Chapter 11 – Retainer

The white-robed Ji Ning and the black-robed Ji Ning walked forward, shoulder-to-shoulder. The two exchanged glances with the old man located in the center of the distant wilderness.

Waves of murderous intent billowed from both sides.

Since negotiations had failed…it was time to fight!

“Come forth!” The black-robed Ning let out a cold shout. The air around him instantly became filled with a dense cluster of goldstar beads. The Goldstar Beads of the Heavens quickly began to merge together, transforming into the Thirty-Six Heavens. He filled them with his powerful Ancestral Immortal energy, causing each of them to transform into a beautiful frozen lotus. Each frozen lotus was like the core and essence of an entire world, and when the thirty-six frozen lotuses appeared, a stream of freezing energy filled the entire area around them. The wilderness around them began to freeze and crack apart, with space itself seeming to have been frozen solid.

“Go.” The black-robed Ning pointed in front of him, causing the thirty-six frozen lotuses streaking forward through the skies and swiveling around the black-haired elder like thirty-six streaks of frozen energy.

Over the past twenty thousand years, Ning had improved dramatically both with the sword as well as in the Dao! He would also spend quite a bit of time meditating on the Nine Chaos Seals. Due to his tremendous level of insight into the Dao, he had already mastered six of the chaos seals. The sixth chaos seal allowed Ning to closely resonate with the ‘original essence of water’, something which was located infinitely far away. As a result he was now able to manifest these frozen lotuses, which could be used to emanate streams of unfathomably cold energy to bind and trap foes.

After activating the sixth chaos seal, Ning’s Thirty-Six Heavens were comparable to ordinary Chaos treasures in power. Alas, in this form they could only really be used to constrict and bind foes!

“You want to bind me?” The black-haired elder let out a cold laugh. “I am an Immortal cultivator, not a Fiendgod. I don’t even need to fight you in close combat. What can this technique of yours possibly do?”

“If you won’t come fight me in close combat, I’ll come fight you in close combat.” The white-robed Ning’s body momentarily blurred as he manifested the [Three Heads, Six Arms] technique, holding five Darknorth swords and Violetjewel in his six arms.

Whoosh.

The white-robed Ning immediately surged forward like a streak of light, flying towards the black-haired elder.

“Eh?” The black-haired elder’s face changed. Ki Refiners hated fighting in close combat. He immediately let out a cold snort, causing two streams of energy to emerge from his nostrils. These two streams of energy crystallized like ice, forming a pair of divine swords.

“Just two of them? Pull out all three of your swords,” Ning roared as he charged forward.

“Against you?” The black-haired elder sneered coldly, “Two swords is enough.”

The two crystalline swords sliced out in two streaks of light, causing the air itself to glimmer with frozen energy as they struck straight towards the white-robed Ning.

Clang!

The two attacks collided against each other.

The white-robed Ning was knocked backwards, his face changing slightly. “Damn.” As soon as they exchanged blows, he realized that this Ancestral Immortal definitely had the power of an elite Elder God! He was even more difficult to deal with than Godfiend Witherspike had been. Fortunately, Ning had mastered the Sixth Cycle of the [Starseizing Hand]; otherwise, Ning wouldn’t be able to do anything to him.

“That little bit of power you possess won’t be enough to allow you to even get near me,” the black-haired man sneered.

“Is that so?” The white-robed Ning charged forward once again, striking out with all six swords. This time, he applied the Sixth Cycle of the [Starseizing Hand] to each hand! His mighty divine power instantly burst forth, causing six streaks of sword-light to tear through the skies, carrying an aura of inexorable might.

[Brightmoon] sword-art, Heavenbreaker stance!
The two flashing crystalline swords that were striking out towards Ning were instantly struck by thise blow.

Boom!

The two crystalline swords were actually smashed flying backwards. On Ning’s side, the flashing strike from the blood-colored Violetjewel continued to streak forwards, striking out more than a thousand kilometers as it hacked towards the distant black-haired elder.

“His divine ability is pretty powerful.” The black-haired elder frowned slightly. A third sword that was golden in color flew straight out from his forehead, quickly expanding in size to become more than three hundred meters long. It swept forward in a straight line, carrying an aura of utmost forceful Yang energy as it struck against Ning’s Violetjewel.

BOOM!!!

Ning felt his hand go numb as Violetjewel was knocked backwards, but the golden sword was also knocked backwards.

“Again.” Ning once more charged forward, six swords in six arms.

“Damn.” The black-haired elder frowned as he glanced at the icy lotuses surrounding him. The icy lotuses were emanating streams of energy that furiously coiled around him, constricting his movements. Although he wasn’t fighting in close combat, his three swords were still somewhat impacted.

“Triult Sword, First Stance!” The black-haired elder’s eyes flashed with cold light.

The two crystal swords and the golden sword came together in midair to form a triangle, with the surface of the triangle flowing with runic light. Soon, the light solidified to form an shockingly sharp sword that was golden-white in color. When the sword appeared, an aura of infinite sharpness instantly appeared, slicing apart the energy streams surrounding him.

Ning’s face changed dramatically as he saw this. “Such power. They really do form a perfect set of Chaos swords. These three Chaos swords are at least high-grade Chaos treasures; in fact, they could well be top-grade Chaos treasures. When the seals inside of them combine together to unleash their full power, they are almost as powerful as my own Violetjewel.”

Daoist Three Purities of the Three Realms had something similar. He had those four Chaos swords, which he was able to link together with the Immortal Slaying Sword-Diagram. By Ning’s estimation, that set was also close to Violetjewel in power. This was how powerful a complete set of Chaos treasures could be.

“Smash!” The distant black-robed figure let out an angry roar.

Swish! Swish! Swish! Swish! Swish! Swish!

The thirty-six frozen lotuses that had merely been hanging in the air around him all suddenly rushed towards him like meteors, smashing against the white-gold sword. Every single Frozen Lotus of the Heavens moved with incredible speed, far beyond the limits of the Heavenly Daos. Although this was just a simple smashing movement, it was based off of the ‘Shadowless’ stance of the [Brightmoon] sword-art.

Clang! Clang! Clang! The Frozen Lotuses of the Heavens smashed down one after another.

“Kill!” The three-headed, six-armed, white-robed Ning once more charged forward with his six swords at the ready.

The gold-white sword blasted away all the attacks; the Frozen Lotuses of the Heavens were primarily meant to be used to constrict the foe through the release of freezing energy, after all. They were rather similar to the Waterflame Apocalypse Formation in that regard. If they were used to smash…they would at most be comparable to top-grade Protocosmic spirit-treasures. They were simply too weak in this regard, whereas the gold-white sword was almost as powerful as Violetjewel itself. When they were joined together, they had very nearly surpassed the limits of power possible for Chaos treasures.

Boom.

Violetjewel transformed into a black hole, moving to defend against the gold-white sword as the other five swords struck out. The black hole of sword-light was actually able to completely defend against the gold-white sword.

“What?!” The black-haired elder’s face completely changed. “This sword-art…” He himself was a sword-wielder; he could immediately sense how terrifying that sword-light was!

The black hole of sword-light seemed eternal and inexhaustible, with no end and no beginning.

Ning just smiled coldly.

The first stance of the [Nameless] sword-art, ‘Heartsword’ stance, was simply far too profound. Ning simply wasn’t able to master it. However, the main purpose of the ninety-eight stone steles which World God Northrest had left behind was to teach the principle of the ‘hidden blade’. The ‘Heartsword’ stance actually also represented a profound offensive and defensive technique. After analyzing the ‘Heartsword’ stance, then focusing on the principles of the ‘hidden blade’, Ning felt that there were many similarities with his own ‘Soleheart’ stance. Thus, he fused all of his insights into his ‘Soleheart’ stance, causing it to now be the most profound of the five stances he had developed.

“Kill!”

While blocking with one sword, Ning continued to charge forward and attack with the others.

“Triult Sword, Second Stance!” The black-haired elder had an ugly look on his face. He had only come up with two stances thus far.

Rumble…

The gold-white sword suddenly began to spin.

Ning’s black hole of sword-light instantly began to tremble. It was only able to resist for a brief period of time before breaking apart, and the white-gold sword immediately stabbed Ning on the chest, knocking him one step backwards. However, it was only able to leave behind a white spot on his skin.

“A protective divine ability?” The black-haired elder was shocked.

Fiendgods were skilled in close combat, causing Ki Refiners endless headaches. Fiendgods who had exceptionally powerful protective divine abilities caused even more headaches!

“Go.” The frozen lotuses in the air suddenly began to smash towards the black-haired elder once more. A black chain instantly flew out from the black-haired elder’s body, coiling around him and blocking all the strikes from the frozen lotuses.

“Kill.” The white-robed Ning once more charged forward, and the black-haired elder’s face instantly turned extremely grim.

A short while later…

“I lost.” The black-haired elder gave up.

The white-robed Ning’s clothes were riddled with holes, but those holes were soon repaired.

“If I wasn’t trapped here and forced to endure your assaults without being able to flee, you wouldn’t be able to do anything to me.” The black-haired elder stared coldly at Ning.

Ning had to admit that this was true. His protective divine ability, combined with his superlative sword-arts, made it so that although the black-haired man worked hard to keep his distance from Ning, in the end he was still caught. The moment that Ning caught up to him was the moment that he lost.

“I can give you the Triult Swords.” The black-haired elder looked at Ning.

Ning stood in front of the black-haired elder, his murderous intent billowing forwards. “Previously, I merely wanted the Triult Swords. Now, your life itself is in my hands. You had best be obedient and submit.”

“Submit?” The black-haired elder’s face changed, but then he let out a snicker. “Even if I was willing to submit and be your retainer, there’s no way for me to leave this place and battle by your side, unless you are capable of releasing me from the prisonworld.”

“I have no way of releasing you. Not now, at least,” Ning said.

“Then why even speak of ‘submission’?” The black-haired elder shook his head disdainfully.

“I need to search your memories,” Ning said.

An Ancestral Immortal would definitely know many things. He might learn something of use to him for the war.

“Impossible!” The black-haired elder’s face changed, and he roared angrily, “I’m willing to submit to you, to be your retainer and to fight to the death in your service! However, don’t even think about shaming me in such a way. I would rather die than let you search my memories!”

Ning couldn’t help but sigh to himself.

It really was going to be quite difficult, as expected.

After gaining the teachings of World God Northrest, Ning understood that when voyaging through the endless primordial chaos, there was a certain custom known as ‘taking on retainers’. Certain extremely powerful cultivators would often have retainers who served them and followed them. True Gods and True Immortals were considered weaklings without power, and so they were often simply captured and enslaved. Of the six servants of Godfiend Witherspike, five had been enslaved in such a manner!

However, there were also retainers such as ‘Saber’ who chose to follow someone in order to repay a debt! They could be described as servants, but they were no slaves.

The black-haired elder was willing to be Ning’s retainer, but he absolutely was not willing to allow Ning to search his memories.

In the endless primordial chaos, Elder Gods and Ancestral Immortals generally were figures who were respected and honored.

“Then I have no choice but to do this.” Ning stared at the black-haired elder, his eyes brimming with killing intent. However, he didn’t take action right away, wanting to instead try and pressure the old man one last time.

“I can make one final concession.” The black-haired elder gritted his teeth. “I can swear a lifeblood oath that I will never lie to you. You can ask me any question you desire. So long as your questions do not impinge on certain personal matters that I cannot discuss with outsiders, I will answer them to the best of my ability.”

“A lifeblood oath?” Ning’s eyes lit up. “You have an oathstone?”

Generally speaking, only World Gods and Chaos Immortals could swear lifeblood oaths. Elder Gods, Ancestral Immortals, and weaker cultivators would generally only be able to swear lifeblood oaths if they made use of an oathstone.

“I was preparing to set up my own school. Of course I prepared an oathstone long in advance!” The black-haired elder waved his hand, causing a jade globe to appear within it. Runes swirled over the surface of the jade globe. “This is an oathstone which was personally forged by a Chaos Immortal. It cost me ninety-nine drops of chaos nectar to purchase it.”

Upon hearing the words ‘chaos nectar’, Ning felt delighted. Ancestral Immortals really were different from lower-ranking cultivators. They had far higher statuses, and they had far better treasures! The only reason why he was able to force this person to bow his head was because he was trapped here, unable to move more than a thousand kilometers away! In the outside world, this Ancestral Immortal would’ve fled long ago.

“It is now an ownerless item. You can bind it.” The black-haired elder offered the jade globe to Ning.

“An oathstone.” Ning waved his hand, causing it to fly over to him. He immediately began to bind it, then activated the lifeblood oath ability.

“Swear your lifeblood oath.” Ning looked at the black-haired elder.

The black-haired elder let out a soft sigh. Retainer? This Overseer was, at best, on par with him in power. If they were in the outside world, he absolutely wouldn’t be willing to be this man’s retainer at all! Still…in the face of death, he chose to bow his head.

The black-haired elder stretched out with his hand, placing it against the oathstone. He could sense the lifeblood oath that had been activated. He didn’t try to fight it; instead, he borrowed from its power, causing his soul to begin swearing an oath. “I swear on my very life itself that I shall forever follow…”

As the master of the oathstone, Ning was able to sense the man’s soul making this lifeblood oath.

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