The Xia Emperor shook his head. “The entire Grand Xia Dynasty is being shaken by this storm. More than sixty percent of my 3600 commanderies are requesting assistance from me! No matter how formidable the Seamless Gate is, there’s no way they can possibly act against that many marquisdoms and clans at once. In addition, according to the intelligence I have, some of those requesting support have actually surrendered to the Seamless Gate long ago.”
The Seamless Gate was indeed formidable; for them to be able to convince more than half of the high-level members of the Northmont clan to join them was a testament to their might. Within the Grand Xia Dynasty, there were indeed quite a few clans who had already joined their side.
“They’ve already joined the Seamless Gate, but they still beg me for assistance.” The Xia Emperor frowned. “Right now…I don’t have a clear picture of the situation. More than sixty percent of the marquisdoms are asking for my assistance, but which ones actually need help, while which ones are faking it?”
“Although the Northmont clan of Stillwater claims Celestial Immortal Hunchmont was captured alive…that was a mere capture. Who knows if that is just part of a plot?” The Xia Emperor said.
“Understood.” Immortal Skyfox nodded.
“Right now, although there are some clashes, my control over the entire Grand Xia is still fairly stable.” The Xia Emperor said softly, “The true war has yet to start. We need to stand firm and not act about in a disorderly fashion. Even though the Seamless Gate has begun to move…let them. The more they move, the more of themselves they reveal to me. For now, let my blade remain in its sheath…because one it comes out, it will stab them in their weak points! The Seamless Gate wishes to take away my world of the Grand Xia? Hmph…let’s see if they can force me to accept it!”
Immortal Skyfox nodded.
“Still…Ji Ning’s potential truly is remarkable. Even before undergoing his Celestial Tribulation, he was able to kill two Celestial Immortals. Despite having trained for less than a century, he was capable of enduring karmic sinflames. I imagine that he will soon be undergoing his tribulation. He…is going to be an important chess piece,” the Xia Emperor said. “And, based on what my master said…Ji Ning is definitely on our side.”
The Xia Emperor viewed Ning with great importance.
After all…Ji Ning’s accomplishments to date had all been simply too unearthly. At the Void-level, he had slaughtered two Celestial Immortals, then withstood karmic sinflames. Once a monster like this broke through to the Celestial Immortal level after overcoming the tribulation…he would most likely become one of the most supreme Celestial Immortals right away, perhaps even possessing the combat power of a Pure Yang True Immortal! Most importantly of all…Ji Ning had an incredible background. To befriend Ji Ning was equivalent to befriending a mysterious Daofather. How could the Xia Emperor not view this as being extremely important?
“Right. Go and tell King Yan that Ji Ning has returned,” the Xia Emperor said.
“Alright,” Immortal Skyfox said respectfully.
The imperial capital. King Yan’s Estate.
King Yan had arrived in a flower garden. He stared at Yuchi Xiyue, seated within a distant pavilion. He couldn’t help but secretly shake his head. When Ji Ning had gone to act against the Youngflame clan, he had told Yuchi Xiyue in advance. Xiyue had been filled with both hope as well as worry for Ning…but in the end, Ning had been covered by karmic sinflames and driven out of the world of the Grand Xia. Xiyue had always paid close attention to information regarding Ning, but no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t find out anything regarding his return from that battle. She had gone to ask King Yan, and thus learned what had happened.
Ever since that day she had learned that Ning’s chances of survival were slim…Xiyue had never smiled again.
“Little brother…” Xiyue always felt as though something was missing from her heart. She was incapable of smiling, now.
“Xiyue.” A voice rang out.
Xiyue turned her head, then hurriedly rose her feet to greet the man. “Grandpa.”
“Let me tell you some good news,” King Yan said with a chuckle.
“Good news?” Xiyue was puzzled.
“Ji Ning…has returned.” King Ya laughed.
Xiyue trembled, then revealed a look of wild joy and excitement. She hurriedly grabbed King Yan by the hand. “Grandpa, is this true? My little brother has really come back? He’s returned from that danger zone? You aren’t lying to me, are you?”
“Mm. It was the Xia Emperor who told me…and Ji Ning is currently in the Black-White College of Stillwater City right now,” King Yan said.
“He’s at the Black-White College?” Xiyue felt more alive than she had in a long time. She immediately said, “I’m going to Stillwater City right away!”
“Let’s go together. I want to see Ji Ning as well,” King Yan said.
“Alright. Let’s go right now!” Xiyue didn’t want to wait for even a single moment; she had to see Ning with her own eyes before she would believe it all.
Even before the Xia Emperor had learned of Ji Ning’s return…the marvelously capable Seamless Gate had learned of it as well.
A cold wind blew. A golden-robed Celestial Immortal was standing at the top of a mountain peak. This golden-robed Celestial Immortal was quite bulky, and in fact was slightly chubby. He had a stubbly beard, and his eyes shone like copper. The golden robes he bore looked just like a set of golden armor. He simply waited there, bored and restless, at the top of that mountain peak.
Swoosh. A streak of light flew towards him from far away, alighting on the mountain peak; it was Celestial Immortal Arcanum.
“Arcanum,” the golden-robed envoy said calmly.
“Envoy.” Celestial Immortal immediately smiled, not showing any of his customary arrogance for fear of offending this envoy. “Might I ask why you wish to speak with our Youngflame clan, Envoy?”
“Our Seamless Gate has never shown your Youngflame clan any malice. We’ve always been helping you…and now, I’m going to help you again.” The golden-robed envoy laughed, but even when laughing, his savage, ferocious face remained terrifying to behold. “A while ago, you had a rather nasty battle with that Ji Ning, right? In fact, two of your Celestial Immortals died, and in the end, you used the Worldhold Pagoda to exile Ji Ning away into the Nihilum Zone of the Primordial Ruinworld, yes?”
“Right, right. That’s exactly right,” Celestial Immortal Arcanum said hurriedly.
Although he had a smile on his face, in his heart Arcanum was cursing loudly.
How had this secret slipped out?
Very, very few people knew that the Youngflame clan had used the Worldhold Pagoda to deal with Ji Ning. Only the Xia Emperor and Ji Ning’s friends knew. However, logically speaking, neither Ji Ning’s friends nor the Xia Emperor would go tell the Seamless Gate about this…and yet, somehow, the Seamless Gate had still found out. They had even come to ask the Youngflame clan about this, at which point the Youngflame clan had been forced to admit that they had indeed exiled Ji Ning to the Nihilum Zone of the Primordial Ruinworld.
In truth, the Youngflame clan wasn’t worried about this being made public knowledge. The Nihilum Zone was incredibly vast, after all; even a True God or Daofather who went there to investigate would have to spend countless years before completely searching the place. In addition, True Gods and Daofathers were generally unwilling to spend much time there; after all, as the saying went, if one often walked by the riverside, one’s shoes would eventually get wet. If they stayed in the Nihilum Zone too long, they might run into some powerful foes from the Primordial Ruinworld.
“The Seamless Gate truly seems to be able to penetrate through any seam,” Arcanum mused silently to himself. “Not even the Heavenly Treasures Mountain of the Xia Emperor comes close to the Seamless Gate in terms of intelligence reports.”
“I’ve come to notify your Youngflame clan…that your hated foe, Ji Ning, is still alive. And…he’s already back.” The golden-robed envoy smiled merrily as he looked at Celestial Immortal Arcanum.
Arcanum’s face instantly changed. “Impossible!!!” He couldn’t help but blurt out these words.
“Impossible?” The golden-robed envoy lifted an eyebrow.
“We sent him to the Nihilum Zone of the Primordial Ruinworld! Not even an Empyrean God could escape from that place; only a True God or Daofather has a chance! Even if an exalted True God or Daofather was to go search for him…how could they be so lucky as to find Ji Ning within the infinitely vast Nihilum Zone in just eighteen short years?” Arcanum shook his head. “Even if he was apprenticed to a True God or a Daofather…I refuse to believe a True God or a Daofather would be willing to commit himself to such a painstaking search, or be able to find him so quickly. There’s no way Ji Ning could be that lucky!”
“Yes, I didn’t believe it either.” The golden-robed envoy shook his head and sighed. “But alas, Ji Ning is within Stillwater City right now. At this very moment, he is flirting and cuddling with that Dao-companion of his, Yu Wei, within the Black-White College.”
“He’s at Stillwater City right now?” Arcanum was now truly stunned.
“Yes.” The golden-robed envoy nodded.
Arcanum had an extremely ugly look on his face right now, and his thoughts were jumbled.
If Ji Ning had returned alive…then things had completely changed.
First of all, for him to return meant that, without question, Ji Ning had a True God or Daofather standing behind him! When the Youngflame clan had fought against Ji Ning, they had been worried that Ji Ning had apprenticed himself to a Daofather, true, but they felt that given the exalted status of a Daofather, Ji Ning shouldn’t have been so lucky as to actually have been apprenticed to one. The chances of that having happened had to be low.
But now…it had indeed been proven to be the case! Ji Ning truly had become the disciple of a True God or a Daofather!
The Youngflame clan knew exactly how powerful Ji Ning was. A young fellow like him who hadn’t even undergone his tribulation had been able to slaughter two mighty Celestial Immortals. Even when battling the eight of them, he hadn’t been at a disadvantage at all. Given his terrifying power…once he overcame his tribulation and become a Celestial Immortal, he could become a calamity for the Youngflame clan.
And this monster…this utter monster had a True God or a Daofather backing him!
This was a nightmare!
“He…really does have a True God or a Daofather as his master. And…he’s back.” Arcanum was completely panicking right now. He knew very well that this would be a disaster for his Youngflame clan…a disaster which the Youngflame would not be able to avoid!
“If…the Youngflame clan was to join our Seamless Gate, then we would be willing to help you deal with Ji Ning,” the golden-robed envoy said with a laugh. “You might be afraid of the Daofather behind him, but we, the Seamless Gate, are not. Alright…you can go back now and spend some time thinking on this.”
A series of spatial ripples appeared around the golden-robed envoy. Moments later, he disappeared into thin air.
Celestial Immortal Arcanum stood there on the mountain peak, an ugly look on his face. Moments later, he too used a spatial teleport to depart, having headed back to report this information to the Ancestor of the Youngflame clan, Immortal Venomfreak.
Stillwater City. The Black-White College.
Ning didn’t realize that both the Seamless Gate and the Youngflame clan had found out right away about his return. However, even if he did realize that they knew…Ning wasn’t afraid. To deal with the current Ji Ning wouldn’t be easy as it was to deal with the Ji Ning of eighteen years ago.
“Ji Ning, King Yan and Princess Xiyue have come to visit,” Immortal Jadesea sent through his divine sense.
“Princess Xiyue? King Yan?” Ji Ning, who had been sipping wine alongside Yu Wei, hastily rose to his feet. Ning had spent the entire night with Yu Wei. The two had whispered sweet nothings to each other, and also had discussed may matters. Yu Wei now knew the real relationship between Ning and Xiyue.
“Come, let’s go greet them,” Ning said hurriedly. “Before I went to fight against the Youngflame clan, I told my cousin about it. I was completely confident in my chances; I thought that everything was under my control. And yet…man proposes, Heaven disposes. In the end, I was exiled for eighteen years. My cousin must have been worrying over me for all eighteen of these years.”
“She came to see you as soon as she learned that you were back. Clearly, she cares about you immensely,” Yu Wei said.
The two flew over, shoulder-to-shoulder, into the skies.
They immediately saw the distant Immortal Jadesea guiding King Yan and Yuchi Xiyue towards them. Xiyue stared towards Ning from far away, and upon seeing him her eyes lit up right away. It was true; her little brother truly had come back!
“Senior apprentice-brother Jadesea, allow me to take care of King Yan and the princess,” Ning said.
Immortal Jadesea knew that these two had come to see Ji Ning, and so he immediately nodded and departed.
Ning and Yu Wei led King Yan and Xiyue down into Yu Wei’s residence. At present, Yu Wei’s residence didn’t have even a single servant in it; all of them had been sent to Darknorth Peak. Clearly, Ning and Yu Wei wanted to be alone and to not be disturbed by anyone.
As they landed together, Xiyue could no longer hold back. “Little brother, you scared me half to death! If you really died…then I really would be the only member of the Yuchi clan left.”
“I’m not gonna die that easily,” Ning said with a laugh.
The two immediately began to chat with each other. Yu Wei added in a few words on the side, but King Yan said almost nothing.
As the conversation began to wind down…finally, King Yan spoke out. “Ji Ning, do you remember the task you handed to me?”
Ning’s face instantly turned slightly red. He hurriedly said, “You’ve found information regarding my parents and their reincarnations?”