Chapter 13 – Volcano Island

“The Dao of the Sword…” Ji Ning shut his eyes.

Slowly, an invisible surge of power began to manifest in the area around Ning. It formed into the blurry image of a black sword which covered Ning and swirled around him.

Normally, those who mastered the Dao of the Sword would be referred to as Sword Immortals…but this was actually just the beginning of the Sword Immortal path! Only by comprehending swordforce would one be able to pursue the true essence of the sword itself.

“It is alive.” Ning opened his eyes, staring at the blurry, illusory black sword around him. This manifestation of fourth-stage swordforce allowed Ning to clearly sense the childish playfulness of the illusory sword. It was like a little child that absolutely loved to stick closely to Ning, causing Ning’s own heart to be filled with joy.

Sentience. Life.

The first three stages of swordforce only involved the rigid application of power, but the fourth stage of swordforce actually gained both life and sentience. Although the level of intelligence was very low, it was still enough to truly stun Ning.

Prior to this, before his heartforce had actually reached the fourth stage, Ning had never sensed this from his swordforce. As for heartforce, it came from himself; it was the power of his own heart. Swordforce, however, came from an arcane, inexplicable, unfathomable essence of the sword itself. The path that Ning was pursuing was the path of finding the original essence of the sword.

Whoosh.

Ning rose to his feet. He waved his hand, and the black swordforce responded accordingly.

“Such tremendous power. Prior to this, I was a bit weaker than senior apprentice-brother Silvermoon and Redsnow, due to me not having trained for long enough. Although my heartforce is formidable, it’s consumed far too quickly in battle. When I want to beat down on those weaker than me, it’ll allow me to gain victory in just one or two blows, but when fighting against experts of the same level, it simply won’t last. Swordforce, however, doesn’t use up any divine power, and it comes in a steady, unbroken stream.” Ning was absolutely delighted.

Upon truly comprehending swordforce, even a mortal commoner would be able to infuse his punches and kicks with fourth-stage swordforce.

“I can vaguely sense that the power of this swordforce is roughly equal to 80% of the power unleashed when I use my heartforce to maximum ffect.” Ning sighed in amazement. Although it was ‘only’ 80%, it could be used in every single strike and blow; in a protracted battle, it would be far more useful to Ning than heartforce would be.

“From this day forth, in a one-on-one battle, I am now the equal of senior apprentice-brother Silvermoon and Redsnow.”

After calming himself, Ning took a look at the volcanic island. This island had a towering volcano in the center that was occasionally belching forth plumes of lava. However, because the sea around the volcanic island was completely frozen with countless snowflakes falling all around it, the borders of the volcanic island were at a perfect temperature, with only the volcano itself being blazingly hot.

Whoosh. Ning willed it, and a second person appeared next to him. It was Empyrean God Roughpeak.

“Junior apprentice-brother Darknorth.” Roughpeak immediately smiled and called out to Ning upon stepping out…but upon seeing his surroundings, he was instantly stunned.

The volcano belching fire…

It was a sight completely different from that of the snowy island.

“Th-this place is…” Roughpeak stuttered.

“This is the second island. I call it ‘Volcano Island’,” Ning said.

“You actually su-succeeded. Ahahaha…wonderful! Wonderful!” Roughpeak turned his head to look at Ning with eyes full of excitement. “Junior apprentice-brother Darknorth, to tell you the truth, I didn’t really think you’d be able to succeed. In fact, after spending a few days in your Immortal estate, I was truly afraid that you had already failed. But you actually succeeded! Wonderful, simply wonderful.”

Roughpeak truly didn’t have that much faith in Ning. He had watched as Ning killed the Snowfiend clone on the snowy island, and had seen that Ning’s sword-arts were only at the level of third-stage swordforce. However, Ning’s sword was quite shockingly fast, which was why he thought that there might be a chance that he would be acknowledged by Snowfiend! It wasn’t necessary to actually defeat Snowfiend in order to go past him; if one fought him for long enough and was acknowledged by him, one would be allowed past.

Ning had spent a long period of time analyzing the stone stele. Although Ning had felt that only a brief moment had passed, in truth he had spent more than two days on it.

After waiting for so long within the Immortal estate, Roughpeak felt that the reason why Snowfiend had let Ning pass was because the two had fought for so long that Snowfiend had acknowledged Ning’s power.

Ning chuckled. “Luck was part of it.”

“Being able to pass Snowfiend proves your power.” Roughpeak sighed. “No matter what…we’ve finally left the island of snow. I’ve had more than enough of that place.”

“The island was actually quite pretty,” Ning said.

“When you’ve spent countless terrified years by yourself in one place, it’ll turn into hell for you, no matter how ‘pretty’ it is.” Roughpeak said hurriedly, “Let’s go! Let’s not chat here; let’s take a look at what’s up ahead! Let’s see if there are any other Empyrean Gods on this island. The further along we go, the stronger any surviving Empyrean Gods must be. Even if they aren’t able to make it to the next island, they should be able to stay alive for quite some time.”

“Yes, let’s take a look.” Ning nodded.

Ning and Roughpeak walked through the volcanic island, taking in the sights. A short while later, they found a winding series of spiky palaces.

“Over there. If there are any surviving Empyrean Gods, they should be living there.” Roughpeak hurriedly pointed towards the palaces.

As soon as his words came out…whoosh! A fur-clad, muscular, bronze-eyed man appeared at the entrance to one of the palaces, glancing outside. He instantly saw both Ning and Roughpeak.

“Eldest brother! Second brother! Third brother! Fourth brother! Fifth brother! Seventh sister!” The muscular man instantly called out in a loud voice.

Swish! Swish! Swish! One figure after another began to charge out from the other palaces. They all congregated together, staring towards the two newcomers.

Six were men, one was a woman. All of them were dressed in furs.

“Is that my young friend Roughpeak?” Suddenly, a wrinkle-faced man called out to the two.

“Seven Dragon Gods…all of you are still alive?” Roughpeak began to roar in laughter.

“The Seven Dragon Gods of the Primordial Era?” Ning was truly shocked as well.

Before coming to this place, he had naturally read up on the Empyrean Gods who had entered Undermoon Lake. The Seven Dragon Gods had entered Undermoon Lake during the Primordial Era! Countless years had passed since then, and during his conversation with Roughpeak, Ning had learned that the island of snow had suffered attacks every thousand years. The same was most likely true for the other islands as well.

To be able to live for even a hundred million years in Undermoon Lake was a marvel. To be able to survive from the Primordial Era to the modern day?!

“Young friend Roughpeak, why have you come to this damned hellhole? We should never have come to this damned place.” The oldest-looking man spoke out as Ning and Roughpeak walked towards the seven.

“Too late for regrets. I’m already here.” Roughpeak let out a sigh. “I was trapped on the snowy island for more than a hundred million years, but the seven of you entered during the Primordial Era. I’m in complete awe of you; you were actually able to survive for so long!”

“Ahahaha…and who is this new friend?” A fiery-haired man looked towards Ning, a friendly look in his eyes. “Although I don’t recognize him, I can sense that he’s one of my brothers, a human.”

“Let me make the introductions.”

Roughpeak smiled as he looked towards Ning. “Junior apprentice-brother Darknorth, I trust that you must have guessed by now, but these seven are the Seven Dragon Gods who once followed Human Sovereign Suiren in his campaigns across the world. In the past, as our human race just began its rise to prominence, we were still testing out many different cultivation paths. Human Sovereign Suiren once harvested draconic blood from a True God and used it to qualitatively change a human’s body and allow them to train in superior Fiendgod techniques. However, he discovered later that this sort of forced transformation had an impact on both the body and the soul, resulting in most being unable to progress past the Empyrean God level.”

“Why do you have to talk about these things?”

“At least we became Empyrean Gods!”

The Seven Dragon Gods all laughed.

“These are the Seven Dragon Gods. The eldest is Empyrean God Witherdragon. This is the second, Empyrean God Fiercedragon. This is the third, Empyrean God Blackdragon. This is the fourth, Empyrean God Dragoncaller. This is the fifth, Empyrean God Owldragon. This is the sixth, Empyrean God Tyranodragon. And this one, the most beautiful of the seven, would naturally be Empyrean God Voidragon.” Smiling, Roughpeak made the introductions.

As for Ning, he felt true admiration for these seven.

Ning had always felt true admiration for the earliest human experts. They had established a foundation for all their human descendants, and they had even used their own bodies to test out new cultivation methods. It wasn’t just these seven who had attempted to use draconic blood to transform their bodies; many others had died on the spot, their bodies instantly blasting apart.

Not just anyone could withstand the blood of a draconic True God, after all. The seven of them were seven of Suiren’s early test subjects, and they became known as the Seven Dragon Gods. Although they weren’t true siblings, they were even closer to each other than true siblings!

“Hurry up and introduce this young friend of yours.” The only woman present was dressed in fur clothes that couldn’t disguise her beauty. Her voice was clear and crisp, but as heroic and valiant as any of the others.

“He is junior apprentice-brother Darknorth, one of the disciples under the tutelage of Daofather Subhuti,” Roughpeak said with a sigh.

“Darknorth?”

“My young friend Darknorth, it’s been a long time since we’ve encountered other humans. The seven of us have nearly died of loneliness here. Ahahaha…come, come, come! Taste some of this wine which our seventh sister created through harvesting elemental energy.” The tall, muscular, bronze-eyed man who had been the first to see Ning and Roughpeak immediately stepped forward, slapping his arm around Ning’s shoulders and pulling him towards his palace.

The Seven Dragon Gods of the Primordial Era, Empyrean God Roughpeak, and Ji Ning. These nine humans all seated themselves in a casual manner, beginning to drink wine in large gulps while chatting.

“I trust that the seven of you know by now that the outside world is now in the era of the Three Realms,” Roughpeak suddenly said.

“Yes, we’ve heard of this.”

“Some Empyrean Gods who passed by mentioned this to us.” They all nodded.

Roughpeak nodded as well. “But I imagine that those Empyrean Gods didn’t know that the Three Realms have fallen into a state of crisis. A tribulation has descended.”

“Tribulation?” The faces of the Seven Dragon Gods all changed.

“One which is as deadly as the tribulation which destroyed the Primordial Era,” Roughpeak said somberly.

“What?!”

The Seven Dragon Gods had entered Undermoon Lake during the Primordial Era, and so they didn’t experience the war that destroyed it. However, the Empyrean Gods that had come past them since then had described the war to them. They knew exactly how calamitous that war had been. Even major powers had died, as well as Elder Gods! The Pangu Chaosworld itself had been shattered!

“It was junior apprentice-brother Darknorth who told me this.” Roughpeak looked towards Ning.

“Let me explain.” Ning began to narrate the details of this tribulation to the seven. Upon hearing the story, their faces all changed.

“If I knew this…I would’ve slaughtered all of the Empyrean Gods of the Seamless Gate that came here in the past!” Empyrean God Tyranodragon bellowed.

“Damn. Damn! They really are like a pack of wild mongrels that just can’t be tamed. They should die. Every last one of them should die!”

The Seven Dragon Gods were all utterly furious. They could imagine how disastrous and calamitous this new storm would be. The more they imagined it, the angrier they grew.

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