Charlie's brows twitched as he asked, "This... Could it be that these are the documents for the Church of Universal Truth's Martial Techniques Grading Plan?"
The others lifted their heads as well, taking turns to ask the questions that were on their mind. It was because they noticed that the sword techniques recorded were all sword techniques which had brought their academies to fame. However, right now, the various aspects of the sword techniques were being recorded in great detail by someone else.
Although the concrete cultivation method was not documented, even just the densely packed data alone had already caused them to be terror-stricken.
"These are the documents for the Martial Techniques Grading Plan. However, the more detailed portions are classified as highly confidential, so pardon me for not being able to say any more. The main reason I've invited everyone here today is to ask if there are any problems or errors with these documents."
The entire office fell silent and everyone looked at the documents they were holding as they compared it with what they knew.
About slightly more than half an hour later, a bald elder sighed and said, "The Church is truly deserving of its title as the number one influence in the world. These sword techniques are clearly what our academy teaches, but the records are even more detailed than what our own school actually has."
Another person shouted, "They aren't just detailed. Many aspects of the sword techniques have been tested as well. There are areas which we haven’t even thought of ever before. After looking at these records, even I feel that I've been cultivating sword arts in vain."
"The Church is truly amazing. Their research on martial techniques are at least 20 years ahead of us."
Charlie frowned as he read the documents. However, in his mind, he agreed with what the others were saying. This set of documents was far too detailed and the many statistics listed were something which he himself would find hard to complete. This clearly demonstrated the abilities of the Church of Universal Truth.
Just then, another guy with a short stature smiled and said, "Everyone has come to a misunderstanding. If my guess is correct, this is probably something which was done by our country's Conferred Knight, right?"
"How is that possible?"
"Could it be that the Empire is also thinking of coming up with a Martial Techniques Grading Plan? If our country were to do a project like this, wouldn't it just be a sheer waste of manpower and resources?"
"Brother Charlie, you're from the association. Have you heard of any news regarding this?"
Charlie was slightly stunned. Right now, he was merely a marginalized person, so how could he possibly know of any news that were crucial to the association? He could only say, "I did hear similar rumors, of there being a collaboration with the Church. As for the details, I have no idea."
The guy with the short stature grinned, "If my elder brother isn't in the Great Western City, I wouldn't know of this either. Let me ask first, you guys know of Fang Xingjian, right?"
"Who wouldn't know of Fang Xingjian?"
"It's that person who invented the Rebirth Sword Technique, right?"
"The Rebirth Sword Technique is too hard to cultivate. Up until now, our academy's students have yet to succeeded in learning it."
"But it really is good stuff. So far, our Headmaster has cultivated to level 3, and it's already at about the same amount of potential points that he could get daily through the other Nurturing techniques he had cultivated"
"Mmm, Fang Xingjian is really talented."
"Oh, I think I heard that Lord Holy Orison recommended his participation in the Martial Techniques Grading Plan."
"Previously, when the Church's representatives came to the Imperial Capital, didn't they ask to meet Fang Xingjian?"
"Fang Xingjian is really young and invigorating. I heard that he rejected outright and then the Church's representatives headed to Great Western City."
"It's because he's amazing. He really has brought our Empire great honor."
Charlie listened to what the others said and frowned slightly, feeling increasingly unhappy. He thought, 'Fang Xingjian, you can go ahead and be complacent for a few years. While you're spending your effort on creating your own martial techniques and on the Martial Techniques Grading Plan, I'm improving, each and every moment. One day, I'll have you pay back 100 times over.'
Hearing what everyone said, the man with short stature said, "Let's not stray from the topic. Let me tell you something. The documents that you are reading right now, they should have been written by Fang Xingjian."
"How is that possible?"
"Only how long has it been and he has already appraised these over ten sets of sword techniques?!"
The man with short stature became increasingly proud as he said, "This is something that I'm sure you aren't aware of. Fang Xingjian is truly an amazing talent blessed by the heavens. It's not only ten or so sets of sword techniques. He has completed the appraisal of the 1,000 sets of sword techniques which the Church assigned to him. He got paid several tens of million on the spot."
"What kind of joke is this?"
"You must be exaggerating. Even a Divine level expert wouldn't be able to learn 1,000 sets of sword techniques in one go."
The man with short stature looked at the noisy bunch of people with contempt and said, "My elder brother saw it for himself. How can it possibly be fake? Let me tell you, I didn't believe it myself in the beginning, but the news spread out like wildfire in the entire Great Western City."
With that, he turned toward Derek, from the newspaper company, and said, "This time around, the reason you've invited us to check through the documents is so that you can verify this, right?"
Seeing that everyone's gaze was turned toward him, Derek from the newspaper company helplessly replied, "It's true that the documents you're looking at right now are from the sword arts team in the Great Western Region's Regional Academy. However, I can't tell you who wrote these."
A copy of the appraisal records Fang Xingjian had written had also been kept in the academy. After all, the Church of Universal Truth's Martial Techniques Grading Plan was originally intended to raise the level of research in martial techniques worldwide, and there were no requests to keep it a secret.
Therefore, the records were sent to the central government and were currently being looked into by countless members of the upper echelon.
Although Derek from the newspaper company had not spelled it out, the implied meaning was fairly clear.
Derek looked toward everyone as they were talking among themselves with great astonishment, and continued, "This news is currently considered to be highly classified. Kindly keep to the non-disclosure clause."
"Yes, yes, yes... We'll definitely not let the news leak out."
"But it's 1,000 sets..."
"There really are great talents in every generation..."
"This Fang Xingjian is someone to be reckoned with. In another few years, there'll probably be another Divine level person."
Hearing everyone’s remarks, Charlie's frown gradually deepened. With a cold snort, he left in a huff, taking everyone by great surprise.
Only Charlie himself was aware of how bitter he was feeling right now.
'In this lifetime, I'll probably never be able to surpass Fang Xingjian...'
Ten days later, in the Cherkes District, located 150 kilometers to the north of Great Western City.
The skies were dark, bearing faint signs of violet streaks of lightning that cast a layer of gloom on everyone.
Ferdinand, who was leading the team, looked at the mountain peak in the distance and said, "Xingjian should be there now."
The person next to Ferdinand was a warrior under the Church of Universal Truth, dressed in white clothes and armor. He was one of the archbishop's guards, named Jia Wei.
Jia Wei looked toward the volcano in the distance which was encompassed by fog and was incessantly exuding black smoke. He asked, "This volcano is going to erupt soon, right?"
"That's right. Xingjian said that he wanted to look for a volcano like that in order to test out his sword arts."
"Use a volcano to test out his sword arts?" Jia Wei was stunned, and then he nodded, "I see. He must have a sword technique which would require him to cultivate by borrowing the force from the flames in the earth's core, right? However, this volcano seems to be raging. Once it explodes, this entire area will most likely be destroyed. Isn't it a bit too dangerous?"
Ferdinand smiled, "When cultivating martial arts, one can't be afraid of danger, right?"
The group of people was slowly heading for the top. However, as they moved, the ground under their feet tremored without stop. There were also large bouts of sparks splattering from the direction of the volcano's crater.
The piercing smell of sulfur was gushing at them as the air around them became increasingly hot.