The violet-robed princess glared at Ji Ning. Gritting her teeth, she said, “If we die, Xiaoyu dies as well. When the master dies, the servants shall not live either!”
Ning instantly felt a loathing for this violet-robed princess, Qi Ruhui. However, Ning knew that since the imperial Qi clan had known all along that Qi Xiaoyu was a figure with great karmic virtue, that they definitely would firmly fasten her to the sides of the imperial clan. Once the imperial clan perished, Qi Xiaoyu would probably truly die as well.
Ning shut his eyes.
The ship became completely silent. Everyone stared at Ning, waiting for his response.
The crown prince, Qi Rufeng, waited with nervousness and anticipation. “Given how powerful this senior Darknorth is…a hundred years shouldn’t be anything to him.” How could he imagine that Ning had only lived for a few decades?
The crown prince and the princesses were all extremely nervous. Qi Xiaoyu felt restless and uneasy as well.
Ning suddenly opened his eyes and looked towards the crown prince, Qi Rufeng. “I agree…to protect you for a year or to kill the Flamewing King. Once I complete either of these two conditions, I will take Qi Xiaoyu away.”
“This is my response to you. If you agree, than you shall release Qi Xiaoyu to me to be my disciple. If you refuse, then I’ll kill you and take away your imperial treasures.”
“Do you agree or do you refuse?” Ning stared at Qi Rufeng.
“Senior, it’s just a hundred…” The crown prince, Qi Rufeng, couldn’t help but begin to argue.
“You only need to tell me…if you agree or refuse?” Ning repeated coldly.
The crown prince and the two princesses exchanged glances. There were no other options now! If this Daoist Darknorth was to protect them for a year…within this year, they might have a chance for a game-changer to occur.
“Fine.” Qi Rufeng gritted his teeth.
Ning nodded lightly. This was as he had expected. If he didn’t give them any benefit at all, then they probably really would rather die. If he gave them at least a little bit…their desire to live would take the upper hand! And in truth, Ning wasn’t planning to actually waste a full year; he would rather just go and kill that Flamewing King!
After killing the Flamewing King, his promise would have been completed.
“Then why haven’t you given Qi Xiaoyu her freedom?” Ning looked at the crown prince.
The crown prince couldn’t help but mumble, “Please swear an oath to the Dao of the Heavens to attest to your promise, senior, so as to put us all at ease.”
Ning’s face sank, and a true killing intent burst forth from him. “It seems you really do wish to die!”
An oath to the Dao of the Heavens was simply too powerful and restrictive; thus, Immortal cultivators definitely would not casually swear any such oath.
The crown prince and the princesses could all tell that Ning had truly lost all patience. Terrified, the crown prince hurriedly said, “We, we are willing to believe in your promise, senior.”
“Qi Xiaoyu, from this day forth, you shall obey the instructions of senior Darknorth. There is no longer any connection between you and the imperial Qi clan,” Qi Rufeng said.
Instantly, the ripples of the Dao of the Heavens descended within her subconscious mind. Clearly, the oath which Qi Xiaoyu had sworn in the past to the Dao of the Heavens had been fulfilled.
Qi Xiaoyu fell to her knees. “Xiaoyu shall never forget the benevolence you have shown me, your Imperial Highness.”
Ning, standing to one side, just sighed to himself. Qi Xiaoyu truly was quite faithful. However…based on what she had told him regarding her experiences, Ning had already discovered quite a few suspicious indicators. The tribe which Qi Xiaoyu had belonged to as a child had tens of thousands of tribesmen; a tribe like this would rarely be attacked by Diremonsters!
Xiantian-level Diremonsters wouldn’t be able to do it, while higher-level cultivating Diremonsters wouldn’t be willing to cause sin to gather around them. And yet…the large tribe in which Qi Xiaoyu had lived in as a child was attacked and destroyed. Even all of her family had been slain…and then she just so happened to run into an expert of the imperial Qi clan.
How could things be so coincidental? The imperial Qi clan was in the middle of fleeing for their own lives as well; how could such a concidence happen?
“Perhaps the destruction of the tribe which Qi Xiaoyu lived in as a child had something to do with the imperial Qi clan,” Ning mused silently to himself.
Qi Xiaoyu knelt down towards Ning as well. “His Imperial Highness has instructed Xiaoyu to follow you in the future and listen to your commands.”
Ning looked at Qi Xiaoyu, then said, “Remember this. From this day forth, you have regained your freedom. You are neither a servant nor a slave; do not act like one.” Ning continued, “I have never before taken on a disciple; if you take me as your master, then you shall naturally become the senior disciple under my tutelage. This is an important matter for you, but also an important matter for me. I have no wish to force this upon you; if you are willing, then you may bow to me as my disciple. If you are unwilling, then I will send you off to some other places with Immortal cultivation sects; I trust that they will fight over the chance to recruit you.”
Ning had his own pride. There was no way he would force his very first disciple to accept him as master. Given how large the Crescent world was, he could simply go and find another person of great karmic virtue.
In truth, Qi Xiaoyu was extremely intelligent. She could tell…that the crown prince actually treated her rather indifferently. The second princess was a bit better, while the youngest princess actually loathed her. The only person in the entire imperial Qi clan who had treated her with sincerity was her master…but her master had been killed by the pursuing Flamewing Guard long ago.
As for this Darknorth who stood before her…Qi Xiaoyu could tell how much this ‘senior Darknorth’ valued her. He had immediately taken out a hundred Heaven-ranked flying swords for her, and now he had promised to protect the imperial Qi clan. This was as good as becoming enemies with the Flamewing Guard.
All of this was for the sake of taking her on as his disciple. And if she didn’t accept him as her master, he was still going to have to carry out his promise to protect the imperial Qi clan for a year. From this, she could tell…he truly cared very much about her own will and her own choice.
“Your disciple greets you, Master.” The young maiden immediately fell down to her knees and kowtowed.
Ning felt a surge of joy in his heart. He couldn’t help but laugh, then nodded his head and said, “Good. From this day forth, you are the senior disciple of myself, Darknorth Daoist Ji Ning. I don’t have any requirements for my disciples, aside from one; not to be traitorous!”
“Your disciple understands,” Qi Xiaoyu said respectfully.
“Come with me.” Ning immediately walked towards a cabin on the second level of the ship. As he walked, he instructed, “Qi Rufeng, you can take your people into your cabins to rest. Aboard my ship, I shall naturally see to your protection. You have nothing to worry about.”
Qi Xiaoyu obediently followed Ning to the second level.
As Ning was accepting his first disciple. Within a city that was hundreds of thousands of kilometers away. Within an enormous palace.
This palace was simply so vast that not even sunlight could penetrate into its depths. Within a dark, secluded courtyard, a tall, thin, red-skinned man dressed in black robes was frowning pensively in thought.
“Third brother.” Suddenly, a voice rang out. A similarly tall and skinny man, this one dressed in azure armor and with eyes like an incomparably savage hawk, came walking in.
“Seventh brother.” The black-robed man nodded lightly. “You came.”
“As the Flamewing King, you are living a carefree life of ease. Why have you summoned so many of us brothers?” The hawk-eyed, azure-armored man asked.
“Naturally, there is something good I want to share,” the Flamewing King said. “Seventh brother, you are the first to arrive, so I’ll let you know in advance. Do you know why I spent so much effort to annihilate the Qi Empire all those years back?”
The azure-armored, hawk-eyed man said, puzzled, “The destruction of the Qi Empire…didn’t you say that you felt your territory was too small, and that you wanted to take over a large area? Was that not the real reason? Can it be that it is as the legends claimed, that the Qi Emperor had a treasure trove? Hahaha…I don’t believe in such things. As far as we are concerned, not even the treasures left behind by Celestial Immortals can be considered a ‘treasure trove’.”
“There is indeed a treasure trove,” the Flamewing King said seriously.
“Oh?” The hawk-eyed man was startled.
“It was only because I learned of the imperial Qi clan’s huge treasure trove that I acted against them,” the Flamewing King said. “Through torture and soul-scouring and all other methods available to me, I learned from the elder members of the imperial Qi clan…that the founding emperor of the Qi Empire had indeed encountered a treasure trove. However, he was too weak and so was only able to acquire a very small portion of the treasure trove, including some cultivation methods, divine abilities, and secret arts. But just by relying on this small portion, the Qi clan was able to rapidly rise to power, establish an empire, and then expand to the point where a few tens of thousands of years later, they had taken over a million kilometers of land.”
The hawk-eyed man was quite startled to hear this.
“Over the past few tens of thousands of years, the imperial Qi clan has repeatedly ventured forth to the location of the treasure trove, but they were unable to make any progress,” the Flamewing King said. “After I discovered the location of this treasure trove, I ventured there twice. The first time, I came back with nothing to show for my efforts. The second time, I made more ample preparations and forced my way deeper in…but I ended up being trapped within the place for more than twenty years. I nearly died there, and just barely managed to escape from it a short while ago!”
“What?!” The hawk-eyed man was completely shocked. He knew exactly how powerful this Flamewing King was. Of the major powers of the Star continent, the ‘Twelve Monster Kings of the Eastern Flows’ were extremely well-known. Each of them had unearthly amounts of power and extremely large territories. The Flamewing King was one of the ‘Twelve Monster Kings of the Eastern Flows’ and was extremely powerful. Otherwise, how could he have annihilated the Qi Empire?
“The place where this treasure trove is located is incomparably dangerous.” The Flamewing King shook his head. “The treasures within the outermost perimeter of the trove have all been picked clean by the founding emperor of the Qi Empire…but those treasures aren’t worth our attention anyhow. Deeper within are even more powerful treasures, and the ripples of those treasures…cause even my heart to tremble.”
“Cause your heart to tremble?” The hawk-eyed man was intrigued as well.
“This treasure trove is incomparably mysterious, and I’ve always wanted to discover what it contains. But I’m unable to find out on my own; that’s why I’ve asked all of our brothers to join forces with me. With us twelve kings combining our powers…I trust that we have a chance to go deeper into the treasure trove region,” the Flamewing King said.
The hawk-eyed man nodded lightly as well.
Right as the two monster kings were chatting…a figure suddenly appeared in the distance, outside the courtyard. “Your Majesty, your subordinate has a report regarding the Flamewing Guard.”
“Oh?” The Flamewing King glanced outside, then nodded. “Come in.”
A tall, skinny old man with an extremely long neck and a furry face walked in. He glanced at the hawk-eyed man before speaking.
“Speak. There’s nothing you need to hide from my seventh brother,” the Flamewing King said.
“Understood.” The long-necked elder said respectfully, “Your Majesty, you instructed us to pursue and kill the survivors of the imperial Qi clan. Only three of them remain, with the strongest being a Wanxiang Adept. However, just now, one of our ten-plus Flamewing Guard squads who were chasing after them was completely wiped out. Their jade life-tablets have all shattered. They died roughly six hundred thousand kilometers away from us…”
“Oh?” The Flamewing King frowned. That didn’t make sense. This area was under the command of himself, the Flamewing King. All the monsters obeyed his orders, and the human cultivators had been shooed away by him long ago. Logically speaking…there should be no one in this region who would dare act against his Flamewing Guard.
“My guess is that the survivors of the imperial Qi clan…” The long-necked elder was about to venture a guess, but the Flamewing King interrupted him. With a frown, the Flamewing King barked, “Arrange for three companies of Flamewing Guards to head there and investigate. Can it be that the survivors of the imperial Qi clan have hidden secrets that even I am unaware of?”
“Yes,” the long-necked elder said with respect, immediately accepting the order
Soon, three companies of Flamewing Guards that were led by three Loose Immortal monsters teleported away from the royal capital of the Qi Empire and moved to investigate this affair.