiu's request, but she didn't draw the axe she had strapped to her back, slightly worrying Deshi Jiu. But faced with his worry, she simply pointed at Yin Long, who was now grasping his sword with both hands. Another sword appeared around his own sword, this one a translucent greatsword that was nearly 2 meters long. Lan Yun could guess that Yin Long wanted to temporarily hide his sword creation ability, coming up with a quick explanation for him.
"Lao uses a rather special mixture of the law of sword and wind, he can use the wind to form a shell around his own sword, practically freely altering the size and shape of his weapon. Just watch, he'll fight with the beast first, we can use your plan if he should fail."
Deshi Jiu stammered slightly when Lan Yun gave her calm and casual explanation, his gaze moving between her and Yin Long, somewhat uncertain how to respond. He could tell that Yin Long was only at the cusp of reaching the 6th Mortal Door, he was even weaker than the members of Deshi Jiu's group and should thus focus on staying in the back. But seeing Lan Yun not move or budge, he could only grimace somewhat bitterly, wondering if Yin Long had infuriated this beauty by calling her a friend when they first joined up.
Yin Long ignored the thoughts and actions of Deshi Jiu's group, he was certain that Lan Yun would deal with those things for him. He tightly grasped his new greatsword with both hands and slowly moved forward, his breaths deep and slow as he sharpened his focus. His teacher said that Yin Long was a warrior, it was in the throes of death and blood where he could best find himself. And find himself he had, now he wanted to once again jump into the throes of blood and death to deepen his understanding of how to use a greatsword and a rapier, two weapons that were similar yet different to the sword he normally used.
He slowly walked through the waist-height yellow grass, the only sound audible to him being the sound of the wind rushing through the grass. And then something moved into the range of his senses while rushing directly at him, most of the beast's body actually hidden beneath the earth. But the beast seemed to be forced to leave the earth if it wanted to attack Yin Long, it actually jumped out of the earth when it was only a few meters away from Yin Long.
The beast that jumped out of the earth was a dark brown shark covered in barbed scales, four fins running down each side of the beast. The beast spanned nearly four meters and had a maw filled with serrated teeth, seven eyes scattered seemingly haphazardly around its head. The beast had actually reached the peak of the 8th Mortal Door, it was not something that a normal cultivator of Yin Long's realm should be able to face.
But Yin Long was far from normal, stepping forward the moment the shark jumped out of the earth. He aimed at the right side of the beast's head and swiped out with the greatsword, cutting through the air at an angle where it should be slightly hard for the shark to see the full trajectory of his weapon. But to his surprise, one of the eyes actually bulged out slightly and then spun around in a manner resembling a chameleon's eye, the now bulging eye tracking his blade.
The shark lowered its tailfin until it touched the ground, its entire body actually stopping mid-air and pulling up slightly so that Yin Long's blade slid past it without making contact. The beast immediately exerted force with its tailfin, practically using it like a leg as it tore out and launched a chunk of earth at Yin Long, its body spinning into a backflip as it dove back into the earth. The earth turned strangely liquid just as the shark dove into it, returning to its hardened state when it vanished beneath the surface.
Yin Long took half a step forward as the chunk of earth came at him, twisting his torso to the left while rolling his shoulders back. His greatsword did a small spin in the air, retaining most of its momentum as Yin Long copied the movements Lan Yun had used against him several times before. His greatsword cut straight through the chunk of earth, the two pieces only a few centimetres away from him since he had twisted his body to dodge the attack, he only sliced through it to retain as much momentum as possible.
But just as he cut through the chunk of earth, the shark burst out from the earth beneath him while aiming to chomp at his legs, all its eyes bulged out so that it could even keep an eye on Lan Yun's group behind it. But it had never left Yin Long's senses even after diving into the earth so he had been ready for it all along. He slid his legs apart so that one foot landed on the lower jaw of the beast while the other landed on the shark's snout, resulting in him standing on the open maw of the beast as it jumped into the air.
His sword was still swinging to the left while this was going on so he tilted his blade downward and leaned his body forward while rolling his waist. The sword started to draw a sideways U in the air as a result of his movements, the shark forced to awkwardly spin its body to swat away the sword with its fins while also throwing off Yin Long. But even with Yin Long getting thrown off and the attack losing some strength as a result, the gathered momentum was still enough to cut off two of the fins located on the beast's right side.
Yin Long landed on the ground and quickly rolled forward, hopping back into a standing position while turning to face the shark. He glanced at his greatsword, a faint frown visible on his face as he rolled his shoulders and moved his wrists slightly. Now that he actually had a chance to test it in proper combat, he more clearly understood what Lan Yun had told him about using heavy weapons, how they had to move like the waves and the wind. His attempt just now had worked better than any of his previous, but he was still not quite satisfied, if he had done things properly he wouldn't have ended up losing all the momentum when he got thrown off the shark.
Of course, while he was unsatisfied, the Deshi clan group were looking at him with mouths somewhat agape, Lan Yun sighing in admiration. It took her years to learn how to properly use a heavy weapon, but Yin Long was already starting to properly understand the main points after such a short amount of time. Yin Long's mother had once told Lan Yun about Yin Long's birth, and now more than ever did she understand the words of Bai Xiang from back then, Yin Long was truly a child born for the blade. The sword was his soul, and in just the same vein, he was the soul of the blade.
The shark landed on the ground and flopped slightly while releasing a bubbly grunting sound due to the pain of losing two fins. But it knew that now wasn't the time to thrash around in pain, quickly sinking back into the earth, which hardened back to normal once it vanished beneath the surface. Yin Long carefully scanned the area with his senses, his sword changing from a greatsword into a rapier. This rapier was a bit larger than normal since he had to pretend like he needed to use a normal sword as the core, but other than a change in weight he didn't think that it would be too much of a difference.
He held the rapier with one hand and rapidly spun around, stabbing diagonally downward at the earth behind him just as it started to bulge. The shark burst out from the ground in a diagonally ascending manner aimed directly at Yin Long, but its barbed scales had been covered by an additional layer of earth for defence. The tip of Yin Long's rapier was stopped by this layer of earth when it touched the snout of the shark, a bubbling grunt escaping the open maw of the beast as it shook its head to push aside Yin Long's weapon.
Yin Long stepped to the side at the same time as his rapier was pushed aside, ducking down just as the maw of the shark reached where his chest should be. He quickly drew back his arm and stabbed upward with the rapier, a soft thud ringing out as his attack was once again blocked by the earthen layer. Deshi Jiu saw this from his location in the distance, calling out as if he was still training Yin Long.
"You're doing it wrong! Stop thinking like you're using a normal sword, you need to focus and observe, see every part of your enemy at once! Observe, focus, rotate, and pierce! Forget everything else and focus on the four tenets!"
Deshi Jiu had calmed down somewhat now that he saw Yin Long's display and was starting to treat this more as an exercise to improve Yin Long's training with the rapier. The reason behind it was simple, he was able to contend with the shark just by using a greatsword he wasn't familiar with, Deshi Jiu didn't even have to think about to know that the battle would be even more lopsided if Yin Long used his actual weapon. And even if Yin Long somehow failed, they still had Lan Yun, who was likely the same as Yin Long, capable of easily fighting people above her realm.
Yin Long rolled to the side and away from the shark after Deshi Jiu called out his advice, his eyes narrowing slightly as he observed the shark. The beast dove back into the earth and swam through it before jumping up at Yin Long again with an open maw, Yin Long quickly side-stepping to avoid the attack. He focused all his senses on the beast as it continued to lunge at him, Yin Long continuously dodging or blocking in front of the beast so that it couldn't go after Lan Yun and the others.
And after observing the beast for a bit, he saw that the earthen layer covering its body was shaped like small scales woven together. He hopped to the side again to dodge another lunge, the shark diving deeper than before this time to gather up speed. It then shot toward the surface and burst through the earth far faster than before, Yin Long also moving into action while focusing on the left side of the shark. He had observed and focused, now it was time to pierce.
He ducked down and leaned to the side while stepping forward, aiming to duck under the open maw of the beast. But to his surprise, the shark actually managed to unhinge its own jaw with a quick motion, the lower jaw suddenly lowering drastically. The lower jaw now had no power to initiate a bite, but considering how fast it moved, coupled with the fact that Yin Long was moving toward it, it was still enough to let some of the serrated teeth cut into Yin Long's back as he dodged beneath the beast.
Yin Long grit his teeth slightly and stomped the ground to halt his own movement, spinning around and stabbing out with the rapier. The weapon aimed at the third on the left side of the beast, the tip stabbing into the small spot where one scale ended and another began.
The weapon pierced through the earthen layer but wouldn't have quite enough force to actually pierce through the opening in the shark's actual scales. But the purpose of a rapier wasn't just to straightforwardly stab and pierce through everything, it wasn't strong enough to do that. No, what allowed a rapier to stab and pierce so efficiently was the rotation you had to add to it, practically turning the weapon into a drill.
And now Yin Long did just that, he twisted his wrist and spun the rapier, providing it with that extra force it needed to pierce through the small gap between the shark's scales. The rapier sank into the beast and caused it to unleash more bubbling grunts, which were now far raspier than before.
A stab at this position might not do much to a normal shark, but after observing this beast for a bit Yin Long had come to the conclusion that it needed to breathe air, it had lungs just like him. And the place he stabbed just now was exactly where he had seen that one of the beast's lungs were, this part of the body would expand each time the beast dove into the earth and shrink each time it burst out.
His own back was slightly shredded, but the beast now had a punctured lung, the outcome of the battle was practically as good as determined. Deshi Jiu let out a sigh of admiration as he continued to observe the battle, he would have to be a fool to not already see that Yin Long was definitely stronger than him.
It was a bit vexing to be weaker than someone with lower cultivation, but even if he was weaker than Yin Long he had still ended up teaching Yin Long a few things, this was something he could take pride in. The rest of the group also realized this truth, one of the girls using her elbow to prod Lan Yun's side while winking at her.
"No wonder you're doing your best to have him fall head over heels for you. But hot damn, he can already fight a beast that's nearly three sub-realms over him, almost makes me scared to find out just how many realms above yours that you can fight."
There was a saying that birds of a feather flocked together, people like Yin Long who could fight against people of higher realms would always be surrounded by others of similar strength and ability. This was simply because others simply couldn't keep up, only those equally monstrous could follow along with a monster that could fight those at a higher realm. And since Lan Yun was following Yin Long, the others of course assumed that this saying held true here as well. But contrary to their expectation, Lan Yun shook her head while responding.
"No, I can't really fight people above my realm. I can probably kill that beast, but if it had reached the 9th Mortal Door then things would be far more uncertain."
Lan Yun didn't lie, she had above average talent, but that alone wasn't enough to defeat people or beasts of a higher cultivation realm. She could be considered somewhat remarkable within her own realm, but that would be it, she was far from being comparable to Yin Long's monstrous ability. The girl who prodded Lan Yun's side looked somewhat awkward at how wrong she had been, only capable of giving a minuscule reply before turning to look at the battle again.
"Oh, well that's okay."
Lan Yun didn't say anything to the response, but her heart clenched slightly. The girl didn't need to say anything, the others around her also didn't need to say anything, she knew it better than anyone of them. She might be considered a star, but Yin Long was a sun, radiant and dazzling. If a star were to fly next to a sun it would only get swallowed and vanished, a star would never have the qualifications to stay next to a sun