Shang talked with Duke Whirlwind for a time longer, and he also finally heard of what happened after he had gone through the portal.
However, Shang wasn’t very surprised. He had already suspected that this powerful Mage that had forcefully teleported him had dealt with the Storm Eagle.
Funnily enough, Duke Whirlwind hadn’t seen the powerful Mage. He had only seen how the Storm Eagle was thrown into the distance like a child, but he hadn’t seen the being that did it.
Of course, Shang didn’t keep the powerful Mage a secret, and things now made much more sense for Duke Whirlwind.
One thing of note that happened, except for this entire political struggle, was that Vice-Dean Ranos managed to reach the True Path Stage.
Apparently, he had worked on his Path for a very long time, and he finally managed to advance, and sure enough, he stayed true to his strengths.
Vice-Dean Ranos could maybe take down one of the weaker High Mages, which was impressive beyond belief for someone that hadn’t undergone the Procedure.
Luckily, the technique for strengthening one’s body Shang had gotten in the Grandmountain Kingdom could rectify part of that problem. It would be difficult to start so late, but Duke Whirlwind was certain that the Dean would find a way to make it work.
Sadly, the Dean hadn’t advanced to the Mid True Path Stage yet, but Duke Whirlwind assumed that it would, at most, take another decade.
Duke Whirlwind was also approaching his breakthrough, which would make it far harder for the Council to do anything to him.
This was also one of the biggest reasons why they were putting so much pressure on him. They didn’t want to see him advance to the Peak High Mage Realm.
Yes, Duke Whirlwind was at the Late High Mage Realm right now, which was equal in level to four of the five members of the Council.
He was no joke, even amongst the most powerful Mages in the entire Kingdom.
After they talked for a while, Duke Whirlwind told Shang what he should do.
For now, he had to remain hidden, and Duke Whirlwind suggested to Shang to enter the Caves for the time being. He could deal with Late and Peak Commander Stage beasts, and the teams of hunters and Mages that could fight those preferred going to the Canyon over going to the Caves. It was just easier to get there.
The deep Caves would give Shang a place to train while keeping him hidden.
Shang agreed and left Duke Whirlwind’s place. The Duke also gave him some hidden pathways that were not public knowledge to enter the Caves.
After saying his goodbyes, Shang entered the Wild Forest and went to a specific place.
A bit of digging later, Shang entered the upper parts of the Caves and quickly traveled down.
It took half an hour, but Shang eventually reached a depth of around ten kilometers, which was where the powerful Commander Stage beasts resided.
Shang quickly went through one more session of strengthening and focused on his swordsmanship again.
The Star Map had changed a little bit over the past couple of years, but the change wasn’t very significant.
A couple more shards appeared between the stars, but it wasn’t that much.
Shang had a long way to go.
‘A Path that allows me to become the strongest in the world,’ Shang thought as he looked at the shards on the Star Map.
‘Teacher created a thin path that curved like a sine wave.’
‘Teacher Mervin is trying to create a wide and powerful path that goes from the Origin Star to another one.’
‘Teacher Mervin is definitely on a better way than Teacher, but I think I have to create an even more powerful one.’
Shang looked at the shards, and he noticed something peculiar.
Everything seemed to be absolutely random, but after filtering the shards according to dates of comprehension unveiled something very interesting.
The Origin Star was surrounded by very many stars all around it.
There were probably over 50.
Some were for swords, some were for spears, some were for Magic, some were for Affinities, some were for healing, some were for the mind. Shang couldn’t see what the Stars all represented, but he could make some educated guesses based on some very small Shards leading to a couple of them.
Basically everything was there.
Obviously, creating a Path to every single Star was just impossible. Shang didn’t even have the Affinities required to reach them, and some were just pointless for Shang to reach.
Right now, Shang’s shards were strewn randomly towards the Origin Star’s north.
When Shang had seen the Star Map for the first time, his focus had been on the comprehension he had received from Teacher Mervin, which had led to one specific Star.
But by filtering by date of comprehension, Shang found something interesting.
The Shards he had gotten over the last couple of years weren’t on the potential Path between these two Stars.
Instead, nearly all of them pointed towards a Star two places to the right of the Star Teacher Mervin had aimed for.
In short, everything Shang had comprehended regarding swordsmanship in the last couple of years made no progress on his Path to that one Star. After all, they all pointed towards the Star, two places to the right of it.
Shang found that interesting since he had trained in swordsmanship, which should give him progress towards the northern Star.
Yet, it didn’t.
After that, Shang started to compare the different Shards, and he quickly found the reason.
‘It’s obvious, but it’s also not obvious,’ Shang thought when he found out.
‘There isn’t just one sword.’
‘The Star to the north is for thin and long swords, the kind Teacher Mervin uses. It also represents Sword’s original form.’
‘But the Star two places to its right is for heavier swords. I’ve been training my swordsmanship with a rather heavy sword the past couple of years, which means I will make progress towards the Star that represents heavier swords.’
‘There is definitely some logic to how the Stars are aligned, and I’m pretty sure that the Star between those two is also related to swords. However, I don’t even have a single shard leading to there.’
Shang looked at the two gatherings of shards and compared them.
One was extremely fast but didn’t have a lot of weight and power.
The other was slow but had a lot of power.
‘The middle ground would be something with good speed but also good power. It would be slower than the long sword but would have more power. It would also be easier to swing than the heavy sword but would be faster.’
Shang thought back to all the weapons he had seen and learned about, and one of them sprang out to him.
‘Sabers?’ he thought. ‘I mean, not the Arabian kind, but the far eastern kind. They do count as swords, right?’
‘I mean, a saber is basically a sword with only one edge instead of two. A katana also only has one edge.’
‘Wait, does that make katanas sabers?’
Shang thought about this for a bit.
‘Probably not, but I could find some arguments for that.’
‘I’ve seen a couple of warriors that used long and heavy sabers. They are quite fast and pack a lot of weight. Sure, they are not as fast as a regular longsword, but they are still quite fast.’
‘Are there any other sword-related Stars?’
Shang looked at the Star left of the Longsword Star, and he found an absolutely tiny shard.
It was when Shang had used his skinning knife to shave.
‘I guess that Star is for knives and daggers.’
Then, Shang looked at the Star right of the Heavy Sword Star.
He had a couple of shards there, but not that many.
All of them had been comprehended when Shang acted as a barbarian with his ridiculously heavy sword.
‘I guess that counts as a sword somewhat, but that’s already stretching the definition.’
Then, Shang evaluated all the Stars again from left to right.
Longsword Star, extremely fast but weak power.
Saber Star, quite fast and okay power.
Heavy Sword Star, okay speed and quite powerful.
Colossal Sword Star, very slow but extremely powerful.
In his mind, Shang drew a couple of lines that connected the Stars, and the resulting image appeared familiar to him.
‘One point at the bottom. Two points that are quite far away and spread apart. Two points a bit higher than those two but not as far apart.’
Shang looked at the image.
‘It’s a diamond.’