Chapter 32 – Number One

In terms of appearance, Ji Ning appeared the youngest of the three, like a youth. However, although that was younger than his actual age of over thirty, the other two had trained for more than a century.

“This is…?” Adept Blackstone and Adept Woodpass both turned their heads to stare at Ning. They saw Ning sit there in the lotus position as sudden gusts of wind began to swirl around him. At the same time…ripples of the Dao descended.

“What? He broke through?” Adept Woodpass and Adept Blackstone both felt shock. They could naturally tell that Ning should’ve completed an entire Dao-Path pertaining to wind.

“He was actually able to master yet another Dao-Path at such a critical moment. Ji Ning was formidable to begin with. In close combat, Adept Saberslave and Xiamang Zishan were both very powerful, but both were defeated by him. For him to make a breakthrough now…his close combat ability will most likely be superior to even me.” Adept Blackstone made some calculations. Instantly, he began to grow nervous.

During the competition in the world of the Diagram, he had somewhat of an advantage. This was because the most important part in that competition was to stay alive and have enough talismans! Naturally, he was able to put on full display all of his advantages gained from his mastery of formations. But in a one-on-one fight, where one side had to win, he was at a disadvantage. The aid provided to him by his formations skills wasn’t as significant.

“However, the Daofather isn’t necessarily going to pick the number one winner for his disciple,” Adept Blackstone mused to himself. “When the duel comes, I’m going to unleash all of my insights in the art of formations so as to let the Daofather see my full potential…and I believe he will choose me.”

He was very powerful in close combat as well, close to Xiamang Zishan’s level. But he was more confident in his formations ability! He had spent far, far too much of his blood and sweat on formations.

……

Ning could sense the ripples of the Dao from around him. He opened his eyes, revealing a hint of a smile. The Dao of the Gale…he had finally mastered this Dao-Path!

Actually, long ago when he had mastered the Dao of the Raindrop, his Dao of the Inferno and Dao of the Gale had already been close to mastery. These two Daos had been just slightly lacking…but the many battles over the past year had been very helpful towards him. In the end, he had finally mastered both the Dao of the Inferno and the Dao of the Gale.

“Three Daos. Rainwater, Inferno, Gale. I’ve mastered them all.” Ning had primarily been spending his time meditating on these three Daos, and they had all advanced in unison. It wasn’t too strange that by the time of the Conclave, he would have mastered all three.

“My Dao of the Sword improved tremendously as well,” Ning celebrated. During his earlier battle with Xiamang Zishan, his insights into the Dao of the Sword had indeed increased significantly. However…there was a huge gap in difficulty between the seventh, eighth, and ninth stances of the [Three-Foot Sword].

After all, the eighth stance was comparable to an ordinary Celestial Immortal’s technique, while the ninth stance was a skill that allowed a Loose Immortal like Immortal Northwalker to unleash the power of a Celestial Immortal!

Ning’s current level of insights into the Dao of the Sword was between the seventh and the eighth stance. He had yet to be able to unleash the eighth stance…but he had still improved enormously. His combat power had risen by a large amount.

“The Xia Emperor gave us a month. During this month, I need to fuse the Daos of Rainwater, Inferno, and Gale into my Dao of the Sword, making the power of my sword increase even further,” Ning mused to himself, then calmed down and began to meditate.

……

The main hall of the Skylight Palace. Everyone was waiting for the two hours to conclude, and for the three final duels to begin. These three final duels would be recorded and given to Daofather Crimsonbright to watch.

“In his battle with Xiamang Zishan, Ji Ning entered a state of no-thought; I imagine that he must’ve improved considerably. By the time they have left their secluded meditation, Ji Ning’s power will most likely have risen significantly yet again. In terms of attack power, he is most likely the absolute number one in this Conclave. As for Adept Woodpass, he should be the absolute number one in terms of defense. Adept Blackstone…he’s a bit worse off. If this was a battle in the outside world, his skill in formations would make it difficult for others to slay him. But this is a duel in the Conclave in which a victor must be determined,” Truelord Chiji said calmly. “As I see it, the number one position should go to either Ji Ning or Adept Woodpass.”

“Mm.”

“Right.”

“It’ll be a bit harder for Adept Blackstone.”

Lu Dongbin and the others all nodded in agreement. Even the Xia Emperor nodded as well. “Ji Ning has mastered yet another Dao-Path in secluded meditation in the world of the Diagram. This should be part of what he gained during the previous battle with Xiamang Zishan.”

“No-thought, no-self; as expected, he has gained power after having entered that state of mind.” The Pure Yang True Immortals were all quite calm.

……

Comparatively speaking, in the final three duels, who won and who lost wasn’t as important. This was because the Daofather wouldn’t necessarily choose the top-ranked person. However, without question…the victor would have a better chance of being chosen. After all, over the course of history, victory and defeat usually determined who would be acclaimed as the hero.

In the blink of an eye, two hours passed.

Swish swish swish! Three figures flew out from the world of the Diagram, appearing on the main hall.

“Your Imperial Majesty.” Ning and the other two both called out in unison with respect.

“With regards to these three duels, the first shall see Ji Ning against Adept Blackstone,” the Xia Emperor instructed. “After these three duels, I’ll arrange for all of you to go to the imperial treasury of my Grand Xia Dynasty and pick out a divine ability of your choice. However, compared to becoming the disciple of the Daofather, choosing a divine ability is naturally a small matter.”

Ning and the other two just listened quietly.

“Let it begin, then,” the Xia Emperor instructed.

“Yes.” Ning and Adept Blackstone exchanged a glance, and then both walked towards the outside of the hall.

……

By now, Ning and the other two no longer had any more tricks up their sleeves. They had long ago unleashed all of their abilities, which was why Lu Dongbin and the others were able to get a very good picture of what would happen!

Adept Blackstone was clearly a master of formations, but Ning just stood there without moving, just using a Waterflame Lotus to protect himself. As soon as Adept Blackstone moved near him, Ning would fight him…but if he didn’t, then Ning wouldn’t move about randomly.

And so…

Adept Blackstone began to put on his ‘performance’, unleashing all of his abilities as a master of formations. The seemingly simple Fuxi Staff Formation unleashed one mighty formation after another. Some were illusory, others were meant to kill, while still others were meant to seal. In fact, the formations actually were layered atop each other, causing the area to be filled with illusions and killing intent.

But Ning didn’t even try to break the formation; all he had to do was wait for Adept Blackstone to move close to him and start fighting.

Only after putting on a show of displaying his formidable formations did Adept Blackstone begin to actually fight with Ning. And indeed…in close combat, now that Ning had improved even further, he ended up defeating Adept Blackstone!

In the first battle…Ji Ning won!

……

As for the second battle, Adept Woodpass and Adept Blackstone fought against each other. Adept Woodpass was even more shameless than Ning! Although Ning had stood there without moving, he had still at least engaged Adept Blackstone in a frenzied battle.

Adept Woodpass, however, had just stood there as unmoving as a mountain. Like a giant, human-shaped tree, he just stood there and let Adept Blackstone whale on him. No matter how Adept Blackstone attacked, Adept Woodpass was still able to withstand it…and he didn’t even counter-attack! And so, just like that…Adept Blackstone’s divine power ended up being exhausted. He was forced to admit defeat!

In the second battle, Adept Woodpass had won!

……

The third duel was between Ning and Adept Woodpass. This battle was clearly much more exciting than the last two. In the two previous battles, Ning and Adept Woodpass hadn’t dared to run about randomly within Adept Blackstone’s formations. In this battle, the two fought each other head on!

Ji Ning was the most powerful attacker in this Conclave! His [Crimsonbright Diagram of the Nine Heavens] was at the twelfth stage, his Dao of the Sword was at an extremely high level, and he had three complete Dao-Paths as well as the [Starseizing Hand]!

In this battle…

Ning put his sword arts on full display, wildly unleashing all of his attacking abilities. At the beginning, Adept Woodpass had attempted to counter-attack, but he was quickly forced by Ning into a point where he was spending 90% of his efforts on defense, with only the occasional counter! This was because Ning was different compared to the Sloppy Daoist; the Sloppy Daoist’s wavefolding technique would eventually collapse, whereas Ning’s sword arts would not. His sword arts came out in an endless series, causing Adept Woodpass to begin to be injured. With each injury, he would have to spend divine power to heal it…and in the end, Adept Woodpass was forced to admit defeat!

“I used up more than 70% of my divine power in wild attacks before he admitted defeat.” Ning felt cold sweat trickle down his back as well. His [Starseizing Hand] used up far too much divine power. If Adept Woodpass had been able to hold on for a bit longer, Ning’s own divine power probably would’ve been used up.

……

Three duels. Ning won two! Adept Woodpass won one! Adept Blackstone won none!

“He won!”

“Ahaha, won, won, WON!!!” The Stillwater Commandery delegation in the imperial citadel plaza let out an incomparably excited roar of delight. They all called out jubilantly and their roars of laughter rang out.

There were more than a million delegates present from the 3600 commanderies and the Four Seas, but the number of them who knew that the Daofather would choose a disciple could be counted on one hand. To them…seizing the number one position in the Conclave was a matter of the utmost glory.

“Number one, number one!” Mu Northson was so excited, his entire face was red. He was incomparably delighted as he said, “My senior apprentice-brother Ji Ning is number one!”

Adept Vastriver sighed with emotion. “In the past, when I saw junior apprentice-brother Ji Ning kill Youngflame Nong, all sorts of worries had appeared. But unexpectedly, after such a short period of time, senior apprentice-brother Ji Ning actually became number one in this Conclave. This is really…a miracle. A real miracle!”

“NUMBER ONE!” Immortal Fivecraze was so excited that he actually tossed his gourd of wine to the ground. He seemed to have gone mad, and was so excited he seemed berserk. “Ahahaha! A disciple of my Black-White College has become number one in this Conclave! This has never before happened in the entire history of my Black-White College, never ever! Haha, the champion of the Conclave…belongs to a disciple of my Black-White College! Haha, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!”

“Ji Ning truly is incredible.” Northmont Baiwei’s breathing was rather ragged. He was simply too excited. “He actually became number one in the Conclave. I didn’t even dare imagine this happening. This is truly unfathomable.”

“Master is so amazing.” Little Qing’s eyes were glowing.

“Big brother…” The Whitewater Hound thought back to the scenes of Ji Yichuan and Yuchi Snow teaching Ji Ning swordplay. “Can you see this? You taught him movement arts…taught him swordplay…and now, sword in hand, he has become the champion of the Conclave of Immortal Destiny of this entire vast Grand Xia Dynasty! Can you see it? Can you see it?!”

The Whitewater Hound’s tears began to fall. He was incomparably agitated.

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